OJD Week in Review: Apr. 9 – 13

This week we’ve got a new resource we wanted to bring attention to regarding sex offender registration and a few new events to add to the previous week’s rundown.

From Around the Community

Registration is now open for 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 here.

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We would like to take a moment to recognize those who recently received renewed certification to specialize in juvenile delinquency during the Annual Luncheon of the N.C. State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.  Congratulations to (from left to right) Juvenile Chief of the Wake County Public Defender’s Office and Chair of the Juvenile Specialty Committee Mary Stansell, Regional Defender at N.C. Indigent Defense Services Valerie Pearce, and Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry.  Union County Attorney Anna Goodwin, who is also a member of the Juvenile Specialty Committee, was also in attendance.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and the Council of State Governments Justice Center will host the 2018 Janet Reno Forum on May 21 at  Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  The forum will highlight strategies for restructuring juvenile justice systems to more effectively enhance public safety and improve outcomes for youth.  The event will include the presentation of the second annual Janet Reno Endowment Women’s Leadership Award, and attendees will receive a publication featuring the highlighted strategies.  Policymakers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, and other stakeholders are invited to attend.  Please register here.

New Resource

Since North Carolina does not automatically require juveniles to register if they’ve been adjudicated of a sex offense, many defenders don’t think to discuss sex offender registration with their clients.  However, your client may be required to register if your client moves to another state, attends college out of state, or goes to Virginia or South Carolina for treatment.  This resource – A Snapshot of Juvenile Sex Offender Registration and Notification” will help you to advise your clients of potential issues if they leave North Carolina.  Please note that the manual is from 2010, so be sure to double-check that no new laws have been passed since then, but it’s a great starting point.  Additionally, if you find that DJJ is recommending sending your client for treatment in a state that will require your client to be on its sex offender registry (notably Virginia and South Carolina), please contact our office.  We have a motion for you to file to ask the court to enter an injunction regarding placement in a facility that would require the juvenile to register (and it’s been successful – many judges don’t understand this either).

Training

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference next Thursday, Apr. 19.  The conference offers 5.0 CLE credits for lawyers, which includes 1.0 credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

Registration is now open for N.C. Bar Association’s annual meeting, this year titled “The Future of Law”.   This event will be hosted at the Wilmington Convention Center from June 21 – 24.  For those who register before May 1, a President’s Luncheon ticket and 6.0 CLE credit hours will be included with the registration price.  Topics covered will include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, design thinking in the law, and the future of legal service delivery.  For further info and to register please check out the NCBA website and the event brochure.

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On May 10, the N.C. Bar Association will be hosting “Raise the Age: A New Era for Juvenile Justice in North Carolina” at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary, from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This seminar promises to expand attendees’ understanding of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its practical and ethical implications.  Attendees will receive 5.5 CLE credits total, with 1.0 CLE credit in Ethics/Professional Responsibility and 4.5 General CLE credits.  For further details about this event, please check the website here.

We hope you saved the date!  It was recently announced that the 2018 Defender Trial School, cosponsored by the School of Government and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, 2018, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Defender Trial School participants will use their own cases to develop a cohesive theory of defense at trial and apply that theory through all stages of trial, including voir dire, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross-examination.  The program will offer approximately 30 hours of general CLE credit and qualifies for NC State Bar criminal law specialization credit.  The Defender Trial School is open to public defenders and a limited number of private attorneys who perform a significant amount of appointed work.  Further details will be provided on the course page in the near future.  Any questions or requests for additional info should be directed to Tanya Jisa at jisa@sog.unc.edu / 919.843.8981 or Professor John Rubin at rubin@sog.unc.edu/ 919.962.2498.

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Job Opportunities

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is seeking a mid-level policy attorney to handle youth justice issues in Santa Clara County.  Applications will be accepted until Sunday, Apr. 15, so get yours in soon!  For further details and to apply please check here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

This will do it for now.  We will be in contact with a few members of the N.C. juvenile defender community soon, providing a survey to gather feedback to improve our communications as we did last year.  If you do not receive an email from us with a link to the survey, please feel free to contact us any time with your thoughts for our blog, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, or the listserv.    We are always seeking ways to provide better support to defenders.  Thank you for reading and we will be sure to share more next week!

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 26 – 30

Even though this is a short week, we’ve got some new updates to share that could be useful to the juvenile defense community in the coming months.

