Casey Helps Students Get Frontline Experience Working in Juvenile Justice Policy and Advocacy

Posted September 11, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Alexis Gooding (far right), an HBCU intern funded through the Casey Foundation, worked with a cohort of summer interns and law clerks with the National Juvenile Defender Center.

This sum­mer, thanks to a pro­gram sup­port­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, stu­dents from His­tor­i­cal­ly Black Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties in Flori­da interned with nation­al juve­nile jus­tice pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions. All five stu­dents who com­plet­ed the pro­gram worked on the front­line — and on the nation­al stage — in the fields of juve­nile jus­tice advo­ca­cy and reform.

These intern­ships are a con­duit for young peo­ple of col­or with diverse per­spec­tives to become juve­nile jus­tice reform lead­ers,” says David Brown, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents hailed from four insti­tu­tions: Bethune-Cook­man Uni­ver­si­ty, Edward Waters Col­lege, Flori­da Agri­cul­tur­al and Mechan­i­cal Uni­ver­si­ty, and Flori­da Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty. For the last three years, these schools have engaged in a broad­er part­ner­ship with Casey — one that aims to intro­duce even more stu­dents to juve­nile jus­tice reform through the lens­es of pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment and race equity.

As part of this effort, Casey has worked with the schools to devel­op four juve­nile jus­tice reform-focused cours­es. These cours­es, which are offered through each institution’s crim­i­nal jus­tice depart­ment, cov­er the basics of juve­nile law, the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem and cri­tiques of the sys­tem, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to its impact on youth of color.

The reform-focused cur­ricu­lum at these uni­ver­si­ties pre­pares stu­dents to be change agents with­in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem and to pur­sue careers in pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy,” says Brown.

Stu­dents who com­plet­ed at least two of these cours­es were eli­gi­ble for the sum­mer intern­ship pro­gram. Par­tic­i­pat­ing interns had their trav­el costs cov­ered by Casey. They also received a hous­ing stipend from Casey while earn­ing a pay­check from their host orga­ni­za­tion. The lat­ter arrange­ment — to com­pen­sate the interns — was an explic­it pro­gram require­ment and helped ensure that stu­dents who need­ed sum­mer earn­ings could participate.

Casey matched stu­dents to their host orga­ni­za­tion based on their shared inter­ests. The five match­es made this sum­mer were:

  • The Jus­tice Pol­i­cy Insti­tute host­ed Bran­di Jean-Bap­tiste from Edward Waters College;
  • The Cen­ter for Children’s Law and Pol­i­cy host­ed Cha’ta Jacobs from Bethune-Cook­man University;
  • The Nation­al Cen­ter for Youth Law host­ed Kareem James from Flori­da A & M University;
  • The Nation­al Juve­nile Defend­er Cen­ter host­ed Alex­is Good­ing from Flori­da Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty; and
  • The W. Hay­wood Burns Insti­tute host­ed Ash­ley Grain­er from Flori­da A & M University;

For Jean-Bap­tiste, who spent her sum­mer at the Jus­tice Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, the pro­gram was a suc­cess. My intern­ship changed the way I have con­ver­sa­tions about the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem: deten­tion or jail isn’t always the way,” she recalls. The oppor­tu­ni­ty also helped define her future career plans. While Jean-Bap­tiste says that she still plans to become a judge, she now wants to work in juve­nile court, where — as she explains it — she can treat each youth as an indi­vid­ual with unique needs.

Read about a train­ing cur­ricu­lum for front­line staff in juve­nile justice

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