February 2019 Newsletter

Commemorating the Decision that Gave Children Due Process Rights

Working Together to Decriminalize Childhood

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.

For young people
in our juvenile courts,
the essence
of access to justice
is access to legal counsel.

Ensuring Access is designed to help you engage in policymaking efforts to improve children’s access to counsel in your jurisdiction.

Players Coalition Stands Up for Juvenile Defense

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.

"America has an incarceration problem.
doesn't solve the problem,
it exacerbates
the poverty problem
in America."

— Malcolm Jenkins,
Players Coalition Co-founder

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

NJDC & Georgetown's Juvenile Justice Initiative
Partner to Grow Number of Mid-Atlantic JTIP Trainers

February 2019 — The Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center (MAJDC) hosted a Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Trainer Certification for eighteen juvenile defense lawyers from:

  • District of Columbia 
  • Maryland
  • Virginia 
  • West Virginia
  • Puerto Rico 

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.

Because every child should have a lawyer specially-trained in juvenile law by their side in the courtroom.

Juvenile defense lawyers from Puerto Rico and West Virginia became the first Certified JTIP Trainers in their states. 

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.


“We are so excited
to have this important legislation be named to honor our visionary leader Jeff Adachi, who championed the rights of youth.”

— Patricia Lee,
San Francisco Public Defender, Head of Juvenile Unit

Hundreds march in honor
of late Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Feb. 27, 2019.
(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Travels to Puerto Rico

January 2019 — Puerto Rico juvenile defenders hosted a Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) entirely in Spanish for the first time ever. 

Georgetown Law Professor Eduardo Ferrer and Loyola University New Orleans Law Professor Hector Linares, who are both Spanish-speaking Certified JTIP Trainers, facilitated the training which included:

  • Adolescent  Brain Development
  • The Reasonable Child Standard
  • Cross-Examination
  • Detention & Probable Cause
  • Competency
  • Challenging Statements 

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. 

Lawyers returned
home invigorated with
legal skills and knowledge
to zealously
defend young people throughout Puerto Rico.  

Juvenile defense lawyers from jurisdictions throughout Puerto Rico attend JTIP training entirely in Spanish. 

Violent Realities: Children Removed from their Homes
and Court-Ordered into Facilities

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. 

"At the oldest U.S. reform school for boys, leaders of the prestigious Glen Mills Schools in Pennsylvania have hidden a long history of violence. "

A teenager assaulted by counselors at Glen Mills last summer is photographed at his Philadelphia home.
(Heather Khalifa / Philadelphia Inquirer)

Upcoming Juvenile Defense Trainings for Lawyers

In Memoriam: Jeff Adachi

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.

Jeff truly believed
that if we provided the
best possible legal advocacy
for our children in court,
we would prevent them
from moving deeper into the criminal system.  

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