Juvenile Justice

Reducing Juvenile Justice Involvement and Improving Educational Opportunities

Many juvenile offenders struggle with undiagnosed, untreated mental illness and unsupported educational disabilities. The Center’s attorneys intervene to access appropriate services to help youth succeed in school and look forward to a safe and secure future.

We help with educational support, special education needs, school discipline issues and access to mental health care. Our legal advocacy and representation is supported by a team of multidisciplinary professionals from UConn School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.


Proven Success

“Children without this all-inclusive support often fail to succeed in school and community and eventually become casualties of the criminal justice system. The Center for Children’s Advocacy has proven to be creative and effective in developing community-based collaborative programs that address the needs of these children.” -Susan Storey, Connecticut’s Chief Public Defender


Girls Juvenile Justice Project

An outgrowth of the Center’s juvenile justice work was the recognition that needs of girls in the juvenile justice system were being ignored. We 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 has partnered with the national Center for Children’s Law and Policy to address the disproportionate rate at which Black and Latino youth are arrested in school, arrested in DCF (Department of Children and Families) placements, suspended from school, and expelled.

Black and Latino youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system. They are suspended and expelled at a greater rate, and treated more punitively once involved with the state’s juvenile justice system.  Our partnerships with state and local agencies push for changes to correct these inequities.


Community Re-Entry Assistance for Hartford Area and New Britain Youth

The Center is working with various local and community partners to identify and assist youth up to the age of 24 returning to the community from confinement. CCA attorneys help youth understand their record and any collateral consequences it may carry, provide help to erase or expunge records, help 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. Download a flyer here.

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

Attorney Adam Yagaloff
Office: 860-570-5327 x260
Mobile: 860-515-8540


The Color of Justice Revisited

Though progress has been made, a fourth study of Connecticut’s Juvenile Justice System concludes that at certain decision points black and Hispanic youth continue to be treated more harshly than white youth. A follow up to the 2013 CPTV documentary, The Color of JusticeThe Color of Justice Revisited explores what the state is doing to help decrease unequal treatment and what effect bias may have on influencing decisions made by police officers, prosecutors, judges and the Department of Children & Families. The Color of Justice Revisited offers a timely, candid examination of how attitudes, experiences and stereotypes are impacting young people of color. 2017

The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, and Leon Smith, Director of the Center’s Racial Justice Project.


The Color of Justice


Nationally, minority youth are more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system and are treated more harshly than their white peers. Produced by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, The Color of Justice examines racial bias in the juvenile justice system in Connecticut and throughout the U.S. The documentary examines the forces that have shaped inequities in the state’s juvenile justice system, long-term trends, and the ways in which Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) affects Connecticut youth. 2013

The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.


Restorative Justice: Community Circles and Deep End Diversion

The Center for Children’s Advocacy Deep End Diversion Project works inside juvenile facilities (Connecticut Juvenile Training School and Waterford County  School) to improve interactions between youth and between youth and staff, and reduce re-arrests. The success of this “Deep End Diversion” resulted in requests for expansion to facilities throughout the state. Read more about Deep End Diversion here.


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

Education v Incarceration

Produced by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, this important 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. It costs approximately $12,000 per year to keep a student in school in Connecticut. It costs more than $31,000 a year to keep an individual in prison. From 1987 to 2006, Connecticut more than tripled its General Fund spending on corrections, from $193 million $661 million. Over the same period, the state’s General Fund spending on higher education increased far less dramatically, from $557 million to $644 million.”

The documentary includes interviews with Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.


Joe’s Story

Joe’s academic struggles began long before the day he was arrested at school for a fight in the cafeteria. He’s only 13, but has a long history of academic failure . . and in the past school year had over 60 unverified absences and 50 days of outside-school suspension. He lost more than half the year of education.

Despite an early diagnosis of depressive disorder, difficulty controlling his anger and a long history of academic failure, Joe had never been evaluated for special education supports. Teacher reports continually noted severe behavior problems. Joe’s grades reflected his struggles, revealing performance significantly below grade level in every subject.

The school has a legal obligation to refer Joe to special education, but no evaluations were done until the Center for Children’s Advocacy became involved. The Center reviewed Joe’s educational records and helped his mother request evaluations.

Joe’s diagnostic evaluations determined a language-based learning disability. With CCA’s involvement, the school agreed that Joe should not be expelled. He was found eligible for special education and placed in a program where he receives therapeutic supports and a structured behavioral redirection program. He has flourished, both academically and behaviorally. Joe was not suspended once during the remainder of the school year.

School staff are working with Joe to help him develop a mechanism to cope with his emotions, and he will continue to receive evaluations to insure that his progress continues. The school social worker describes him as a role model for other students.


Proven Successes

Our work in Bridgeport and Hartford has achieved:

Read about successes in the Center’s report on Preventing School PushOut for Minority Students and Action Network’s DMC Juvenile Justice newsletter.

Specific 2016-2017 outcomes of the Center’s efforts on behalf of youth involved with the juvenile justice system are here.



Alicia B. Expulsion Complaint
Center for Children’s Advocacy, with co-counsel National Center for Youth Law and K&L Gates LLP, filed Alicia B. vs. Malloy, challenging the inadequate education of Connecticut students who are expelled from school.  The settlement represents a significant step forward for the education of expelled students.

Alicia B. represented two middle school students who effectively received no education during their expulsions, despite their right under the Connecticut state constitution to an education. As a result of the litigation, the State passed legislation requiring that expelled students be educated in accordance with standards,




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

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