What is juvenile justice? How and why do we define “youth” and “youth at risk?” How are juveniles profiled? What happens when juveniles enter “the system?” What is the role of a prosecutor, defender, judge, and probation officer in a juvenile case? What is it like to be a youth in an institution? Does our understanding of youth culture, race, class, gender, disability, immigration status, gang culture, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity impact our understanding about youth in trouble? What are the systemic barriers to change? What are the legal “tools” available to youth advocates? Are alternative strategies (i.e. non-legal) best suited to address youth issues? How do juveniles themselves change the system—where do lawyers fit it? How bad is it?
The goal of the Clinic is to answer these questions with a systematic and creative dissection of the juvenile justice system and the impact of various legal and social policies on at-risk youth. Through client representation, readings and field experiences, we will focus on youth in Los Angeles, from the criminalized nature of their schools to their unmet rights in detention to barriers preventing them from re-entering into their communities. The course will involve holistically** representing child/youth clients on a variety of matters, working on a policy project, visit(s) to L.A. County juvenile detention centers and LAUSD schools, meetings with advocates and judges in Juvenile Court, and court observations. We will interact with young people on a regular basis. By the conclusion of this clinic, you will have a profound understanding of the complex ways in which we criminalize children and young people. You will also likely leave inspired by the young people we meet!
**Most of our field trips, guest lunches, and court visits will be on Fridays. Please take this under consideration when choosing to apply to this clinic so that you can benefit from these experiences.