OJD Week in Review: Aug. 13 – 17

Welcome back, everyone!  There is light news this week, but there are a few tidbits of information that might be of interest to you below.

Another OJD Spotlight On…

Before we get to the usual news, we would like to bring attention to a young man from Garner who wrote to our office recently with a personal request regarding school safety.  Lance Murphy, 16, of Garner Magnet High School, wrote Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry citing his concerns with the recent tragedies that have taken place within schools, including the one in Parkland, Fla.  In his writing, Murphy cites data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and inquires about programs to aid at-risk youth, before concluding with the statement below:

“As North Carolina’s Juvenile Defender, I ask that you support programs that help rehabilitate juvenile offenders.  I also ask that you support programs that may help prevent at-risk youth from committing crimes to begin with.  Examples of this could include after-school care, community support groups, community sport leagues, community service, and job skills support.  All children should have an opportunity to become outstanding adults, even those who have made bad choices in the past.  I thank you for your service and time.  I anxiously await your reply.”

giphy

While Zogry has sent his own reply to Murphy, perhaps we should also consider his heartfelt request as a call to action for all juvenile justice advocates and service providers.  It’s great that kids such as Murphy are considering preventative measures to keep more youth out of the justice system and addressing the fact that all kids, regardless of their actions, deserve the chance to prove themselves to be better adults.  We commend Murphy for speaking out on behalf of his peers and we also want to thank all those people who have actively worked to improve our communities and protect the future of our youth!

From Around the Community

cropped-whiteojd.pngOn Wednesday, Aug. 22, from 12 to 2 p.m., the Office of the Juvenile Defender will be hosting a Raise the Age Regional Informational Meeting in the Law Library of the Watauga County Courthouse (842 W. King Street) in Boone.  Juvenile defenders in District 24 and its surrounding districts are encouraged to attend.  During this meeting we will be discussing the Raise the Age law, OJD’s plans in response to the law, and what issues should be addressed going forward.  We encourage attendees to bring their lunch, as well as questions, comments and concerns.  We have a few other similar information meetings planned in other parts of the state, but if attorneys are interested in receiving more information, please feel free to reach out to our office and we will be happy to schedule a meeting/training with you!

On Thursday, Aug. 23, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., the OJJDP-funded Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program will host the “Internet Crimes Against Children/KeepSafe Incident Response Tool for Schools” webinar.  The webinar will discuss a free resource designed to help schools respond to technology-related incidents, including cyberbullying, sexting, hacking, and threats of violence.  The webinar will also identify how school officials can use this tool to work with law enforcement and other stakeholders to investigate and develop responses to all types of technology-related incidents.  If you are interested, please register here.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Misdemeanor Defender Training, which will take place at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from Sept. 18 – 21.  This training, cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, will be an introductory program for attorneys who are new to handling misdemeanor cases and will offer 21.5 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit and qualifies for criminal law specialization credit.  Attendees can expect sessions that will cover topics such as impaired driving, probation violations, ethical issues in district court, and much more.  The registration deadline will be 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the deadline for the hotel block will be Aug. 28.  There will be no onsite registration.  The fee for privately assigned counsel will be $560, but the program will be free for IDS state employees.  There is a new online registration system being used that will require first-time users to create an account, but if any issues should arise, please contact registration@sog.unc.edu/919.966.4414 or check the FAQ page.  For further questions contact either Tanya Jisa or Phil Dixon,Jr.

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

That sums it up for this week!  The near-future for news in the juvenile defense community is looking good, so check back soon!

OJD Week in Review: Aug. 6 – 10

Welcome back, everyone!  This week there are some great new stories to share from our site and around the Web.

From Around the Community

First, from the On the Civil Side blog, Austine Long discusses youth development centers (YDCs).  In her post, Long emphasizes the use of YDCs and the need for juvenile justice advocates to familiarize themselves with the facilities and requirements of committed youth.  Long also encourages attorneys to attend trainings about YDCs, including the annual Juvenile Defender Conference.  You can check out the full post here.

