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

"Between 2017 and 2019, Baton Rouge police dogs bit 53 people 17 years old or younger; the youngest were just 13. Almost...
02/12/2021
The City Where Police Unleash Dogs On Black Teens

"Between 2017 and 2019, Baton Rouge police dogs bit 53 people 17 years old or younger; the youngest were just 13. Almost all of the people bitten were Black, and most were unarmed and suspected by police of nonviolent crimes like driving a stolen vehicle or burglary."

In Baton Rouge, police dogs bit a teenager 17 or younger every three weeks, on average.

“On one hand, her books are being sold out before they’ve come out. On the other hand, we have a 9-year-old black girl b...
02/09/2021
Amanda Gorman clearly has talent. But there’s more to her meteoric rise.

“On one hand, her books are being sold out before they’ve come out. On the other hand, we have a 9-year-old black girl being pepper-sprayed in Rochester, New York, by police officers. And so, the celebration of Amanda Gorman, it doesn’t translate into the recognition or the seeing or the acknowledging of everyday Black girls. They’re like completely different universes.”

After dazzling the nation at President Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman became the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl.

“When you put a 10-year-old in a cell like this, and a steel door closes you can hear the sound, you can hear the cold a...
02/08/2021
Reforming Juvenile System For Girls Requires Stories, Three Experts Say

“When you put a 10-year-old in a cell like this, and a steel door closes you can hear the sound, you can hear the cold and then four deadbolts are thrown across there, how do you imagine you’re doing something good?”

A pregnant teenager stands alone in a cinder-block cell in one image. In another, a young body shivers, curled up in an oversized T-shirt huddled in the far corner of a cold cement room. The pictures are just a few of the thousands in a collection by Richard Ross, who uses his photography as a […]

"Children are our most vulnerable population, and we must protect their right to due process when they are most at risk ...
02/05/2021
Opinion: Juvenile Interrogation Should Be Part of Police Reform Discussion – Maryland Matters

"Children are our most vulnerable population, and we must protect their right to due process when they are most at risk of being caught in the incarceration machine."

Typically, a child can let you know what kind of pizza to order for dinner and what flavor of soda to go with it. But if that child is put in a cold dark room with three law enforcement officers to be questioned about a robbery or murder that they have no knowledge of, there …

“We can’t continue to fund and champion a program in our schools that criminalizes our Black students, our Brown student...
02/04/2021
Lawmakers Push to Replace School Police with Counselors – Maryland Matters

“We can’t continue to fund and champion a program in our schools that criminalizes our Black students, our Brown students and students with disabilities, and then turn around and call it safe."

When a child is arrested by a police officer stationed in a Baltimore City public school, they are handcuffed, placed in cages, photographed and fingerprinted — even kids as young as seven-years-old, according to Jenny Egan, a Baltimore City juvenile public defender. “It is a terrifying and dehu...

“I was hurt. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that these people in St. Augustine had kept this record hanging over...
02/01/2021
The Black girl who defied segregation, inspiring MLK and Jackie Robinson

“I was hurt. I was in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that these people in St. Augustine had kept this record hanging over my head for 40 years … for just asking for a hamburger. For sitting in. For food we never did get — in America. "

Remembering the incredible impact of young people this #BlackHistoryMonth.

After trying to integrate a lunch counter in St. Augustine, Fla., in 1963, 16-year-old Audrey Nell Edward languished in jail for months because she wouldn't promise not to protest again.

"Black youth are eight times more likely to be prosecuted as adults than white youth, and account for 37 percent of the ...
01/26/2021
U of M law students help free client who spent 18 years in prison

"Black youth are eight times more likely to be prosecuted as adults than white youth, and account for 37 percent of the incarcerated population but only 7 percent of Minnesota’s population."

Two student attorneys helped Myon Burrell win a commutation of a life sentence for a crime committed when he was 16 years old.

"We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn't always justice."-Amanda Go...
01/21/2021

"We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn't always justice."
-Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate

"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."-Rev. Dr...
01/18/2021

"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We now have hope that our loved ones and family members will someday come home to us."
01/13/2021
Ohio Will No Longer Sentence Kids to Life Without Parole

“We now have hope that our loved ones and family members will someday come home to us."

