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It's #JusticeForAll Month! 

Our country was founded on a promise: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the two and a half centuries since our nation's birth, we have strengthened the integrity of that promise; we have nudged it open and demanded it shine for everyone--including children.
Yet we still fall short. Far too short. 

Nearly 54,000 children are locked behind bars in the United States. And many of those children are routed to facilities after navigating the juvenile justice system without access to an attorney--a constitutional right guaranteed by the US Supreme Court in 1967. Our nation's history has taught us that in the absence of rights, there is an absence of justice.

Over two-thirds of youth in custody are removed from their communities for non-violent behavior, like running away, drug use, and probation violations. Approximately 60 percent of youth in custody struggle with mental health disorders. And youth of color are incarcerated at rates up to four times that of their white peers, despite exhaustive research showing that children commit offenses at the same rates, irregardless of race. 

In May of 2016, the National Juvenile Defender Center launched a yearlong campaign to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision, In re Gault, that guaranteed children the right to an attorney in juvenile court. Nearly 50 years later, the promise of Gault has not been realized.  As part of our campaign, we're identifying monthly themes to elevate important issues, crises, and communities that are impacted by the juvenile justice system. This July, we're highlighting #JusticeForAll. That means fulfilling the promise of our nation, and the constitutional rights we're endowed. 

Will you stand with us to ensure children receive trained and specialized attorneys who will fight for their rights in court?  Please take a moment to pledge your support by sharing our message on social media and endorsing the #GaultAt50  Statement of Principles . The #JusticeForAll Toolkit including social media posts and graphics is available on our website. 

Sample Tweets: 
  • Constitutional rights are nonnegotiable! #SCOTUS ruled youth must have access to skilled counsel in court #387US1 bit.ly/1sipBGs
  • Only 42% of youth in custody reported having a lawyer. Endorse the #GaultAt50 Campaign & demand #JusticeForAll! bit.ly/1sipBGs
  • When we deprive children of freedom, we deprive them of a future. Invest in kids, don't incarcerate them #GaultAt50 #Rights4Youth
Sample Facebook Posts:
  • Constitutional rights are nonnegotiable, especially rights for children. In 1967, the US Supreme Court recognized a child's right to counsel in juvenile court, but far too many youth navigate the system alone. This July, stand with the @National Juvenile Defender Center and demand #JusticeForAll. Get involved at www.gaultat50.org!
  • At every step in the juvenile court process, children should be treated with respect and dignity. That means youth are represented in court, free from shackles, and, whenever possible, at home in their communities--not in a prison cell. #GaultAt50 bit.ly/1sipBGs
  • More than 100 organizations have signed onto the @National Juvenile Defender Center's #GaultAt50 Statement of Principles. In honor of #JusticeForAll, [your organization] did too. Ensure all young people can access skilled attorneys who will fight for their rights in court. Join the movement and endorse today! bit.ly/1sipBGs 
For more information on In re Gault and the  rights of youth in juvenile court, check out the National Juvenile Defender Center's Gault resources, including the   Gault opinion authored by Justice Abe Fortas. 


Kim Dvorchak
Executive Director
National Juvenile Defender Center

PS - With your generous support, let's bring the Gault at 50 Campaign to the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to ensure all children have access to skilled, specialized counsel. Please consider making a donation today!

Gault at 50 - Defending Children's Rights
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