Former CLCM Director of Research and Policy, Barbara Kaban, has authored several law review articles and legal periodicals focusing on juvenile justice and related matters. They include: Kaban, B., Tobey, A., When Police Question Children: Are Protections Adequate?, Journal of the Center for Children and the Courts, Volume I, 1999 (reprinted in the Massachusetts Bar Association Section Review, Vol. 4, 1 (Winter 2002) and in the Michigan Child Welfare Journal, Vol. IV, 12 (Summer 2000)); Kaban, B., Quinlin, J., Rethinking a Knowing, Intelligent and Voluntary Waiver in Massachusetts Juvenile Courts, Journal of the Center for Children and the Courts, Vol. 5, 2004; and, Kaban, B., Orlando, J., Revitalizing the Infancy Defense in the Contemporary Juvenile Court, Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 60, Number 1, 2007; (copy of each attached, below).
The Law Center maintains an appellate advocacy practice that has focused at times on juvenile justice and at times on child welfare matters. It also has appeared as amici on a range of juvenile justice, child welfare and education cases heard in both state and federal courts.
In collaboration with Straight Ahead Ministries, a faith-based organization, the CLCM created and operated a series of re-entry initiatives (formerly "Cambodian Youth Re-Entry Project" and the "Lynn Youth Re-Entry Project") designed to assist gang-involved youth who return to Lynn following periods of incarceration in the state's juvenile justice and adult correctional facilities. The services included case management, legal representation, educational advocacy, Know-Your-Rights trainings, vocational advocacy, and related policy-based endeavors.
A two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship provided the sponsorship for a two year study of individuals serving the sentence of life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles. The Law Center Fellow and pro bono attorneys interviewed 42 of the 57 prisoners serving life sentences, conducted extensive legal research, surveyed JLWOP reform efforts in other states, reviewed numerous records, and designed and evaluated litigation and legislative strategies to address the issue. A report detailing the aforementioned efforts and recommendations for legislative reform was released in September, 2009. See report: Until They Die A Natural Death: Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Massachusetts
The CLCM has been a recipient of grants from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to serve as the Local Action Research Partner for the Lynn Police Department and local service providers working to reduce gang/youth violence in the city.
CLCM attorneys represent some 50-60 foster children involved in Care and Protection or CRA (formerly CHINS) cases. Each year some of those children, having turned 18, are among the 600 kids statewide who "age out" of the foster care system and, in some instances, lose several supports, including legal, housing, financial, and mentoring. These youth, often with histories of trauma, are generally ill-prepared to handle life on their own and frequently require the assistance of an attorney. CLCM lawyers provide such advocacy on an individual basis, and also engage in policy work designed to assist this youth population, including committee and task force work, administrative litigation, trainings, and information and referrals.
CLCM staff participated in the Boston Bar Association's Task Force on Expanding the Civil Right to Counsel, formed to examine the need for legal counsel in various civil matters such as housing, family law, immigration and various juvenile matters. Working on a Juvenile Subcommittee, CLCM staff made recommendations, eventually adopted by the Task Force, that pilot projects be established to provide attorneys to low-income children in certain school discipline cases, and when youth committed to the state's juvenile correctional system faced revocation of their parole. The report of the Task Force, Gideon's New Trumpet: Expanding the Civil Right to Counsel in Massachusetts was published in 2008.
Law Center staff have led or joined efforts at the local, state and national levels to advance or defeat various legislative initiatives that affect low-income children in the Commonwealth. Included among them are bills supporting forms of alternative education for high-risk youth, various benefits for low-income children, assistance to parentless immigrant children, and efforts to ensure that high-risk youth receive an education.
Part of the Law Center's policy work involves participation in local, state and national task forces or committees that address issues of importance to low-income children. Illustrative of such work is the Lynn Head Start Policy Council, the Education Law Task Force, the BBA Task Force on Expanding the Civil Right to Counsel, and the National Children's Law Network.
Impact Litigation: The CLCM has led or joined efforts at systems reform through impact litigation matters to effect positive change for disadvantaged children and youth. In 2009 the CLCM, in collaboration with the Center for Public Representation and the state's Committee for Public Counsel Services, successfully challenged the constitutionality of a statutory scheme that permitted the Department of Youth Services to extend the commitment of youth beyond age eighteen based on allegations of "dangerousness." The Supreme Judicial Court in Kenniston, et. al.v. Department of Youth Services found that the statute violated substantive due process and was void for vagueness.