Juvenile and Family Court Journal

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  • The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018: Updating the Federal Approach to Youth Involved, and At‐Risk of Becoming Involved, in the Juvenile Justice System

    On December 21, 2018, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act was signed into law, marking the first update in 16 years to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended. The reforms reflect much of the knowledge that has been gained through research and science over the past decade and strengthen the Act’s core protections for youth in the juvenile justice system. The changes also expand the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s role in research, and technical assistance, and provide for additional oversight for related programs.

  • Foreword
  • Meeting the Mandates of Gault: Automatic Appointment of Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

    In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that children facing delinquency charges have a constitutional right to defense counsel. Despite that mandate, state assessments of juvenile defense systems have consistently found high rates of waiver of counsel. Children are facing harsh punishments with potentially lifelong consequences without the benefit of a trained defense attorney at their side. Given the severity of the consequences of juvenile court involvement and society’s understanding of the developmental science behind adolescence, this article argues that to meet constitutional requirements, juvenile courts must automatically appoint defense counsel for all children facing delinquency charges.

  • Issue Information
  • Kids are Different: The United States Supreme Court Reforms Youth Sentencing Practices for Youth Prosecuted in the Criminal Justice System

    In a series of decisions issued between 2005‐2016, the United States Supreme Court relied on emerging scientific research detailing the developmental differences between children and adults to revamp its juvenile sentencing jurisprudence under the Eighth Amendment. The research established that youth’s developmental immaturity reduces their culpability for their criminal conduct, while also demonstrating their heightened capacity for change and rehabilitation. The Court focused on the most extreme sentences for youth, banning the imposition of the death penalty on youth under the age of eighteen in Roper v. Simmons (2005), and severely limiting the availability of life without parole sentences even for youth convicted of murder, in Graham v Florida (2010) and Miller v Alabama (2012). This article traces the Court’s evolution in reviewing sentences for youth in our justice system, and considers how the Court’s reasoning in these cases may influence further reforms in the justice system’s treatment of youth looking ahead.

  • Development and Pilot of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Trauma‐Informed Juvenile Court Self‐Assessment

    Trauma‐informed practices in the juvenile justice system are increasingly recognized as effective for promoting public safety through case management, rehabilitation, and treatment that is responsive to a traumatic event exposure and current trauma reactions. As court systems explore integration of trauma‐informed practices, tools for identifying best practices and strategically implementing trauma‐informed approaches are integral for judges and court administrators aiming to develop trauma‐informed courts. The current paper reviews the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's development of the Trauma‐Informed Juvenile Court Self‐Assessment (TI‐JCSA). Implications for self‐guided strategies to shift court practices and policies to align with trauma‐informed approaches will be discussed.

  • Issue Information
  • Judicial Educators’ Perspectives on Trauma Education for the Judiciary

    Trauma and its impact on human development and functioning in the context of legal systems has been an important topic in judicial education for well over a decade. This brief report reviews key components of this work since approximately 2005, and presents the results of a 2018 ‐ 2019 survey with 250 judicial educators on the topics of trauma education for the judiciary and preferred teaching models. Results suggest that trauma is and will likely remain an important topic in judicial education for the foreseeable future. Further, results indicate that there are some common criticisms about current trauma education that should be considered in curriculum design and delivery, and that there is a general preference for team teaching approaches that include a strong peer‐to‐peer discussion component. Recommendations and considerations for judicial educators on the topic of trauma are also presented.

  • An Assessment of Judges’ Self‐Reported Experiences of Secondary Traumatic Stress

    Many judges experience occupation‐specific stress, such as secondary traumatic stress (STS), burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization. A content analysis of 762 judges’ open‐ended responses to a survey asking whether they had suffered from STS revealed that judges moderately experienced most types of stress. Some case types (e.g., family court) and some job aspects (e.g., gruesome evidence) were particularly stressful. Judges reported both positive (e.g., social support) and negative (e.g., distractions) coping mechanisms. Interventions should be tailored to judges’ characteristics, (e.g., gender), job (e.g., family court), beliefs (e.g., that STS does not exist), and level of distress.

  • Secondary Traumatic Stress in the Courtroom: Suggestions for Preventing Vicarious Trauma Resulting from Child Sexual Abuse Imagery

    The internet and social media have added to an increase in sexual imagery. As a result, law enforcement, judicial officers and court ordered counselors will be exposed to an increase of images. While not every individual will experience post‐traumatic stress symptoms, it is anticipated there is risk for impact. The impact of viewing images can include an increase in vicarious trauma symptoms, burnout, and a possible decrease in impartiality. This paper offers suggestions for self‐care in the services of preventing collateral damage.

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