Pennsylvania Supreme Court Fails to Follow U.S. Supreme Court Opinion on Mandatory JLWOP
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in Commonwealth v. Cunningham that juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole (JLWOP) whose convictions were final before June 25, 2012—the date of the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Miller v. Alabama—must continue to serve these unconstitutional sentences.
Juvenile Law Center is deeply disappointed that the PA Supreme Court has decided not to follow the Miller ruling, which holds that juveniles convicted of homicide can no longer receive mandatory sentences of life without parole. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision ignores the trend in both state and federal courts to find Miller retroactive.
Juvenile Law Center, together with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and John Cotter, Esq., represented Mr. Cunningham on his appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Promising Federal Ruling in JLWOP Cases
Although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied relief to juveniles serving mandatory life without parole sentences, this issue is also being litigated in the federal courts. Thanks to a federal ruling on October 3, three Pennsylvania inmates, convicted of murder offenses they committed as juveniles and sentenced to life without parole, will be able to petition the federal district court to reconsider their sentences.
Read Less >
Partial Settlement in Luzerne County Juvenile-Court Civil Litigation
Juvenile Law Center recently announced that a partial settlement with a second set of defendants has been reached in the Luzerne County juvenile-court civil litigation. The settlement, which must receive court approval, is between defendants PA Child Care, LLC; Western PA Child Care, LLC; and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp., and counsel representing the plaintiff judges and parents of juveniles who appeared before former juvenile court judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. The civil lawsuit is continuing against the former judges, among others.
Representing the juveniles and their parents since early 2009, Juvenile Law Center is co-counsel with Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller attorneys Daniel Segal and Rebecca Santoro Melley.
Read Less >
New Resources on Implementing FERPA Amendment to Benefit Foster Youth
The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education—composed of Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center-PA, and the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law—has released a brief on the barriers to educational success that children in foster care often face, and how a new amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) makes it easier for child welfare agencies to collaborate with schools to eliminate those barriers.
That amendment, known as the "Uninterrupted Scholars Act," or "USA Act," greatly expands and simplifies access to education records for child welfare staff while preserving important privacy and confidentiality safeguards. The law permits schools to release a child's education records to child welfare workers that are legally responsible for the care and protection of the student.
Juvenile Law Center worked closely with Congress on the USA Act from its inception. Our current work, through the Legal Center, promotes implementation of the act across the country.
As part of that effort, our brief includes examples of steps that child welfare agencies and schools have already taken to implement the USA Act, as well as a list of considerations for stakeholders who are seeking to implement the law in their own jurisdictions.
Webinar: "The Uninterrupted Scholars Act: Promising Information-Sharing Practices"
This webinar will provide an exciting opportunity to hear from jurisdictions that have engaged in effective information-sharing practices about their systems, results, and lessons learned.
Date: Thursday, November 14
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST
Read Less >
Tools to Guide Transition Planning for Foster Youth with Disabilities
For youth in the child welfare system, making the transition to adulthood is challenging, even in the best of circumstances. For youth with disabilities, that transition is especially difficult.
To help improve the transition to adulthood process for Pennsylvania youth with disabilities, Juvenile Law Center has developed the planning tools below.
While the tools focus on Pennsylvania, their reliance on federal statutes makes them useful for jurisdictions across the country. There are also discussions of promising Pennsylvania policies and practices that can be adopted by other states.
- In this guide for child welfare workers and advocates, special attention is paid to strategies for improving educational outcomes and opportunities, ensuring the least-restrictive and most family-like placements, and improving access to independent living services.
- This protocol—a companion to the "Guide for Professionals"—is a tool for child welfare workers and advocates to use to guide planning for youth with disabilities in the child welfare system from age 14 until age 21. The protocol is structured to prompt action steps to obtain services and supports the young adult will need to implement an acceptable transition plan under the law.
- This guide includes information about youths' rights, the obligations of the child welfare system, and the services and supports youth can obtain when they leave the system. The guide also highlights key advocacy opportunities for youth as well as tips on how to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.
Juvenile Law Center is able to provide trainings in Pennsylvania on the use of these tools. For more information and/or to schedule a training, contact Jenny Pokempner, Supervising Attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding for this project was provided by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.
Read Less >
Podcasts: Marsha Levick on Kids' Constitutional Rights; Lourdes Rosado on Building a Children's Legal Services Practice
On October 18, Juvenile Law Center Deputy Director and Chief Counsel Marsha Levick delivered the keynote address at the University of Virginia School of Law's conference marking the 15th anniversary of its Child Advocacy Clinic. She spoke on the re-emergence of constitutional rights for children.
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation's Children's Rights Litigation Committee has released a new podcast in its "Starting and Building a Children's Legal Services Practice" series.
In this podcast, Juvenile Law Center Associate Director Lourdes Rosado—co-chair of the Children's Rights Litigation Committee—interviews Frank Cervone, Executive Director, Support Center for Child Advocates, about how the Center has built a large system of representation for abused and neglected children by combining full-time advocates with pro bono attorneys.
Read Less >