Our brief argued that Houston-Sconiers, which held that sentencing court’s have authority to depart below the standard sentencing range when sentencing youthful offenders, established a substantive change in the law requiring retroactive application and further that a national consensus has emerged against applying mandatory sentencing schemes to youth. We further argued that the continued imposition of mandatory adult sentences on youth relies on an unconstitutional non-rebuttable presumption that a youth is as morally culpable as an adult.
We argued that the proposed judicial expansion of the Child Protective Services Law to permit unreasonable searches of parents through compulsory urine drug screens during civil child welfare investigations violates both the Fourth Amendment and the Pennsylvania Constitution. We further argued that such an expansion would have a disparate impact on poorer people and people of color.
Our brief argued that the imposition of any life imprisonment sentence upon a juvenile offender, including a life tail, imposed without considering youth and its attendant characteristics, is unconstitutional under the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions.
Amici argued that the state should be held liable when youth are deprived of the right to effective assistance of counsel, even when the state has delegated the responsibility of providing counsel to the county because the right to counsel is fundamental and essential to a fair trial.
United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama •
Attorneys from Juvenile Law Center and SPLC filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, which imposes a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender for children tried and convicted as adults for sex offenses.
Juvenile Law Center’s brief argued that M.H.’s statements to a government social worker may have been involuntary and violated due process even if the government social worker was not required to give Miranda warnings because youth are more susceptible to coercion, conditioned to comply with adults’ requests, cognitively disadvantaged when navigating the juvenile justice system, and misunderstand their rights even when actively informed of their rights.
United States District Court, Central District of California •
Amici argued that regulations released in August 2019 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are inconsistent with the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), violated state licensing requirements required by the FSA, and put children at risk of serious harm or even death.
Juvenile Law Center argued that the reasoning relied on by the United States Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons (prohibiting capital punishment for youth who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed) applies with equal force to young adults, such as James Hairston, and that legislative changes reflect an emerging national consensus that individuals under age 21 are less culpable for their criminal conduct than fully-developed adults.
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