U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Affect on Florida Juveniles

At least 250 Florida inmates could seek reduced sentences as the result of aU.S. Supreme Court decision declaring that states cannot mandate life terms without possibility of parole for those convicted of committing murder when they were under age 18.

Monday’s decision was hailed by juvenile-justice and civil-rights advocates who have long argued that children should be treated differently from adults in the criminal-justice system and that juveniles have a greater capacity to change.


Hard science demonstrates that teenagers and young adults are not fully mature in their judgment, problem-solving and decision-making capacities. 

Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Life Sentences for Juvenile Murderers

On Monday, June 25, 2012, a divided Supreme Court ruling said that states may not impose on juvenile murderers mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.

The 5-4 ruling said such mandatory sentences offend the constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and follow a trend at the court of treating even the worst juvenile offenders differently from adults.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, said the decision was consistent with the court’s past findings that children lack maturity and have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility; that they are more vulnerable to outside pressure and that their character is less formed and more open to rehabilitation.

“Our decisions rested not only on common sense — on what ‘any parent knows’ — but on science and social science as well,” Kagan wrote, adding “the mandatory penalty schemes at issue here prevent the sentencer from taking account of these central considerations.”

The decision said judges may still sentence juveniles convicted of murder to a life sentence without possibility of parole, but must take into consideration mitigating circumstances.

The opinion was joined by Kagan’s fellow liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who most often sides with conservatives but has authored the court’s previous opinions about juvenile offenders.

It drew sharp rebukes from the court’s conservatives, including Justice Samuel Alito, who said from the bench that the ruling represented an “elite vision” from the court that it knows better than the states, 29 of whom authorize mandatory sentences for juvenile murders.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in a dissent joined by Alito and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, elaborated.

“Determining the appropriate sentence for a teenager convicted of murder presents grave and challenging questions of morality and social policy,” Roberts wrote. “Our role, however, is to apply the law, not to answer such questions.”

He said mandatory life sentences “could not plausibly be described” as unusual when a majority of states endorse them.

In 2005, the court banned the death penalty for juveniles who kill, saying “the punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is itself a severe sanction, in particular for a young person.”

In 2010, the court continued the trend by saying juveniles whose crimes did not include murder could not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at some point.

Kennedy wrote both opinions for the divided court.

The cases at the court were brought by lawyers for the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., which had asked the court to ban life sentences for juveniles 15 and younger when they committed their crimes.

The cases before the justices came from two 14-year-olds who were sentenced to life without parole for their roles in separate killings.

Evan Miller, a victim of abuse so severe that, his lawyer said, he had tried to kill himself five times, was convicted along with another juvenile of killing a neighbor, 52-year-old Cole Cannon, and setting afire Cannon’s trailer in Lawrence County, Ala.

Kuntrell Jackson of Blytheville, Ark., was with two other youths who attempted to rob a video store. One of the others used a sawed-off shotgun to kill 28-year-old clerk Laurie Troup.

Elementary School Principal Arrested on Drug Charges

Osceola County, FL

Osceola County deputies say an elementary school principal was arrested on drug distribution and delivery charges on Friday.

43-year-old David Groover was booked in to the Osceola County jail Friday and has since bonded out.

Groover was charged with delivering methamphetamine, distributing narcotics, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Officials say the investigation began when deputies received a complaint of possible drug-related activity at Groover’s home.

During the investigation, Groover provided an undercover deputy with meth and GHB, according to detectives.

Deputies say a search warrant was executed at Groover’s home and several drugs and drug paraphernalia were located.

Groover is the principal of Partin Settlement Elementary School in Kissimmee. School officials have not said if any action will be taken against Groover.


It seems that we need an “overhaul” of educational staff. Who’s taking notes?

I don’t know what’s going on in Osceola County, but they’ve been having a lot educators breaking laws. This guy is an elementary school principal. He’s has not been fired by the school district. Why? What’s the problem?

Background Checks Are Now Mandatory for All AAU Personnel

Osceola County, FL: The Amateur Athletic Union will begin what its national president said Tuesday he hopes will foster a “culture of safety” with the implementation of several reforms, including mandatory background screening for all staff, coaches and volunteers.

The new screening is set to begin Sept. 1 and coincides with the youth organization’s new membership cycle. No one will be exempt from screening and any questionable information they turn up could permanently disqualify people from participation in AAU programs. AAU’s Board of Directors will have final say on all membership decisions.

Everyone involved in AAU programs will also be required to report any known or suspected child abuse to law enforcement.

“The new recommendations are not because we suspect anyone, but rather because we expect everyone to do their part to create a strong, new culture of safety,” Stout said.

The moves follow a six-month review by two AAU-commissioned task forces that focused on youth protection and adult volunteering screening. They produced a joint 30-page report with 42 recommendations for changes to AAU’s policies, protocols and procedures.

AAU commissioned the review last December in the wake of decades-old sex abuse allegations against former president Bobby Dodd. The organization had never faced any abuse allegations prior to those against the 63-year-old, who had it severed all ties with, and he to date has never been charged with a crime.

AAU had previously done some random screenings of officials, but they were not mandatory

The oldest organization dedicated to youth athletes in the country, the 124-year-old AAU oversees about 30 sports programs for all ages nationwide, including major sports like football, basketball and baseball to bocce ball, baton twirling and competitive jump rope. More than 500,000 athletes and 50,000 volunteers participate in its programs.

