Ten Year Old Faces Possible Imprisonment
Juvenile Justice Clinic students appear in court twice a week and represent indigent juveniles before Family Court judges. One of our most interesting cases involved a ten year old client who was charged with making terroristic threats against his foster father. Usually, children of such a tender age, when charged with juvenile delinquency, are released to their guardians pending trial rather than being remanded to the Youth House. However, our client has an extensive prior record which included violent allegations of robbery and assault. Additionally, the juvenile suffered from numerous diagnosed psychiatric issues which were apparently at least partially responsible for his erratic behavior. The student attorneys that represented the juvenile were faced with a difficult situation. They were concerned that if the client were released that he could hurt a family member. On the other hand, young children generally are not placed in custody. After consulting with the juvenile's foster parents and social worker, they argued to the judge that their client be released with the resitriction of "home detention" whereby Youth House personnel could appear at the home on a daily basis to monitor the child's conduct. The judge agreed with this recommendation and once the client came home, his family and social workers were able to get him appropriate psychiatric assistance.