In a fitting way to honor and carry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life work, 10 juvenile defenders from across the country recently gathered at Georgetown Law over a chilly MLK holiday weekend. Together, the geographically and racially diverse group marked the start of their yearlong service as “Ambassadors for Racial Justice.” They are part of a pilot program, sponsored by Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Initiative and the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), that seeks to bring racial justice concerns to the forefront of juvenile justice advocacy and empower advocates to develop innovative ways to challenge systemic inequities.
Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative
As one of the first legal clinics of its kind, the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic continues to be one of the premier law school clinics in the country.
Juvenile Justice Clinic
The Juvenile Justice Clinic was founded in 1973, a mere six years after the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel and procedural due process to children in its landmark case In re Gault.
One of the first law school-based clinics specializing in children’s issues, the Juvenile Justice Clinic sought to fulfill the mandate of the Gault decision, expand the legal rights of children and ensure that children are protected from maltreatment by their parents or the government.
In its early years, the Clinic handled all types of cases involving children, delinquency, education, and child neglect and abuse among others, and helped to formulate policy at the local and national levels. Over time, the Clinic’s focus narrowed to handling only delinquency cases and education cases.
Juvenile Justice Initiative
In 2015, the faculty of the Juvenile Justice Clinic expanded the reach of the Clinic by establishing the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Initiative. The Initiative is designed to explore and advance new policies and programs to assist young people and to train juvenile defenders across the nation as the Clinic continues its core mission of educating law students and representing youth accused of crime. Operating at the National, Regional, and Local level with a primary focus on Racial Justice, the mission of the Juvenile Justice Initiative is to advocate for a smaller, better, and more just juvenile legal system in the District of Columbia, the Mid-Atlantic region, and across the country.
The Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative’s Organizing and Advocacy Associate Jennifer Ubiera spoke on BBC Radio Woman’s hour about the challenges girls face when they are forced into the criminal justice system. Listen to her interview with BBC’s Jenni Murray (starting at 13:43)
The Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative was proud to collaborate with the Public Welfare Foundation on their latest report D.C.'s Justice Systems: An Overview, providing a snapshot of the District’s journey to create a more safe and just community for its residents. While much work remains in addressing the racial and socioeconomic disparities in DC’s justice system, there is also opportunity for our nation’s capital to serve as a model of best practice in criminal justice reform. Take a closer look at the stakeholders, issues, and opportunities that drive the District’s justice systems by reading the full report
The Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic in partnership with Restorative DC, Georgetown Black Law Students Association, Georgetown Law Campus Ministry, Georgetown Defenders, Georgetown Youth Advocates and the Office of Equity and Inclusion invite you to join us on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 for a screening of Bryan Stevenson's HBO documentary, True Justice. The screening will begin at 5:30PM followed by a post-documentary dialogue.