Wednesday August 24, 2016

Inside the Juvenile Justice Center

During the summer of 2016, I volunteered at the Fulton County Juvenile Justice Center in Atlanta to learn how to become an advocate.

- by Myranda Black '17

Inside the juvenile court, I had the opportunity to observe adjudicatory, dispositional, review and motion hearings. I prepared legal memos, bench briefs, and reviewed motions and pleadings presented to the court in advance of hearings. I actively engaged in verbal discussions with the judge regarding issues surrounding cases brought before the court and participated in the behavioral health accountability court, over which the judge presides.

Not only did I get a well-rounded experience inside the court, but outside of court as well. I had the opportunity to participate in the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic training at Emory University School of Law. I also attended the Judicial and Public Service graduation celebration where I networked with a multitude of individuals committed to public service.

My experience at the Fulton County Juvenile Justice Center broadened my perspective on juvenile law and increased my understanding of the nexus between mental illness and delinquent behavior. I was surprised to learn about the high number of juveniles who suffer from mental illness and the low number of parents who are either unaware of the mental state of their child, or don’t believe in mental illness.

To bridge this gap and create a better environment for both the parents and children, there are two primary goals for those involved in juvenile public interest work. First, there needs to be a shift in the way parents think of mental illness. This can be accomplished by implementing parent focus groups that will educate parents and provide the tools to cope with a child with a mental illness. Secondly, in an effort to prevent the “school-to-prison pipeline,” programs are needed that focus on changing the thought process and behavior of juveniles that may become, or already are, deemed as delinquents.

This experience fits into my goals of working with delinquent or dependent children so that I can be a voice and advocate for them.

Myranda Black
Juris Doctor Candidate 2017, University of Dayton School of Law
Recipient of the 2016 Kloppenberg Public Interest Award


The Kloppenberg Public Interest Award was created through the joint efforts of the faculty, staff and students of the University of Dayton School of Law. Service to community is at the heart of our Marianist Charism and we wish to recognize, celebrate and assist those students seeking to make legal services available to the impoverished and marginalized members of society. Our students should be proud of their many contributions to the public good. Read more here.


For more information, contact Denise Baker, assistant director of communications at the University of Dayton School of Law, at lawcomm@udayton.edu

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