Juveniles for Justice, one of our youth engagement programs, includes young people who have been involved in the juvenile justice system and offers the youth an opportunity to assess the system's strengths and weaknesses, and then develop and implement advocacy projects to improve the system.
Juveniles for Justice selects new Youth Advocates and a new issue each year, starting in early fall. Below are some highlights from Juveniles for Justice's projects over the past several years.
In 2013-2014, Juveniles for Justice Youth Advocates focused on promoting awareness of the impact of juvenile records and how to expunge, or destroy, them. They created an informational card for youth with information about the expungement process, and also created this video to spread awareness of the importance of expunging juvenile records. Public defenders at the Defender Association of Philadelphia will be using this video in trainings and presentations for attorneys.
In 2012-2013, Juveniles for Justice Youth Advocates focused on ensuring that youth in the juvenile justice system understand the juvenile court process and their rights in the system. To help other youth navigate the juvenile justice system, Youth Advocates created "Youth Guide to the Juvenile Court System."
Youth Advocates were inspired to create this guide because of their experiences in the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, most of the Youth Advocates had a limited understanding of the system when they were involved in it—they often felt confused in court hearings and did not fully understand the expectations that the system had for them, whether they were in placement or on probation. Those who did understand the system and their rights had a better overall experience and were able to work with their attorneys and juvenile justice professionals more effectively. Most importantly, they were better advocates for themselves.
To help others in their situation, Juveniles for Justice created a youth-friendly guide to the juvenile justice system, with tips from youth for youth. Attorneys from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, and other juvenile justice professionals in Philadelphia all provided input.
The Philadelphia Department of Human Services generously printed copies of the guide, which Juveniles for Justice plans to distribute to youth in the Philadelphia area through public defenders and the youth detention facility in Philadelphia.
In 2011-2012, Juveniles for Justice Youth Advocates focused on promoting effective case planning in Pennsylvania--specifically, a computerized case planning program developed by the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission (JCJC) that enables probation officers, delinquent youth, and their families to develop a plan together to meet the youth's specific needs.
Youth Advocates created this video to advocate for comprehensive case planning: