Developing a Resource Guide for Attorneys Representing Girls


Emerging Leader Fellow: Natasha Felder, 2016-2017

The Problem:

Youth involved in the justice system often have histories of trauma including neglect and abuse.  Importantly, there are critical differences in the ways that girls are exposed to, experience, and respond to trauma that require gender-specific consideration.  Unfortunately, attorneys representing girls frequently lack the necessary training or tools to apply a trauma-informed and gender-specific approach to case investigation and sentencing advocacy.  As a result, courts may lack the critical information they need to make informed and potentially mitigated sentencing decisions.  The imposition of sentences without trauma-informed or gender-specific consideration can expose girls involved in the justice system to further trauma, unnecessarily complicate their case proceedings, and compromise their ability to recieve proper care and treatment. 

The Approach:

Natasha is working with the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project to strengthen the quality of representation provided to girls facing criminal charges.  To achieve this goal, she is:

  • Gathering information through interviews, focus groups, and conversations with stakeholders involved in existing coalitions.
  • Adapting existing resources for practitioners representing youth to be gender-specific and responsive to girls’ needs.
  • Drafting and disseminating a best-practice resource guide for attorneys representing girls.

This groundbreaking guide will provide tangible resources and practical solutions for attorneys to address the unique issues that system-involved girls often face.