National Center for Youth Law


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Highlights of Our Work – June 2016

Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act Qualifies for November Ballot ›

Californians will have a chance to decide whether to shift state law in favor of rehabilitation for its youngest citizens charged with crimes. The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 will appear on the State’s November Ballot as Proposition 57, following an unprecedented signature gathering effort. The act includes provisions co-authored by NCYL staff attorney Frankie Guzman that will increase the likelihood that youth as young as 14 years old who are accused of crimes will have access to education and rehabilitative services. The initiative will end prosecutorial discretion for charging youth as adults and instead leaves that decision to judges. The initiative also includes provisions intended to incentivize rehabilitation for adults in prison.

Texas Truancy One Year After Decriminalization ›

Since 2013 NCYL has been working with Texas Appleseed and Disability Rights Texas to challenge the State of Texas’ use of criminal courts to prosecute youth for truancy. The effort, which included the filing of several civil rights complaints (more here and here) with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, culminated with a legislative reform package that decriminalized truancy.

Officials from the Texas Office of Court Administration testified last month on the effects of the truancy reform legislation and the results are dramatic: Decriminalizing certain truancy offenses, the expunction of 1.5 million prior cases, removal of jail as an option for truancy, and changes to fines. Comparisons of the first four months of 2015 with the same period this year show truancy filings have dropped from 60,000 to 5,000, and parent contributing to non-attendance filings have dropped from 45,000 to 8,200.

Planned Parenthood v Promesa Behavioral Health Update›

In February, NCYL filed a lawsuit alleging that practices at California group homes run by Promesa Behavioral Health deny foster youth the reproductive and sexual health care services and information to which they are legally entitled. In May 2016, NCYL and its co-counsel, Keker & Van Nest LLP, filed an amended complaint and a motion for a preliminary injunction. The preliminary injunction motion sought an immediate order from the court directing Promesa to stop confiscating condoms and other contraceptives from foster youth, and to stop requiring foster youth to have Promesa staff members present at confidential medical appointments for reproductive and sexual health services. The following month, the parties agreed to delay the hearing on the preliminary injunction motion in order to conduct a mediation to negotiate a possible settlement of the case.  The mediation is scheduled to take place in August 2016.