National Juvenile Defender Center

National Juvenile Defender Center NJDC gives juvenile defense attorneys a more permanent capacity to address practice issues, improve advocacy skills, build partnerships, exchange information, and participate in the national debate over juvenile crime.

Operating as usual

"I was a kid. I really was, but they'll call you 'boy' all the way up until they charge you like a man and sentence you ...
09/15/2020
He was wrongfully imprisoned for 8 years, now he's a defense lawyer

"I was a kid. I really was, but they'll call you 'boy' all the way up until they charge you like a man and sentence you as if you are one."

NJDC Board Member Jarrett Adams knows first-hand what happens when young people don't have great lawyers.

Jarrett Adams is a criminal defense lawyer who has dedicated his career to bringing justice to those who are underserved. But his first and most profound experience with the law came with trying to prove his own innocence after being wrongfully imprisoned for nearly a decade.

“It shocked me the first time I went into the facility. What I saw is something that I expected you might find in a deve...
09/14/2020
Age, neglect and vandalism in facilities endanger some youth, critics say

“It shocked me the first time I went into the facility. What I saw is something that I expected you might find in a developing country, and I certainly was shocked to see that Charleston, which is one of the richest counties and cities in South Carolina, would treat children this way.”

Aging and neglected juvenile detention facilities across the nation continue to endanger some youth and hamper rehabilitation, leaving offenders in prisonlike conditions that often are cramped, unsanitary, archaic and poorly

09/14/2020
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

14 million kids attend schools that have cops but no nurses or counselors. #DefendChildren

Correspondent Mike Brown gets an education from Dr. Monique Morris, Dream Cannon, Nathaniel Genene, and Jesse Hagopian in all the reasons School Resource Officers should be in schools. Just kidding, there aren’t any!

"Remote technology has been a vital tool for courts in the midst of a public health crisis. But the use of remote techno...
09/11/2020
The Impact of Video Proceedings on Fairness and Access to Justice in Court

"Remote technology has been a vital tool for courts in the midst of a public health crisis. But the use of remote technology — and its possible expansion — also raises critical questions about how litigants’ rights and their access to justice may be impacted, either positively or negatively, and what courts and other stakeholders can do to mitigate any harms."

Increasing use of remote video technology poses challenges for fair judicial proceedings. Judges should adopt the technology with caution.

“So many false confessions were taken from young African American boys and men in this city. It’s not just a problem tha...
09/09/2020
Righting a wrong — and rewriting a racist legacy

“So many false confessions were taken from young African American boys and men in this city. It’s not just a problem that started in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. There is a long, long history here."

In 1961, a Black 14-year-old boy was convicted of murdering a white teacher. Fifty-nine years passed before true justice was done.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco took office in 2011 with a bold plan: to create a cutting-edge intelligence program tha...
09/08/2020
Pasco’s sheriff uses data to guess who will commit crime. Then deputies ‘hunt down’ and harass them.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco took office in 2011 with a bold plan: to create a cutting-edge intelligence program that could stop crime before it happened.

What he actually built was a system to continuously monitor and harass Pasco County residents.

In just five years, the program has ensnared almost 1,000 people. At least 1 in 10 were younger than 18.

Families were subjected to around-the-clock visits from deputies, who often arrived without evidence of a crime.

“At a time when we know that the nation and the state of Oregon are really reckoning with our history of injustice, we k...
09/08/2020
Report shows unequal access to juvenile justice in Oregon

“At a time when we know that the nation and the state of Oregon are really reckoning with our history of injustice, we know that it’s more critical than ever that we focus on the importance of young people having access to quality counsel when they face the legal system."

The National Juvenile Defender Center is urging Oregon to standardize rules and procedures and eliminate all fees related to juvenile court, among other recommendations, to create equal access to justice statewide.

NJDC is pleased to announce the release of its assessment of Oregon’s juvenile defense delivery system. The assessment f...
09/08/2020

NJDC is pleased to announce the release of its assessment of Oregon’s juvenile defense delivery system.

The assessment found that while Oregon’s public defense system has adopted minimum qualifications and best practices for those representing young people in delinquency cases, it does not provide oversight or enforcement. As such, the system does not ensure quality representation for young people across the state.

The report also notes promising practices in Oregon the state can build from to improve its juvenile defense system and better protect youth rights, and offers recommendations to improve juvenile defense.

We would like to thank the assessment team for their work on this project, the many stakeholders across Oregon whose knowledge informed the report, and the dedicated juvenile defenders and advocates who will use the assessment report to improve Oregon youths’ access to high-quality defense counsel.

https://njdc.info/our-work/juvenile-indigent-defense-assessments/oregon-assessment/

“The last thing you want to do is to bring a child who is struggling with their behavior into the juvenile justice syste...
09/04/2020
Thousands of Children On Probation Are Incarcerated Each Year for Nonviolent, Noncriminal Behaviors

“The last thing you want to do is to bring a child who is struggling with their behavior into the juvenile justice system, because what we know is that once they come into the juvenile justice system and they’re incarcerated, they’re going to wind up deeper in the system over time.”

