Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

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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June 29, 2012

Pennsylvania General Assembly Passes Legislation to Support Older Foster Youth

posted by Juvenile Law Center

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.

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Fostering Connections|State and Federal Legislation|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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June 26, 2012

A Chance For Hope: U.S. Supreme Court Ends Mandatory Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences

posted by Juvenile Law Center

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 offensesproviding a glimmer of hope to over 2,000 men and women who had previously been sentenced to die in prison.

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice|Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP)
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June 22, 2012

U.N.-Adopted Guidelines Show International Recognition of Need for Greater Protections for Youth in Juvenile and Criminal Court Proceedings

posted by Kacey Mordecai, Stoneleigh Fellow, Juvenile Law Center

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. 

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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