Like many other people, I am deeply troubled by the large number of young Latino and African American males who become involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Without representation by trained attorneys, too many children of color end up with records that will impede their ability to grow into productive adults. Others will be incarcerated. Attorneys who provide legal representation to children often have high caseloads face and limited resources. The ABA Children’s Rights Litigation Committee strives to provide resources to attorneys who defend children.
To that end, while I was co-chair of the Committee we published the book Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children. Committee members wrote chapters about real-life cases and described the steps which attorneys took to achieve the best outcome for that child. The chapters provided various resources for attorneys including case law, tips on conducting investigations, and advice on employing experts. The book helped raise awareness about the need for legal representation of children in various legal venues and encouraged other attorneys to become involved.
The Committee also hosted a global conference in 2015 in London about the legal needs of homeless and street youth. The conference served as a forum for attorneys and other advocates to share what they have experienced when they represent a child and to brainstorm solutions. I had the opportunity to speak with many great attorneys from all over the world so I am very thankful the ABA hosted this event.
The ABA not only provides the resources attorneys need to defend and protect children’s rights, it also takes the steps to make a real impact in their future.