Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

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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May 31, 2012

How You Can Help Improve The Child Welfare System

posted by Juvenile Law Center

As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, Juvenile Law Center hopes you will continue to listen to the voices of current and former foster youth to understand the realities of the foster care system, along with the actions you can take and support you can provide to help improve the child welfare system. 

As you've seen from the posts of our guest bloggers, youth in care have the same needs, hopes, and dreams of all youth, but often are not provided the support, resources, and care that all children deserve to make a successful transition to adulthood. One way to understand the needs and hopes of foster youth is by learning more about the work of Youth Fostering Change, our youth engagement group for current and former foster youth.

Tags:Youth Fostering Change|Child Welfare and Foster Care|Youth Engagement Programs
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May 30, 2012

Shackling Youth, Strip-Searching Adults: PA Legislature Leans Forward While U.S. Supreme Court Leans Backwards

posted by Juvenile Law Center

Pennsylvania just took a giant step forward with respect to its treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system while the United States Supreme Court recently took a giant step backwards in declaring the strip searching of adultsarrested and detained for even the most minor offensesa valid practice under our Constitution. 

In Pennsylvania, one of the last pieces of legislative reform emerging from the Luzerne County juvenile court judges' scandal fell into place this week. Governor Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 817 into law, prohibiting the shackling of children in juvenile court unless there are extreme or exceptional circumstances. The law, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker, reinforces a juvenile court rule adopted last year by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court. The law and rules give Pennsylvania youth two layers of protection against what is nothing more than state-inflicted trauma. 

Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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