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Two Decades Fighting for Children

October 6, 2010 | by Jasmine Rangel

CHICAGO --- Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Children and Family Justice Center of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law will host a symposium that will bring together leading researchers and practitioners to draw upon lessons related to how children caught up in the legal system fare both inside and outside of court and to advocate for reform. 

“Seize the Moment: Justice for the Child” will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, at Northwestern University School of Law, Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave. All events are free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Speakers include Steven Drizin, a Northwestern Law professor and director of the school’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, and Jaap Doek, the former chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Issues that will be discussed include children separated from their families because of child welfare, immigration or other issues; the over-incarceration of youth and the overrepresentation of minorities in confinement; and representation of youths beyond their juvenile or criminal case, including such issues as education, housing, immigration and mental health.

For two decades, the Children and Family Justice Center has been instrumental in pushing for reform in the juvenile court as well as advocating for children who are tried as adults. Issues central to the center’s advocacy include the over-incarceration of minority children and the elimination of the death penalty for juveniles.

“The Children and Family Justice Center has been pivotal in the representation of children and families in the context of both juvenile court and when youth are tried as adults in criminal court,” said Julie Biehl, director of the center and clinical assistant professor at Northwestern Law.

Biehl encourages the public to attend the symposium to find out about the work the center has been doing and the reform efforts to come.

“Sometimes a child gets involved in the criminal justice system because of his worst act,” she said. “But a child is much more than his worst act.”

To register for the symposium, contact Toni Curtis at (312) 503-0396 or e-curtis@law.northwestern.edu. 

Media should contact Hilary Hurd Anyaso at (847) 491-4887 or h-anyaso@northwestern.edu

Topics: Campus Life