Experts say Black and Native children are disproportionately jailed either for status offenses or for technical violations of probation or parole—and that incarcerating them has far-reaching negative consequences.

“A lot of judges and prosecutors are not African-American and Brown people. They see us as others. They don’t see us as ...
09/03/2020
Race in Chicago: One Man's Fight For Redemption

“A lot of judges and prosecutors are not African-American and Brown people. They see us as others. They don’t see us as kids. If they viewed us as their kids, they wouldn’t be so quick to lock us up and throw away the key.”

Marshan Allen was 15 years old when he says his brother sent him and two other older teens to an apartment on the South side of Chicago to take back cash and coke stolen by a fellow gang member. Allen insists he had no idea the older teens would open fire through the front door that day in March 199...

“My concern is that racism in the police system is responsible for quite a bit of this, frankly. And then, racism across...
09/02/2020
Youth of color disproportionately represented in the justice system

“My concern is that racism in the police system is responsible for quite a bit of this, frankly. And then, racism across systems."

Youth across the country commit the same types of crime, but disparities affecting young people of color have continued to grow.

“The lack of comprehensive Latinx ethnic data jeopardizes the ability to build a responsive youth justice system that me...
08/31/2020
Latinx Youth Undercounted, Ignored in Juvenile Justice System: Report | The Crime Report

“The lack of comprehensive Latinx ethnic data jeopardizes the ability to build a responsive youth justice system that meets the needs of thousands of Latinos and Black youth who are incarcerated and under supervision."

The number of Latinx youth in juvenile detention centers across America is severely underestimated and, in some cases, ignored — leading to "misguided policies and a lack of resources to support that population," according to a report released Tuesday by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiat...

We #DefendChildren because #BlackLivesMatter
08/28/2020

We #DefendChildren because #BlackLivesMatter

"Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and in...
08/27/2020
Nat'l Juvenile Defender Center on Twitter

"Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and instead work to transform it, we will never achieve the kind of change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery."

“"Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and instead work to transform it, we will never achieve the kind of change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery." https://t.co/N3XWosCkdK”

"Youth in America are criminalized every day, with racial and socioeconomic disparities further increasing their likelih...
08/26/2020
‘A disjointed system’: Policing policies fuel criminalization of youth

"Youth in America are criminalized every day, with racial and socioeconomic disparities further increasing their likelihood of being policed, arrested or killed by law enforcement."

After decades of police reform, kids of color are still vastly overrepresented in arrests and police use of force.

"Massachusetts is poised to demonstrate national leadership by expanding record expungement for justice involved youth. ...
08/25/2020
Opinion/Pecoraro and Bellonci: A call for expungement of youth criminal records

"Massachusetts is poised to demonstrate national leadership by expanding record expungement for justice involved youth. In doing so, the commonwealth stands to not only give youth the greatest opportunity to thrive, but also to advance racial justice and begin to address the harm systemic racism has historically inflicted on communities of color."

In the midst of national unrest and an unprecedented call for justice system reform, Massachusetts is poised to demonstrate national leadership by

"The aim is to have no girls in juvenile lockups — by supporting youth “in articulating the things that they need in ord...
08/25/2020
New York City Pushes Toward Goal of Zero Girls in Detention With New Program

"The aim is to have no girls in juvenile lockups — by supporting youth “in articulating the things that they need in order to live their fullest lives beyond survival.'"

The city’s child welfare agency has teamed up with advocacy groups to create a new alternative program to help at-risk girls and gender-expansive youth.

"Kids make poor decisions every day all across the country. But what happens to adolescents after their mistakes is larg...
08/24/2020
The ununited state of juvenile justice in America

"Kids make poor decisions every day all across the country. But what happens to adolescents after their mistakes is largely a matter of luck. 'We call it justice by geography.'"

Juvenile justice issues shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of American children, and the topic is the focus of the 2020 News21 project.

"The current costs of confinement can completely cover the cost of community-based options that improve the care and tre...
08/24/2020
Youth Prisons: Why Are We Paying to be Less Safe? | The Crime Report

"The current costs of confinement can completely cover the cost of community-based options that improve the care and treatment of youth, while negating the harmful impacts of incarceration."

It costs over $200,000 annually to lock up just one young person, but jailing a youth actually increases the likelihood of later recidivism by nearly a quarter. Two researchers at the Justice Policy Institute argue it’s long past time for states to follow through on mounting calls to replace youth...

