We've written in the past about the Persons in Need of Supervision
program designed to deal with children that behave in a manner considered
dangerous or out-of-control. New York lawmakers have now passed legislation
that would allow courts the power to refer teenage girls with prostitution
offenses to the PINS program instead of placing them in jail.
This legislation is a part of a series of bills designed to prevent exploitation
of minors through human trafficking. The bill is also designed to provide
training for judges that oversee prostitution cases involving minors.
"By treating them as PINS we are acknowledging that they are victims,
not perpetrators," stated Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.
The PINS program is tied up with the family law court system. It's
often been used to make determinations whether a child needs guidance
for offenses such as underage drinking or truancy. The new legislation
also provides resources concerning social services, mental health counseling
and preventive services.
The new provision will presumably allow teenagers a chance to return to
a normal life and rejoin society. Hopefully it will also help children
be reunited with family members in certain circumstances as well if this
would truly benefit the child's interests. Prior to this legislation
being passed, children would instead be held criminally responsible for
From the perspective of family law attorneys, we need to keep the best
interests of the child at heart anytime a matter arises that involves
a young person. There are certain circumstances that parents are unable
to take care of their children. Either through
guardianship or through the PINS program, attorneys can make certain that placement
of the child is appropriate for their individual circumstances.
Source: Legislative Gazette, "Young prostitutes get help, not jail, under new law," Kelly Fay, Jan. 21, 2014