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Sweet 16 Party Ends in Gunfire, Four Teens wounded in Gwinnett County

Police are hunting for a gunman who fired as many as two dozen shots at a sweet 16 birthday party Saturday night. WSB-TV reports four students from Shiloh High School in Snellville were wounded.  As many as 75 teenagers were partying inside a private home, according to an account from 11alive.com. Witnesses said they heard arguing outside right before the shooting started.  The gunman is described as an uninvited guest who showed up with a rifle, stood outside the house and shot at the windows.

Guns in Schools: New Push to Allow Concealed Weapons on Campus

Georgia is one of nine states with proposals to allow guns on college campuses. Some states are even considering lifting their gun bans at K-12 public schools.

HB 55 would allow gun owners to carry their weapons at colleges in Georgia. It is currently before the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

A spate of lawsuits filed by gun-rights groups have opened the door to new debate about campus guns in Utah and Colorado, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Kansas and Arizona, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. However, a Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller says banning guns is constitutional in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

A number of states are bringing the gun issue to public schools. Georgia’s Common Sense Lawful Carry Act, approved last year, now gives licensed gun owners the right to keep weapons in their cars parked on school property.  The law applies to everyone from teachers to visiting contractors and even parents, as long as they keep their guns locked up and out of sight.

Montana is considering a bill to allow students to keep hunting rifles in their vehicles parked at school.

And Nebraska is debating a measure to let teachers carry concealed guns inside the classroom; the bill was filed right after the shooting inside an Omaha high school that took the life of a school administrator.

Obama Budget Calls for Cuts in Juvenile Justice Programs and Revamps Funding Formulas for States

Juvenile Justice Programs across the nation could face $50 million in cuts outlined in the White House budget proposal.   The Obama budget calls for “tough choices,” including a revamp of the way states must qualify for funding, based on how well they meet federal standards.

Title II formula grants would come out of a $120 million fund called the Juvenile Justice System Incentive Grants.  States would have to compete for rewards, based on how well they use evidence-based strategies, diversion programs and whether they reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC). Youth Today digs into this new concept and how it might work.

The President’s budget is a mix of cuts paired with some increases that could affect communities in different ways, according to thecrimereport.org. On the plus side, the Justice Department may get a 2% increase over all, including more money for the FBI, and $600 million for communities to hire first responder police officers. On the down side, the DEA faces cuts, and the Office of Justice Programs could take a large hit, hurting state and local crime prevention.

Republican proposals from the House Appropriations Committee are even more severe, according to Youth Today. That plan would cut all funding to programs like YouthBuild, teen pregnancy prevention, Teach for America, and state grants for incarcerated youth.  AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service would be gutted.  Juvenile justice grants and Law Enforcement Assistance Grants (including Byrne) would face sharp reductions.

Deal to Create Bipartisan Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform in Georgia

Governor Deal is set to announce the formation of a Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform on Wednesday.  An unusual coalition of state leaders will join him, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston.   The Council will spend the next year studying what to do about Georgia’s packed prisons and juvenile detention centers, how to reduce the bill of more than $1.4 billion, and alternatives to incarceration.  Recommendations are due in January 2012.

The event takes place at 1:45pm at the Capitol.