“We now have hope that our loved ones and family members will someday come home to us,” one advocate said of the new law.

We are delighted to announce that Ebony Howard is joining our team today, as NJDC’s new Deputy Director!Ebony comes to N...
01/11/2021

We are delighted to announce that Ebony Howard is joining our team today, as NJDC’s new Deputy Director!

Ebony comes to NJDC from the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she served most recently as a senior supervising attorney, leading a team that developed, implemented, and managed litigation and policy campaigns to combat injustice and systemic racism in the criminal and youth legal systems. She earned her BA, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cm laude, from Howard University and her JD from Georgetown Law, where she represented young people before the DC Superior Court as a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic. Ebony served as an Advisory Board Member for the Southern Juvenile Defender Center since 2018.

At NJDC, Ebony will lead our legal staff to create and deliver training, technical assistance, and resources to our community, and will work with NJDC’s leadership team to advance our mission and lead NJDC and our community toward a new vision of youth and racial justice.

Please join us in welcoming Ebony to our team!

On January 6, 2021, we witnessed the literal desecration of our country’s democratic institutions by a white supremacist...
01/08/2021

On January 6, 2021, we witnessed the literal desecration of our country’s democratic institutions by a white supremacist mob. The violent display was shocking, but not wholly unexpected. That racism and white supremacy would defile the fundamental constitutional principles our nation is built upon comes as no surprise to the juvenile defense community.

The juvenile legal system evolved from slavery and perpetuates white supremacy and racism. The system enacts violence and exacts a burdensome toll on youth and communities of color. And as the events of January 6 made painfully clear, this country’s systemic racism threatens not only those who are Black and Latinx and Indigenous, but also every American and the very foundation of American democracy.

The National Juvenile Defender Center is humbled to work alongside a community of advocates dedicated to challenging the racism and dismantling the white supremacy embedded in the very fabric of this nation’s juvenile legal system. We do this not just for our Black and Latinx and Indigenous youth, but for all of us. And so that this nation can someday truly realize its founding principles of freedom and justice for all.

"Programs that address behavioral health, addiction, and trauma for youth caught up in the court system yield positive r...
01/07/2021
Ohio Juvenile Diversion Shows 'Positive Results' as Jail Alternative | The Crime Report

"Programs that address behavioral health, addiction, and trauma for youth caught up in the court system yield positive reform results that surpass traditional methods of incarceration."

A Case Western Reserve University study found that of 5,300 Ohio criminal juveniles enrolled in a behavioral health program, almost all completed the program and avoided detention, proving to researchers that there is a better way to treat youth than incarceration.

"Schools must let students be students. If they fail, if they’re absent, if they face adversity outside of the classroom...
01/05/2021
Police Shouldn’t Tag Students as Potential Criminals

"Schools must let students be students. If they fail, if they’re absent, if they face adversity outside of the classroom, bring in support — teachers, counselors, social workers, and family — not the police."

Putting kids on a police watchlist is the exact opposite of how to handle signs that a student may need help.

This extraordinary year has confirmed the urgency of NJDC's work. As you make your year-end donations, please consider s...
12/28/2020

This extraordinary year has confirmed the urgency of NJDC's work. As you make your year-end donations, please consider supporting our mission to promote justice for *all* children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense.

Thank you, from the National Juvenile Defender Center
12/22/2020

Thank you, from the National Juvenile Defender Center

“No matter what you do, it can be the smallest thing, walking down the street or going to the store at night and the pol...
12/22/2020
Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School

“No matter what you do, it can be the smallest thing, walking down the street or going to the store at night and the police see you and find out you are on probation, you are going to get locked up. The system is waiting for you.”

Michigan’s juvenile justice system is archaic. Counties act with little oversight, and the state keeps such poor data it doesn’t know how many juveniles it has in custody or what happens to them once they’re in the system.

“It’s clear that our justice system is too often weighted against those without adequate resources to navigate it. 2020 ...
12/18/2020
Transition Highlights: Stimulus Deal Appears Within Reach, but Final Product Could Limit Biden in the Future

“It’s clear that our justice system is too often weighted against those without adequate resources to navigate it. 2020 has shown us just how deep systemic racism runs across all our institutions, especially in our justice system, and it’s critical we do more to address it.”

