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

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

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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