TeamChild Partners with Green Hill School to Begin Law Library for Youth
TeamChild set out to build power and knowledge amongst incarcerated youth by working in partnership with young people at Green Hill School, to plan, develop, and begin building a law library at the Juvenile Rehabilitation facility.
While our goals involve increasing legal literacy for youth statewide, we piloted this work at Green Hill School – a medium and maximum-security prison for youth and young adults between 17 – 25 serving juvenile and adult sentences. Many of these young people have expressed the desire to have access to a law library so that they can read about and research the laws that impact their lives.
Collecting feedback from young people at Green Hill
TeamChild facilitated workshops and discussions with youth about their existing legal knowledge, previous interactions with our legal system, and what areas of law they were hoping to get information on. TeamChild learned that the young people were interested in materials about resentencing, record sealing, rights while incarcerated, criminal law, firearm rights, release, and post–conviction, sex offender registration, and appeals. We were also able to determine from the youth’s input what formats would be most useful to them. These results allowed TeamChild attorneys, our community partners, and our law student partners at Seattle University, to develop four areas of focus for legal aid resources – conditions of confinement, criminal law 101, post-conviction relief (record sealing, registration lifting, firearm rights restoration, e.g.), and appeals and resentencing relief.
Law library materials and in–person education
We created and compiled an extensive Know Your Rights manual on resentencing and appeals, as well as accompanied legal subject deep dives on topics such as rights while incarcerated, firearm rights, and guidelines around the sex offender registration relief process. These legal rights educational materials form a comprehensive baseline for the continually developing law library at Green Hill School.
We leveraged volunteer support and collaboration with Seattle University’s Calhoun Family Fellowship Program to facilitate a workshop on “Criminal Law 101,” which covered rights and processes from first encounters with law enforcement through sentencing.
Ongoing youth engagement and Know Your Rights education
This project also laid the groundwork for what ongoing Know Your Rights education might look like at Green Hill School and establishing a foundation for what youth-led work can look like within the realm of legal aid. We heard directly from youth about how they want to access legal information in the future and saw sparks of interest in youth–led advocacy and youth-informed legal aid support.
Our long–term hope is to provide youth and communities with materials to educate themselves and each other on legal issues so that legal aid organizations like TeamChild are not their only option for advocacy. Through educational access, we aim to transform or dismantle harmful systems by shifting power to the young people that those systems claim to support.
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