The new screening will be done through a contract with LexisNexis Risk Solutions and will take between a few to several days per person depending on the applicant.

The company has a special program for nonprofits, which will help to defray a lot of the costs. The company has done more than 5.5 million screenings for different nonprofit organizations over the past 15 years including the Boys &Girls Club, Little League Baseball and Boy Scouts.

“They are coming to the right place,” said Beverly McIntosh, who heads LexisNexis’ volunteer screening division. “This is what we do.”

But some of the costs will be passed to AAU members, with membership rates increasing by $2 in each of its categories. That means that youth athlete fees will increase from $12 to $14 and from $14 to $16 when new member registration begins.

In addition to the background checks, policies will be in place to prevent adults from being alone in rooms with youths. Also AAU will put together a child protection manual to guide its members, and have a zero-tolerance policy for hazing.

“It probably should have been done a long time ago….There’s a term we use every day — change. That’s what all this is about,” Stout said. “I don’t think about what we didn’t do, I think about what we are going to do. And that is change the perception of this organization hopefully across the rest of its serving youth across this country.”

It’s a perception that probably needs changing after the Dodd allegations.

ESPN reported that two former basketball players had accused Dodd of molesting them as children in Memphis and other locations in the 1980s. But Memphis police suspended their investigation a month later because they could not find any victims, and no one has come forward to file a formal criminal complaint.

Dodd’s attorney, Steve Farese, said in January that his client is innocent. Farese said he was not surprised that police did not go forward with a criminal investigation.


Kids–No more fun with adults….Single Parents–No more help from Coaching Staff

Long gone are the days of asking the coaching staff to pick your child up and take them to practice when you have to work late. Long gone are the days of asking the coaching staff to bring your child home from practice because you have to work late.

Our laws have to get tougher for those grown ups who can’t keep there hands off of our children. And–and we need to instill in our children that lying is not good. We have to lead our children by example. When anyone lies–nobody wins.

A Teacher’s Aide for the Polk County School District Suspected of Sex With Male Students

A Lakeland teacher’s aide accused of having sex with students has turned himself in, thePolk County Sheriff’s Officesaid today.

Curtis Leonard Jiles, 30, wanted on charges including sexual battery by a person in custodial authority, sexual activity with minors and procuring a person younger than 18 for prostitution, reported to the Polk County Jail book-in facility about midnight.



Where are our children safe? (Somebody please answer this question for me)

Mother and Son Burglarized Middle School

June 5, 2012

Taylor County, FL

A mother and son duo are accused of breaking into a local middle school and stealing thousands of dollars in money and equipment.

The principal of Taylor County Middle School showed us the damage police say the mother and son caused. The two are accused of not just stealing, but leaving the place in a complete mess.

People in Taylor County are asking themselves what the duo could have been thinking. Perry Police say Jacob Gaskins, 22, and his mother, Paula Gaskins, 46, broke into Taylor County Middle School on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.

Officials say the two stole an estimated seven thousand dollars worth of items.

The principal of Taylor Middle say the duo climbed through a window in the teacher’s lounge. Officials say they tore up the vending machines and stole money.

They are, also, accused of going in the main office, where two Mac computers and radios were stolen as well.

Police were able to recover the equipment, but not the money.

School officials say Jacob was easily recognized on the surveillance video. He was arrested later that same day.

Then officials took a closer look at the video and noticed Paula. She was arrested last Tuesday.


It’s mothers like her that make people in authority question the really great mothers ethics


I believe that part of the reason why teachers and law enforcement officers fail to contact mothers before their child is in the middle of a crisis–is because they fear the mother may cover up for their child. Although the two people mentioned above are not the first to commit crimes together, it’s incidents like that that will stick in everyone’s mind. Leaving mother and son to nearly always be presumed guilty. 


Mother Faces Child Abuse Charges for Choking Teen Boy Who Bullied Her Daughter on Facebook

St. Petersburg, FL

Debbie Piscitella, a mother whose daughter was bullied on Facebook, had an untimely encounter with the boy who’d been bullying her daugter in a mall. It’s been reported that she and her daughter were out shopping at a local mall when the mother spotted the teenage boy. On the Dr. Drew show, the mother admitted that she had not planned on putting her hands on the teenager when she first approached him. She said that she really just wanted to tell him to stop bullying her daughter. She went on to say that in an instant, she had grabbed the boy by his throat. Witnesses said that she’d only choked the boy for a few seconds, but either way she’d left marks on his neck. And yes, the boys mother pressed charges.

Now the girl’s mother, who was a nursing student, may not be able to pursue her career as a nurse. Surely, this may affect her family financially. Jim Pisceitella, the girl’s father, told reporters that his wife made a “stupid mistake”.

On the other hand, a local radio station gave it air-time to the bully and allowed him to further add insult to the girl’s mental injury, as the boy spoke about how the girl has a reputation for sleeping around.


Where Are the Adults in this Mess?

The girl’s mother should’ve never approached the boy. I’m sure that her training as a nurse, taught her how to restrain herself. I know that a mother’s love for her child is huge! But as a mother, it’s our responsibility to be an example for our children. It’s our responsibility to show our children the proper way to deal with bullying is to simply ignore it. As tough as it may be to ignore an ignorant person–God will deal with it. And when you’re on God’s side–you will not lose. The Lord will not allow His sheep to be preyed upon. And that’s what we need to be teaching our children–God’s wrath is real. God said, “Vengeance is mine.”