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10-year-old Tristen Kurilla has been charged as an adult in Pennsylvania in the murder of a 90-year-old woman in his grandfather’s care. According to reports, the woman yelled at the fifth-grader after he asked her a question and, in response, he reportedly held a cane to her neck and beat her with his fists. Kurilla is being held in an adult facility, separated from the other inmates.

To be sure, these are brutal allegations. But let’s be clear about one thing: Even if he is charged as an adult, Kurilla is not an adult. He is a 10-year-old child.

Neuroscience and development psychology demonstrate that juveniles are developmentally different from adults. As any parent can attest, and as the research shows, adolescents are less able to make mature decisions than their adult counterparts. They are less able to self-regulate, and have greater difficulty resisting social and emotional impulses.

In addition, juveniles are much less risk-averse than adults. They engage in spur-of-the moment behavior, without appropriate weighing of the risks and long-term consequences. They do not have the same life-experiences on which to draw, and are less able than adults to plan for the future. These abilities — to resist and control emotional impulses, and to weigh and understand the consequences of actions — do not develop until late in adolescence, and sometimes not until a person is in their 20s.

These developmental differences are part of the reason that the law treats children differently than adults. We have a juvenile justice system that is separate and apart from the adult criminal justice system because we recognize that juveniles are less mature. In apparent recognition of that emotional immaturity, states around the country prohibit juveniles under the age of 18 from voting, serving on a jury, drinking alcohol, gambling, buying cigarettes and even, in some places, from getting a tattoo.

Another reason for a separate juvenile justice system is because we recognize that the character of a juvenile is not fully formed. Children are malleable — they have the potential to reform and change. Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system includes rehabilitation of the offender as part of its goal. It embraces the idea that children, no matter how awful the act, are capable of change.

Treating children as adults negates that possibility.

Yet, Pennsylvania has a tradition of treating juvenile offenders as adults. According to the Juvenile Law Center, there are over 2,600 inmates throughout the country that are serving life without parole for offense they committed as juveniles. Over 450 of those inmates are from Pennsylvania, more than any other state. In other words, there are hundreds of people in Pennsylvania who will die in prison with no possibility of release — ever — for crimes they committed as children.

This is not to say that young people can’t do terrible things, or cause irreparable harm. But they need to be shown that their actions have consequences, in a developmentally appropriate way that accounts for their youth.

Tristen Kurilla is accused of a terrible crime. But he is extraordinarily young. It would be difficult for a 10-year-old to understand the “forever-ness” of death, the harm that he caused, or the prospect of an entire life in prison. Hopefully, the court will take Kurilla’s extreme youth into account when it is asked to release Kurilla on bond or to transfer his case back to juvenile court where it belongs.

But the very fact that a 10-year-old could be charged as an adult in the first place should give us great pause.

When a child is charged as an adult, the state is engaging in a legal fiction — that commission of a criminal act somehow transforms the actor. With a swish of a legal wand, a child becomes an adult who can be punished as if he were an adult.

Except, of course, in reality. In reality, a child remains a child, no matter what the law says.


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A report to be presented to the United Nations next month alleges the Chicago Police Department has engaged in “ongoing, pervasive” violence targeting the city’s youth of color in a way perpetuated by its “culture of impunity.”

Alarming statistics are presented alongside youth testimony, collected at an August 2014 community hearing and via a confidential “police encounter line,” in the report released Wednesday by the We Charge Genocide coalition.

The group of activists, which will present to United Nations Committee Against Torture in Switzerland, is calling for a response from CPD, identification of the department’s treatment of colored youth as torture, and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Behind these stories and numbers are real people—real people’s severe pain, humiliation, suffering, and death at the hands of those charged with the duty to ‘protect and serve’ Chicago,” the report reads.

Though about 33 percent of Chicago’s population is African-American, the city’s arrest rate of black youth is disproportionately high, according to the report. In 2011, 77 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s youth arrests were of black youth. In 2012, that percentage increased to 79 percent.

The report also notes that black and Latino targets were involved in 92 percent of the Chicago Police Department’s uses of stun guns from 2009 to 2011. Throughout the first half of 2014, black targets have been involved in 78 percent of the department’s stun gun uses, the report notes.

