Honor student needs help not jail: supports 2 siblings, runs fr job to job, homework til 7am..too tired for school, missed class
Diane Tran, Honor Student At Texas High School, Jailed For Missing School
Diane Tran, a 17-year-old honor student in Texas, was forced to spend the night in jail last week after missing too many classes, KHOU-11's Sherry Williams reports.
The Willis High School junior, who helps support two siblings, has both a full time and part-time job. She said that she's often too tired to go to school. "She goes from job to job from school," Devin Hill, one of Tran's classmates, told KHOU-11. "She stays up until 7:00 in the morning doing her homework." Her parents divorced and no longer live near her, so she lives with the family that owns the wedding venue where she works on weekends.
Tran's case has spread online, with dozens of news outlets across the country picking up her story. HelpDianeTran.com, a site set up by the Louisiana Children's Education Alliance in partnership with Anedot and Gatorworks, has raised over $28,000
A petition at Change.org that calls for the judge to revoke the teen's fine and sentencing was approaching 28,000 signatures on Monday afternoon.
*Update May 31, 2012*
Charges dropped against honor student jailed for truancy
The 17-year-old Willis High School honor student whose 24-hour stay in jail for excessive truancy drew national attention had the charge rescinded Wednesday, records show.
Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Lanny Moriarty, at the Montgomery County District Attorney's request, signed an order that vacates the contempt of court conviction that sent Diane Tran to jail last week. The decision clears the way for the issue to be expunged from her record.
The action was taken, in part, after Moriarty looked at the extenuating circumstances that had resulted in Tran missing school and because her court summons had failed to notify her of her right to an attorney or to have one appointed for her, officials said.
Tran, a junior described by friends as "quiet and shy," could not be reached for comment. But her attorney, Brian Wice, said Tran was under an incredible amount of pressure from working two jobs and was unsure what to tell the court. "She is not someone unwilling to come to class because she's attending a rock concert," Wice said. "She's an incredible gal who is working and studying sometimes 24 hours a day and contributing to her siblings' support more than a teenager should have a right to do."
Her case created a national uproar after various media reports suggested she had legitimate reasons for being too exhausted to attend her classes. In an interview on KHOU (Channel 11), Tran cried about her parents divorcing and leaving her to fend for herself. She talked of working two jobs and helping support two siblings.
Wice praised Moriarty and Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant for helping to clear Tran's record. "We're gratified they decided to do this in the interest of true justice. Anybody involved now realizes it's the right thing to do," said Wice, who is working pro bono. He now plans to have the record expunged so it will not impact any efforts to attend college or obtain student loans.
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.
The United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations. The United States has 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London.
Half of the world's prison population of about nine million is held in the US, China or Russia.
Prison rates in the US are the world's highest, at 724 people per 100,000. In Russia the rate is 581.
At 145 per 100,000, the imprisonment rate of England and Wales is at about the midpoint worldwide.
Many of the lowest rates are in developing countries, but overcrowding can be a serious problem. Kenyan prisons have an occupancy level of 343.7%.
Image courtesy International Centre for Prison Studies / BBC
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