YSRP staff gathered on February 1, 2023, to celebrate freedom and commemorate the 7th anniversary of the landmark Montgomery v. Louisiana US Supreme Court decision with former Juvenile Lifers, advocates, and movement leaders.
YSRP staff were recently quoted in an article that appeared in Daily Kos that explains the administration of justice for children charged as adults in Pennsylvania through the eyes of Sean Gordine, a Juvenile Lifer. When asked about the harms of automatic sentencing for children in the adult justice system, YSRP’s Director of Case Advocacy Emily Robb explained to reporter Robyn Lazette Parks:
The law has simply not caught up with what we now know about brain development and how the part of the brain that controls impulsivity and risk-taking is the last to mature.
Director of Development & Communications Katie Barnett further stated,
mandatory sentencing does not take into account an individual’s, let alone a child’s, capacity for growth or change, which we know they are capable of when offered comprehensive support.
Policy Director Margot Isman expounded on current efforts to change the laws in Pennsylvania that allow children to be charged as adults in the first place:
There are several policy changes under consideration in the [Pennsylvania] legislature now that would change the way children are treated in the adult justice system. These proposals are the result of the bipartisan Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force. SB 1240 would eliminate “direct file”—the practice of charging children automatically as adults, without review by a judge, for a set list of offenses, which includes second-degree murder. It would also raise the age at which youth could be transferred after a hearing to adult court from 14 to 16, and change the presumption to favor a child staying in juvenile court.