Juvenile Justice

TeamChild Juvenile Justice Project

 

Reducing Juvenile Justice Involvement

Many juvenile offenders struggle with undiagnosed, untreated mental illness and unsupported educational disabilities. The Center’s attorneys intervene to access appropriate services to help youth succeed in school and look forward to a safe and secure future.

We help with educational support, special education needs, school discipline issues and access to mental health care. Our legal advocacy and representation is supported by a team of multidisciplinary professionals from UConn School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

 

Proven Success

“Children without this all-inclusive support often fail to succeed in school and community and eventually become casualties of the criminal justice system. The Center for Children’s Advocacy has proven to be creative and effective in developing community-based collaborative programs that address the needs of these children.” -Susan Storey, Connecticut’s Chief Public Defender

 

Girls Juvenile Justice Project

 

Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

The Center has partnered with the national Center for Children’s Law and Policy to address the disproportionate rate at which Black and Latino youth are arrested in school, arrested in DCF (Department of Children and Families) placements, suspended from school, and expelled.

Black and Latino youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system. They are suspended and expelled at a greater rate, and treated more punitively once involved with the state’s juvenile justice system.  Our partnerships with state and local agencies push for changes to correct these inequities.

 

The Color of Justice

colorOfJusticeImage

Nationally, minority youth are more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system and are treated more harshly than their white peers. Produced by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, The Color of Justice examines racial bias in the juvenile justice system in Connecticut and throughout the U.S. The documentary examines the forces that have shaped inequities in the state’s juvenile justice system, long-term trends, and the ways in which Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) affects Connecticut youth.

The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

 

Education vs. Incarceration: The Real Cost of Failing Our Kids

Education v Incarceration

Produced by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, this important documentary examines the state’s alarming incarceration of children.

From the CPTV website: “For the first time in recent history, five states now spend more money on incarceration than education. Connecticut is one of those states. It costs approximately $12,000 per year to keep a student in school in Connecticut. It costs more than $31,000 a year to keep an individual in prison. From 1987 to 2006, Connecticut more than tripled its General Fund spending on corrections, from $193 million $661 million. Over the same period, the state’s General Fund spending on higher education increased far less dramatically, from $557 million to $644 million.”

The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

 

Jason’s Story

Jason’s academic struggles began long before the day he was arrested at school for a fight in the cafeteria. He’s only 13, but has a long history of academic failure . . and in the past school year had over 60 unverified absences and 50 days of outside-school suspension. He lost more than half the year of education.

Despite an early diagnosis of depressive disorder, difficulty controlling his anger and a long history of academic failure, Jason had never been evaluated for special education. Teacher reports continually noted severe behavior problems. Jason’s grades reflected his struggles, revealing performance significantly below grade level in every subject.

The school has a legal obligation to refer Jason to special education, but no evaluations were done until the Center for Children’s Advocacy became involved. The Center reviewed Jason’s educational records and helped his mother request evaluations.

Jason’s diagnostic evaluations determined a language-based learning disability and the school agreed that Jason should not be expelled. He was found eligible for special education and placed in a therapeutic program where he receives therapeutic supports and a structured behavioral redirection program. He has flourished, both academically and behaviorally, and received an A or B in each of his classes. Jason was not suspended once during the remainder of the school year.

School staff are working with Jason on effective communication to help him develop a mechanism to cope with his emotions, and he will continue to receive evaluations to insure that his progress continues. The school social worker describes him as a role model for other students.

 

Proven Successes

Our work in Bridgeport and Hartford has achieved:

Read about successes in the Center’s report on Preventing School PushOut for Minority Students and Action Network’s DMC Juvenile Justice newsletter.

 

Publications, Presentations and Resources

Donate Now »