Teens Lacking Lawyers See System “Stacked Against Them”–Robinson


“Youth in court often perceive the system as stacked against them,” says Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, citing a new Justice Department survey that only one half of those in juvenile detention facilities have a lawyer. Speaking to an American Bar Association conference in Knoxville, Tn., Robinson said, “This is a disturbing finding given that it's been 30 years since the ABA and the Institute for Judicial Administration published their Juvenile Justice Standards advocating legal representation for juveniles from the outset of the court process.”

Robinson quoted the National Juvenile Defender Center as saying that “many juvenile courts still operate in a [] mode in which the defense attorney is irrelevant, real lawyering cannot occur, and the fair administration of justice is impeded.” Robonson said her agency plans to fund a Juvenile Indigent Defense National Clearinghouse “aimed at raising the level of systemic advocacy, improving the quality of representation of indigent juveniles, and ensuring necessary technical support for the juvenile indigent defense bar.” The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is accepting applications until June 24.

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