tv Lost Causes CSPAN April 2, 2017 10:00am-10:14am EDT
journalism, staying journalism, become journalists, we have people who are adding content out there that is critical and trustworthy and necessary for a functional democracy. a functional democracy needs a free press. facebook, google, twitter need a free press. they need a democracy and journalism will survive because they very much need journalism to survive . >> while in chico we caught upwith darren hurley, author of the book lost causes in which he claims a system of blended sentencing in texas and its effect on juvenile crimeoffenders . >> the name of our book is lost causes and blended sentencing , second chances in the texas youth commission that we wanted to take basically 3300 offenders from 1987 to 2011 that have received suchsentences . >>
it are sensing scheme is supposed to move onto other rates of recidivism as high as 87%, commit an offense can oftentimes a felony. does this sentencing scheme that's been a place and no one has evaluated for over three decades, is it working? based on how the kids behave when they get out. historically, through the 70s, 60s and 70s texas mirrored the national landscape of juvenile justice. the original foundation of the juvenile justice is rehabilitated in nature. the state means the juvenile system is meant to take care of in the youth that may wander away from the straight and narrow, right? become involved in criminal behavior, involved in the system. and so texas mirrored approaches to provide rehabilitation to
keep youth made out of incarceration, keep them in group homes, inc. unity service. but then we saw crimes start to rise in the mid to late '80s and early '90s in texas which also mirrored the national effort to get now what do we do? cripe itribe is increasing evere for adults and juveniles. what we going to do to try to appease society, politically and otherwise, right? to hold these youths accountable. in texas this is why they struggle with this shift in accountability-based stresses. if the juvenile system is supposed be accountable, it's supposed to say okay, it's our responsibility to get you back on the right trajectory. but then the adult system, and increasingly the juvenile side can shifted towards this more personal accountability. and sort of instead of offender driven system offender of the juvenile court which is who is this youth come what is the
background? did have a support network? swung into an offensive driven system where we're not interested in new this youth is, we are interested in what they did and punish them accordingly. but these debates within the texas legislature basically both sides of the aisle working, agreeing that this wasn't working, right? either you were only serving an average five months of incarceration within texas youth commission, juvenile justice facilities, or building certified and ways to adult court and serving lengthier sentences than even the young adult counterparts on the adult side. we are seeing some fall through the cracks and then seeing to severe punishment for others. they decide to forget what to do with these in between offenders and figure out how to appease the masses and come up with his third prong of justice, of juvenile justice known as blended sentencing. at this point in 1987, this was a way to basically provide what
they call juvenile contiguous blended sentence, meaning a youth can be subjected to both jurisdictions. it gives them a second chance under juvenile court jurisdiction but then if that rehabilitation fails and a number of players within the juvenile correctional, well not only juvenile correctional facilities by juvenile court actors decide the youth is rehabilitated, they could be released at a juvenile incarceration. or for writing a factors at the decide these need to be transferred to the adult side venventure stitch a switchover o juvenile with sentences ten years who comes into texas youth commission at 17 could serve three to four years there and to be transferred to serve on the adult side. if we're to think about a case study of a youth who we can follow to this sentencing process, we decided to include a story of vinny in this book.
