NPR News: Access Denied

[AUDIO]

Intro: It has been 50 years since the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles accused of breaking the law have a right to a lawyer. NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports on a new study that finds that promise has been elusive.

A new report by the National Juvenile Defender Center concludes that too often, access to justice depends on a child’s zip code.

Mary Ann Scali is executive director of the group.

“Children’s rights are shortchanged when they don’t have a voice in the proceedings. And we know that when courts unnecessarily pull children in, we wind up where we are which is the nation that incarcerates children at a higher rate than any nation in the world.”

Scali says fewer than a dozen states automatically provide juveniles with lawyers no matter their financial status.

Many children don’t get attorneys until it’s too late – after they’ve been interrogated.

Carrie Johnson, NPR News Washington

From the NPR Hourly News Summary Archive.