The Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic of the
Emory University School of Law
Issue Area: Children/Youth, Criminal Law
Sponsor: Ford & Harrison LLP
Law School: John Marshall Law School
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
My project focuses on all youths adjudicated delinquent in metro-Atlanta; however, it is inspired by a boy I worked with while an employee in Georgia’s child welfare system. Throughout a litany of heartbreaking circumstances, he smiled. Although placement after placement was disrupted, he remained hopeful for love and permanency. His childhood ended without family, hope, or smile in a metro-Atlanta youth detention center after a youthful mistake was subjected to an unjust system.
Thousands of youths are adjudicated delinquent and committed to secure detention facilities each year in metro-Atlanta, and there are virtually no appeals from those adjudications. Without appeals, the system remains subject to the unwritten policies and practices that result in youths being sent to facilities where services are nonexistent and futures perish. My project seeks systemic reform in metro-Atlanta through direct appellate representation and outreach to youths in secure detention facilities.