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Three Victories in Juvenile Justice Reform

June 12, 2012
Omote Ekwotafia

juvenile-justice-reform_flag-of-LouisianaLouisiana Ends Youth Life Without Parole Sentences for Non-Homicide Offenses

Thanks in part to the efforts of our member, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the governor of Louisiana signed Senate Bill 317, ending life without parole sentences for youth who commit non-homicide offenses. this follows the standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida.

Some requirements of the newly-signed bill include a low-risk designation and acquiring a GED. Most importantly, however, it offers youth parole eligibility after 30 years; mandates that a three-person parole board determine release based on a specific finding of fact; and requires that the parole board take into account the youth’s state of mind, as determined by an expert in adolescent brain development and behavior.

» Read about the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on life without parole sentences.

Pennsylvania Ends Shackling of Youth in Trouble with the Law

Hats off to the Juvenile Law Center (an NJJN partner) and other youth advocates for their work to ensure that Pennsylvania outlawed the indiscriminate shackling of youth barring extreme or exceptional circumstances with Senate Bill 817. The bill is just one of the recent Pennsylvania bills passed to protect the basic rights of youth in trouble with the law. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania passed laws requiring legal representation for youth in almost every circumstance and requiring transparency in youth justice court proceedings

Colorado Puts an End to Zero-Tolerance School Discipline

A new bill eliminates harmful and inflexible zero-tolerance school discipline policies in Colorado schools. Supporters of SB 46, like the parents and students of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, expect the bill to help minimize the racial and ethnic disparities in Colorado’s youth justice system. Most importantly, the bill allows school officials to do their jobs by giving them discretion regarding suspensions and expulsions, and making expulsion mandatory only where a student brings a firearm to school.

» Read NJJN’s Policy Platform on School Discipline


Photo: Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

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