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JULY 21, 2011: Peg's Blogs on Hiatus...

As many friends and regular readers know, I've been dealing with a lot in my personal life, lately, while my workload has continued to grow. Rest assured that I'm in the best of company, and getting by with a little help from my friends. Still, I need to take a break and focus on centering myself. That means this site will be neglected even more than it has been.

Until I'm able to get a grip on blogging regularly and thoughtfully again here (or until someone else steps in to anchor the site), I encourage people to check out Carl Toersbijns' blog (he's a former Deputy Warden for the AZ Department of Corrections, and while not an abolitionist, he's a strong advocate for the prisoners with mental illness, and for broad-based prison reform in AZ). You may also want to drop in on Middle Ground Prison Reform's site for news.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bernini transfers troubled youth to juvenile system

Thank you, Judge Bernini. Her office is here, for those of you who want to contact her about this...

Arizona Superior Court in Pima County
110 W. Congress St., Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 740-4200, TDD (520) 740-8887

Kim Smith at the AZ Daily Star, by the way, has done a extensive coverage of the Pima County courts these past few years.

----from the AZ Daily Star--

15-year-old won't be tried as an adult 

kim smith

arizona daily star (02/06/12)

A Tucson teenager originally charged as an adult with attempted murder of his adoptive father has been transferred into the juvenile system.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini ruled Wednesday that the 15-year-old would be better off in the juvenile system because of mental-health services not available in the adult system.

The boy was 14 last October when Pima County sheriff's officials said he and his then-17-year-old girlfriend, Angela Swink, decided to run away together after killing his adoptive parents. Swink is scheduled to enter a plea agreement today. The adoptive parents were in the process of terminating their parental rights, and the teen was living in foster care.

Officials said the boy attacked the dad from behind, choked him and tried to cut his throat. The dad overcame the boy and called 911.

In her ruling, Bernini noted the father didn't require medical treatment and the mom wasn't home. The father grabbed the knife from the teen, put away his groceries and offered both teens ice cream, Bernini wrote. He called 911 from a convenience store and waited with the pair for deputies.

The boy was removed from his teenage mother while he was a baby and lived in seven foster homes before his adoptive parents took him in, Bernini noted.

The couple, who were 57 and 70 when they adopted the teen, home-schooled him until he was 12, and he failed his first year of public school.

The teen has been arrested for assaulting the mother, but "both incidents involve documented physical assaults committed against him by (the adoptive mother)," Bernini said.

"The records are replete with documented physical and mental abuse of the defendant at the hands of his adoptive parents," Bernini wrote. She also noted he'd been hospitalized twice for suicidal thoughts.

After the teen was placed back in foster care and a special-education class, "his behavior showed dramatic improvement," Bernini said. She said police records indicate Swink was the instigator.

By transferring the teen into the juvenile system, his dependency and criminal cases can be handled by the same judge.

On StarNet: Follow the news and events at Pima County's courthouses in Kim Smith's blog, At the Courthouse, at

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or

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