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.
In 2002, Lusby was sentenced to an aggregate of 130 years in prison, with parole eligibility after serving 65 years for a crime committed at age 16. Amici argued that Lusby’s sentence is a de facto life sentence and is unconstitutional as applied to juvenile offenders.
In an important win the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that “a minor’s refusal to confess to an act for which he or she might be criminally prosecuted as an adult may not be considered when deciding whether to certify a case for transfer between juvenile and adult court.”
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