The use of stun guns has also failed to significantly reduce the number of police-involved shootings since they were implemented by the department in 2010, the report notes. Black Chicagoans are, again, drastically overrepresented among those who are shot by police. As the Chicago Reporter previously observed, black Chicagoans are 10 times more likely than their white peers to be shot by a police officer.

The report notes it’s also rare for a Chicago police officer to be held accountable for misconduct allegations. Among 10,149 complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse or false arrest filed by residents between 2002 and 2004, only 124 — 1.2 percent — were sustained, and only 19 cases led to a penalty of suspension of at least a week or worse, according to the document.

Citing a 2007 report by a University of Chicago Law School professor, the report notes that a brutality complaint filed against police in Chicago is 94 percent less likely to be sustained than elsewhere. In the city, only 0.48 percent of brutality complaints are sustained, compared to 8 percent nationally.

Specifically, the group is calling for the United Nations Committee Against Torture to demand a response from the CPD “regarding the steps it will take both to end this treatment and to fully compensate the individuals, families, and communities impacted by this violence.” It further calls on the committee to identify the CPD’s treatment of youth of color as torture and for the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the department.

The release of the report came on the eve of a status hearing for Glenn Evans, the Chicago police commander relieved of his duties in late August after he was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for allegedly sticking his gun into the mouth of a suspect. Evans was the subject of more excessive-force complaints than any other CPD officer between 1988 and 2008 but was still promoted to commander. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The We Charge Genocide coalition gets its name from a 1951 petition filed to the U.N. that documented a number of police-involved shootings and human rights abuses.

We Charge Genocide Report On Chicago Police Violence


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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Oct 23 (Reuters) – The gunman in Wednesday’s attack on Canada’s capital Ottawa acted alone and there was no apparent link to an attack in Quebec earlier in the week, security officials said on Thursday.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, was a Canadian citizen who may also have held Libyan citizenship, said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Bibeau killed a soldier before racing through the parliament building where he was shot dead. In the Quebec incident on Monday, Martin Rouleau, 25, rolled over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, before he too was shot dead, police said.

“We have no information linking the two attacks this week,” Paulson told reporters in Ottawa, which remained on high security alert on Thursday.

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This photo purports to show Wednesday’s suspected shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Bibeau had recently applied for a passport but checks by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) did not turn up any evidence of national security related criminality, although his criminal records indicated infractions related to drugs, violence and other criminal activities, Paulson said.

Police said he wanted to go to Syria. U.S. officials said on Wednesday they had been advised Bibeau was a convert to Islam, the same as the assailant in Monday’s attack.

Underscoring tensions on Thursday, armed police arrested a man who tried to approach the shooting site just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was laying a wreath to commemorate the slain soldier.

On Tuesday, Canada sent six warplanes to the Middle East to participate in U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants who have taken over parts of Iraq.

Harper said the attack would only strengthen Canada’s response to “terrorist organizations.”

He pledged to speed up a plan already under way to bolster Canadian laws and police powers in the areas of “surveillance, detention and arrest.”

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In this frame grab taken from video, Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a televised address to the nation in Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/APTN, Pool)

Tighter security was evident all over the sprawling parliamentary zone in downtown Ottawa. Armed officers stood outside the door where the gunman rushed in on Wednesday.

The flag flying over Parliament’s Center Block, where the gunman had burst in on Wednesday morning, was at half mast and bullet holes could be seen in the carpet just inside the front door and in the masonry in the hallway where the soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot.

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People pay their respects at National War Memorial on October 23, 2014, in Ottawa, the day after multiple shootings in the capital city and Parliament buildings left a soldier dead and others wounded. (Peter McCabe/AFP/Getty Images)

(Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr and Richard Valdmanis in Ottawa, Andrea Hopkins and Euan Rocha in Toronto and Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Howard Goller)


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FERGUSON, Mo. — Five people, including a legal observer who said he was simply walking back to his car, were arrested outside the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday night as protesters gathered to call for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

The officer’s case is currently being reviewed by a grand jury, which must decide whether or not to indict Wilson by January 2015, though a decision expected within the next several weeks. Amid rampant speculation that the jury will side with Wilson, protesters on site predicted more turmoil in Ferguson in the event of an acquittal.

