News and Updates

Program in Indiana Gives Kids In Juvenile Detention Lesson In Legal Rights

Check out this video where Mary Ann Scali, Executive Director for the National Juvenile Defender Center and Amy Karozos, Director of the the Indiana Public Defender Council Juvenile Defense Project and Board Member of the Central Juvenile Defender Center, talk about youths’ access to counsel in residential and detention facilities across the state of Indiana. Listen how the Indiana PDC Juvenile Defense Project are trying to change this trend.

Blue Ribbon Task Force Looks at Juvenile Reform in Tennessee 

Chris Kleiser, Co-Director of the Central Juvenile Defender Center, was invited to join the Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice, chaired by Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris.  The Task Force is comprised of presentation from the Governor’s office, legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement, juvenile court officials, and representatives from key state agencies.  Following a comprehensive study of Tennessee’s juvenile justice system, the Task Force released a report highlighting that outcomes in juvenile courts in Tennessee vary widely from county to county, data is accumulated and reported without uniformity, and black children are disproportionately represented at every stage of the system.  Click here to read more about the report in this article authored by Stephen Bush, the Chief Public Defender for Shelby County.


Federal Judge Rules Cuffing of Young Elementary Students Unconstitutional

Covington, KY- Oct. 13, 2017- The Federal District Court Judge presiding over S.R. et. al v. Kenton County issued an opinion Wednesday granting the child-Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, ruling that the cuffing of two students with disabilities by a school resource officer was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Court also ruled that Kenton County is liable for the deputy sheriff’s unconstitutional conduct.

“Even as young children, both were certain that what the deputy did to them was wrong” said Rickell Howard Smith, litigation director for the Children’s Law Center and counsel for the child-Plaintiffs. “I am glad to be able to tell them that the federal judge agrees with them.”

The children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl were handcuffed above the elbow behind their backs. A disturbing video shows the boy, S.R., crying out in pain. The girl, L.G, was twice handcuffed above the elbow, also causing her pain. Both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities.

“We are gratified that the judge found, as a matter of law, that this was a violation of the 4th Amendment” said Claudia Center, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Disability Rights Program. “We knew this was unconstitutional behavior. Anyone who viewed the video could see it was tantamount to torture.”

The lawsuit was filed in August 2015 by the Children’s Law Center, Dinsmore & Shohl, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which prompted a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the school districts disciplinary practices, including the use of police to deal with routine student misbehavior. In January 2017, Covington Independent Schools entered into an agreement with DOJ and began implementing new policies to ensure that disciplinary practices do not discriminate against children with disabilities.

“This is a great day for our clients and the elementary school children of Kentucky” said Kenyon Meyer of Dinsmore Shohl. “The court confirmed that using law enforcement tactics to discipline young children in this manner has no place in our schools.”

A copy of the decision can be found at For more information, contact: Rickell Howard or Acena Beck, Children’s Law Center, 859-431-3313, or Kenyon Meyer, Dinsmore & Shohl, 502-540-2300, Claudia Center, ACLU, (415) 343-0762, Susan Mizner, ACLU, 646-421-9387,

See the full opinion HERE