From Around the Community

On Mar. 16, Campbell Law School hosted a Raise the Age luncheon featuring Rep. Marcia Morey and a diverse panel of voices from around the juvenile defense community which included Juvenile Defender Eric ZogryGeneral Counsel and Policy Advisor of the Office of the Lt. Governor Steven WalkerNCGA Legislative Analysis Division Staff Attorney Tawanda Foster, and others.  For anyone interested, there is now video available for the 2-hour event.  Check it out below.

The N.C. Bar Association has posted a new blog discussing our state’s new expunction laws.  This article, written by Tarrah Callahan, executive director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, and Daniel Bowes, staff attorney at Workers’ Rights Project/ Second Chance Initiative, touches on the difficulty of obtaining expunctions in the past and breaks down the recent changes to the law.  You can read their full article here.

Training

Registration is now open for N.C. Bar Association’s annual meeting, this year titled “The Future of Law”.   This event will be hosted at the Wilmington Convention Center from June 21 – 24.  For those who register before May 1, a President’s Luncheon ticket and 6.0 CLE credit hours will be included with the registration price.  Topics covered will include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, design thinking in the law, and the future of legal service delivery.  For further info and to register please check out the NCBA website and the event brochure.

On May 10, the N.C. Bar Association will be hosting “Raise the Age: A New Era for Juvenile Justice in North Carolina” at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary, from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This seminar promises to expand attendees’ understanding of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its practical and ethical implications.  Attendees will receive 5.5 CLE credits total, with 1.0 CLE credit in Ethics/Professional Responsibility and 4.5 General CLE credits.  For further details about this event, please check the website here.

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers 5.0 CLE credits for lawyers, which includes 1.0 credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

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Job Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is seeking a mid-level policy attorney to handle youth justice issues in Santa Clara County.  Applications will be accepted through Apr. 15.  For further details and to apply please check here.

The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN will host an informational webinar on Apr. 2 that you can register for here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

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This wraps up our short week in review and we just want to wish everyone a safe and happy Easter weekend (or vacation week if we don’t catch you next week)!  Be sure to check back on here again soon!

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 19-23

This week we only have reminders for training and job opportunities again, with only a few other job opportunities that will be closing soon and some news from around the community you may have missed peppered in.  Fresh updates are limited right now, but we expect some more news very soon.

Job/Fellowship Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

East Bay Community Law Center  will continue accepting applications for a Director of its Youth Defender Clinic (YDC) until Monday, March 26.  YDC provides legal representation and advocacy to young people in school discipline and delinquency proceedings, including assisting young people in overcoming barriers to education and employment created by juvenile court records and court-ordered debt.  The Director will lead YDC’s work, which consists of representing clients in juvenile delinquency and school discipline proceedings, supervising and training law students on cases, and engaging in policy advocacy related to court-debt and juvenile probation.  For more information and to apply please check here.

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The Defender Association of Philadelphia has an opening for Chief of its Juvenile Unit (details for position available here).  Applications for this position will be closing on Monday, Mar. 26, as well.  Cover letters and resumes should be submitted to Sherri Darden here.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is seeking a mid-level policy attorney to handle youth justice issues in Santa Clara County.  Applications will be accepted through Apr. 15.  For further details and to apply please check here.

The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN will host an informational webinar on Apr. 2 that you can register for here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

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Training

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers five CLE credits for lawyers, including one credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

From Around the Community

Also, in case you missed it, the N.C. Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section held its council meeting and mixer at Whiskey Kitchen last night.  Check out their Twitter to see more photos and catch up on other news from the organization.

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Also, if you get a chance, please take time to read Rep. Jon Hardister’s article discussing Raise the Age from the Greensboro News & Record.  In his writing, Hardister acknowledges behavioral differences of juveniles, briefly praises Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Justice William Lassiter and references the recent Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee Report.

That does it for now.  Be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter feed for updates during the week as well.  If you are a juvenile defense attorney in North Carolina, please contact us with your name and email to be added to our listserv and feel free to engage in with others in the juvenile defense community through our channels as well.  We will have more info and features for you coming soon.

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 12-16

This week we will primarily be offering reminders for previously mentioned events, training, and job opportunities with a few new updates sprinkled in.

Events Around the Community

raise the age luncheonIf you don’t already have lunch plans today, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Campbell Law School (225 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27603) will be hosting a Raise the Age luncheon in Room 105.  This event will feature remarks from Rep. Marcia Morey and a panel discussion focused on the new legislation to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction .  Panelists will include Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry, General Counsel and Policy Advisor of the Office of the Lt. Governor Steven Walker, Executive Director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform Tarrah Callahan, NCGA Legislative Analysis Division Staff Attorney Tawanda Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Haven House Michelle Zechmann, and Former Executive Director of Capital Area Teen Court Louise Davis.  Boxed lunches (at least 80) will be provided for attendees.

