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February 27, 2014
When 13-year-old Matt watched his parents’ difficult divorce devolve into a nasty custody battle, he struggled to keep his emotions in check. One evening, after Matt accidentally knocked over his mother’s boyfriend’s beer, the boyfriend accused Matt of throwing a piece of steak at him. At the time, Matt was 13 years old, stood 4 feet 3 inches tall, and weighed 82 pounds—while the boyfriend was 6 foot 3 inches tall and weighed approximately 210 pounds. Still, Matt’s mother called the local police, and Matt ended up before Luzerne County, PA juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella.
February 25, 2014
The United States holds more prisoners in solitary than any other democratic nation. To address this issue, in June 2012, Senator Durbin chaired the first-ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement, featuring expert testimony on promising reform efforts that have reduced the use of solitary confinement, while also lowering prison violence and recidivism rates, and saving millions of dollars.
On February 25, Senator Durbin is holding a follow-up hearing to explore developments since the 2012 hearing and what addition steps must be taken to curb the overuse of solitary confinement while controlling costs, protecting human rights, and improving public safety. Juvenile Law Center submitted written testimony for this hearing.
February 24, 2014
The Chicago-based Mikva Juvenile Justice Council, in partnership with Smart Chicago, recently unveiled a smart phone app designed to help Illinois youth and adults with a history of juvenile justice system involvement erase (or “expunge”) their juvenile record.
February 20, 2014
From 2003 to 2008, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, more than half of the thousands of children who appeared before ex-juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella were asked two questions before they even entered the courtroom: "Do you have a lawyer?" and, if the answer was no, "Can you sign this form?" The form stated that the child understood she was waiving the right to an attorney and would be representing herself in the courtroom.
February 18, 2014
On February 10, 2014, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge David R. Workman joined fellow judges in Monroe and York counties in finding that Pennsylvania's Act 111, the Sex Offender Registration Notification Act ("SORNA"), is unconstitutional. The law requires children who are 14 and older and who are convicted of certain sexual offenses to register for life as sex offenders and be subject to onerous reporting requirements.
This important ruling marks another major victory for kids.