Youth Justice

The Challenge:

Each year, several thousand young people in New York City are arrested and become involved in the justice system. Scientific research shows that most brains are not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties and that young people are uniquely capable of change.

Despite progress in reducing arrests and diverting youth away from prosecution, significant challenges remain, including tremendous racial disparities--over 90% of young people arrested are youth of color. A disproportionate number of young people in foster care also become justice-involved, often because of policies and practices that promote unnecessary law enforcement intervention in foster care placement settings.

The vast majority of young people involved in the justice system have experienced trauma, and benefit from trauma-informed services and specialized programs to help them overcome their challenges.

The Response:

LFC’s Youth Justice Project consists of attorneys and social workers who zealously represent our clients in juvenile delinquency proceedings before New York City’s Family Court. LFC’s holistic legal representation and social services help ensure that the wide-range of issues that impact justice involved youth are addressed. These may include access to mental health services, confronting educational challenges, and mitigating internal family conflict. For clients involved in both the foster care and youth justice system, LFC provides representation on both matters--minimizing the disruption of having multiple providers.

The Youth Justice Project also works to reform laws and policies that criminalize and stigmatize youth and promotes alternatives that protect the rights of youth and encourage their constructive future engagement with their communities.