Juvenile and Child Welfare Section Council Meeting

This meeting is an open meeting for all Juvenile and Child Welfare section members.  The guest speaker will be Lael Chester, Executive Director of  Citizens for Juvenile Justice.  She will be speaking about the Raising of Age campaign and other proposed legislation.

Justice for Kids

Massachusetts is one of only 12 states that automatically tries and sentences 17-year-olds accused of crimes as adults. This is true even when their crimes are minor and non-violent – as the vast majority are.

This policy is bad for the public safety and for our kids. Study after study has shown that children who are prosecuted in the adult criminal system are more likely to reoffend and to escalate into more serious and violent crimes than children who stay in the juvenile system. Furthermore, we know that kids in adult facilities are at risk for victimization and suicide.

While holding kids accountable, the juvenile system is designed to rehabilitate. Kids in the system are required to continue their schooling and participate in other activities designed to get them on the right track, such as counseling or substance abuse treatment. That’s not always the case in the adult system. Furthermore, an adult conviction can permanently cut off job and career opportunities, leaving a person with fewer paths to be a productive member of the community.

The Justice for Kids Campaign is urging Massachusetts to raise its age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 for all but the most serious crimes.

Lael Elizabeth Hiam Chester became the third Executive Director of CfJJ in March 2001, following five years of services on CfJJ’s Board of Directors. Lael is a graduate of Barnard College and Harvard Law School. Her prior work experience includes both litigating and researching juvenile justice, criminal justice and civil rights issues. She has held positions as the Albert Martin Sacks Clinical Fellow at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. She received the Jay D. Blitzman Youth Advocacy Award in May 2004 for her extraordinary commitment to protecting the rights of juveniles as well as the Women of Justice Award from the Women’s Bar Association and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in December 2009. In June 2011 the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps honored her with its Embracing the Legacy award. She currently serves as a member of the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, serves on its Executive and Grants Review Committees, and chairs its Disproportionate Minority Contact Subcommittee.


Jean Stevens


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Sponsoring Section:

Juvenile & Child Welfare Law Section

Date:Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Time:5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Location:Massachusetts Bar Association
20 West St
Boston, MA, 02111
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