In Pennsylvania, the hate crime category is seldom utilized. However, a recent case that involved a teen facing assault charges has turned into a different situation altogether. Now a ninth grade student faces charges of ethnic hate crimes.
Several young men, including three minors, were recently arrested on drug related and other charges in Pennsylvania. The charges in this case, which include a drug possession charge, are very serious and may have both immediate and long-term consequences. The immediate consequences may include juvenile detention, jail and/or prison time and possible fines.
When a young person is charged with a crime, a lot can be at stake. This is especially the case when prosecutors attempt to have the youth certified to be tried as an adult. While the juvenile justice system generally incorporates an understanding of the need for rehabilitation and assistance, the criminal system operates on a different set of assumptions. These assumptions do not always fit for the young, who are still developing.
Hundreds of individuals sentenced as juveniles to life in prison received disappointing news earlier this month when the nation’s highest court refused to take up the issue of whether a law doing away with mandatory life imprisonment without parole for juveniles applies retroactively. That law was spelled out in a Supreme Court case in 2012 out of Alabama. The case did not say whether it applied retroactively.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving the issue of whether state law permits a requirement that juveniles found guilty of certain sex offenses register as sex offenders. The appeal stems from a decision last year which concluded that juvenile defendants were, under the state constitution, not required to submit to lifetime sex offender registration as required by a law passed in 2012.
Bullying is a big issue in our schools nowadays, or at least an issue that has been receiving increased attention in recent years. Part of the reason for this is, no doubt, that schools are anxious to address behavioral and social issues early on so as to avoid escalation and school violence. Bullies, of course, are unfortunately often able to fly below the radar, sometimes leaving the victim without much response to teachers and school authorities.
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a 16-year-old boy charged with the murder of his father's pregnant fiancé back in 2009, when he was 11 years old. The pregnant woman was reportedly shot in the back of the head with the boy's youth shotgun. At the time of the incident, the boy's father was travelling to work. Other than her two daughters, 7 and 4 years of age, nobody else is thought to have been in the house.
A high school sophomore in Pennsylvania was taken into custody after authorities found more than 80 packets of heroin and more than $700 in his backpack on the school premises, police say. The police superintendent reported that they typically see juvenile crimes involving pills or pot and added that he hadn't seen heroin at the high school before.
Three former students are accused of damaging Youngsville High School during the weekend of June 15 to 16. The officials describe the damage as almost 30 computer monitors in the computer lab and walls in other rooms painted with spray paint. Some of the spray painted images were graphic in nature.
Many states, including Pennsylvania, have strict laws regarding juvenile offenders, but have recently developed new laws and standards for youth brought up on criminal charges. The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill in May 2013 that would make it possible for a number of juvenile offenders, including individuals charged with murder and sexual assault, to have a chance at parole. State representatives developed the bill in response to a Supreme Court decision restricting state legislatures from developing mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders. If the bill goes into law, Connecticut becomes the fifth state to enact a law in response to the Supreme Court decision.