CCA provides legal education and training to youth up to age 24 involved in the justice system, young adults incarcerated in adult systems, and youth and young adults returning from incarceraton.

Many incarcerated young people struggle with diagnosed and undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, extensive trauma, involvement in other systems, and unsupported educational disabilities. CCA attorneys connect youth to appropriate services to mitigate collateral consequences.

CCA attorneys provide legal rights training and education to youth in confinement including:

  • Explaining rights to accessing Employment and benefits with a record,
  • Identification and driver’s license
  • Mitigate barriers to justice involvement
  • Accessing education while in confinement and upon re-entry
  • Special education support
  • School discipline issues
  • Access to mental health care

Proven Success

  • Access to appropriate education for students with liabilities
  • Access to pathways for a diploma
  • Higher rate of successful school re-entry
  • Better access to necessary mental health services
  • More community-based dispositions
  • Higher rate of successful completion of probation
  • Lower recidivism

Girls Juvenile Justice Project

An outgrowth of the Center’s juvenile justice work was the recognition that the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system were ignored. CCA formed the Girls Juvenile Justice Project to promote gender-responsive policies and practices and alternatives to incarceration. We helped secure legislation that requires gender-specific programming, development of a girls’ juvenile justice plan, and prevention of incarceration for status offenders.

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED)

The Center addresses the disproportionate rate at which Black and Latino youth are arrested in school, arrested in Department of Children and Families placements, suspended from school, and expelled through our Racial Justice Project.

Black and Latino youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system and treated more punitively once involved with the system. CCA partnerships with state and local agencies push for changes to correct these inequities.

Community Re-Entry Assistance for Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury Youth

CCA is working closely with partners to identify services for youth including educational advocacy around schooling and training on legal rights as a service. The legal staff helps youth understand the collateral consequences a record may carry, provides help to erase or expunge records, helps youth get back into school, get a birth certificate, driver’s license or ID, re-enter DCF care, access benefits, and secure a job or vocational license.

Attorney Marisa Halm
Office: 860-570-5327 x228
Mobile: 860-566-0764

Education vs. Incarceration: The Real Cost of Failing Our Kids

Education v Incarceration

Produced by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, the documentary examines the state’s alarming incarceration of children.

From the CPTV website: “For the first time in recent history, five states now spend more money on incarceration than education. Connecticut is one of those states.” The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.

Systemic Reform

Alicia B. Expulsion Complaint
Center for Children’s Advocacy, with co-counsel National Center for Youth Law and K&L Gates, filed Alicia B. vs. Malloy, challenging the inadequate education of Connecticut students who are expelled from school. Alicia B. represented two middle school students who effectively received no education during their expulsions, despite their rights under the state constitution. As a result of the litigation, the State passed legislation that required expelled students be educated in accordance with standards.

  • Alicia B Expulsion Complaint (December 2015) Alicia B.; Tobias J., v. Governor Dannel Malloy; Dianna Wentzell, commissioner of the Sate Dept of Education; Allan Taylor, Chair, State Board of Education; Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, Superintendent, Hartford Board of Education; Matthew Geary, Superintendent, Manchester Board of Education; James Thompson, Jr., Superintendent, Bloomfield Board of Education.
  •  Alicia B. Settlement Agreement (July 2018): Improvements for Education for Expelled Students in Connecticut. As a result of the litigation, the State passed legislation that requires that expelled students be educated in accordance with standards developed to ensure educational progress, requires state-issued guidance and resources for school districts, and requires monitoring and addressing racial disparities in expulsions. 
  • Expulsion Guidance Issued as Result of Alicia B. Settlement, State Department of Education, clarifies circumstances under which a school district can expel a student, student must have sufficient notice that an offense may be expellable, procedures for expulsion hearings, right to request postponement, right to examine evidence and cross examine witnesses, provision allowing students to petition for early readmission, and guidance for students who move between school districts.


Alternative Education

Suspension and Expulsion

Conditions of Confinement

Dual Status Youth

Girls and the Juvenile Justice System

  • Girls and the Juvenile Justice System Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJPD), 2016
    Nearly 30% of juvenile arrests are girls or young women, often girls of color and living in poverty. They are victims of violence, including physical and sexual abuse, and are typically nonviolent and pose little risk to public safety. Their involvement with the juvenile justice system usually does more harm than good.


Information for Parents of Youth who have been Arrested


Legal Rights in Detention and Returning to the Community

Understanding Juvenile Car Theft: A National Issue, Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, February 2021

For more information, contact Marisa Halm, JD, Director,Youth Justice Project