US courts abuse children, Amnesty International report says FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 03:34:42 -0400


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FWD  Los Angeles Times - Wednesday, November 18, 1998


RIGHTS GROUP CITES U.S. FOR ABUSES AGAINST JUVENILES
REPORT SAYS COURTS PUNISH TOO HARSHLY


WASHINGTON

An increasing number of children in U.S. courts and prisons are subject to
beatings, excessive detention, solitary confinement and other abuses of
their human rights, Amnesty International will report today.

Many of the abuses, according to the report, violate international
treaties. As an example, the nongovernmental organization dedicated to
protecting human rights cited California for sentencing juveniles to life
sentences without parole.

The report said 14 prisoners now serving life without parole in California
had been sentenced when they were younger than 18. This, according to
Amnesty International, violates the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, a treaty signed and ratified by the United States.

The organization said it was troubled by the tendency of many states to
treat accused juveniles as adults and try them in regular courtrooms. The
report estimated that 200,000 children are prosecuted in adult courts every
year, 7,000 are held in adult jails before trial, and 11,000 are serving
their sentences in adult prison and other correctional centers.

Amnesty International's negative assessment was the second major indictment
of the U.S. juvenile justice system this month. The Justice Department
filed suit against Louisiana in early November for failing to provide
adequate care for the 1,750 children in its correctional centers.

Illinois established the first U.S. juvenile court in 1899, a model adopted
by every other state this century. In the last two decades, however, the
juvenile system has been weakened, according to Amnesty International, by
demands for retribution against a growing wave of juvenile crime and by
inadequate facilities for the increased number of young prisoners.

Amnesty International also deplored the tendency to place juveniles in
correctional centers for minor crimes. In a survey of juvenile institutions
in Georgia in 1997, the organization found a 14-year-old detained for
painting graffiti on a wall, a 13-year-old for stealing $127 from her
mother, and several children for cursing their teachers.

Enumerating many cases of abuse, Amnesty International reported accusations
against guards in South Carolina for punching, choking and kicking children
and spraying them with chemicals, and against guards in Kentucky for using
stun guns and pepper spray to break up fights.

The report recounted that guards at the Arizona Boys Ranch had placed
16-year-old Nicholas Contreras in solitary confinement on eight different
days in February and then forced him to do push-ups when he complained he
felt too ill to exercise. The boy died in March during the forced push-ups,
Amnesty International said.

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FWD  Los Angeles Times - Wednesday, November 18, 1998 



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>RIGHTS GROUP CITES U.S. FOR ABUSES
AGAINST JUVENILES

REPORT SAYS COURTS PUNISH TOO HARSHLY

</paraindent>


WASHINGTON


An increasing number of children in U.S. courts and prisons are subject
to beatings, excessive detention, solitary confinement and other abuses
of their human rights, Amnesty International will report today.


Many of the abuses, according to the report, violate international
treaties. As an example, the nongovernmental organization dedicated to
protecting human rights cited California for sentencing juveniles to
life sentences without parole.


The report said 14 prisoners now serving life without parole in
California had been sentenced when they were younger than 18. This,
according to Amnesty International, violates the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty signed and ratified by the
United States.


The organization said it was troubled by the tendency of many states to
treat accused juveniles as adults and try them in regular courtrooms.
The report estimated that 200,000 children are prosecuted in adult
courts every year, 7,000 are held in adult jails before trial, and
11,000 are serving their sentences in adult prison and other
correctional centers.


Amnesty International's negative assessment was the second major
indictment of the U.S. juvenile justice system this month. The Justice
Department filed suit against Louisiana in early November for failing
to provide adequate care for the 1,750 children in its correctional
centers.


Illinois established the first U.S. juvenile court in 1899, a model
adopted by every other state this century. In the last two decades,
however, the juvenile system has been weakened, according to Amnesty
International, by demands for retribution against a growing wave of
juvenile crime and by inadequate facilities for the increased number of
young prisoners.


Amnesty International also deplored the tendency to place juveniles in
correctional centers for minor crimes. In a survey of juvenile
institutions in Georgia in 1997, the organization found a 14-year-old
detained for painting graffiti on a wall, a 13-year-old for stealing
$127 from her mother, and several children for cursing their teachers.


Enumerating many cases of abuse, Amnesty International reported
accusations against guards in South Carolina for punching, choking and
kicking children and spraying them with chemicals, and against guards
in Kentucky for using stun guns and pepper spray to break up fights.


The report recounted that guards at the Arizona Boys Ranch had placed
16-year-old Nicholas Contreras in solitary confinement on eight
different days in February and then forced him to do push-ups when he
complained he felt too ill to exercise. The boy died in March during
the forced push-ups, Amnesty International said.


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