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https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20130&cosponId=14043
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 4, 2014 04:37 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Juvenile Act study
 
I am introducing a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to conduct a study of the Juvenile Act and related issues. The Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63, enacted by 1976 Act 142, governs proceedings in which a child is alleged to be delinquent or dependent; and whether a child is subject to a proceeding in juvenile court or in criminal court.

The Juvenile Act has been amended dozens of times over nearly four decades. In 2005 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure with terminology and procedures inconsistent with the Juvenile Act, including the suspension of a dozen provisions of the Juvenile Act. The Juvenile Act should be thoroughly reviewed to determine whether there are substantive and procedural issues that need to be addressed and whether revisions are necessary in the Juvenile Act to make the act and rules consistent.

Since the United States Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (U.S. 2012) there has been interest nationwide in the sentencing of juveniles convicted of murder. In Miller the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles convicted of murder shall not be subject to a mandatory sentence of life without the chance of parole. The General Assembly responded to Miller by enacting 2012 Act 204, adding new provisions on the sentencing of juveniles convicted of murder (42 Pa.C.S. §1102.1). Also, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided Commonwealth v. Cunningham, 81 A.3d 1 (Pa. 2013) holding that Miller is not retroactive to juvenile lifers whose sentences were final before the Miller case was decided.

In addition to considering revisions to the Juvenile Act, the Joint State Government Commission study should include a review of how Pennsylvania and other states have responded to Miller, and whether changes should be made to Pennsylvania law as a result.

The advisory committee shall include approximately 30 members and be comprised of representatives from those groups most likely to make useful and insightful contributions, such as representatives of the judiciary, prosecution, defense, law enforcement, victim assistance and private and public organizations involved in juvenile justice issues. The advisory committee should report its findings and recommendations to the Senate no later than one year after the date this resolution is adopted.



Introduced as SR304