Reminder that the The North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section will be holding a council meeting on next Thursday, March 22, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.  A networking reception will be held directly after the meeting at Whiskey Kitchen on 201 W. Martin St. and appetizers and a cash bar will be provided.  All section members and attorneys who could be members are welcome to attend and may RSVP here.

Job/Fellowship Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The East Bay Community Law Center is seeking applicants for a Director to lead its Youth Defender Clinic (YDC).  YDC provides legal representation and advocacy to young people in school discipline and delinquency proceedings, including assisting young people in overcoming barriers to education and employment created by juvenile court records and court-ordered debt.  The Director will lead YDC’s work, which consists of representing clients in juvenile delinquency and school discipline proceedings, supervising and training law students on cases, and engaging in policy advocacy related to court-debt and juvenile probation.  For more information and to apply please check here.  The application deadline is Monday, March 26, 2018.

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The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN will host an informational webinar on Apr. 2 that you can register for here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

Training

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers five CLE credits for lawyers, including one credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

That is all we’ve got for you this week.  Be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter feed for updates during the week as well.  If you are a juvenile defense attorney in North Carolina, please contact us with your name and email to be added to our listserv and feel free to engage in with others in the juvenile defense community through our channels as well.  We will have more info and features for you coming soon.

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 5-9

This week we’ve got a new update regarding Raise the Age, a valuable resource for defenders and, as usual, we’ve got some new training opportunities and job opportunities for you as well.

New JJAC Report

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The Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (JJAC) released its first report on Mar. 1, which can now be found on our “Raise the Age” page under the “Information for Defenders” tab.  We’ve added a new section to the “Raise the Age” page dedicated to providing updates from JJAC to allow everyone to follow the Committee’s progress.  This report details the key implementation dates for initiatives proposed in the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, the Committee’s requests for a unified video conferencing system, recommendations for transfer and housing of juveniles, requests from JJAC, OJD, and the Administrative Office of the Courts for additional funding, staff and other resources, dates for community and stakeholder forums, and other recommendations and plans of JJAC and its subcommittees.  A summary of the JJAC meeting prior to the report can be found here on our site.

Job/Fellowship Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is now accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN has already hosted one informational webinar on Mar. 8 and will host the next on Apr. 2.  To register for one of this webinar, please visit here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

 

Training

JD Leadship Summit 2018Save the Date!  NJDC will be hosting the 2018 Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota on Oct. 26-28.  We will be sure to provide further details for this event as they arrive.

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers five CLE credits for lawyers, including one credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

On March 12, 2018, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators‘ Positive Youth Outcomes Committee will host “Classroom Excellence in Secure Residential Facilities.” This webinar will highlight work to improve the quality of education provided to at-risk, low-income, minority teenagers and young adults who are attending schools in alternative settings, including youth correctional facilities.  You can register for the webinar here.

New Resources

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released the Juvenile Residential Facility Census Databook, the latest addition to the Data Analysis Tools section of its Statistical Briefing Book. National and state data from 2000 to 2014 describing the characteristics of residential placement facilities that hold juvenile offenders are now available for analysis. This includes operation, classification, size, and crowding.

Events Around the Community

The North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section will be holding a council meeting on March 22, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.  A networking reception will be held directly after the meeting at Whiskey Kitchen on 201 W. Martin St. and appetizers and a cash bar will be provided.  All section members and attorneys who could be members are welcome to attend and may RSVP here.

And that sums it up for this week.  We will have some more updates to our social media channels and more news you can use in the coming weeks, so please check back with us often.  Invitations are still open for guest bloggers and podcast guests as well, so feel free to reach out.  Until next week, we wish you well!

Reflections & Foresight on N.C.’s Journey for Juvenile Justice at Raise the Age Victory Celebration

On Thursday afternoon, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., advocates for Raise the Age from across the state of North Carolina (and probably beyond) assembled at Trophy Brewing in Downtown Raleigh for a victory party hosted by the Raise the Age Coalition to celebrate the passing of the new law extending the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  RTA Vic Party crowd

Representatives from many organizations, from Disability Rights N.C. to the state Legislature, were in attendance to celebrate the monumental occasion.  After struggling for more than a decade to make this necessary change to the juvenile justice system, the festivities were well-deserved.  Everyone present seemed to be in good spirits after finally seeing their diligence pay off, but the people who have supported this effort for so long understand that there is still more to be done.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” said Tyler Ford, research assistant to Senator Paul Lowe.  “The state can now focus on guiding juveniles in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go.”

