News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Crime Laws Take Hold

Forty-seven states have overhauled their juvenile laws in the past few years, signaling a historic change to a tougher stance on how juveniles are treated by state courts, according to a report released by the Department of Justice.

In the first comprehensive study of recent juvenile-crime laws, the independent National Center for Juvenile Justice reviewed juvenile-crime legislation adopted in 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1992 and 1995. The group found that 13 states had eased confidentiality rules for violent juvenile offenders, opening records traditionally sealed.

"These actions have significantly altered the legal response to violent crime in this country and represent a fundamental shift in juvenile-justice philosophy from rehabilitation to punishment," said Patricia Torbet, an author of the study.

A free copy of the 60-page report is available from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse at (800) 638-8736 or in Adobe Acrobat format at

Privacy Rules Published

The Department of Education published final rules last week on family educational rights and privacy issues. They take effect Dec. 23.

The provisions allow parents access to education records kept by state education departments. Under the rules, parents have the right to consent to disclosure of any information that might identify their children. Only school officials with "legitimate educational interests" in those children will be exempted.

The final changes were published in the Nov. 21 Federal Register.

Vol. 16, Issue 13

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