Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in an Ohio District Court of Appeals in support of Mr. Graham arguing that the trial court failed to take into consideration the diminished culpability of older adolescents and emphasizing that a growing number of state and federal laws treat older adolescents like youth under 18. Our brief further argued that Mr. Graham’s harsh sentence exacerbates longstanding racial disparities in the application of criminal laws in Ohio and throughout the nation.
Our brief provided the Court with context on the history of youth sentencing and argued that, in the 1980s and 1990s, racist characterizations of youth in the media, and unsupported scholarly predictions about youth, race and crime led to a moral panic about violent youth criminals. The legislative changes brought about by these false narratives had lasting effects for youth, particularly Black and Brown youth.
Our brief argued that collecting DNA after entry of a deferred disposition saddles children with lifetime consequences for youthful actions and undermines the purported goals of the juvenile legal system. We further argued that the collection of DNA for deferred dispositions, as well as the use of DNA databases generally, disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous and other Washingtonians of color.
Our brief argued that Mr. McDougald’s sentence flouts constitutional limitations on juvenile sentencing, including U.S. Supreme Court precedent prohibiting the imposition of mandatory LWOP based on juvenile conduct. We further argued that Mr. McDougald’s sentence contravenes North Carolina’s current legislative understanding of youth and extends the state’s racially disparate treatment of Black youth.
Our brief argued that all Havasupai children ever named as plaintiffs are entitled to compensatory education, a forward-looking remedy designed to provide services and resources to students previously deprived of adequate education.
Our brief argued that youth of color, particularly Black youth, are disproportionately prosecuted in the adult system, and that youth experience severe harm when charged as adults. We further argued that the financial concerns surrounding Section 211.031.1(3) are overstated and should not be a barrier to implementation.
Our brief urged the Court to provide clear guidance that Ohio law presumes children remain in juvenile court, and that such a presumption requires the prosecutor seeking transfer to present evidence affirmatively demonstrating a youth’s lack of amenability to treatment.
Amici urged the court to clarify that a robust and individualized amenability to treatment analysis is required under Maryland law. We argued that such an analysis is essential given the grave consequences of prosecution in the adult system, which disproportionately impact youth of color, particularly Black boys.
Our brief argued that Marsy’s Law could undermine the due process rights of youth and threaten timely case processing, which is especially important for youth. We further argued that the proposed right to full and timely restitution could eliminate courts’ ability to impose individualized restitution amounts that reflect both a youth’s ability to pay and the court’s rehabilitative goals, compounding existing serious, long-term harms of restitution to youth and their families.
Our brief argued that expanding the authority of schools to regulate off-campus student speech would exacerbate existing disparities for students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as LGBTQ+, who are already disproportionately and excessively targeted by school discipline, particularly for so-called “infractions” that permit discretion and invite subjective interpretation. We further argued that expanding school authority risks punishing students for developmentally appropriate expression and chilling core protected speech.
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