June 29, 2012
The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed House Bill 75 this week, improving the chances for success for foster youth who are making the transition to independence and adulthood. The new law—which Juvenile Law Center worked closely with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children to promote (read our joint white paper, "Maximizing 'Fostering Connections' to Benefit Pennsylvania Youth," here)—will bring more federal dollars to Pennsylvania and provide additional supports to older foster youth. These youth face tremendous barriers to making it on their own as adults, but the new law will enable more foster youth to remain in care past age 18 and enable county children and youth agencies to provide expanded support and guidance for them.
June 26, 2012
In another landmark ruling involving juveniles sentenced in the adult criminal justice system, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Miller v. Alabama that states may no longer mandate life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of homicide offenses. The Court reversed the decisions of the Alabama and Arkansas Supreme Courts, which had upheld the imposition of these sentences on Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, both 14 at the time of their offenses. The Court’s ruling applies to all juveniles convicted of homicide who are or were under the age of 18 at the time of their offenses—providing a glimmer of hope to over 2,000 men and women who had previously been sentenced to die in prison.
June 22, 2012
Photo by SVLumagraphica/Photos.com
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently celebrated the publication of the United Nations Economic and Social Council's adoption of the First International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. DOJ praised the Guidelines, calling them "a significant milestone in the global development of fair and just systems of criminal justice."
Notably, the Guidelines emphasize the special vulnerability of children in conflict with the law. (In the United States, these are children who are arrested.) The Guidelines single children out as a group entitled to special measures and additional protections. In doing so, the new Guidelines not only recognize that "children should have access to legal aid under the same conditions or more lenient conditions as adults," but they also reaffirm many of the goals toward which Juvenile Law Center strives on behalf of children in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.