January 24, 2013 |
DELHI - The judicial panel set up in the wake of national protests after the gang rape of a young woman on a bus in the Indian capital submitted its report Wednesday, castigating politicians, police, and the army for failing to protect women and children, and calling for far-reaching changes in the way the country is governed. The three-member panel was established to assuage national outrage over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student last month, but did not bow to public pressure to propose the death penalty for rapists or to lower the age at which young offenders could be tried; the lawyer for one of the accused rapists in the New Delhi case says his client is 17. Instead, in a 200-page report, the panel slammed decades of apathy and criminal behavior in the way the country was governed and said the nationwide protests were "a call to India to change the a way in which women are treated.
June 26, 2012 |
The Supreme Court's landmark ruling Monday barring mandatory life sentences for teenage criminals offers the welcome glimmer of hope for parole for thousands of lifers across the nation. In Pennsylvania prisons nearly bursting with inmates who were locked away as teens, the mandatory-term ruling poses a major challenge in righting a potential wholesale injustice. No other state has thrown away the key on so many juvenile offenders — with around 480 serving life terms for crimes committed before age 18. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been asked to order the review of hundreds of those cases, and the court has a duty to move decisively in that direction now. Every sentence should be reviewed as a result of the high court ruling, even if the state courts eventually conclude that the life sentences should stand under the narrow discretion the Supreme Court allowed.
April 28, 2012
Youth programs We commend The Inquirer for its editorial "Juvenile offenders don't deserve no-parole sentences" (April 21). Research has shown that most young people who engage in crime will grow out of it, and that more serious punishment does not do a great job of deterring other would-be criminals. More effective are alternative programs that address factors that lead to involvement in crime and prevent recidivism. The Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP)
April 21, 2012 |
The case before the Supreme Court challenging life-without-parole sentences for teens is really about hope. Does the Constitution somehow bar the courts from depriving all hope of release from prison for young offenders who, in fact, are not fully responsible for their actions, no matter how heinous? Judging from recent arguments, the court could be leaning toward yet another landmark decision that would bolster the core tenet of the juvenile-justice system — namely, that youthful offenders deserve a second chance.
March 22, 2012 |
In the world of crime, Guillermo Soto was hardly a standout: 21 and busted for the first time selling drugs in North Philadelphia. But Soto did fit the model for what criminologists call "at-risk": undereducated, unemployed, and, barring intervention, a nonviolent drug offender about to start studying for a "Ph.D. in violence" while serving a mandatory one-year term in a Pennsylvania prison. Instead, Soto and seven cohorts stood before news cameras Wednesday, introduced by District Attorney Seth Williams as the first class of "the Choice is Yours," a $1.3 million pilot program backed by grants from the Lenfest and William Penn Foundations.
March 13, 2011 |
While teachers and education administrators recoil in shock over Gov. Corbett's proposal to slash funding, a $1.65 billion cut representing more than a third of all reductions, life at the Department of Corrections is sort of swell. Community and economic development? Whacked. Higher education? Halved. Correctional institutions? Up 11 percent, to almost $1.9 billion. "We need to think smarter about how and when and how long to jail people," Corbett said in his budget address Tuesday.
November 16, 2009 |
Even in the face of the recent scandal involving the Luzerne County juvenile court, Pennsylvania can be proud of its leadership in protecting children in the justice system. Since 1995, the state has emphasized balanced, restorative justice as a core principle in the disposition of juvenile offenders. Pennsylvania is among a minority of states that allow every juvenile transferred to adult court the opportunity to have the case returned to juvenile court for trial. Because of its progressive record, it was the first state the MacArthur Foundation chose to participate in its juvenile justice reform initiative.
November 13, 2009
THE SCIENCE is now undisputed: Adolescents' brains make them more impetuous, more susceptible to peer pressure, and less able to make good decisions. This lessens their culpability for the crimes they commit. But adolescents' brains also make it easier for them to change, and to be rehabilitated. The question before the U.S. Supreme Court - and the country as a whole - is whether to follow the science or cling to "throw away the key" policies that have filled our prisons with many young people who could, if given the chance, be rehabilitated and go on to lead productive lives.
June 19, 2009 |
A report issued this week by Human Rights Watch, No Equal Justice, shows how a little-known federal law has created problems for prisons and their administrators. As corrections professionals, we applaud the report. Passed more than 13 years ago, the Prison Litigation Reform Act was intended to curb frivolous prisoner lawsuits. It has achieved some of its goals, reducing the per capita rate of prisoner lawsuits by nearly 60 percent, according to Washington University law professor Margo Schlanger.
September 24, 2008
IF YOU WERE to judge by our incarceration rates, you'd think Pennsylvania has the most dangerous young offenders on earth. There is nowhere else on earth but Pennsylvania where offenders as young as 10 are likely to be warehoused for the rest of their lives. We are a state that certifies juveniles as young as 10 years old for adult trial on homicide and major felonies. Pennsylvania also is one of the few states in the United States where there is no parole from a life sentence.