About the Toolkit

More than 50 years after the Supreme Court guaranteed youth the right to counsel and other due process protections in In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), youth of color continue to face persistent injustices in the juvenile and criminal legal systems. In 2017, Latinx youth comprised only 18 percent of our country’s youth, yet accounted for close to 22 percent of all youth referred to court. Black youth comprised only 16 percent of our country’s youth in 2017, yet accounted for more than 40 percent of all youth referred to court. These disparities exist despite consistent youth behavior across race and ethnicity. For offenses that occur on or off school grounds, youth of color are disproportionately suspended or expelled. Once youth of color are arrested, they are more likely to be adjudicated delinquent, rather than diverted from the court system; and once adjudicated, they are more likely to be removed from their homes and placed in secure facilities.

Racial Justice for Youth: A Toolkit for Defenders empowers juvenile defenders with the training, resources, and information to fight the over-policing, over-criminalization, and school exclusion of youth of color.

Through the Toolkit, we hope to inspire juvenile defenders to view racial justice advocacy as an integral and essential component of their youth advocacy.

Click here to sign up for a Racial Justice Defender Toolkit account for access to member-only resources. While many Toolkit resources are available without an account, Racial Justice Defenders who sign up can access actionable content for verified professionals including sample motions and more.