Author Topic: Truancy hating judge charged with a crime  (Read 1291 times)

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Offline Oscar

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Truancy hating judge charged with a crime
« on: May 13, 2011, 12:29:55 AM »
Closing arguments set in JP's official oppression trial, Jared Taylor, The Monitor, March 10, 2011

EDINBURG — Closing arguments are set for Friday in the trial of an Hidalgo County justice of the peace who allegedly sent teens to jail under legally questionable circumstances.
Hidalgo County prosecutors and Justice of the Peace Mary Alice Palacios’ defense lawyers rested their cases Thursday after two days of witness testimony.
The Precinct 4 justice of the peace has remained suspended while under indictment on three counts of official oppression, a misdemeanor charge that could send her to jail for up to a year, if convicted.
A March 2010 investigation by The Monitor revealed that Palacios had sent dozens of teens to jail for up to four months after the students had failed to pay fines associated with missing classes.
At the time, Palacios’ court had no records that any of the incarcerated students had been advised of their right to an attorney or that alternate means existed to settle their charges, such as a payment plan or community service, the investigation revealed.
Several of Palacios’ employees testified Thursday, saying their boss was stern but fair when considering the truancy cases of several students brought before her.
“She’s stern, and she doesn’t mess around,” said Arturo Alvarado Jr., a truancy case manager for Palacios. “We don’t want money. We don’t want them to go to jail. We don’t want to hassle parents. We want them to go to college and better themselves.”
That countered prosecutors’ contention that the student suspects were never offered options to settle their cases beyond spending time in jail.
Leroy Treviño, a student who spent more than a week in jail, testified Wednesday that Palacios never offered him community service.
Prosecutors presented documents that show he was arrested on failure to appear and failure to attend school charges — even though he’d shown up for all his scheduled court appearances.
But Palacios’ lawyer Fernando Mancias argued Treviño signed a waiver refusing any alternative means to pay his fines and that he would settle his case by serving time in jail.
Until she was indicted last July, Palacios had handled most truancy cases in Hidalgo County since 2008. Her court handled all the truancy cases for the Edinburg, Edcouch-Elsa, Donna and Hidalgo school districts.
Palacios was never called to testify throughout her criminal trial. The justice of the peace has contended that her indictment was a politically motivated move by Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra, whom she called a “tyrant” and a “bully” in the days after her arrest.
In 2008, Guerra tried to block a $500,000 grant from the Justice Department that allowed Palacios to take on more truancy cases.
The district attorney contended accepting cases outside her jurisdiction — the greater Edinburg area — overstepped her authority. But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott handed down a ruling that favored Palacios, saying she could handle cases from any school district in Hidalgo County.
Guerra has maintained the facts in the case support themselves and that Palacios’ arrest was not a political attack.

I hope that putting students in jail for truacy or runaway attempts can be stopped.

Education is a gift, not something you should force people to do. If they don't want this gift they can be flip burgers the rest of their life and if they really want that, they should be welcome while we who have struggled for our education maybe could benefit from the ressources they don't occupy. 25 percent of the total budget is used on the 2-5 percent of the student population who have to be dragged into school. This sum could benefit the general standard so our countries could be more competitive in the future and it is needed. Our politicians have maxed out our credit cards and the bank is in China.

Also imprisonment of teenage runaways should stop. Create safe haven shelters providing bed and meals and offer the option of education. If a child really want to leave the home it is a job for the social services to investigate why. There must be a reason. Something in that home could be really bad and then it is a matter of securing possible siblings.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Re: Truancy hating judge charged with a crime
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2011, 12:41:32 AM »
Just what this case is about:

JP's practice of jailing in truancy-related cases questioned, Jeremy Roebuck, The Monitor, March 27, 2010

EDINBURG — The two weeks Elizabeth Diaz spent in the Hidalgo County Jail last month still threaten to derail her education.

During her 18-day stint behind bars, she missed the standardized exit test she must pass to graduate from high school.

Her school removed her from its roster for 10 consecutive days of unexcused absences.

And as she watched her plans to enroll in South Texas College this summer evaporate among a crowd of adult drug users, prostitutes and accused murderers, the irony of her situation was never once lost on the 18-year-old:

She was locked up for charges that began with missing school.

“It was my doing,” she said. “I just thought if I’m going to jail, I’m going to jail.”

Diaz is one of dozens of Hidalgo County teens sent to adult lockup each year for one of the most juvenile of crimes. In the last 12 months, 149 students were sentenced to terms as long as three months for failing to show up to truancy court hearings.

And while most accepted their sentences without question, a Monitor review of their cases found these court-ordered imprisonments:

>> May have subjected dozens of teens to wrongful incarceration.

>> Exacerbated problems with school attendance.

>> Were imposed despite missing paperwork required by the law.

>> In many cases, were extended well beyond their legal limit through multiple fines assessed for the same offense.

While the justices of the peace that ordered these jail terms maintain they are operating within the law, several attorneys, judges and state truancy experts agree that such long-term sentences violate the teens’ civil rights and may open up the county to millions of dollars in legal liability.

But Diaz’s mother, Adele Hernandez, doesn’t need a law degree or a background in public policy to make up her mind about her daughter’s case.

“What does this tell our kids?” she said, days after the teen’s release. “The justice system really sucks.”

Something like should be stopped at once. No parent would want their child in jail for that. Some might even be scared to sending their child to a boarding school to keep them "safe".
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »