End Mandatory Bindovers of Juveniles to Adult Court

End Mandatory Bindovers of Juveniles to Adult Court

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Heather Mullins started this petition to Ohio State Senate and

My son, at 17 years old, was tried and convicted as an adult earlier this year and is currently serving a sentence of 38 years to life for complicity to murder. He didn't murder anyone,  he didn't plan for anyone to be murdered or harmed, he wasn't even there when the crime was committed. He was found complicit because he had at one point illegally possessed the gun and had given it to the shooter, without any knowledge that a murder would take place. In fact, the jury found him not guilty of conspiracy and the shooter acknowledged on the stand that my son did not tell him to shoot anyone. 

I, after my son, am the first to admit that he isn't perfect.  He's made mistakes. However, my son is not a violent person and doesn't deserve the charges nor the sentence he was given. 

Our criminal justice system needs to change. While researching this issue, I have learned that over 80% of our kids that are mandatorily bound over to adult court are black, which is a huge racial disparity. While my son isn't of color, he was on an IEP and struggled to understand throughout the entire legal process. We couldn't afford to hire private counsel. My son wasn't a star athlete (or any athlete), he doesn't come from a prominent family or have connections...things that shouldn't matter but unfortunately do.

Current Ohio law allows for mandatory bindover of youth as young as 14 years old to face adult prosecution who have been alleged to  have committed certain offenses, despite the numerous research studies that have proven that the adolescent brain doesn't fully develop until the mid-twenties, with some studies even suggesting later. In fact, former Supreme Court Justice Kennedy stated that "children are constitutionally different from adults in their level of culpability." Justice Kagan has recognized that adolescence is a time of "immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences." Ohio law recognizes that youth don't have the ability to make adult decisions, such as buying cigarettes and alcohol, voting, serving on juries or getting married without parental consent. Yet, current Ohio law allows children as young as 14 to be tried and convicted as adults, despite the fact that research shows youth face a disadvantage in criminal proceedings because they are less capable than adults to assist counsel with their defense or in understanding their legal rights.

On December 22, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that "the mandatory transfer of juveniles to adult court violates juveniles' right to due process as guaranteed by Article 1, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution." The Court further went on to find that juvenile courts are in the best position to make the determination of whether a youth should remain in juvenile court or be transferred to adult court. Unfortunately, this decision was vacated following a motion for reconsideration filed by the State of Ohio.

I firmly believe that the Ohio Supreme Court made the right decision in 2016, and urge you to sign this petition in support of Senate Bill 99, which aims to end mandatory bindovers. This bill would give the power back to juvenile courts, who are specifically trained to both recognize and address the unique needs of minors, to determine after careful, individual evaluation whether or not to relinquish jurisdiction.

While the injustice done to my son is my biggest motivator, I also am now fighting for all the other young people who have been robbed of their youth. I can't fight alone. I need your help to make our legislators take notice and end mandatory bindovers. Please join the fight by signing and sharing, for all of our children. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!