Authorities estimated that about 200 people gathered outside the Police Department Wednesday. The crowd was largely peaceful, though some members of the crowd knocked over barricades that had been set up to block access to the department’s parking lot. A St. Louis County Police spokesman said that when officers attempted to clear the lot, they were “immediately pelted with rocks and bottles.” Over the course of the night, a total of five officers were assailed by rocks, bottles and a metal rod, but no injuries were reported, the spokesman said.

Some of the demonstrators also forced crews from CNN and local news station KMOV Channel 4 to leave the area.

Protesters yelled chants like “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” while others took to freestyle rapping about justice and religion. Demonstrators carried signs calling for Wilson’s arrest, and Wilson’s face was even projected on a building across from the police station.

The legal observer who was arrested, Mike Wazowski, was affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild’s Legal Observer program. Wazowski said on Twitter that he was returning to his car when he was put under arrest.

Wednesday’s crowd was larger than it has been on other nights because many had gathered in connection with a national day of protests against police brutality.

Many of the demonstrators discussed the leaked information that has emerged in recent days about the events leading up to Brown’s shooting. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday on an autopsy conducted by the St. Louis County examiner, which showed that Brown was in close proximity to Wilson when the officer shot him in the hand. This could support the officer’s claim that Brown was going after Wilson’s weapon during their initial confrontation. The Washington Post reported the same day that seven or eight black witnesses, who have not spoken publicly, gave testimony before the grand jury that largely supported Wilson’s account.

The Department of Justice has condemned the leaks. The Justice Department has launched a separate federal civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, along with the FBI, and is also conducting a broader probe of the practices of the Ferguson Police Department.

Several supporters of Michael Brown who attended Wednesday’s protests told The Huffington Post they believed the information about the grand jury was being released to prepare the public for a possible ruling in favor of Wilson.

“It’s not a surprise that they’ve leaked the information,” said 23-year-old Ben Teter, a retail worker from O’Fallon, Missouri. “To me, it seems like they released things on purpose, unfortunately, to downplay Mike Brown and make him seem like a bad guy.”

“I think the information was released to strategically to support Darren Wilson,” said Bryan Buck, 24, a St. Louis University medical student from the small town of Marshall, Missouri.

Jaleah Williams, 26, a grad student from St. Louis, said it’s been hard for residents of the area to trust police, especially in the wake of Brown’s death.

“Ferguson and St. Louis will be in a state of emergency if Wilson is not indicted. If he’s not indicted, Ferguson will never be same,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, the amount of times Wilson shot Mike Brown was excessive. So, if no charges come down, that’s saying it’s okay for police to kill our kids.”

But Nick Walker, 38, an engineer technician who lives in Ferguson, felt the large crowd that gathered Wednesday night showed that the new evidence was not swaying Brown’s supporters. “None of the new evidence mattered after I heard the audio of the shots fired,” Walker said.

Sherry Moore, 42, a dietary cook from Ferguson, said the newly leaked information does not discourage her because she believes much of it involves speculation.

“Until we find out exactly what the grand jury decides to do, nothing bothers me. I think that some protesters are bothered by the leaks, it gets some angrier. I think the leaks tried to stir up problems,” Moore said.

Mariah Stewart reported from Ferguson, Ryan J. Reilly reported from Washington.

This article has been updated with additional information on the expected timeline for the grand jury’s decision.


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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson say they are not responsible for recent leaks of information related to investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Wilson shot the unarmed 18-year-old on Aug. 9 in a case that has drawn widespread attention. A grand jury is expected to decide by mid-November whether Wilson will face criminal charges, and the Justice Department is investigating for possible civil rights violations.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a leaked copy of St. Louis County’s autopsy and toxicology report Wednesday. Other leaks to media have cited unnamed sources saying Wilson told investigators he felt threatened by Brown.

Wilson’s four attorneys said in an emailed statement that commentary about the case should only come in a legal venue, not through media, while the investigations continue.