Juvenile Law Center

Minimizing Court and Systems Involvement
All states have laws that provide for some children to be tried in adult criminal courts, even though the services provided by the juvenile court system could foster the child’s development and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. In addition, youth accused of lower-level offenses are often...

All states have laws that provide for some children to be tried in adult criminal courts, even though the services provided by the juvenile court system could foster the child’s development and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. In addition, youth accused of lower-level offenses are often referred to the juvenile justice when school- or community-based resources could better address the youth’s needs as well as public safety. Court involvement, though sometimes appropriate and effective, can have long-term negative consequences ranging from educational disruptions to the trauma of removing children from their homes to the lasting consequences of a juvenile or criminal record. Juvenile Law Center works to reduce inappropriate referrals to the child welfare, juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems.

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Chad
The hallways of his Pennsylvania middle school were crowded when 14-year-old Chad saw a male classmate bullying his female friend. He could’ve looked away and kept walking. But when the boy got physical, Chad made what became a life-altering decision to interfere.
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Promoting Fairness in the Courts
Without the assistance of qualified and effective counsel, youth face significant obstacles enforcing and protecting their rights in juvenile and adult court proceedings. Research has established that youth have specialized needs and characteristics that distinguish...

Without the assistance of qualified and effective counsel, youth face significant obstacles enforcing and protecting their rights in juvenile and adult court proceedings. Research has established that youth have specialized needs and characteristics that distinguish them from adults, yet still have important rights that must be protected. Juvenile Law Center works to ensure that court hearings, the judicial process, and any dispositions or sentences take account of a youth’s developmental characteristics as well as their physical and behavioral health, social and educational needs. Juvenile Law Center also works to ensure that youth have skilled and well-resourced attorneys who advocate for their rights and interests at all stages of these proceedings.

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Hillary
Fourteen-year-old Hillary chuckled to herself as she drew a caricature of her vice principal, replete with her signature red hair and green pantsuit. As the school administrator had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, Hillary added an armband...
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Improving Outcomes for Court-Involved Youth
Youth who become involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems often have worse life outcomes than their peers, in part due to trauma, educational disruptions, and social and emotional instability they experience while involved in the system. They often lack appropriate support when they...

Youth who become involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems often have worse life outcomes than their peers, in part due to trauma, educational disruptions, and social and emotional instability they experience while involved in the system. They often lack appropriate support when they exit the system. Juvenile Law Center works to improve outcomes for youth who have been system-involved. Juvenile Law Center advocates for meaningful planning for older youth so that they have the skills and supports they need to succeed when they leave the system. Juvenile Law Center also works to remove the barriers to success faced by system-involved youth, including removing barriers to employment and education for youth with juvenile records.

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Antonio
Growing up poor in North Philadelphia to a substance-abusing mother took a toll on young Antonio. He and his siblings were constantly forced to move from one residence to another, preventing them from finding even a semblance of stability...
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Ensuring Access to Services and Opportunities
Youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems should be helped, not hurt, by those systems. Juvenile Law Center works to ensure that youth in these systems have access to effective, individualized services in the most family-like setting, including access to consistent, quality...

Youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems should be helped, not hurt, by those systems. Juvenile Law Center works to ensure that youth in these systems have access to effective, individualized services in the most family-like setting, including access to consistent, quality education services. Children removed from their homes should be in safe settings where their needs are met, including their physical and mental health needs.

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Samantha
Samantha entered foster care at two years old when her mother, struggling with drug addiction, was no longer able to care for her and her siblings. By the time Samantha turned 21 and aged out of care, she had spent time in five foster homes, one group home, two residential treatment facilities, and a Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program.
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