News & Announcements


Undervalued: An Assessment of Access to and Quality of Counsel in New Hampshire August 2020

Released on August 19, 2020, the New Hampshire Assessment is based on interviews, court observations, and research conducted by a team of experts who analyzed New Hampshire’s juvenile defense systems and delinquency courts over the course of a year.

The assessment found that an absence of dedicated juvenile defense practitioners in New Hampshire leads to many youth waiving their rights and facing long-term consequences. Nearly every aspect of the defense system is set up to devalue juvenile delinquency cases, often leading to youth receiving constitutionally deficient counsel.

Find more information and the whole assessment here.

New England Juvenile Defender Center Yearly Summit June 2020

Please register for the live interactive webinar. Here is the working agenda for the summit on June 26, 2020, from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm. We will post a finalized agenda soon. 














COVID 19 and Juvenile Justice April 2020 

Please see this helpful resource for update resources for juvenile justice related information in this current global pandemic.  

Maine Juvenile Justice System Assessment February 2020  

The Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) conducted a statewide assessment of Maine’s juvenile justice system, presented its final report of findings and recommendations to the Maine Juvenile Justice Assessment and Reinvestment Task Force. The three goals of the assessment were “to (1) understand what the juvenile justice system is doing well, (2) identify the gaps and barriers that limit the system from achieving the best public safety and youth outcomes, and (3) outline a roadmap of concrete recommendations to overcome these gaps and barriers going forward.” Read the full report here. 

Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law Fall Updates October 21, 2019 

Students from the Juvenile Justice Clinic in collaboration with the MCJPAL Juvenile Justice Reform Work Group and the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers created a summary of legislation relating to juvenile justice reform that was either enacted by or carried over from the first regular session of the 129th Legislature. The second regular session of the 129th Legislature will convene in January 2020. Read the summary here.

Check out MCJPAL’s website for more updates. 

92% Decrease at a Connecticut Youth Prison August 19, 2019 

Highlights from the news article

“Manson currently holds more than 300 boys and young men between the ages of 15 and 21. In order to be sent there, the young people must have committed, or be accused of, a crime serious enough to land them in the adult criminal justice system. But the number of sentenced and presentenced juveniles sent to Manson before their 18th birthdays has dropped dramatically over the last decade.” 

“In the state’s 2007-2008 fiscal year, there were 1,491 such teens admitted to Manson. Ten years later, 105 juveniles were admitted to the facility, an almost 92% decrease that juvenile justice experts attribute to a combination of factors, including a change in state law that took some 16- and 17-year-old offenders out of the adult prison system and a slew of diversionary programs intended to support, not punish, young people who have run afoul of the law.” 

“Juvenile arrests have fallen, as well. In 2008, 6,624 17-year-olds were arrested statewide. In 2014, that number dropped to 2,627 , a 60% reduction in six years. Between 2009 and 2017, juvenile arrests decreased 57%, a consequence, Lawlor suggested, of declining juvenile and young-adult crime rates.” 

“I think there is a general awareness in Connecticut that secure confinement is less effective at reducing recidivism than interventions that address the root causes of criminal justice system involvement.” Marc Pelker who is Gov. Ned Lamont’s undersecretary of criminal justice policy and planning

2019 Legislative Updates from the Connecticut August 8, 2019 


  • Provides for a suspension of the delinquency proceedings for up to 6 months for any child charged, but not adjudicated, as a delinquent for any offense involving a motor vehicle. (i.e. , Violation of C.G>S> 53a-119b-Use of Motor Vehicle without owner’s permission, 53a-126 and 53a-126a-Criminal Trover in the first degree and second degree respectively, Larceny in the first, second or third degree-53a-122,53a-123, 53a-124)
  • Must be filed by juvenile (or his/her attorney) not later than 10 days after a plea is entered unless waived by court or by stipulation of parties.
  • Juvenile could be ordered to participate in services to address his/her behaviors or any condition which is “directly related to the offense charged and be monitored by probation officer.
  • Court must find that the child will benefit from the suspension and that the suspension will “advance the interests of justice” in order for motion to be granted.
  • Juvenile must agree to any assessments and successful completion of services.
  • If motion is granted, probation officer must submit report to the court is to the juvenile’s compliance. Additional 6 month extension of time can be granted if necessary for treatment.
  • Court can dismiss the charge(s) on its own or on juvenile’s motion
  • Ineligible if charged with Serious Juvenile Offense as defined in 46b-120 or had previously been granted a suspension in the past.
  • Denial of Motion for Suspension results in continuation of delinquency proceedings.


