February 2019 Newsletter
Every day in America, children across the nation are denied their Constitutional right to legal counsel— they are arrested, prosecuted, and too often incarcerated without lawyers at their side.
In 34 states, youth are charged for a “free lawyer” and frequently waive the right to a lawyer without a lawyer even being present.
As the nation that incarcerates children at the highest rate in the world, and disproportionately youth of color, we have an obligation to fulfill the promises of the Constitution for all youth, most especially the rights to liberty and a lawyer.
We must answer the urgent call to turn back the tide of criminalizing childhood and create waves of opportunity for all young people to have access to well-trained lawyers and receive fair and equal justice under the law.
For more information please contact NJDC. Keep pressing on and help #DefendChildren.
January 2019 — the Players Coalition Charitable Foundation unveiled its 2019 goals to impact racial and social inequality. Coalition co-founders, Anquan Boldin, and Malcolm Jenkins discussed how the group would lend their voices to advance juvenile and criminal justice reform.
“In the past year, we’ve been shocked to see how some of our youth, especially youth of color, are being thrown into our juvenile and criminal court systems. In working with the National Juvenile Defender Center, players will help educate and seek justice for kids,” said Devin McCourty, Players Coalition Task Force member and Safety for the New England Patriots.
Players Coalition is committed to achieving meaningful impact on root issues around social justice and racial equality by applying their influence and support to impact systemic social and civic change in the areas of Police & Community Relations, Criminal Justice Reform, and Education & Economic Advancement in economically disadvantaged communities.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins, co-founder of the Players Coalition, at Players Coalition press conference
Mary Ann Scali discusses how the Players Coalition can help advance children’s constitutional right to a lawyer
Certified JTIP Trainers deliver the highly specialized, juvenile defense curriculum that helps lawyers meet their obligations at every stage of the delinquency system.
More trainers mean more resources and opportunities to train lawyers across the nation to specifically defend children in juvenile courts.
Board of Supervisors Passes the “Jeff Adachi Youth Rights Ordinance"
The “Jeff Adachi Youth Rights Ordinance” prohibits custodial police interrogations of youth 17 years of age or younger unless certain conditions are first met.
These conditions include: 1) providing the youth legal representation in connection with the interrogation, and (2) requiring that responsible adults be given access to the youth during police questioning. The right to a legal consultation cannot be waived by the youth.
This ordinance expands upon California SB 395 (effective Jan. 1, 2018), which mandated that youth 15 years of age or younger consult with legal counsel prior to a custodial interrogation or a waiver of Miranda rights.
San Francisco’s ordinance only applies to youth within the county’s jurisdiction, but it is the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center’s hope that this expansion of youth rights will be replicated in all of California’s 58 counties.
January 2019 — Puerto Rico juvenile defenders hosted a Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) entirely in Spanish for the first time ever.
Congratulations (felicidades) to the eighteen lawyers from across Puerto Rico that traveled to Sociedad Para Asistencia Legal (SAL) in San Juan and participated in the two-day training.
Abuses of children who are in the hands of the “justice” system continue. This month’s reporting by Lisa Gartner, “Beaten, Then Silenced,” of the Philadelphia Inquirer is the latest in a series of horrific examples of the harms perpetrated on youth in juvenile justice residential facilities.
Gartner’s story details how young men are beaten and then threatened with longer sentences if they do not remain silent about the beatings.
The 2017 reporting from Florida’s Miami Herald, “Fight Club,” revealed 10 years of youth maltreatment in the state system, including beatings, sexual exploitation, and medical neglect.
These reports come on the heels DOJ findings of facility abuses in California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, and Puerto Rico, as well numerous state level cases.
To equip lawyers with resources that identify and address the maltreatment of young people in facilities, NJDC has been working with juvenile justice partners to create a Juvenile Defender Facilities Checklist that will be released next month.
As San Francisco’s chief public defender, Jeff Adachi was a staunch supporter of juvenile defense. He provided everything necessary to ensure that young people have access to strong and effective lawyers in juvenile court.
Through his leadership, a public defender system was built to include youth advocates, social workers, an education team, and re-entry specialists. He was a true visionary and believer in human potential.
Our thoughts and hearts are with our friends and colleagues at the San Francisco Public Defender.