Juvenile Law Center

Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Coleman v. Stanziani

In 1981, Juvenile Law Center filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in federal court challenging Pennsylvania law and practices that governed the detention of youth charged with committing delinquent acts. Defendants included a statewide class of Pennsylvania juvenile court judges and juvenile probation officers. The lawsuit aimed to reduce unnecessary pre-trial incarceration of juveniles in Pennsylvania’s juvenile detention centers.

Juvenile Law Center and the defendants settled the case in 1986, entering into a 10-year settlement agreement that would limit the use of detention to serious cases and require judges and probation officers to explain the reasons for secure detention.  The data collection forms that were used in the decade after the settlement are still required for all youth arrested in Pennsylvania (except in Philadelphia, which is governed by Santiago).


735 F.2d 118
Case Number
83-1730, 83-3539
July 08, 1981
United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
State of Origin

Support Juvenile Law Center

One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before. Support