  • Specifies that a juvenile may be found a risk to public safety for purposes of any order to detain if the juvenile:
  • Has been previously “adjudicated as delinquent for or convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any two or more felony offenses”
  • “Has had two or more prior dispositions of probation”
  • Is currently charged with a larceny pursuant to subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of section 53a-122, Larceny in the first degree: Class B felony, or subdivision (1) of subsection (a) of section 53a-123, Larceny in the second degree: Class C felony, or subdivision (a) of subsection (a) of section 53a-124, Larceny in the third degree Class D felony


  • Permits a suspension of the juvenile delinquency proceedings for a child charged with an act of fire starting. “An act of fire starting is defined as follows:
  • Conduct that causes an explosion or fire to start, regardless of whether such explosion or fire results in an injury to a person, or animal or damage to property or
  • Planning or preparing to cause an explosion or start a fire.”
  • Motion must be filed by the child not later than 10 days after entering a plea unless waived by the court or by agreement of the parties.
  • Court has discretion to order child be evaluated for a fire starting behavior treatment program.
  • Court must find that the child will “benefit from treatment and the suspension will advance the interests of justice.
  • Suspension can be for up to 1 year during which child is required to participate in fire starting behavior treatment program and be monitored by probation officer.
  • Child not eligible if charged with serious juvenile offense pursuant to c. G. S 46b-120 or who had previously been ordered to undergo an evaluation and treatment under this section.
  • An order granting or denying the motion for suspension of the proceedings is not appealable.
  • Upon successful completion of treatment matter can be dismissed. Probation officer to submit report regarding compliance.


 Section 1 Transfer to Regular Docket and Confidentiality (effective 10/1/19)

  • Amends C.G.S. 46b-127 and adds a new subsection (c) pertaining to the confidentiality of juvenile cases transferred to the adult docket.
  • Requires that the proceedings are private in a part of the courthouse that is separate from adult case proceedings. All records are to be confidential and maintained in same manner as juvenile proceedings until a jury verdict or a guilty plea is entered on regular criminal docket.
  • Provides victims access to records of a child transferred to the adult court to the same extent as a victim with an adult defendant BUT prohibits any further disclosure of the records.
  • Act further clarifies the language of the statute which permits the court to transfer the juvenile proceeding from the adult court back to juvenile court when charges have been reduced

Section 2 Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee (JJPOC) (effective 10/19)

  • Expands mission of the JJPOC to review detention methods of other states for persons ages 15, 16, and 17 who are transferred to the adult court and the transfer process of other states.

Section 3 Detention Centers-Best Practices (effective from passage)

  • Requires Department of Correction (DOC) and Court Support Services Division (CSSD) along with DCF to develop a best practices policy for any correctional or detention facility which houses persons aged 17 and under. Such practices must address suicidal and self-harming behaviors and the development of a screening tool to identify youth at risk, the negative effects of solitary confinement and the harmfulness of chemical agents and prone restraints, and programing , services and behavior intervention plans.  Must be implemented by the DOC and CSSD by July 1, 2021.
  • Requires DOC and CSSD to report to JJPOC (1) any suicidal and other self-harming behaviors, (2) the use of force and physical isolation and (3) any mental health or education concerns for those 17 and under.

Section 5 National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (effective 7/1/2020)

  • Requires state agencies to adopt and comply with the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission standards and to certify compliance to the Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division(CJPAC) of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM)

Section 6 Mandated Reporters (effective 7/1/2020)

  • Amends C.G.S. 17a-101 and add to the list of mandated reporters any person who works at a juvenile detention facility or other facility which houses children under the age of 18 who has direct contact with the children as part of their employment.

Section 7 Independent Ombudsperson Services (effective 7/1/2020)

  • Creates an independent ombudsperson, provided by CSSD and DOC to receive and investigate complaints from detained juveniles 17 years old and younger and their parents.