Children "receive that ‘undervalued’ message. That has a profound effect on their resiliency, which is really the whole ...
08/24/2020
Report: Juvenile Defense in N.H. 'Gravely Undervalued'

Children "receive that ‘undervalued’ message. That has a profound effect on their resiliency, which is really the whole point of a separate juvenile justice system."

A national non-profit says legal representation for young people in New Hampshire is “gravely undervalued,” leading to inadequate access to attorneys and

"For some youth, serious charges in the juvenile justice system can have lifelong consequences, such as deportation or h...
08/20/2020
California an Example of Why Advocates Must Remain Vigilant

"For some youth, serious charges in the juvenile justice system can have lifelong consequences, such as deportation or harsher penalties during future contact with the courts."

For decades, criminal and juvenile justice reformers have fought to dismantle the policies, structures and funding schemes that make up the nation’s overly punitive justice system. Recently, these efforts have been gaining traction. Polls show growing public recognition that the juvenile and crimi...

“Affording all young people in New Hampshire a specialized skilled attorney early and throughout proceedings against the...
08/19/2020
Report: NH youth need better lawyers in juvenile court

“Affording all young people in New Hampshire a specialized skilled attorney early and throughout proceedings against them is more important than ever as the state’s juvenile courts grapple with pervasive racial disparities and a further diminished capacity to afford due process during a global pandemic."

Defense lawyers who represent New Hampshire youth charged with crimes are often inexperienced and get involved too late in the process, according to a critical review of the state’s juvenile

NJDC is pleased to announce the release of our assessment of New Hampshire’s juvenile defense delivery system.The assess...
08/19/2020

NJDC is pleased to announce the release of our assessment of New Hampshire’s juvenile defense delivery system.

The assessment found that an absence of dedicated juvenile defense practitioners in New Hampshire leads to many youth waiving their rights and facing long-term consequences. Nearly every aspect of the defense system is set up to devalue juvenile delinquency cases, often leading to youth receiving constitutionally deficient counsel.

The report also notes promising practices in New Hampshire the state can build from to improve its juvenile defense system and better protect youth rights, and offers recommendations to improve juvenile defense.

We would like to thank the assessment team for their work on this project, the many stakeholders across New Hampshire whose knowledge informed the report, and the dedicated juvenile defenders and advocates who will use the assessment report to improve New Hampshire youths’ access to high-quality defense counsel.

https://njdc.info/our-work/juvenile-indigent-defense-assessments/newhampshire-assessment/

"Placing young people on sex offense registries 'fuels cycles of homelessness, incarceration, and trauma, for both the r...
08/16/2020
State Juvenile Sex Offense Laws Are Wide-ranging, Harmful, Report Says

"Placing young people on sex offense registries 'fuels cycles of homelessness, incarceration, and trauma, for both the registrant and survivors,' particularly among youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth."

Youth in Minnesota who commit sexual offenses can be held on a registry for, at a minimum, 10 years. In nearby North Dakota, the minimum is 15 years. In South Dakota it’s five years. What qualifies a young person for a sex offense registry varies in those states too, according to a report released...

"Inequities in justice system involvement begin before an individual reaches adulthood. ... we cannot expect reforms tha...
08/13/2020
Elevating Equity in Los Angeles Juvenile and Criminal Justice Reform

"Inequities in justice system involvement begin before an individual reaches adulthood. ... we cannot expect reforms that are agnostic to race will fix disparity issues."

Black individuals are disproportionately involved in the justice system nationwide, beginning in childhood and continuing into adulthood. Without ongoing attention and deliberate policies and programs, injustices are likely to persist.

"The need to end youth prisons existed long before COVID-19. Youth prisons are ineffective — the worst possible action w...
08/13/2020
Youth prisons are ineffective and should have closed long before the coronavirus hit

"The need to end youth prisons existed long before COVID-19. Youth prisons are ineffective — the worst possible action we can take is to congregate youth with problem behaviors in an institutional setting, separate them from teachers and relatives, and take away hope. Youth prisons also carry the stain of racism, with Black, Indigenous and Latinx youth incarcerated at five, three and 1.7 times the rate of white youth, respectively. Youth prisons are brutal environments, with widespread sexual assaults, violence and neglect."

“Young people should not get a free pass when they break the law, but they should be held accountable in ways that make them less, not more, likely to reoffend,” writes Miriam Aroni Krinsky and Gladys Carrión | OPINION

"To ensure youth, especially Black and Native youth and youth of color, do not waive their rights because they are too s...
08/13/2020
Opinion | Empower King County youth to invoke their rights with police

"To ensure youth, especially Black and Native youth and youth of color, do not waive their rights because they are too scared to assert them, they need and deserve the opportunity to talk to a lawyer when detained by police before waiving their rights."

Young people too often waive their Miranda rights during encounters with law enforcement. We need to fix that.

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