Friday was the first day of the National Juvenile Defenders Leadership Summit. The Center for Children, Law & Policy scholars had the opportunity to meet many practicing defenders and learn practical tips as well as current research and statistics.
The breakout session that I enjoyed the most was on the issues facing Native American delinquent youth. Unlike non-Indian children, Indian youth can be subject to tribal, state, and federal courts. The jurisdictional issues alone are daunting, but if the child is also in a dependency proceeding, then the Indian Child Welfare Act applies, further complicating their legal proceedings.
Also, there is not a one size fits all tribes solution for handling delinquent tribal youth because of the significant different cultural backgrounds as well as the difference between tribes in abject poverty and tribes will resources they have been able to use to their advantage. For attorneys working with Native Americans in general, remember to do more listening that talking, ask questions, and be comfortable if your client or their tribe chooses not to answer as some traditions are not to be shared.
We are all looking forward to learning more about working with youth in the juvenile justice system today on the second day of the Summit.