Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

March 26, 2014

Lessons from "Kids for Cash," Part 7: Adolescents are Different from Adults

posted by Juvenile Law Center

“What were you thinking?!” As former teenagers, we’ve all been asked this question—and probably more than once.  

Teens act carelessly and impulsively for several reasons. First and foremost, numerous scientific studies (like the ones found here and here) confirm that teenaged brains are simply not mature, and key functional areas of their brains—primarily the frontal lobe, where decision-making and concentration are governed —are not fully developed until early adulthood. Kids are also much more susceptible to peer pressure than adults. They don’t recognize risks, and when they do, they evaluate risks differently from adults.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Luzerne Kids for Cash Scandal
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March 20, 2014

Lessons from "Kids for Cash," Part 6: System Involvement Can Traumatize—or Often Retraumatize—Youth

posted by Juvenile Law Center

Amanda Lorah, one of the youth featured in the film “Kids for Cash,” grew up with her father and struggled in school to overcome her perceived social stigma of having a single-parent family. Friendships mattered to Amanda.

When one of those friendships ended badly and the girl became verbally abusive, Amanda fought with the girl in the school gymnasium. At 14, she was arrested and taken to juvenile court, where she was charged with aggravated assault. After a hasty adjudication by then Judge Ciavarella, she was immediately shackled and taken away from her father to a secure juvenile detention facility. Amanda spent most of the next 5 years in placement in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system, terrified and traumatized by her separation from family and friends.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Luzerne Kids for Cash Scandal|Trauma and Trauma Informed Advocacy
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March 17, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court: Courts Must Consider Age Before Imposing Life Without Parole Sentences

posted by Juvenile Law Center

In an exciting step forward toward implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama nationwide, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on March 12, 2014 that courts must take into consideration the age and other unique attributes of adolescents or young offenders before sentencing them to life without the possibility of parole. Juvenile Law Center advocated for this requirement in our amicus curiae brief to the Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Long.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
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March 12, 2014

Lessons from "Kids for Cash," Part 5: Disruptions in Education Disrupt Lives

posted by Juvenile Law Center

As we mentioned in a recent Lessons from "Kids for Cash" blog, Hillary Transue was 14 years old when she created a fake MySpace page for her assistant princiapl in Luzerne County, PA. When she was contacted by law enforcement officials several months later, she hardly remembered that it existed. The police officer assured Hillary's mother, Laurene, that the court would go easy on her daughter. But when Laurene contacted Juvenile Law Center in 2007, her daughter had been removed from school and was serving a 90-day sentence in a wilderness camp for delinquent girls.

Tags:Access to Education|Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Luzerne Kids for Cash Scandal
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March 11, 2014

Young People Seeking to Seal Juvenile Records Face Substantial Barriers—Even After the Records Are Supposedly Sealed

posted by Juvenile Law Center

For youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system, the consequences of committing a crime don’t end after they’ve “done the time.” Having a juvenile record can restrict a young person’s ability to enroll in college, find housing, enlist in the military, or get a driver’s license. That’s why it’s absolutely critical for youth to apply to seal or expunge (the term varies, depending on which state you’re in) their juvenile records as soon as possible, to help protect their futures.

Tags:Ban the Box|Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Juvenile Records Expungement|Second Chances
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