FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 16, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Jones
Barry University Law School receives $778,000 grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation to create Juvenile Justice Center
Orlando, Fla. – Barry University’s Andreas School of Law announces receipt of a $778,000 three-year grant from the Eckerd Family Foundation to start a Juvenile Justice Center at its Law School campus in Orlando. The Center will train lawyers and law students to represent children accused of crimes in Florida’s juvenile delinquency system.
The partnership between Barry and the Eckerd Family Foundation was formed following a 2006 report by the National Juvenile Defender Center which revealed that Florida’s delinquency system fails to provide children adequate legal representation. This report titled, An Assessment of Access to Counsel & Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings in Florida, claims that “Florida’s juvenile courts cannot guarantee due process and accountability for youth without the participation of well-trained, well-resourced defense counsel.” It goes on to conclude that improvements need to be made to Florida’s juvenile indigent defense system and that many have been “troubled by Florida’s high rates of waiver of counsel, lack of zealous defense advocacy, hectic courtrooms, and inadequate defense resources.” Barry and the Eckerd Family Foundation worked together to find ways to improve the representation of children, which resulted in the creation of the Juvenile Justice Center. The Florida Public Defender’s Association will also be partnering with Barry on the project.
“Part of the mission of Barry University School of Law is to provide a quality education with a commitment to service. The Juvenile Justice Center meets these objectives by ensuring Florida’s children have quality advocacy to improve their chances for a bright future,” said Leticia Diaz, dean of Barry’s Law School. “We are excited about this new venture and look forward to working with the Eckerd Family Foundation.”
To address this problem, the Law School will hire staff over the next two moths and begin operations by the end of the summer. The first task will be training juvenile public defenders in the fall. The Center will also identify a public defender office that will work to create a model of best practices for the State. The Eckerd Family Foundation grant will be distributed over the course of three years; $350,000 the first year, $262,500 the second year and $175,000 the third year. The Juvenile Justice Center, which will be a part of the Law School’s clinical programs, will work with juvenile defenders around the state and provide continuous training and consultations with defender offices to improve the provision of representation of children.
“The Eckerd Family Foundation has long been committed to improving the lives of youth and their families in Florida,” said Joe Clark, president of the Foundation. “Our partnership with the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law at Barry University promotes our goal of giving a stronger voice to those young people who become involved with Florida’s Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems. The Juvenile Justice Center is an innovative and cost effective approach to promoting effective advocacy, achieving just outcomes and ensuring the quality of our system of justice.”
The Eckerd Family Foundation, based in Clearwater, Fla., is committed to promoting meaningful and lasting change to transform the lives of vulnerable youth and their families. Its mission is to provide leadership and support for innovative educational, preventative, therapeutic and rehabilitative programs for children, youth and their families. The Foundation seeks to support the most promising and innovative ideas that provide vulnerable youth with not merely transitional services, but rather transformational opportunities helping them to reconnect with their futures.
For more information contact Gerard Glynn at (321) 206-5760.