2019 New England Juvenile Defender Center Conference at University of Maine School of Law June 7, 2019 

We had over 90 attendees for our annual conference. Please see the agenda below and reach out if you would like to access any of the materials generated from the day.


Report from the University of Maine School of Law and Muskie School of Public Service of Maine March 6, 2019 

Place Matters: Aligning Investments in a Community-Based Continuum of Care for Maine Youth Transitioning to Adulthood calls for the development of a range of service in communities to support youth and their families. 

Read the full report, here.

State of Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate: Incarcerated/Detained Youth – An Examination of Conditions of Confinement January 19, 2019 

Recommendations from the report

  • There is a need for a greater transparency and accountability with regard to conditions for children and youth in congregate care and confined/secure settings.
  • Connecticut should standardize how suicidal and self-harming behavior is collected and reported for youth in confinement.
  • Consistent with the recommendations from the Department of Justice, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and other professional organizations, Connecticut should ban solitary confinement of minors.

Read the full report with more recommendations, here.

2018 Legislative Updates from the Connecticut December 2018 

January 1, 2018:  Commissioner of DCF administratively closed admissions to Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS).  Final closure occurred in April, 2018 upon discharge of remaining youths.


  • Effective July 1, 2018, provided that no child could be committed to DCF as a result of a delinquency conviction and transferred the juvenile justice mandate from DCF to CSSD.
  • Removes all references to CJTS, substitutes Judicial/CSSD for DCF in various sections and changes all references from “convicted” to “adjudicated” delinquent
  • Adds additional factors the curt must consider in determining an appropriate disposition. Limits the dispositional options to (a) Discharge with or without a warning; (B) Probation Supervision: or (C) Probation Supervision with or without Residential Placement.  Probation period is up to 18 months, but can be extended up to 12 additional months for a total sentence of 30 months. (See C. G. S. 46b-140(b) )
  • Requires Judicial/CSSD to develop a continuum of community-based programs for juveniles and to establish or contract for secure and staff- secure residential facilities.

NOTE:  Currently, there are two secure facilities located in the Detention Centers in Bridgeport and Hartford commonly referred to as “REGION Secure” as well as two staff secure facilities located at the Boys and Girls Village in Milford and CJR in Waterbury.  Both secure and staff secure house males only.  Journey House in Mansfield is only secure facility for females.

  • Allows the court to detain a child who has run away from a court-ordered residential placement (See C.G.S. 46b-140a(d))
  • Expands the court’s authority to detain a child for failure to comply with the court process.
  • Permits the court to modify/enlarge conditions of probation and place a youth in a secure or staff secure residential placement if indicated by the child’s clinical/behavioral needs or if the public safety risk cannot be managed in a less restrictive setting. (see C.G.S. 46b-140(g) )
  • Also requires that school districts where youth reside must continuously maintain the enrollment of youth who are in detention to assist with their transition when they return to school. Detention centers must notify the district as soon as the release date is determined.  Youth have the right to return to the district immediately upon discharge.

Effective 8/1/2018, school districts having 6,000 or more students must designate a liaison to facilitate transitions between the district and juvenile and criminal justice systems.  Liaison responsible for assisting in ensuring that students returning from “justice system custody” are promptly enrolled and evaluated for special education services, receive proper credits and that school records are promptly transferred to the appropriate district. 

New England Juvenile Defender Center Member Christopher Northrop wins the Robert E. Shepherd Jr. Leadership Award from the National Juvenile Defender Center October 27, 2018 

For many years, Professor Northrop has dedicated his work to ensuring and increasing fairness in the juvenile justice system. In 2006, he left private practice to join the Maine Law faculty and launch the Juvenile Justice Clinic at the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. He teaches his students best practices for representing juveniles using a model of holistic representation to ensure that the clients’ broader educational, safety, and medical needs are addressed as well as their legal needs. He established “Tuesdays at the Teen Center,” a weekly meeting with homeless teens at the Preble Street Teen Center, where clinic students provide free legal advice and resource referrals.

Read the press release from the University of Maine Law School, here.

