United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania •
Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center, and attorneys from Dechert, LLC, filed a class action lawsuit against Glen Mills Schools and Pennsylvania state officials on behalf of hundreds of youth who suffered at the hands of Glen Mills leadership and staff.
Juvenile Law Center and Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, along with pro bono counsel Ballard Spahr LLP, filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in support of J.M.G. Our brief argued that effective psychiatric treatment requires absolute confidentiality and disclosing privileged communications between a psychiatrist and patient is never harmless error.
Our brief argued that J.L.’s removal violated Pennsylvania statute which requires that removal of a child only be used as a last resort and when clearly necessary to protect the child or the community. Our brief further outlined the ineffectiveness and long-lasting harms of residential placements on children. Finally, we highlighted research demonstrating that community-based services are effective in addressing truancy while preventing the harms of removal and placement.
Our brief challenged the constitutionality of Mr. Helm’s lengthy sentence, arguing that the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama requires sentencing courts provide system involved youth with a second chance to participate and engage with family and community, and individualized sentencing that takes account of the youth’s distinctive and hallmark developmental attributes.
Our brief focused specifically on the young adult population—18 to 25 year olds—who make up over one third of Pennsylvania’s current death row population and whose developmental traits of immature decision-making, impetuosity, susceptibility to negative peer influences, and greater capacity for rehabilitation further underscore the overall arbitrary and disproportionate nature of Pennsylvania’s death penalty.
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