we sort of open and obvious chapter describing the crime he was a part of. he was one of six perpetrators who, in 1983 1983, were response for the aggravated sexual assault and homicide of two teenage girls in houston texas. and he was a 14-year-old in the next with 16, 17 and 18 year olds, and he basically was the younger brother of one of these individuals, and by account of the perpetrators, he was present for and against any aggravated sexual assault and then he actually left the scene. his brother and other told to go home prior to the homicide occurring. whether or not that makes a difference is up to many people to decide, but he was 14. and by all accounts was an
upstanding young man. so his older brother was getting involved. he had gone out with his older brother this evening, but by all other accounts it already demonstrated really great artistic ability. his teachers work it may be getting him into a different school to capitalize on that ability. he was a good student, good relationships at home. but because of his age and this legislation having been past five years prior, visit 1993, peak crime, he ended up receiving 40 years for this crime. now, the other offenders had been either sentenced to death or, there were sentenced to death within a couple of them who were only 17 instead of 18 heather sentences commuted to life without parole. savini provides an interesting example because it is truly being worst of the worst crimes imagine committed by the six individuals. but he also provides sort of not a chronic, not an example of a
chronic offender or a heavily involved in offender but as a young kid who had committed a horrific offense once, and what do we do with that youth? so in his case what ended up happening, he went into the texas youth commission. we can't connect our data necessarily to names but given his crime it's likely he may have committed or participate in a capital offender treatment program. and then when it came time in 1996 for his first termination hearing -- determination it. this was the initial point remember some texas youth commission and others, prosecution, come before judge, discuss his progress and then make a recommendation of what to do with him. at that point while the members and actors, administers and therapist who worked with him in staff recommended that he be released with supervision, he could potentially serve the balance of this lengthy sentence under juvenile parole supervision.
and the judge who we discussed in the book, pat shelton actually, decide to override that and transfer him to the adult side. and the judge provide to these two just really poignant quotes that illustrates this pendulum swing at the time from sort of the rehabilitated intent of that system accountability of the juvenile justice system taking care of these youth to this shift towards personal accountability. and not only responsibility i think, probably judges felt, but the desire to sort of push a more punitive, harsher level of accountability. so judge shelton during this determination hearing, and again the staff midge and he was sort of a model ward and his commitment to tyc, they wanted him to serve the remainder of the sentence under that adult parole supervision.
and our book also talks about the fact that during the first decade of this legislation, the judge would follow his recommendations about 80%% of the time. but in a case like this he basically decided dismiss tyc recommendation and said that the offense in and of itself sufficient to justify that sentence. what we're saying is we can't trust to be some what you did that one day, no matter how perfect you were before and after. i think the systems got to put the interests of the victim and the public first. and then moving on, to discuss the potential to rehabilitate and the fact that these programs and this legislation make this argument, user malleable. if we can get you drink this made adolescent development, we have a better shot at turning that trajectory rather than maybe send them onto adult prison. judge shelton said, can we rehabilitate a 15-year-old, and is it worth the time and expense considering the crime committed?
the answer is no. at the time of the transfer hearing i have two consider what that offense was worth, not what the offender is worth. that's the difference between the court and tyc. so here you have this example of him basically drawing a line between tyc is rehabilitated intent with capital offender program or other specialist treatment they provide, and the courts filling this responsibility o being tough on crime and providing fuel to the fire, this narrative, of which are no longer an offender driven system, we don't care, as he said, who you are or if you are worth it. we care about the offense and what you did. so at that point he was transferred to the texas prison system and he's had numerous hearings since. and the victims families and other victims families friends have campaigned successfully to
get his parole denied every time. so he is still in the texas prison system now finishing out that 40 year sentence. so i think a national scale this book sort of, i don't know, challenges the question of how do we best make this decision and try to may be appreciated on a case-by-case basis? because it's easy to look at black and white crime rates, property crime, violent crimes, increasing and decreasing. i hear at least web and if you want data and enough detail to really appreciate the complexity of these youths lives coming into this picture. and appreciate sort of just the unbelievable challenge that exists in figuring out exactly how to either rehabilitate them correctly, poor enough resources and second serve more than 18 youth over a six-month period, or potential make a determination that a youth is beyond rehabilitation, whether
it's because they view themselves as a lost cause for so long or the system now has sort of determined that. >> we are stand in front of the john bidwell mansion in chico, california, as we continue our look at the cities nonfiction literary culture. we will hit one authors story about the life and writings of this california pioneer. >> the john bidwell was one of the early california pioneers and he's most famous as the organizer of the first wagon train immigrant party of overland pioneers who came from the front of the united states, at the time in missouri, and blazed the california trail in 1841, to northern california, arriving at marshes and then sutter stored in november of 1841.
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