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Children & Youth Justice

We ensure that the legal rights of children are protected and respected at every phase of the criminal justice process.

We recognize that children are different from adults and that they should be represented accordingly. Our specially-trained, multidisciplinary team of professionals work together to address the legal challenges and provide holistic representation.

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Child Advocacy

The Child Advocacy Unit (CAU) represents Philadelphia’s children from birth to twenty-one years old.

The CAU protects and promotes the legal interests of children and strives to serve their best interests. This unit works with children who have open dependent petitions in Philadelphia Family Court, victims of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or abandonment, truancy cases, children facing mental health challenges, and children who need supports as they transition into adult life.

Department Heads: Doni Shaffer, Marni Gangel, James Haley

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Juvenile Life Without Parole

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that with few exceptions, juveniles cannot be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Our Juvenile Life Without Parole/ JLWOP Unit provides intensive representation, comprehensive mitigation, and reentry service planning for Philadelphia clients sentenced to life without parole as juveniles.

Department Heads: Bradley Bridge, Paul Conway, Helen Levin

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Juvenile Special Defense

Our Juvenile Special Defense Division / JSDD was created based on the recognition that representation of juveniles who were charged with complex or serious crimes, often with high publicity exposure, required more specialized attention.

A “Direct File Juvenile” is someone who is under 18, but at least 15 years old who has been arrested and processed as an adult, and who will initially be treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.

This specialized defense team is made up of: Experienced Lawyers; Three Social Workers; Two Investigators; Two Administrative Staff.

Department Heads: Michelle Mason

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