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The Champion

April 2017 , Page 18 

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Defend Children: A Blueprint for Effective Juvenile Defender Services

By Mary Ann Scali


“[The child] requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him.”

In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 36 (Fortas, J.) (1967) (quoting Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 69 (1932)

May 15, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of In re Gault, the landmark Supreme Court decision affirming children’s constitutional right to counsel in delinquency proceedings. Fifty years later, it remains an open secret in America’s juvenile courts that children are routinely denied access to effective lawyers. The National Juvenile Defender Center launched a Gault at 50 campaign to raise awareness and initiate reform.

Every day in jurisdictions across the country, children face the power of the state and the awesome prospect of incarceration without a strong attorney at their side. It is no surprise, then, that the United States incarcerates children at the highest rate in the world, and twice that of the next highest nation.

Children’s constitutionally guaranteed due p

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