What Young People Are Saying About Juvenile Defense: Learning from the Experiences of Former Youth Clients

The perspectives of young people with system experience are particularly important in efforts to strengthen and improve juvenile defense advocacy. With the state, prosecutors, victims, witnesses, law enforcement, and probation officers on the other side of the table, youth rely on their defender to hear and honor their voices and ensure they are full participants in their own defense.

All too often, however, despite best intentions, juvenile defenders are unaware of how young people are experiencing the legal system. Members of The Annie E. Casey 2019-21 Juvenile Justice Youth Advisory Council were willing to share personal experiences and offer candid input on ways to strengthen the defense of youth. Council members are young adults ages 18 to 25 who have current or past experience with the juvenile legal system.

Following are quotes from five youth council members about their experience with their juvenile defender. While this is a summary of some of the key themes found in the individual stories of each youth, these perspectives can be used to improve future attorney-client relationships, better understand clients’ stated interest, differentiate the role of the defense attorney from other actors in the system, and ultimately improve advocacy for children in the juvenile legal system.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Gault Center Publications, Practice Tool, Resource Library
Tags: Youth & Families