CJLP students at orientation with Judge Irma J. Brown Dillon '73

Loyola Law’s Center for Juvenile Law & Policy Angeles Receives $500K for Clinical Work

The Center for Juvenile Law & Policy (CJLP) at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles will receive $500,000 over three years from the Pasadena, Calif.-based Rose Hills Foundation. The funds will support the work of CJLP students and supervising attorneys in the center’s three clinics: the Juvenile Justice Clinic, Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic and Youth Justice Education Clinic.

Clinical work is a cornerstone of the CJLP, which launched in 2005 with the goal of fostering systemic reform of the Los Angeles juvenile justice system through research, discussion and advocacy. Clinics are the primary way in which the center achieves its advocacy objective. CJLP students advocate for their clients in a number of ways: in juvenile criminal proceedings at the Juvenile Justice Clinic; in administrative actions before the Los Angeles Unified School District at the Youth Justice Education Clinic; and on behalf of adults convicted as juveniles in cases of actual innocence and in pursuit of constitutionally appropriate sentences at the Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic.

“The funds will go toward sustaining our existing clinics. It is an important independent recognition of the importance of the services provided the youth, as well as the vital role clinical education plays in preparing students for the practice of law,” said Clinical Professor Cyn Yamashiro ’93, Kaplan & Feldman Executive Director of the CJLP.  “It should be seen as a wise investment by an important foundation, confirming their belief in the importance of clinical education in law schools.” 

Focused on a holistic approach, the CJLP’s Juvenile Justice Clinic assigns to each youth client a team that includes a Loyola student, a clinical law professor and a forensic social worker. The CJLP is the only legal clinic on the West Coast that trains students and social workers side-by-side to counsel, represent and treat children in jeopardy. Juvenile Justice Clinic students represent youth clients in criminal matters at Los Angeles’ two largest juvenile courts: Inglewood and Eastlake.

Closely intertwined with the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Youth Justice Education Clinic began representing youth clients in 2008. The program started in recognition of research showing that 70 percent of youth in the juvenile delinquency system have learning disabilities. When CJLP clients are found to have a learning disability or cognitive-functioning problem, the clinic will advocate on their behalf for the educational services to which the client is entitled.

The newest CJLP clinic, the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic, launched in fall 2012. Students in the clinic represent clients sentenced in Los Angeles County as juveniles to life without parole or its functional equivalent. The bulk of these cases are in reaction to two recent California developments: SB 9, the recent California Senate bill allowing for resentencing hearings for some of those serving life-without-parole sentences,  and the California Supreme Court opinion in People v. Caballero, which held as unconstitutional sentences of life-without-parole or its equivalent for juveniles. Students also pursue claims of innocence.

More than 140 students have participated in the CJLP since its inception, assisting more than 300 clients on 650-plus cases. CJLP students have contributed more than 50,000 hours of pro bono legal services. Aside from many cases of proving factual innocence, CJLP students’ work has included:

  • Securing special home tutoring for a boy arrested for hitting another student at school after a CJLP student attorney observed that he showed signs of mental retardation.
  • Reducing charges from felony to misdemeanor for a female youth arrested for possessing a pocket knife on school grounds and ensuring the youth enrolled in school and received mental health services; acquiring a visa for the youth, who fled to the U.S. to escape a sexually abusive father.
  • Reducing charges from felony to misdemeanor for a girl arrested for stealing a necklace, securing counseling for her anger management problem and relocating her from a neglected environment to her sister’s guardianship.

The $500,000 grant represents the third grant for the CJLP in seven years from the Rose Hills Foundation, which has contributed a total of $1.1 million to the program. In 2011, the CJLP was awarded $1 million from the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation for four year’s support of the Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic. And the sentencing clinic and Juvenile Justice Clinic were the beneficiaries of $1 million contributed in the memory of Robert Shapazian. Additionally, the CJLP has benefited from funding by the Stuart Foundation and the W.M. Keck Foundation.

In 2008, the CJLP was part of a California team selected from among nationwide applicants to participate in the MacArthur Foundation’s “Models for Change” Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network. The program, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, was designed to develop innovative strategies to better fulfill the legal needs of juvenile defendants.

More information about the Center for Juvenile Law & Policy is available on the CJLP's website. To learn more, please contact Brian Costello, assistant director of marketing and communications, at brian.costello@lls.edu, 213.736.1444 (o) or 310.902.9560 (c).