YOUTH: EDUCATION, ADVOCACY & RESTORATIVE SERVICES
The Y:EARS Program offers support for youth through education, advocacy, and restorative services. Our work is grounded in a race equity lens and our team utilizes cross-systems expertise to support youth in the following services.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
We believe that all people should know their rights. We believe that when the public is empowered with information about their rights they are better able to keep themselves safe and advocate for positive change. These beliefs are what our community legal education program, Know Your Rights, is based upon. We offer free Know Your Rights presentations for youth and people who work with youth, on:
Don't see programming on what you're interested in? Just ask! These workshops can be tailored to meet the needs of the community and we can create content based on what you need. To schedule a training, please contact Chelsea Schmitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-677-2126.
YOUTH CRIMINAL DEFENSE
We provide free legal representation for youth facing delinquency, extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) and adult certification cases. Our representation is strengths-based, client-centered, community oriented, and we utilize a positive youth development approach. We are deeply committed to ensuring that our clients get the highest quality legal representation. For more information on applying for attorney representation, please see our Need An Attorney? page.
Community driven policy advocacy, aimed at sustainable systems change, is a critical focus of our work. We lead and are involved in several policy initiatives including the following:
MN YOUTH JUSTICE COALITION
The MN Youth Justice Coalition is a coalition of 10 community partners who are interested in juvenile justice reform. The coalition focuses on advocating at state and local levels for necessary changes to juvenile justice system, such as ending juvenile life without parole and ending the practice of indiscriminately shackling kids in court. For more information on the coalition and the work they do, click here.
NATIONAL JUVENILE JUSTICE NETWORK
The LRC is a member organization of the National Juvenile Justice Network, in which we work with other national member organizations for policy advocacy and juvenile justice reform. The LRC was just awarded an NJJN decarceration grant, which will help us to keep kids safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and ultimately feeds into our larger vision of reducing the use of incarceration for children.
YOUTH RESTORATIVE JUSTICE INITIATIVE
The LRC developed the Youth Restorative Justice Initiative in partnership with the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a group of elite trial lawyers from both sides of the Bar, and Dr. Talaya Tolefree of Koinonia Leadership Academy. Our work focuses on integrating restorative practices into all decisions points leading to and within the juvenile justice system, with a goal of preventing deeper justice system involvement. For more information about the Comprehensive Model for Youth Restorative Justice and Trafficking Prevention, click here.
Recently, the Y:EARS program has been part of a push in Hennepin County to help young people expunge their records. We partner with Project for Pride in Living and The Link to do expungement consultations. These consultations can cover what is currently on your record and how to best prepare an expungement petition to get your record sealed. For more information, please contact Malaika Hankins at email@example.com.
Part of legacy of the Legal Rights Center is that we are in service of the community. Therefore, our community strategy work involves building relationships with community members, leaders, and organizations. We want to ensure that our community has access to our services (legal and restorative), and we strive to be a resource and support for other community initiatives such as research, advocacy letters, etc. If you would like to contact us about our community strategy work, please contact Malaika Hankins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The restorative services we offer focus on the strength and power of families and communities to know what is their own best interest and to handle their own conflicts. These restorative services can help to improve communication pathways between those who have caused harm and those who have been harmed so that all parties may heal and plan for a better future. Restorative practices are rooted in Indigenous practices and culture, and focus on restoring relationships. When there has been a breakdown in a relationship with others, restorative practices can provide processes in which everybody involved in that conflict can come together and dialogue about the harm that has occurred, what needs to happen to repair that harm and to repair relationships. Restorative services are not exclusive to when relationships have been broken - they can also be utilized to build relationships and community proactively. The Y:EARS Program is engaged with several restorative services projects focused primarily on Family Group Conferencing.
FAMILY GROUP CONFERENCING
Family Group Conferencing is an empowering process in which youth and families identify and focus on their strengths as they develop a plan, in partnership with school and district staff, to solve problems in a supportive and mutually accountable manner. Family Group Conferencing engages families in a culturally competent way and helps connect them with supports in their community. (At the LRC, we interpret "families" broadly: family is defined by caring, and can include people who care about the children or other adults involved.)
MINNEAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS & ST. PAUL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Youth who are at risk for disengagement from their educational pathway, including those who have had incidents that led to a recommendation for expulsion or administrative transfer, are referred to the LRC for restorative Family Group Conferencing. Student strengths are recognized and become the basis by which youth, family, and school agree on planned steps (with shared accountability and support) that will lead to improved academic and behavioral results.
The Legal Rights Center uses Educational Family Group Conferencing to work with Minneapolis students, families, and schools to problem-solve the issues that have led to a Hennepin County Attorney referral for truancy or educational neglect.
TRAINING, COACHING, AND SUPPORT
In addition to Family Group Conferencing in schools, we can provide ongoing support for educators that are interested in implementing restorative practices in their spaces - practices that are strengths-based and engage families.
By arrangement with the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, and in partnership with other organizations, the LRC receives referrals for youth as a diversion from deeper justice system involvement. The completion of a restorative Family Group Conference in response to an alleged offense provides more attention, accountability, and resolution of underlying problems than the alternative of juvenile court.
To learn more about our restorative services, please contact Chelsea Schmitz at email@example.com or call 612.677.2126.