In the fifth installment of the Fall 2011 Faculty Workshop Series, sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Professor Kristin Henning, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown Law, came to speak yesterday about the draft of her article, Criminalizing Normal Adolescent Behavior in Communities of Color.
In the article, Prof. Henning discusses the growing number of criminal actions brought against youths who are engaging in normal adolescent delinquency. While the Supreme Court has recognized youth as a mitigating factor in the criminal justice system, juvenile justice policy appears to be shifting in the opposite direction – enforcing punitive responses rather than a rehabilitative response. She then discusses the disproportionate representation of youth of color in formal charging situations and how the broad discretion afforded to juvenile courts and the confidentiality of the proceedings provide few safeguards against bias and abuse. In the end, she attempts to tie all these concerns together and begin a conversation of how to reform the juvenile system for equal justice across all juveniles.
Many thanks to Professor Henning for visiting W&L and sharing her paper with the faculty.