Jessica Feierman, Esq.

Senior Managing Director

Jessica Feierman joined Juvenile Law Center in 2006. She oversees Juvenile Law Center’s projects and programs. She also engages in litigation, amicus efforts, and policy advocacy focused on juvenile and criminal justice reform. Jessica currently leads a national effort to end fines and fees in the juvenile justice system and is engaged in litigation aimed at eliminating solitary confinement and other abusive practices in juvenile facilities. Jessica’s deep interest in community and youth activism led her to launch Juveniles for Justice, a program of Juvenile Law Center that supports justice system-involved youth in becoming advocates for change. She presents and publishes regularly on these issues.  

Jessica’s legal advocacy focuses on ensuring that the law responds to research on adolescent development and promotes equity. She has co-authored numerous appellate and amicus briefs in federal courts, including the lead child advocates amicus briefs in a number of U.S Supreme Court cases, including Graham v. Florida, which held unconstitutional life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses under the Eighth Amendment; Safford v. Redding, which held a school strip search unconstitutional; J.D.B. v. North Carolina, which held that a juvenile's age is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis under the Fifth Amendment; and Timbs v. Indiana, which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibition on excessive fines applies to the states.

Prior to joining Juvenile Law Center, Jessica was a litigation fellow at the ACLU National Prison Project, where she litigated prison conditions cases in federal court. From 2001-2003, Jessica was a teaching fellow in the Georgetown University Law Center's Street Law in the Community Program. From 2000-2001, Jessica served as a law clerk to the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jessica is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was awarded an LLM in advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center.  Prior to attending law school, Jessica founded and directed the Teen Health Initiative (now called the Teen Activist Project) at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Jessica serves on Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee, and on the Board of the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania. 


Photo Credit - John Arroyo of Photography Without Borders

Articles and Publications

Jessica Feierman, Naomi Goldstein, Emily Haney-Caron, Jaymes Faircax Columbo, Debtors' Prison for Kids? The High Cost of Finesa nd Fees in the Juvenile Justice System, 2016.

Julian D. Ford, Patricia K. Kerig, Neha Desai, and Jessica Feierman, "Psychosocial Interventions for Traumatized Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Research, Evidence Base, and Clinical/Legal Challenges," OJJDP Journal of Juvenile Justice, April 2016.

Katherine Burdick, Jessica Feierman, Catherine Feeley, Autumn Dickman, Robert G. Schwartz, Building Brighter Futures: Tools for Improving Academic and Career/Technical Education in the Juvenile Justice System, 2015.

Jessica Feierman, Kacey Mordecai, Robert G. Schwartz, "Ten Strategies to Reduce Juvenile Length of Stay," 2015.

Catherine Feeley, Jessica Feierman, "Understanding FERPA: Sharing Education Records to Improve Outcomes for Children in the Juvenile Justice System," 2015.

Jessica Feierman, "Embedding Detention Reform in State Statutes, Rules and Regulations," 2014.

Jessica Feierman, Lauren Fine, "Trauma and Resilience: A New Look at Legal Advocacy for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems," 2014.

Jessica Feierman, Rachel M. Kleinman, David Lapp, Monique N. Luse, Len Reiser, and Bob G. Schwartz, "Stemming the Tide: Promising Legislation to Reduce School Referrals to the Courts," Family Court Review, Vol. 51, Issue 3, July 2013. 

Marsha Levick, Jessica Feierman, Sharon Messenheimer Kelley, Naomi Sevin Goldstein, “The Eighth Amendment Evolves: Defining Cruel and Unusual Punishment Through the Lens of Childhood and Adolescence,” University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Policy, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Spring 2012).

Jessica Feierman, “The Decriminalization of the Classroom:  The Supreme Court’s Evolving Jurisprudence on the Rights of Students,” in The Journal of Law in Society, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Fall 2011).

Katherine Burdick, Jessica Feierman, and Maura McInerney, "Creating Positive Consequences: Improving Education Outcomes for Youth Adjudicated Delinquent," Duke Forum for Law & Social Change, Vol. 3:5, 2011.

Jessica Feierman, Emily C. Keller, Marcia Glickman, Rachel Stanton, "Navigating the Juvenile Justice System in Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents and Guardians," 2011.

Jessica Feierman, Marsha Levick, and Ami Mody, "The School to Prison Pipeline ... and Back: Obstacles and Remedies for the Re-Enrollment of Adjudicated Youth," New York School Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2009/10.

Jessica Feierman and Riya Shah, "Protecting Personhood: Legal Strategies to Combat the Use of Strip Searches on Youth in Detention," in Rutgers Law Review, No. 67, 2007.

Jessica Feierman, “The Power of the Pen”:  Jailhouse Lawyers, Literacy and Civic Engagement,” in Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, Summer 2006. 

Jessica Feierman, “Creative Prison Lawyering:  From Silence to Democracy,” in Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Vol. XI, No. 2, Spring 2004.