Dilemma of Duties

Earlier this week, our office had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Anne Corbin about her book, Dilemma of Duties: The Conflicted Role of Juvenile Defenders.  Through interviews with many juvenile defense attorneys across North Carlina, Corbin examines the role of juvenile defenders and the internal and external pressures experienced by defenders to divert from expressed-interest advocacy to best-interest advocacy.  We recorded the discussion for our next podcast, which we hope to share in the very near future, but in the meantime check out the book for yourselves!

Speaking of books, from the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, author Cara Drinan wrote a four-part series to discuss her book The War on Kids: How American Juvenile Justice Lost Its Way.  In her first post, Drinan addresses the question of how the U.S. became an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile justice practices, touching on the origins of the juvenile court system and drawing the line to the failures of the system today.  Her later posts also cover what the war on kids looks like, three Supreme Court cases that have significantly impacted the juvenile justice system, and post-Miller parole.  Drinan concluded the series of posts earlier this week, so be sure to read all four blog posts and check out the book!  You can read the beginning of her series here.  Shout-out to David Andrews for bringing these blogs to our attention!

Finally, if you haven’t already seen it, please take a moment to read our feature on Cindy Ellis, the new contract juvenile defender of Davie County.  Read the full post here.

Cindy Ellis pic

Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Misdemeanor Defender Training, which will take place at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from Sept. 18 – 21.  This training, cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, will be an introductory program for attorneys who are new to handling misdemeanor cases and will offer 21.5 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit and qualifies for criminal law specialization credit.  Attendees can expect sessions that will cover topics such as impaired driving, probation violations, ethical issues in district court, and much more.  The registration deadline will be 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the deadline for the hotel block will be Aug. 28.  There will be no onsite registration.  The fee for privately assigned counsel will be $560, but the program will be free for IDS state employees.  There is a new online registration system being used that will require first-time users to create an account, but if any issues should arise, please contact registration@sog.unc.edu/919.966.4414 or check the FAQ page.  For further questions contact either Tanya Jisa or Phil Dixon,Jr.

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

That sums it up for this week!  The near-future for news in the juvenile defense community is looking good, so check back soon!

OJD Spotlight: Introducing Cindy Ellis

Cindy Ellis pic

Today in the OJD Spotlight we have the new juvenile defense contractor of Davie County, Cindy Ellis.

Cindy knew she wanted to be a lawyer even when she was little.  Back then she thought it would be glamorous, but now she says she knows it can be one of the most stressful, yet rewarding career choices.

In law school, she had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in a wrongful convictions clinic.  During that clinic, she and her classmates studied and watched an actual case of innocence unfold and a man released from prison.  It impressed upon her the importance of what lawyers do and how they do it.

Cindy became motivated to join the juvenile defense field after seeing too many children making mistakes that haunted them for years.

“So many studies have shown that our brains are not fully developed until well after the age of 18, yet we punish kids as if they fully understand their actions and the consequences of them,” she said.  “The cycle needs to be broken.  I want to help find ways for kids to make better choices and grow up without the stigma that accompanies a criminal history.”

Her greatest personal success in life is not one particular thing or moment.  Cindy said she is extremely proud of the fact that she has worked full-time since she was old enough to have a job.  Through undergrad and law school, she worked a full-time job.

When asked about her greatest professional success, she said this is also difficult to pinpoint.  “Anytime I have been able to help someone, not just with his or her case, but also with the things that landed him or her in court initially, I feel like I have been successful.”

In  life and in her professional practice, the Davie County attorney says there is one maxim she chooses to apply in both.  “Life is about choices.  I remind myself that the key difference between defending and being a defendant can be as simple as one bad decision.  Have empathy and follow the golden rule.”

As far as words of wisdom to impart on others, Cindy only said, “I am positive the juvenile defense community has many more words of wisdom to share than I, so please share with me (and with each other)!”

You can find more about Cindy on her personal website, https://www.cynthiaellislaw.com/, and her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaellislaw/.