NJDC is a proud signatory on the letter calling for the recreation of the Office for Access to Justice.

The emerging plan would provide a one-time payment of about $600, jobless aid and rental assistance. President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Representative Deb Haaland for interior secretary.

"The disconnect between humanity and treatment in the way that America treats young people who become involved with the ...
12/17/2020
Stop Putting Kids Behind Bars, Report Urges | The Crime Report

"The disconnect between humanity and treatment in the way that America treats young people who become involved with the justice system is appalling.”

Despite youth justice reforms in many states, the U.S. still has one of the world's highest rates of youth incarceration. That could change if authorities eliminated detention as a “catch-all” response to behavioral, social and mental problems suffered by at-risk young people, says the Square On...

“Our children should never find themselves in a room alone with law enforcement and no record of the interaction."
12/17/2020
New York Law Reforms Interrogations, Fees in Juvenile Justice

“Our children should never find themselves in a room alone with law enforcement and no record of the interaction."

New York police will be required to videotape interrogations of juveniles, a new layer of protection for youth unfamiliar with their rights.

"When students become subject to the juvenile justice system, probation officers conduct school checkups. Their probatio...
12/15/2020
How Missing Zoom Classes Could Funnel Kids into the Juvenile Justice System — And Why Some Experts Say Now is the Time to Reform Truancy Rules

"When students become subject to the juvenile justice system, probation officers conduct school checkups. Their probation conditions often become overwhelming, so 'they just start to give up.'”

Marisa McClellan, who leads child protective services in Pennsylvania’s capital city, has been struggling to fall asleep at night. But it’s not the pandemic’s growing death toll or the collapsing economy that’s keeping her up. She’s worried about the children who aren’t showing up for sc...

NJDC is looking to update our website! Please share our Request for Proposals with any amazing web folks you know: https...
12/15/2020

NJDC is looking to update our website! Please share our Request for Proposals with any amazing web folks you know:https://njdc.info/wp-content/uploads/NJDC-Website-Development-RFP.pdf

“White people are engaging in more illegal behavior, largely because of their greater drug use, and getting arrested les...
12/14/2020
How a police contact by middle school leads to different outcomes for Black, white youth

“White people are engaging in more illegal behavior, largely because of their greater drug use, and getting arrested less often at age 20 than Black people, who are committing fewer crimes and getting arrested more."

A new University of Washington study finds that Black youth are more likely than white youth to be treated as “usual suspects” after a first encounter with police, leading to subsequent arrests...

"In normal times, detention and incarceration are ineffective, costly, traumatic, inhumane, racially-biased, and damagin...
12/11/2020
Prison is no place for a child, especially during a pandemic

"In normal times, detention and incarceration are ineffective, costly, traumatic, inhumane, racially-biased, and damaging. During COVID-19, they are especially dangerous."

COVID-19 has proven that detaining our youth is a choice. We can choose better. We are well over nine months into this public health crisis, and youth are still being detained and incarcerated at juvenile and adult facilities across the state and nationwide.

"I would love to see the administration weave in even more attention to racial disparities. It is there, but it needs to...
12/11/2020
Biden Made Big Promises On Juvenile Justice. Activists Worry It's Not Enough

"I would love to see the administration weave in even more attention to racial disparities. It is there, but it needs to be more robust. It is one, treating children like children, but understanding that black children are children, too."

Reforming juvenile justice is a critical part of broader criminal justice reform, advocates say. They want action from Washington beyond what the Biden team has promised.

“If we can turn a youth away from the juvenile justice system, we know they stand a much better chance of turning their ...
12/07/2020
NJ AG: Detain Juvenile Offenders as a Last Resort

“If we can turn a youth away from the juvenile justice system, we know they stand a much better chance of turning their life toward success in the long run.”

The New Jersey State Attorney General’s Office released a 33-page directive Thursday outlining measures to keep juvenile offenders in their communities

“If a young person has been held accountable for their actions and repaired any harm caused to others, they’ve reached a...
12/03/2020
Opinion: Juvenile mistakes shouldn't stay on record forever

“If a young person has been held accountable for their actions and repaired any harm caused to others, they’ve reached adulthood … they shouldn’t still have to disclose their delinquency record. They should be free to accomplish the very thing that the court wanted: leading a responsible life.”

