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Using Language in Court That Youth Can Understand: the Washington Judicial Colloquies

Published Oct 31, 2012, TeamChild

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When youth end up in court, they are often confused and uncertain about the purpose of the proceedings, and what's expected of them when they leave. Why? Because much of the language used there by professionals goes right over their heads.


Now, you can change that with help from a new guide from Models for Change, called the "Washington Judicial Colloquies Project: a Guide for Improving Communication and Understanding in Court." The document provides guidance on how to consistently use developmentally-appropriate language in court that youth can understand.

TeamChild, NJJN's member in Washington state, led the development of the guide as part of its participation with  the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN). Working with a team of experts, including the National Juvenile Defender Center and a group of teens (many with experience in juvenile court), TeamChild produced a guide that offers draft bench "colloquies" for two critical hearings—(1) an accused juvenile’s first appearance, at which rights and conditions of release are explained, and (2) disposition hearings, at which the consequences of conviction and conditions of probation are explained.

Reform areas: Juvenile indigent defense

States: Washington

Categories: Juvenile indigent defense

Tags: Juvenile defense resource center

Uploaded Nov 7, 2012


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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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