In approximately 1981, juveniles who had been detained in Pennsylvania juvenile facilities prior to a disposition hearing filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Juvenile Court judges, a juvenile probation officer, the Juvenile Court, and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the constitutionality of the "preventive detention" provisions of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act. The Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia represented the plaintiff class. Both a plaintiff and a defendant class were certified. The plaintiff class, certified on May 20, 1982, included all juveniles who were then, or would be detained prior to a disposition hearing pursuant to the challenged statutes. The defendant class included all Juvenile Court Judges, Masters, and probation officers who were then, or would be responsible for conducting preventive detention under the challenged statutes.
The relevant provisions of the challenged statutes provided for detention of juveniles prior to adjudication or disposition where "detention or care is required to protect the person or property of others or of the child or because the child may abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court ..." 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 6325. See also 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. §§ 6335, 6341. The plaintiffs were challenging the standards and procedures by which they were detained.
On September 14, 1983, the District Court (Judge Joseph S. Lord, III) denied the defendants motion for judgment on the pleadings and partial decertification of the plaintiff's class. Coleman v. Stanziani, 570 F. Supp. 679 (E.D.Pa. 1983). The U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (Judge John Joseph Gibbons) dismissed the appeal, because (1) the appeal was interlocutory, and (2) the writ of mandamus sought was inappropriate. Stanziani v. Coleman, 735 F.2d 118 (3d Cir. 1984). The Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Stanziani v. Coleman, 469 U.S. 1037 (1984).
On April 18, 1986, the District Court (Judge Lord) entered a consent decree, which took effect on September 1, 1986. The consent decree named the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission as the monitor, and was to be in effect for ten years from the date of approval. The consent decree provided that juveniles could only be placed in secure detention prior to adjudication or disposition when security is shown to be necessary. Pre-adjudication detention could not be used as a means of punishment. Detention prior to adjudication was allowed where it was required to protect the person or property of others or the juvenile, or where it was required because the child may leave or be removed from the jurisdiction. Detention prior to disposition was allowed where the offense was one for which detention could be authorized, where the juvenile was initially detained, where placement is probable, and where the juvenile may leave the jurisdiction if not detained. Detention after disposition was entered, but prior to its implementation was allowed for the same reasons as detention prior to disposition. Detention was also allowed for extraordinary and exceptional circumstances. The consent decree also required specific procedures to be followed when determining whether pre-adjudication or pre-disposition detention was appropriate, and procedures to be followed after the detention decision was made.
The District Court modified the consent decree on December 15, 1986, to clarify when administrative reviews were required. Administrative reviews were required in all cases of children in secure detention after a disposition order had been entered but before it was implemented, and pending disposition review proceedings or while awaiting a disposition order.
We have no further information about this case.Kaitlin Corkran - 05/23/2006