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Juvenile Probation Assessment Tool Discriminates Against Boys

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Judge Hunt, sitting in the Family Court of Queens County in November of 2010, rendered a decision in a case that criticized the Probation Assessment Tool. Judge Hunt stated that the Probation Assessment Tool, which was implemented in the year 2003, provided “unwarranted harsher treatment” for many males and “unwise and unjustified lenient treatment for many females.”

Judge Hunt’s decision stated that “by creating a system of gender discrimination against males, [the] program also creates the very real possibility that female delinquents will receive less services or less supervision then they should, which itself creates an unnecessary risk of recidivism as well as an unnecessary risk to the safety of the community.”

Inability of Family Court to Change This Flawed System of Probation

Although Judge Hunt criticized the probation system, he further stated in his decision that he was without authority to change the system. He encouraged the state legislature to look into these problems and address necessary changes to the probation system in the State of New York.

Department of Probation

The New York Family Court Act of 1962 created the Department of Probation. The Department of Probation is authorized to conduct investigations and provide written reports in all delinquency proceedings, unless the procedure is waived by both parties to the proceeding. The Probation Department uses a tool called the Probation Assessment Tool (PAT). This program was developed by a non-profit organization called the Vera Institute of Justice. The PAT Tool covers seven categories. The categories are demographics; current events; legal history; family and home; school; community and peers; and drugs and alcohol/mental health. There are thirty-four questions within the confines of this program. Based on these questions, a score is calculated.

If a juvenile receives a low score, the outcome may result in incarceration or an intensive community program. If a juvenile obtains a high score, he or she usually receives a conditional discharge or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which is very lenient treatment. Judge Hunt’s decision indicated that the PAT program awards fourteen points simply for an individual answering a question indicating that they are a female. He therefore concluded that girls start off with a discriminatory benefit. Judge Hunt concluded in his decision that, due to the scoring disparities, the recommendations of PAT “would have been absurd and in some cases reckless.” Judge Hunt strongly suggested the New York State Legislature take immediate action to address this discriminatory tool used by probation departments.

It should be noted that judges, not the Department of Probation, have the ultimate authority concerning the sentencing of juveniles. Probation reports are merely recommendations that the judge can either accept or ignore.

Boys’ Rights, Mens’ Rights and Fathers’ Rights

Our office has been representing boys, men and fathers in the Family Court for three decades. We represent them concerning issues involving orders of protection, paternity, child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), child abuse, child neglect proceedings, CPS and ACS problems and also criminal allegations involving domestic violence.

We also represent fathers in divorce proceedings. Within the divorce proceedings, we litigate high net worth issues, equitable distribution of assets, parental relocation problems, parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome issues. In amicable situations, we negotiate separation agreements and we provide arbitration and mediation representation. Call us for a free consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or 1-800-344-6431.

Obama Administration Refuses to Defend the Defense of Marriage Act

same sex marriagesIn 1996, a Federal Statute was passed by Congress that prevented federal recognition of same sex marriages. President Obama has recently directed the Justice Department to stop taking legal action to defend this law in court.

The Obama Administration’s decision was presented to members of Congress by a letter written by Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The letter stated, “the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation” should be subjected to tests that have, in the past, had the impact of blocking unfair discrimination. Attorney General Holder specifically stated that “the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.”

The Obama administration’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act has been heavily criticized by conservatives in Congress. While conservatives are very unhappy about the Obama administrations position, gay right activist are overjoyed.

Anthony D. Romero, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, upon hearing of the Obama’s administrations position on the Defense Marriage Act, stated “this is a great step by the Obama administration and a tipping point for the gay rights movement that will have ripple effects in contexts beyond the Defense of Marriage Act.”

He further stated, “it will reach into issues of employment discrimination, family recognition and full equality rights for lesbian and gay people.”

Same Sex Marriage

There are approximately a dozen states in the United States that allow members of the same sex to be married. New York is not one of these states. However, New York State will recognize same sex marriages if those marriages were legal in the state that they took place. New York takes this action under the theory of comity of laws.

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Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

Gay men and women are now fighting to obtain greater rights. In New York State, women received equal rights in 1989. When women received equal rights, fathers also benefitted by the matrimonial and family laws in the State of New York becoming gender neutral. It was thought at that time that fathers’ custody and visitation rights would be greatly enhanced. Although in theory this took place, fathers in the Family Courts are not treated equally in New York State.

Our office represents fathers regarding divorce proceedings, child custody, child visitation matters, child support issues, spousal maintenance and with regard to issues involving allegations of child abuse and child neglect. When fathers are thrown out of their homes due to domestic violence allegations, we represent them in contesting the orders of protection that are taken out against them.

In situations where the parties are amicable, we negotiate separation agreements on behalf of our clients. We also assist fathers with regard to the no-fault divorce law recently passed in the State of New York. Feel free to call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 and 718-350-2802.

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