Monday, August 19, 2013

A Shred of Light into the District of Columbia’s Juvenile Justice System

The H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, Superior Court of the District of Columbia
“The reformers who championed the establishment of juvenile courts in the United States envisioned a system in which youthful law violators would receive treatment and other forms of rehabilitation and thereby become productive members of society without forever being tarnished by criminal records as a result of youthful indiscretions.”[1]  This idea has unfortunately largely remained in the abstract; instead, many juvenile offenders face high recidivism rates throughout the United States.  Specifically, “an average of fifty-five percent of youth released from state custody in the United States are rearrested within a year, and an average of twenty-five percent are re-incarcerated in adult or juvenile custody within the same period.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Not to Hate Jury Duty

Jury duty.  Universally dreaded, with sympathy for a friend or colleague who has been called, communicated with a knowing roll of the eyes, and a story about how to get out of it.  There is even a wikihow page entitled, "How to Get Out of Jury Duty."  Yet, jury duty is regarded by courts and civics teachers as one of the most important civic responsibilities a citizen can perform; it has been a crucial part of our democratic system for over 200 years.  The right to a jury trial is a fundamental right afforded by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  A defendant charged with anything more than a petty crime, typically a crime with a penalty of more than six months of incarceration, has a right to trial by jury, made up of between six and twelve of his or her "peers."[1]  Jurors are reflective of the community at large; there is no education requirement, though jurors must be citizens, over the age of eighteen, and fluent in English, with few other restrictions.