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OJJDP Administrator Ryan's New Blog Discusses Strengthening Youth Defense 

In a new blog post, OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan discusses strengthening youth defense delivery systems to uphold the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court landmark In re Gault ruling, which mandated states guarantee youth right to counsel.

The blog details how system-involved youth—most of whom are adjudicated for non-violent behavior—are not receiving the constitutional protections that In re Gault affirmed, including being appointed a defense attorney. Ryan adds that many states don’t require specialization for youth defense lawyers.

"The impact of these shortcomings falls disproportionately on Black, Latino/a, and Native/Indigenous youth, who are overrepresented and underserved in the juvenile legal system," Ryan writes.  

The Administrator highlights OJJDP's funding and program efforts for improving youth defense, including training and technical assistance through the Gault Center and demonstration grants. 

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Date Published: June 1, 2023