The Criminal Justice Program (CJP) at UCLA School of Law, with grant support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Liberty Hill Foundation, has created a new fellowship at UCLA Law and an initiative focused on advancing the interests of justice-involved youth.
The program will work with the Los Angeles County Division of Youth Diversion and Development to perform research and identify best practices for diverting young people from the juvenile justice system and connecting them to supportive community organizations. CJP also will work with the county to expand the use of restorative justice programs as alternatives to juvenile court and incarceration, shifting the focus from punishment to resolutions that focus on accountability, healing and community.
The grant has allowed UCLA Law to appoint Leah Gasser-Ordaz as its first Juvenile Justice Fellow. Gasser-Ordaz comes most recently from Public Counsel, where she worked on both the Homeless Prevention Law Project and the Transition-Age Youth Project, which helps system-involved youth secure housing and benefits and advocates for the rights of young parents. Gasser-Ordaz is a graduate of UC Irvine School of Law.
Alicia Virani, the Gilbert Foundation Associate Director of the UCLA Law Criminal Justice Program, says, “We are excited to embark upon this meaningful work with the Youth Diversion and Development division and to grow our team at CJP to advance our criminal justice and juvenile justice work in the county and beyond.”
The Liberty Hill Foundation is a Los Angeles nonprofit focused on social justice efforts. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, based in Baltimore, Maryland, supports programs that advance the interests of children and families.