Agenda from the New England Juvenile Defender Center’s Annual Conference June 6, 2018 

9:00 – 10:15  Speech Crimes, Kids, and the First Amendment,

  • Rebecca Turner is Vermont’s Chief Appellate Defender and has litigated several significant Vermont Supreme Court cases involving First Amendment defenses to threat, false information, and disorderly conduct offenses. Marshall Pahl is Vermont’s Chief Juvenile Defender.
  • Many of the most common charges in juvenile court include a significant speech component – like criminal threatening, false information to law enforcement, disorderly conduct, sexting, and dissemination of indecent material. This workshop will look at the First Amendment limits to criminal liability, techniques for raising facial and as-applied challenges to vague and broad statutes, and defenses that are particularly relevant to juvenile clients.

10:30 – 12:00  Keynote: Representing Children and Young Adults in Serious Felony Cases,

  • Stephen Harper is a Florida International University law professor, a defense attorney with decades of experience in capital cases, the former coordinator of Florida’s Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative, and the former Chief of the Juvenile Division for the Miami-Dade County Public Defenders.
  • This workshop will address strategies and techniques for approaching complex and serious felonies for juveniles and young adults.

1:00 – 2:45  Using Adolescent Development to Challenge Mens Rea in Delinquency, YO and Adult Court,

  • Wendy Wolf is the Training Director for the Youth Advocacy Division of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, a former trial attorney and supervising attorney at YAD, and the co-director of the New England Juvenile Defender Center. Christopher Northrop is a professor at the University of Maine School of Law where he founded and directs the Juvenile Justice Clinic and has worked on juvenile defense issues for the National Juvenile Defender Center since its inception. He is a co-author of a law review article, Kids Will be Kids: Time for a “Reasonable Child” Standard for the Proof of Objective Mens Rea Elements, 69 Me. L. Rev. 109 (2017). Laura Edmunds is a Massachusetts attorney specializing in serious juvenile cases in the trial courts and on appeal. She has won huge cases including a DNA exoneration in a 14-year-old rape case and a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision preventing automatic registration of juvenile sex offenders.
  • Even while courts around the country have woken up to the science behind the diminished culpability of juveniles and young adults in the context of sentencing and jurisdiction, most still treat kids just like adults when it comes to the intent element of criminal offenses. This session will look at intent analysis through the lens of adolescent brain development.

3:00 – 5:00  Ethics Panel: Real Problems, Real Answers, and Prizes!

  • What do you do when a prosecutor threatens to “tie your client up in court for years” with frivolous charges? How do you manage a client that lies to all her service providers about what you have advised her to do? What should you do when your client – right before he is taken from the courtroom in handcuffs – slips a bag of pot out of his pocket and into your hand?
  • This workshop will address ethical issues that come up in juvenile defense using real examples. There will be teams, competition, and prizes.

Vermont’s Bold Step to Include 18 and 19 year-olds Under Family Court Jurisdiction May 30, 2018 

This act:

  • Creates a new section of law, providing for automatic expungement of criminal history records of qualifying crimes for people who were 18-21 years old at the time they committed the offense, as long as certain criteria are met.
  • Requires the State’s Attorney to consider the results of the risk and needs screening in determining whether to file a charge in a juvenile delinquency or youthful offender proceeding, with the presumption that low-to-moderate risk offenders will be referred to diversion.
  • Expands jurisdiction of the Family Division to 18- and 19-year-olds over the next four years.
  • Appropriates funding to DCF for the purpose of the expansion of services to 18- and 19-year-olds.

To read the language of the bill, click here.

Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Bill Impacts Juvenile Justice Laws May 8, 2018

Here are a handful of the bill’s provisions directly impacting system-involved juveniles:

  • Minor offenses for juveniles – civil infractions and first offense misdemeanors with penalties under 6 months – cannot be the subject of delinquency findings.
  • Create a mechanism for judicial diversion of juveniles for less serious offenses.
  • Create legal/administrative framework to expand use of restorative justice programs for diversion of both juveniles and adults.
  • Assure that youthful offender cases tried in juvenile court are treated as juvenile instead of adult CORI.
  • Allow expungement of non-serious cases up to age 21 (for both juveniles and young adults).
  • Exclude juvenile arrests from public police log and expunge young adult police logs if the court case is expunged.
  • Raise minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 12.
  • Limit the use of room confinement as a disciplinary measure for juveniles.

