Today's New York Times carried a story that made my blood boil!
According to the NYT, Pennsylvania teens charged with non-violent offenses, such as ridiculing school officials over the internet, unfairly spent time in prison because two Pennsylvania judges received $2.6 million dollars in kickbacks for sending these kids to private prisons.
Many of the juveniles unfairly sentenced to prison were not represented by counsel because in Pennsylvania children can waive their right to a lawyer. The NYT article points out that "only Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina require juveniles to have representation when they appear before judges."
Many legal protections for juveniles in Illinois reflect the work of Mary Dixon, ACLU Legislative Director, and our coalition partners. The ACLU's focus on juvenile justice, including our case against the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, is critically important to safeguard the rights of vulnerable juveniles, work that becomes even more important during these difficult economic times.
We should be very proud of this work!