 

OJD Week in Review: July 30 – Aug. 3

Happy Pre-Saturday!  There are no new stories to share for this week, but there are a couple of deadlines in the next couple of days worth noting.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Misdemeanor Defender Training, which will take place at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from Sept. 18 – 21.  This training, cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, will be an introductory program for attorneys who are new to handling misdemeanor cases and will offer 21.5 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit and qualifies for criminal law specialization credit.  Attendees can expect sessions that will cover topics such as impaired driving, probation violations, ethical issues in district court, and much more.  The registration deadline will be 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the deadline for the hotel block will be Aug. 28.  There will be no onsite registration.  The fee for privately assigned counsel will be $560, but the program will be free for IDS state employees.  There is a new online registration system being used that will require first-time users to create an account, but if any issues should arise, please contact registration@sog.unc.edu/919.966.4414 or check the FAQ page.  For further questions contact either Tanya Jisa or Phil Dixon,Jr.

training toy story

Registration for the 2018 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences closes today at 5 p.m..  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, August 16, and Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, August 17.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, offer approximately six hours of CLE credit, and feature speakers from across the state.  The conferences are free for IDS state employees but there is a $165 registration fee for privately assigned counsel.  You can register and find further details regarding the Parent Attorney Conference here, or go here for the Juvenile Defender Conference.  For any questions about the conference, please contact Tanya Jisa, or for questions about the course content, please contact Austine Long.

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The Governor’s Crime Commission is soliciting proposals to conduct an assessment study of specific aspects of disproportionate minority contact within the state’s juvenile justice system.  The award will be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 for a six-month period.  Interested parties can download a copy of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document hereProposals will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6.  For additional information, please check out the GCC website, or if you have questions, contact Lead Juvenile Justice Planner Carlotta Winstead by email or call 919-733-4564.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

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The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

That is all for this week!  We will have more news in the future, so check back soon.

OJD Week in Review: July 23 – 27

And… we’re back to another Friday!  There is little news for this week with the exception of one new training opportunity and one new resource, but mostly reminders.

New Resource

In partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the National Juvenile Defender Center released “Addressing Bias in Delinquency and Child Welfare Systems, a bench card emphasizing that “eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile and family courts is critical to creating a fair and equitable system of justice for all youth.”  This tool is meant to educate juvenile and family court judges about structural, explicit, and implicit bias, providing judges with self-reflection tools to help them recognize and prevent bias in their courtroom and offer concrete strategies to correct implicit bias.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Misdemeanor Defender Training, which will take place at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from Sept. 18 – 21.  This training, cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, will be an introductory program for attorneys who are new to handling misdemeanor cases and will offer 21.5 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit and qualifies for criminal law specialization credit.  Attendees can expect sessions that will cover topics such as impaired driving, probation violations, ethical issues in district court, and much more.  The registration deadline will be 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the deadline for the hotel block will be Aug. 28.  There will be no onsite registration.  The fee for privately assigned counsel will be $560, but the program will be free for IDS state employees.  There is a new online registration system being used that will require first-time users to create an account, but if any issues should arise, please contact registration@sog.unc.edu/919.966.4414 or check the FAQ page.  For further questions contact either Tanya Jisa or Phil Dixon,Jr.

wvpviw

Registration is open for the 2018 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, August 16, and Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, August 17.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, offer approximately six hours of CLE credit, and feature speakers from across the state.  The conferences are free for IDS state employees but there is a $165 registration fee for privately assigned counsel.  You can register and find further details regarding the Parent Attorney Conference here, or go here for the Juvenile Defender Conference.  For any questions about the conference, please contact Tanya Jisa, or for questions about the course content, please contact Austine Long.

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The Governor’s Crime Commission is soliciting proposals to conduct an assessment study of specific aspects of disproportionate minority contact within the state’s juvenile justice system.  The award will be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 for a six-month period.  Interested parties can download a copy of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document hereProposals will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6.  For additional information, please check out the GCC website, or if you have questions, contact Lead Juvenile Justice Planner Carlotta Winstead by email or call 919-733-4564.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

Mr. Bean Resume Found

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice still has an opening for an executive director.   The ideal candidate will have strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills, a demonstrated passion for social and racial justice, and experience in developing successful relationships in diverse communities.  For the full job description, please check the post here, and to apply please send all queries here.

That is all for this week!  We will have more news in the future, so check back soon.

