Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

November 13, 2012

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author William Ecenbarger Discusses His New "Kids-for-Cash" Book

posted by Juvenile Law Center

On Wednesday, November 28, Juvenile Law Center will present an event in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia featuring author William Ecenbarger. Ecenbarger, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Three Mile Island disaster and a George L. Polk Award for his coverage of corruption in the Pennsylvania legislature. Ecenbarger will discuss his new book Kids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.8 Million Kickback Scheme (New Press). 

Kids for Cash tells the story of the Luzerne County judicial corruption scandal, which Juvenile Law Center helped uncover in 2007 following a call from an alarmed parent that prompted us to investigate irregularities in Luzerne County's juvenile court.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Luzerne Kids for Cash Scandal|News and Announcements
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October 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Misses the Mark on Life Without Parole for Juveniles

posted by Juvenile Law Center

photo via :Dar.

Pennsylvania this month missed an opportunity to transform the harshest sentencing scheme in the world into one that is fair, proportional, and consistent with the latest knowledge of adolescent development.

On June 25, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Miller v. Alabama, the third in a series of recent landmark opinions regarding the sentencing of youth in the criminal justice system. Each of these decisions recognized that youth under the age of 18 should not be treated the same as adults, and that harsh sentencing laws that fail to take account of the distinct attributes of children and youth will fail to pass constitutional muster. Children are not simply smaller versions of adults and are not as culpable for their actions. In Miller, the Court found mandatory life without parole sentences to be unconstitutional for youth convicted of murder committed when they were under the age of 18. Pennsylvania leads the nation and the world in this area, with over five hundred juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole following conviction of either first or second degree murder.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
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October 18, 2012

New Sexting Legislation Victimizes Teens, Turning Typical Adolescents Into Criminals

posted by Juvenile Law Center

A new law that criminalizes any sharing of sexually suggestive photos between teens is awaiting the signature of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett—even if the sharing is a consensual, private act between two individuals.

HB 815 claims to protect teens from possible exploitation by authorizing the arrest, humiliation, and saddling of children with a criminal record, as well as needlessly costing families thousands in unwarranted legal fees. District attorneys will now have the power to prosecute any teen who sends or receives a nude or partially nude photo of themselves or another teen, even when it is consensual and even though it is merely the 21st century version of the 20th century Polaroid.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Juvenile Sex Offender Registration
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October 02, 2012

New Term for U.S. Supreme Court Prompts Reflection on Children's Rights

posted by Juvenile Law Center

[image via Michael Kappel on Flickr]

Since 1917, the first Monday in October has been the official opening day of the annual term of the United States Supreme Court. For the first time in many years, there are no cases currently set for review that raise large questions about children’s status under the Constitution. So … it seems like a good time to pause and reflect on how children and youth have fared in recent years.

As it turns out, quite well. As longtime advocates for children’s rights, we at Juvenile Law Center see much to celebrate. And, because we have a long view, we also see trends and swings in how the Court has addressed children under various provisions of the Constitution. We will focus on a survey of recent key developments under the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments.

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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August 31, 2012

Hybrids Don't Work in Juvenile Court*

posted by Juvenile Law Center

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a strongly worded endorsement this week for zealous lawyering for kids—the same kind of zealous lawyering that adults routinely expect for themselves. In In re Austin M., Austin M. successfully appealed his delinquency adjudication, convincing a majority of the Illinois Supreme Court that a lawyer cannot simultaneously assert and defend his juvenile client's innocence and also claim to be seeking the truth "the same as the court and the same as the prosecutor." Characterizing this dual mission as "hybrid representation," the Court held that a lawyer cannot serve as both defense counsel and a guardian ad litem on behalf of a child charged with delinquency.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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