Ensuring a bad youthful decision doesn’t become a lifelong burden is an important step to enact substantive criminal justice reform, Smith writes.

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2020 Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit October 15-17, 2020 Virtual WHO ELSE IS IN KANSAS CITY, MO. for THE VIRTUAL SUMMIT?
Could you please sign, share and promote this petition to help me free this woman imprisoned since age 17 just for killing a rapist!? https://www.change.org/p/mike-parson-free-lisa-dawn-harris and this one too https://www.change.org/p/state-of-texas-vs-ashley-ervin-help-us-get-justice-for-ashley-ervin-free-her-now
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089M41RBJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_5Ec4Eb4B8S9GG?fbclid=IwAR1-tvxRHtDUpg9yWswLSMEGhSMDMvkXyBAgHMdqZLjc9ayXvs3_d5fISVc Please support the National Freedom and Justice Movement by ordering your copy of Barz Beyond Barz Magazine. With your 10 dollar contribution, we can afford to keep the movement afloat. We feature writings and stories about Confined Citizens across the country. Some seeking help for their cases, others writing about life and society, while others contribute poetry and creative writing. Plus we empower our readers with Human Rights Resources and ways to continue to stand up for justice. Do you have a loved one behind the walls? Do you know someone who is currently or formerly incarcerated who is an artist or writer? Then we want to hear from you. We can also ship directly to you with a 10.00 donation to CashApp ($QueenTahiyrah) or direct mail Kebuka Publishing INK 1623 Dalton Street #14939 Cincinnati Ohio 45250. Thank you for your love and support! Sincerely, Queen Tahiyrah Asafo Ali, Publisher and Editor KEBUKA PUBLISHING INK
Michael Lambrix will be executed on October 5. He needs a clemency hearing to help prove his innocence. Please sign the petition. SAVE Michael "Mike" Lambrix prisoner on death row in Florida Case of Mike Lambrix, his innocence, on death row in the USA, news, updates...See More SAVE Innocents campaign Innocence and the death penalty save-innocents.com SAVE Innocents campaign Innocence and the death penalty SAVE-INNOCENTS.COM ALSO HERE IS A SUGGESTED LETTER FOR THE GOVERNOR................ URGENT REQUEST! MICHAEL LAMBRIX EXECUTION IS SET FOR 10/5/17. PLEASE CONTACT THE GOVERNOR TO MAKE YOU OPINION KNOWN. SILENCE IMPLIES CONSENT. Governor Rick Scott: Tel: 850-488-7146 Email: [email protected] Address: Office of Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida, The Capitol 400, S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-000, USA. Dear Sir, I am writing to you about the case of Cary Michael Lambrix, #482053, with the purpose to respectfully ask for a clemency hearing on his behalf. Michael Lambrix is scheduled for execution on 10/5/2017. I am [describe who you are, any particular moral, human or personal reason why you are writing to them). This case is unique enough that it should compel the State of Florida to grant a special attention to under the form of an official clemency hearing (his last clemency hearing was held over thirty years ago). Many reasons could be given in support of such a hearing, such as: 1. The inordinate length of time already served 2. He has never been given the opportunity to present his version of events as a coherent whole. The members of the Cabinet deserve to hear the full story. 3. Lambrix’s version of events (manslaughter in self-defence) remains credible. By contrast, the case against him appears in many ways legally contentious: - The key witness changed the story she told the police several times - The key witness admitted in court to having had a sexual affair with the State’s lead investigator - Another leading witness later retracted her evidence - Key forensic evidence has gone missing or is unavailable for testing (namely fingernail scrapings and the tire iron) - The State theory of the sequential killing of the two victims appears to many questionable at best. 4. The jury verdicts were not unanimous, but 8-4 and 10-2. Should Mike Lambrix be tried today, he would NOT have been sentenced to death. 5. Mike Lambrix has twice refused offers of a plea-bargain, even though had he done so he would long since have been free. However, there is one human picture that the courts will not be able to address: Mike Lambrix is a man of exceptional intelligence and personal resolve who has educated himself in prison and managed to make his experience valuable to others. He will be next year part of a major exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center in Norway, and his writings, his advice to others on how to pursue legitimate successful lives are already part of a wider, burgeoning effort to educate and encourage the public. Sincerely,