OJD Week in Review: July 16 – 20

Congratulations on making it to the end of another week!   And this has been another eventful week, so there is a bit of new content to be shared once again.

New Resource

On our “Materials for Defenders” page, we’ve added the documents from the “2018 Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder” training.  You can review the info from this March training under the “Training Material – Listed by Training Program” section.

From Around the Community

RTAThe Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) will be hosting a Regional Raise the Age Information Meeting in Asheville on today, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.  The event will be held in the Jury Assembly, Room 272, of the Judicial Complex (60 Court Plaza, Asheville, N.C. 28801).  As with the previous  regional information meetings, all juvenile defenders, especially those in Buncombe and its surrounding counties, are invited to attend.  We will discuss the Raise the Age law, OJD’s plan in response to it, and what issues should be addressed going forward.  This will be a discussion, so please bring any of your questions, comments, and concerns about Raise the Age.  If you have questions prior to the meeting, please contact Marcus Thompson by email or call us 919-890-1650.

Today is the last day for late & onsite registration of the 81st Annual National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Conference .  The event this year will take place at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center from July 22 – 25.  The conference will offer presentations/training tracks on  topics such as family law, juvenile justice, child welfare, and family violence.  This conference is judicially-focused and open to all those interested in the improvement of juvenile and family justice.  For registration and further info, please visit the NCJFCJ website hereLaToya Powell headshot

We would like to bring attention to a recent post on the UNC School of Government blog regarding threats and false reports of mass violence.  In this post, Jamie Markham discusses sections 1 and 2 of House Bill 670, specifically touching on the ambiguity of the new conditional discharge.

Also, if you haven’t checked it out already, please take a moment to read our discussion on school-justice partnerships with LaToya Powell.  This Q&A covers what school-justice partnerships are and the potential benefits and challenges we may see once the programs are implemented.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The Governor’s Crime Commission is soliciting proposals to conduct an assessment study of specific aspects of disproportionate minority contact within the state’s juvenile justice system.  The award will be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 for a six-month period.  Interested parties can download a copy of the Request for Proposal (RFP) document hereProposals will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6.  For additional information, please check out the GCC website, or if you have questions, contact Lead Juvenile Justice Planner Carlotta Winstead by email or call 919-733-4564.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

SCSJ

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice still has an opening for an executive director.   The ideal candidate will have strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills, a demonstrated passion for social and racial justice, and experience in developing successful relationships in diverse communities.  For the full job description, please check the post here, and to apply please send all queries here.

Training

Registration is open for the 2018 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, August 16, and Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, August 17.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, offer approximately six hours of CLE credit, and feature speakers from across the state.  The conferences are free for IDS state employees but there is a $165 registration fee for privately assigned counsel.  You can register and find further details regarding the Parent Attorney Conference here, or go here for the Juvenile Defender Conference.  For any questions about the conference, please contact Tanya Jisa, or for questions about the course content, please contact Austine Long.

every-day-is-training-day

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Thank you for joining us this week!  We have more news and features planned for the future, so check back soon.

OJD Spotlight: A Discussion on School-Justice Partnerships with LaToya Powell

As we observe and prepare for the full implementation of North Carolina’s plan to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, there are some elements of the new legislation that are worth highlighting, one of those being the mandate for school-justice partnerships.  The Office of the Juvenile Defender had the pleasure of sitting down with LaToya Powell to discuss the roll-out of the school-justice partnership project.

Office of the Juvenile Defender: Thank you for taking the time to be here with us today, LaToya.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in juvenile justice.

LaToya Powell: I have been working in the area of juvenile justice since I graduated law school in 2005.  First, as a prosecutor in Johnston County, then as an appellate attorney with the Attorney General’s Office where I handled juvenile delinquency appeals for the State.  After that, I worked as a law professor at the UNC School of Government, where I trained and advised North Carolina public officials, including juvenile court judges, prosecutors, juvenile defenders, and lawmakers.  Currently, I am with the Office of General Counsel at the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) where I work as the Assistant Legal Counsel responsible for addressing juvenile delinquency issues and policy changes like Raise the Age.

LaToya Powell headshotOJD:  What are school-justice partnerships?

