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Mom wants answers for son seen punched in juvenile facility

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Updated: 5/09/2013 1:24 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- It's just a normal Saturday morning at the Robinsons, but a family member is missing.

Janice Robinson picks up the phone as she does every weekend to call her oldest son, 15-year-old Jawaun, who is living more than two hours away at Youth Center, a juvenile justice facility in Caliente, Calif.

Since Jawaun has been gone, his mom started a legal fight on his behalf -- a personal quest intended to right a wrong her son endured in February 2012 when he was being booked at the juvenile detention facility in Clark County for burglary.

In a video obtained by News 3, a juvenile detention assistant grabs Jawaun -- who is seen wearing red, and yanks him to the counter. You can see the man slugs the teen in the face as his head snaps back and his hat flies off his head.

"He doesn't deserve it," says Janice Robinson. "Again they need to put themselves in my shoes. This is a child here. Nobody deserves to be hit in the face and roughed up like that."

It's been 14 months and still no answers from the district attorney's office who has asked Metro for further investigation. In the meantime the statute of limitations for battery has run out and no charges against the men in the video.

"It's not easy for his siblings," Robinson said. "I can't even explain to them where he's at and when he's coming back. Also my mother and father. They want to know where he's at. And I just don't have a time. They won't give me a time when they're letting him out. It's not fair.”

Robinson says she's lost her faith in the system and wonders just how often this happens.

"There's been rampant abuse of young people," said UNLV Professor David Tanenhaus. "This was a crisis recently in Texas and New York was under a lot of pressure to close down facilites."

Professor Tanenhaus has written about juvenile justice and organized a recent Las Vegas conference on juvenile justice reform. Beginning with the first court in Chicago in 1899, he says while there have been problems but still defends the juvenile justice system.

"The best cure for juvenile delinquency is people growing up," Tanenhaus said. "So the court by diverting kids from the adult system gave them this possibility of reform."

However, the video concerns Tanenhaus and state senator Justin Jones.

Jones, chair of the health and human services committee wants answers.

"I haven't heard of other instances, but obviously it's under my purview of the health and human services committee to look at these issues," Sen. Jones said. "And if I need to have a hearing on it then I will. We can't let this occur.”

That's what Robinson says she wants too – answers – and to prevent this from happening to other juveniles and their families.

"I don't think it's an isolated incident,” Robinson said. “I know that if he so easily went over there and punched my son like that and roughed him up that it's most likely happened before. Because they act like it's an everyday thing at the office that goes on the way the people reacted in the video."

Since her attorney got involved, News 3 has learned Metro is taking a second look at the case but Robinson fears nothing is going to happen until officers know that they will be held accountable by fellow officers required to report child abuse and that Metro will investigate it and the district attorney will prosecute.

So far we can't verify that that anyone reported it or how thorough the investigation was but we do know there has yet to be a prosecution.
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