Street Law at the University of Houston Law Center

In Spring 2016, the University of Houston Law Center joined the ranks of over 100 law schools with the launch of the Street Law program. The initiative was spearheaded by Professor Ellen Marrus, Royce Till Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Children, Law & Policy, based on her previous work with Street Law and her experience as a Fellow with the program at Georgetown Law Center. For more than 40 years, the Street Law program has developed classroom and community programs that educate young people about law and government.

The purpose of the class is to expose high school students to the law and the legal system, while also encouraging them to think about college and law school. The Street Law class provides a unique professional development opportunity for law students as they are able to work on improving their ability to convey legal knowledge to laypersons and strengthen skills that are not necessarily explicitly taught in law school, such as organization and time management. Upon enrolling in the program, each Law Center student is assigned to a high school class and is responsible for developing lessons and teaching the material to the students. The program has reached over 650 students over the past four years.  This year, the program expanded to seven schools and nearly 150 students: Mickey Leland, Houston KIPP, KIPP Northeast, YES Prep North, High School for Law and Justice, Chinquapin, and Milby.

For an in-depth look at the Street Law experience, please click here follow our newest series of journal entries from one of our past extraordinary educators.

For more information about the Street Law program, click below

Juvenile Justice Reform

52 YEARS AFTER IN RE GAULT, THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM CONTINUES TO EVOLVE IN WAYS ADDRESSING THE UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES OF CHILDREN AND, ULTIMATELY, HOW STATES CAN FULFILL THE GOAL OF REHABILITATION AS OPPOSED TO PUNISHMENT.

TRUANCY

Colorado, Maryland, Utah, and Washington all enacted legislation or legislative reform surrounding truancy laws. All of the states moved to modifying truancy related offenses, ensuring the least restrictive dispositions possible. Washington went further, requiring school districts to collect data on truancy to address causes and focus on prevention.

TRANSFER/WAIVER

In 2018, Arizona, California, Missouri, and Washington all expanded the jurisdiction of their juvenile courts. While Arizona and Missouri increased the age of the court’s jurisdiction (19 and 18, respectively) California prohibits the transfer of children under the age of 16 to adult court. Washington put the focus on types of crimes where transfer to adult criminal court would be prohibited. Delaware passed related legislation, mandating that children charged in adult criminal court still be detained in a juvenile facility.

RESTRAINTS

Oklahoma and Louisiana put significant restrictions on when restraints can be used on minors.  Oklahoma prohibits the use of restraints on pregnant juveniles;  Louisiana requires that less restrictive measures be used in all circumstances when appropriate.

DIVERSION

Delaware and Florida both passed legislation giving law enforcement broader discretion in using diversion programs for both prearrest and misdemeanor -level offenses. Both states note that participation in counseling treatment, community service, or any other appropriate intervention has a positive effect on the justice system in general

RIGHT TO COUNSEL

Oklahoma now requires children to be represented by counsel from the first initial hearing all the way through completion/dismissal