To read the language of this new legislation, click here.

Congratulations to Connecticut on the closure of Connecticut Juvenile Training School Apr. 12, 2018

“In Connecticut, we’re leading the nation in rethinking our approach to criminal justice, especially when it comes to the treatment of our young people,” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy said. “The Connecticut Juvenile Training School was an ill-advised and costly relic of the Rowland era. It placed young boys in a prison-like facility, making rehabilitation, healing, and growth more challenging. The fact remains that this isn’t a celebratory moment, but a time to reflect on the past mistakes made when it comes to juvenile justice, and an opportunity to create a system that better serves our young people and society as a whole.”

This news received praise from national expert Vincent Schiraldi: “The fact that Connecticut’s juvenile arrest rate has plummeted alongside its decline in youth imprisonment means that state policy makers have figured out a way to make Connecticut residents safer while incarcerating fewer of their sons and daughters, something policy makers in other states should pay attention to.”

To read more, click here.

Connecticut’s Racial and Ethnic Disparity (RED) Committee reports statewide successes from 2017 Nov. 21, 2017

  • The adoption of protocols and guides in New Haven and Waterbury for reentry for youth returning from placement, including CJTS and MYI. This will ensure that these youth are able to immediately reenter school and receive the necessary supports in the community to be successful.
  • The implementation of restorative practices at four pilot schools in Bridgeport is showing a positive impact on school climate and discipline.
  • As of May, Out of School Suspensions at Columbus were down 52% and down 63% at Harding.
  • The continuing implementation of Deep End Diversion program, including restorative approaches, at CJTS to reduce the number of arrests in congregate care.
  • The DCF central office adopted the Washington State model protocol for runaway girls who are also likely the victims of exploitation or trafficking. The protocol ensures a victim-centered response to these girls as opposed a response that recommends detainment or is punitive in nature.

To learn more about recent successes arising out of Connecticut, click here.

Maine’s juvenile justice stakeholders gather national and local experts for Summit Nov 17. 2017

On November 17th, the newly formed Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law (MCJPAL) and the University of Southern Maine’s Justice Policy Institute collaboratively hosted Youth Justice in Maine: Imagining a New Future. This event convened nearly 100 national and local experts, juvenile justice practitioners, and youth voices, all of whom are committed to improving youth justice in Maine. Presentations and remarks were given by Vincent Schiraldi, Shaena Fazal, Gail D. Mumford, and more.

See the Summit agenda and view slides from the presentations here. To read the white paper generated from the Summit, Youth Justice in Maine: Imagine a New Future Summit Summary & Recommendations, click here.

Massachusetts lawmakers weigh again raising age for juvenile courts Nov. 7, 2017

In mid-October, the Massachusetts state Senate approved a criminal justice bill that would, among other things, raise the age of jurisdiction by juvenile courts from 18 to 19. A House version of the bill, unveiled Monday, raises the lower end of the jurisdictional age of the state’s juvenile courts from 7 to 10 years old while leaving the upper limit unchanged at 18. This initiative comes only four years after Massachusetts raised the age of juvenile delinquency from 17 to 18.

Read more here.

New Hampshire House Bill 517 provides substantial improvements in treatment of system involved youth Aug. 16, 2017

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed the bill into law in June of this year and the reforms are being phased in through September of 2018. The updates provided for by the legislation include prohibiting secure detention for most non-violent offenders and developing a plan, to be presented to the Legislature, to place non-violent offenders outside the Sununu Detention Center.

To read more about these new laws, click here.

Vermont Legislatures Charge to the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel Aug 29, 2017

In August, the Vermont legislature tasked a statewide Advisory Panel with a number of duties relating to the intersection of law enforcement, racial disparities, and the juvenile justice system. 

More information about this effort, click here

More New England News




Pamela Jones
New Hampshire Public Defender
44 Franklin St.
Nashua, NH 03064
Phone: 603-598-4986

Shea Sennett
New Hampshire Public Defender
44 Franklin Street
Nashua, NH 03064
Phone: 603-598-4986