In the middle of the event, Susanna Birdsong, state policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called on multiple speakers to share their thoughts and words of encouragement with the crowd.

Brandy Bynum Dawson, associate director for Rural Forward NC, was the first of the speakers, addressing all of the long years of advocacy to make this moment possible in her speech.  “This win is for North Carolina’s youth!” Dawson said.  “Congratulations on never giving up!”

Dawson was followed by Sens. Marcia Morey and Duane Hall, who each spoke briefly about their work in the judicial system before coming to the Legislature.

“This is why I left the bench to go to the Legislature,” Sen. Morey said.  “This is about the kids.  This is about the thousands of kids I would have sentenced as a judge.”

The final speaker for the event, Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project, stated that until the law is fully implemented, the goal would be to increase diversion programs and try to keep kids out of the justice system in the first place, continuing to advance justice for youth in North Carolina.

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Following the presentations from the selected speakers a few others present were kind enough share their thoughts on the new legislation and what it means going forward.

“This is a smart juvenile justice reform that is going to help a lot of kids in North Carolina,” said LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government.

Deana Fleming, assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, stated, “I’m just happy to be able to put North Carolina youth on equal footing with the rest of the states.”

“This is only the beginning, there is still work to be done,” said David Andrews, assistant public defender for the N.C. Office of the Appellate Defender.

And while the work to improve the juvenile justice system continues, so do the celebrations for what has been achieved so far.  On Wednesday, August 2, the North Carolina Chamber will be holding its own reception in the Reynolds American Boardroom at 701 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 400 in Raleigh.  The reception will last from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Guests will need to RSVP with Kristy Kappel at kkappel@ncchamber.net.

 

“From In re Gault to Raising the Age: There is Always Room for More Justice” by Guest Blogger Matt Herr

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As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of In re Gault this month, it is a great opportunity to take stock of how far we have come and where we stand on juvenile justice issues in North Carolina today.

In re Gault enshrined in American jurisprudence an important due process “floor” for juveniles by recognizing that they have at least the same due process rights as adults in our criminal justice system. As a result, juveniles today are receiving more due process protections in our courts.

North Carolina’s juvenile justice system also has made numerous reforms over the past two decades and is more focused on rehabilitation than it has been ever before. This means that more young people are getting set back on track and held accountable for their actions without having their lives upended and their futures put at risk.

It also looks like 2017 may be the year that North Carolina joins the rest of the country in “Raising the Age.” As of last month, North Carolina became the last state in the country that automatically prosecutes both 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, no matter how minor the offense. The data on our current approach consistently shows that it leads to worse outcomes, makes our communities less safe, and costs taxpayers more.

Disability Rights NC cares about this issue because a significant number of the youth in our criminal justice system have disabilities. Moreover, children with disabilities already have a hard enough time accessing housing, education, and employment during those crucial transition years into adulthood and beyond. When we further saddle those children with the 1,000 “collateral consequences” of having an adult criminal record and the trauma of incarcerating them with adults—where they are significantly more likely to be physically or sexually victimized and manipulated by gangs—we set those children up for failure. It increases their future reliance on government assistance and makes it more likely that they will resort to future criminal activity and re-enter the criminal justice system. That ends up costing North Carolina taxpayers even more in the long run and has serious repercussions for families throughout our state.

We are privileged to be part of a broad coalition focused on Raising the Age this year—including the North Carolina courts, the North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, law enforcement, and stakeholders in every corner of the political spectrum. We are working to support the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (HB280), which would Raise the Age to 18 in North Carolina for all but the most serious, violent felonies. It would keep 97% of the youth who get mixed up with the law in the juvenile system and get our kids the supports they need to grow into successful, contributing members of society. That bill passed the North Carolina House last week with overwhelming support. It now moves on to the Senate, where we will continue the work of bringing meaningful change to North Carolina’s youth.

Young people in our criminal justice system, and particularly those with disabilities, are the most vulnerable defendants in our criminal justice system. That will never change. Nor will the fundamental truth that the law is at its most when it protects the least of us. If there is one lesson we can learn from working with these kids—whether through protecting their basic rights, making practical reforms to focus on rehabilitation, or recognizing under the law that they are, in fact, children—it is that there is always room for more justice.

Matthew Herr is an attorney and policy analyst with Disability Rights NC. Follow him at @MattHerrTweets.