Spring 2009 Issue

Justice for All

The Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) at the Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andres School of Law in Orlando has been awarded a $100,000-grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to participate in the newly created Models for Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN).

Florida was one of four states, along with California, Massachusetts and New Jersey, selected in the highly competitive process, with Barry’s JJC tapped to lead the Florida effort. The JIDAN was created to pursue reforms that can be replicated nationwide to strengthen and enhance juvenile indigent defense systems. The four new states will join the existing core states (Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Washington) to form the eight-state Action Network. The JIDAN will be coordinated through the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and will actively engage juvenile defenders, policymakers, judges and other key stakeholders in designing strategies to improve juvenile indigent defense policy and practice.

“The lack of adequate representation for indigent youth was identified as a key barrier to developing fair and effective juvenile justice systems,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “This new Action Network will help accelerate the pace of change by ensuring that juveniles receive the legal protections to which they are constitutionally entitled. With the innovative leadership in the four states selected, the Network will help reshape juvenile justice systems across the United States to improve the lives of young people in ways that the public supports and that keep communities safe.”

Models for Change is MacArthur’s $120 million national initiative to reform juvenile justice systems across the country. Barry’s JJC is committed to equality and justice through advocacy for children in the delinquency system. The Center is devoted to improving the quality of representation through training, networking and consulting with law students, public defenders and those in the legal field who represent children. The Center’s collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, JIDAN and the NJDC will help increase these efforts.

“The Juvenile Justice Center is excited about using this partnership with the MacArthur Foundation to build upon the Center’s work during the past year. Being chosen by MacArthur is an affirmation that the Center is making a difference for children,” said Gerard Glynn, director of Clinical programs at the Law School.

Barry University’s partner in the Florida effort is the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. Carlos Martinez, the Miami-Dade County Public Defender, said “safeguarding our children’s future has to be priority number one. A troubled child without proper legal representation and a supportive pathway to growing up as a productive member of society can become tomorrow’s taxpayer burden. Ensuring equal justice for poor children is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.”