Youth Rights & Juvenile Court Process

Navigating the juvenile justice system can be difficult. The language used in court is not particularly youth-friendly, and many youth aren't fully aware of their rights in the juvenile court process, and what happens if they're "adjudicated delinquent" (the term for being found guilty in juvenile court).

In 2012-2013, Juveniles for Justice youth advocates focused on ensuring that youth in the juvenile justice system understand the juvenile court process and their rights in the system. They created the Youth Guide to the Juvenile Court System: An Information and Advocacy Guide.

Youth Advocates were inspired to create this guide because of their experiences in the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, most of the Youth Advocates had a limited understanding of the system when they were involved in it—they often felt confused in court hearings and did not fully understand the expectations that the system had for them, whether they were in placement or on probation.

Those who did understand the system and their rights had a better overall experience and were able to work with their attorneys and juvenile justice professionals more effectively. Most importantly, they were better advocates for themselves.

To help others in their situation, Juveniles for Justice created a youth-friendly guide to the juvenile justice system, with tips from youth for youth. Attorneys from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, and other juvenile justice professionals in Philadelphia all provided input.

For more information on this guide, watch this video, created by Juveniles for Justice and Philadelphia filmmaker Will Drinker:

The Philadelphia Department of Human Services generously printed copies of the guide, which Juveniles for Justice distributed to youth in the Philadelphia area through public defenders and the youth detention facility in Philadelphia.