Over 700,000 children were arrested in 2018, and juvenile courts across the country hear nearly 800,000 cases each year. These young people may be interrogated by police without an attorney, enter guilty pleas without fully appreciating the consequences of doing so, or give up other important trial rights in violation of the Constitution. They may be appear in court unrepresented or find themselves burdened by records that cause long-term obstacles as they try to continue their education or work in their communities.
Racism pervades the justice system, leading to the arrest, prosecution, adjudication and incarceration of disproportionately greater numbers of youth of color than white youth, even while youth offending patterns are relatively similar. Moreover, fines and fees imposed on youth create an unfair system of “justice by income,” where children in poverty face an increased risk of incarceration, while more affluent youth receive effective community-based treatment. Justice should not be based on race, where a child lives, or the family’s income.
Youth deserve legal protections and experienced lawyers to challenge unconstitutional laws, oppose unfair policies or practices, and hold systems accountable when they harm youth and their families.
The first step in both adult and juvenile cases is to work with you and your family members to develop a plan to secure the best possible result. The goals of crime punishment are changing rapidly in our society and courts. The correlations between Adverse Childhood Events (ACE), mental health, literacy rates, school truancy, and being caught in the criminal system are now well documented and need to be thoroughly advocated to a court by an attorney who understands and cares about you and your circumstances.
In addition to my work as an attorney, I have been a regular and substitute teacher and special needs assistant in Charleston County, Denver City, and Youngstown City schools, a volunteer Child Advocate, and a volunteer for a human trafficking recovery organization. This experience is invaluable when fighting for the rights of the accused and victims.
In Ohio, youth who are incarcerated are more likely to reoffend and have less success in education and employment. Speaker Erin Davies from the Ohio Juvenile Justice Coalition shared how Ohio reduced the number of kids facing jail time and the latest numbers on Ohio kids in the juvenile justice system.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Trauma / Stressor-Related Disorders
Disruptive, Impulse-Control Disorders
Substance-Related / Addictive Disorders