News Briefs for September 2002

Print More

No Faith-Based Sex Ed: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ordered the state to stop using federal funds “to convey religious messages and advance religion” in its state-sponsored abstinence-until-marriage sex education program. After the July ruling, Gov. M.J. “Mike” Foster Jr. (R) agreed to “take steps to assure that the program is in compliance with the law,” according to a statement from the governor’s office. Foster said his office is “evaluating our legal options” and that it was “a sad day when such a worthwhile program is attacked by the very people who are supposed to protect the interests of the citizens of Louisiana.” The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had filed the complaint.

Suicidal Thoughts: An estimated 3 million youth ages 12 to 17 “thought seriously” about suicide in 2000, according to new data collected by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The data was pulled from the 2000 edition of the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Of those who thought about suicide, about 37 percent actually tried to kill themselves, the report said.

Smoke Machines Ask for ID: Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. is testing a new cigarette machine that tries to check the buyer’s age, the Associated Press reported last month. The machine, which requires buyers to swipe a credit card and an ID card with a magnetic strip, is being tested in bars and restaurants in Los Angeles and Cleveland.

Youth worker killed: A former convicted drug dealer-turned youth worker was shot to death in Washington, D.C., last month, and police suspect that he had returned to drug dealing. Kennard L. Coleman had been a youth counselor with the city’s parks department, and had been featured in The Washington Post for his anti-drug and anti-gang work. Coleman’s pastor questioned the police theory.

Teen Avoids Adult Court: Michael McKeehan, 16, one of five New Bedford (Mass.) High School students arrested in January as part of an alleged plot to murder teachers and students, was spared a trial in adult court by a recent judge’s ruling in Bristol County Juvenile Court. Michael was placed under the supervision of the state’s Department of Youth Services (DYS) until he turns 21. Prosecutors say he may be incarcerated for part of that time. If he had been tried under murder-conspiracy charges in adult court, he would have faced up to 20 years in prison.

AmyLee Bowman, 18, the whistleblower on the plot, who was arrested and released, appeared in the juvenile court as well on charges of violating the conditions of her release. She was remanded to a residential program pending a trial date.

Of the two youngest youths charged in the plot (both under 16), one awaits a hearing while the other was placed in DYS custody until his 21st birthday. McKeehan’s 18-year-old brother, Eric, still faces trial.