The Importance of Specialization in Juvenile Court

FJP joined the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in a joint statement underscoring the importance of specialization, training, and experience for judges, prosecutors, and defenders assigned to the all-important juvenile delinquency practice area, so they can better address the needs and ensure the success of young people.

“The juvenile legal system can be extremely complex, and young people deserve specialized professionals who recognize their potential for growth and change.”

FJP, NJDC, and NCJFCJ also jointly issued a new guide created with the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Initiative, Seeing What’s Underneath: A Resource for Understanding Behavior & Using Language in Juvenile Court, which provides best practices for understanding behavior of, and using appropriate language with, young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

In this JJIE op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and NJDC Executive Director Mary Ann Scali discuss the importance of specialization and training within juvenile and family court systems, the need for use of language that avoids stigmatizing and is sensitive to the trauma of development of young people, and how professionals in these spaces can support youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

“We want young people to succeed and thrive. For youth involved in the juvenile and family court systems, that begins by ensuring they are surrounded by legal professionals who are specialized and trained in the work they do and who can understand both developmentally appropriate adolescent behavior and adolescent responses to trauma they’ve endured.”

For more, visit FJP’s Juvenile and Young Adult Issues website page.



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