We argued that Mr. King's de facto life sentence is both unconstitutionally disproportionate under the Eighth Amendment and unconstitutionally cruel under the Pennsylvania Constitution. We further urged the Court to reinstate the procedural protections previously set forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Batts.
Our brief argued that the mitigating attributes of adolescence apply with compelling force to all late adolescents, regardless of offense or issued sentence and, accordingly, the statute’s distinction among late adolescents is irrational and unsupported by science.
The brief argued that Maryland’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission recommended a minimum age because it recognized that the juvenile justice system is a developmentally inappropriate response to alleged misbehavior by young children. The brief further argued that the approach of sister states reflects a national trend of setting a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction, and that racial and gender equity considerations reinforce the need for retroactive application of the JJRA.
Our brief argued that the Superior Court and juvenile court orders contravene the letter and purpose of Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Act and related court rules. We further argued that meaningful and timely appellate review is necessary to curtail the grave harms caused by out-of-home placements, including disproportionate harm to youth of color and youth with disabilities.
Our brief argued that the current overcrowding at PJJSC will continue unless measures are taken to substantially limit the use of custody and confinement for Philadelphia’s youth. Our brief emphasized the many ways that out-of-home placements cause grave harm to children. We further argued that Pennsylvania’s overuse of confinement disproportionately harms youth of color and youth with disabilities, and that alternatives to detention are available and effective.
Our brief argued that the increased presence of law enforcement in schools leads to greater juvenile and criminal system involvement for youth and disproportionately affects Black youth. We further argued that O.W. was entitled to Fifth Amendment protections during questioning.
Our brief argued that Damian’s age and trauma history made his interrogations unconstitutional. Our brief further emphasized the ways that adolescent brain development impacts youths’ abilities to appreciate and enforce their rights during interrogations, and how trauma compounds adolescent vulnerabilities during interrogations.
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