LP:  A school-justice partnership is exactly what it says.  It’s a partnership between the schools and the courts and other community stakeholders, like law enforcement and juvenile justice, designed to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline.  The school-to-prison pipeline is what happens when schools rely heavily on exclusionary discipline, like suspensions, expulsions, and referring kids to court, to address minor misconduct in school.  We know from Juvenile Justice data that close to 50 percent of petitions are based on misconduct that happens at schools.  Ninety-four percent of those cases are minor misdemeanors, like simple assault, misdemeanor larceny, and disorderly conduct, such as a kid being disruptive in class or yelling at a teacher.  What we know from evidence is that when kids are referred to court, they are more likely to drop out of school, they are more likely to engage in future misconduct and they are more likely to be charged as an adult.  So not only does it produce negative outcomes for the students, but it also makes schools and communities less safe because it increases recidivism.

Rather than push kids out of school, school-justice partnerships keep kids in school where they have better outcomes.  And as a result of Raise the Age, we now have a directive from the Legislature to the Director of the AOC to create policies and procedures to expand school-justice partnerships throughout North Carolina.

OJD:  What results are you hoping to see from the expansion of school-justice partnerships?

LP:  What we would hope to see is a reduction in the number of school-based referrals that go to the court system, and as a result of that, better outcomes for students—greater academic achievement, lower dropout rates, increased graduation rates, safer schools—those are the main goals for this partnership.  Another thing that we hope to see is less disproportionality in the way that school discipline is administered because the school-to-prison pipeline has a disparate impact on certain groups of students, primarily students of color and disabled students.

OJD:  What questions or problems do you anticipate for these programs?

LP:  The biggest problem or obstacle that we anticipate is the lack of resources for schools that need to be able to address disruptive students without the need to suspend them or send them to court.  There are many counties in our state that have lots of programs, community-based and school-based, that support students who are misbehaving at school, but other counties are not so fortunate.  They don’t have as many resources or tools to help their teachers who have a classroom of 30 or more kids.  Often times, all they have is a school resource officer who they can ask “Can you help me with this kid who is disturbing my classroom?” So, we hope to see more funding to create additional programs that will serve this population of students.

We know that some of our counties have things like restorative justice programs, Teen Court programs, and other diversion programs that are very successful and produce really great results for children.  The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC), which is monitoring the implementation of Raise the Age, has requested additional resources from the Legislature to fund diversion programs for these school-justice partnerships.  Also, the AOC is creating a school-justice partnership toolkit that provides guidance on how to create and implement a school-justice partnership.

OJD:  How many counties in N.C. are currently implementing school-justice partnership programs and have there been any measurable levels of success?

LP:  To my knowledge there are at least six counties that currently have school-justice partnerships and several others are in the process of creating them.  New Hanover County established its school-justice partnership about two years ago under the leadership of Chief District Court Judge J. Corpening and under its model, schools use graduated responses to address minor misconduct.  A graduated response model is a tiered system of sanctions that essentially gives the child a second chance to get it right.  So, instead of a student immediately being arrested and charged the first time he or she gets into a fight, the school will first try to address the misconduct without resorting to exclusionary discipline.  For example, a teacher might reprimand the student or require the student to do an assignment that relates to the behavior.  And then the next time the student misbehaves, the school might refer the student to a program or a behavioral specialist at the school.  Under the graduated response model, a child would have to receive at least two graduated responses before a referral to court can be made.  As a result of this school-justice partnership, New Hanover County has reduced school-based referrals by 47 percent.

OJD:  What other solutions would you propose to derail the school-to-prison pipeline?

LP:  I think this project is going to help lots of children in North Carolina avoid contact with the juvenile justice system.  And that is really important, not just for our kids but also for our schools and our communities.  By reducing the population of students who are being referred to court for minor misconduct that happens at school, it will increase the capacity of the juvenile court system to serve the older population of juveniles, 16- and 17-year-olds, who will soon become a part of that system.  The successful implementation of Raise the Age is an important step in reducing the school to prison pipeline.

OJD:  How can people learn more about school-justice partnerships in North Carolina?

LP:  For more information about School Justice Partnership North Carolina, please visit SJP.nccourts.gov.