The Juvenile Justice Clinic provides students the opportunity to address the needs of troubled children in a number of diverse settings. Students in the Juvenile Justice Clinic frequently collaborate with local agencies to assist clients in meeting educational, mental health, and housing needs. With guidance and instruction from a faculty supervisor, student attorneys meet with clients and their families, attend school meetings, file motions, appear in court, and take the lead in developing programs for their clients designed to avoid both incarceration and recidivism. Students also work with other legal aid attorneys at the collaborative ‘Tuesdays at the Teen Center’ project, which involves weekly meetings with homeless teens at the Preble Street Teen Center to provide free legal advice, resource referrals, and an occasional pizza.
The Juvenile Justice Clinic provides opportunities for some students to pursue broader juvenile justice policy issues. For example, students often work with Maine’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and Criminal Law Advisory Committee to research, draft, and edit proposed legislation. Other students may work on ongoing juvenile advocacy projects in Maine and around the country.
Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law
In June 2017, Maine Law established the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law (MCJPAL) with a grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation to support Juvenile Justice Clinic students and faculty in their policy work.
Greater Good Podcast
Professor Christopher Northrop, Jill Ward, and Jonathan Ruterbories were recently guests on the Greater Good Podcast to discuss juvenile justice and the treatment of children who come in conflict with the law. They also discussed how modern science about youth brain development is influencing juvenile law and policy and the critical factors that help produce positive outcomes for youth in crisis. You can listen to the two episodes below:
2019 Student Impact Summit
On March 14, 2019, Whitney Lallas ’19 and Reginald Parson ’19 presented on their project, “Juvenile Justice Reform: Restitution Reconsidered,” during Maine Law’s annual Student Impact Summit. When determining a disposition for juveniles, the court has the option to order a juvenile to pay restitution. However, juveniles face a number of challenges that prevent them from satisfying their restitution obligation. In light of these challenges, a bill was submitted to the Maine Legislature, with the hopes of providing better outcomes for system-involved youth. A video of their presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube Channel.
There was also a panel on this topic at the 2019 Student Impact Summit. A video recording of the panel presentation is available on Maine Law’s YouTube channel.
Materials Published by the Juvenile Justice Clinic or MCJPAL
New Juvenile Justice Legislative Update
October 2019 – Kristin King ’21 and Jon Ruterbories ’21 in collaboration with the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the MCJPAL Juvenile Justice Reform Work Group, and the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers created a summary of legislation relating to juvenile justice reform that was either enacted by or carried over from the first regular session of the 129th Legislature. The second regular session of the 129th Legislature will convene in January 2020. Read the summary.
Juvenile Record Informational Brochure
Following up on the March 2017 release of Unsealed Fate: The Unintended Consequences of Inadequate Safeguarding of Juvenile Records in Maine, which found widespread misinformation about what it means to have a juvenile record in Maine, this new resource answers some of the most frequently asked questions. MCJPAL worked with members of the Juvenile Justice Reform Work Group, the Department of Corrections, the Juvenile Justice Program of the USM Muskie School of Public Service, and other key stakeholders to develop the resource.