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JCAP and CUT Combine Forces to Expand Pro Bono Juvenile Defense 

March 22, 2021

Programs Aims to Break School-to-Prison Pipeline and Provide Exceptional Representation for Our Youth

(Houston, TX) – Thanks to a cooperative venture, the Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project (JCAP) at the University of Houston Law Center and The Center for Urban Transformation’s Juvenile Justice Diversion Program (CUT) are expanding CUT’s capacity to represent and serve the Houston Fifth Ward’s young people.

JCAP will be providing CUT clients with superior legal representation in multiple capacities: youth with solely juvenile justice system involvement; youth with dual system (DFPS and juvenile justice) involvement; juvenile record sealing; school discipline representation; and disrupting the school-to-prison-pipeline.  This partnership will help ensure that poverty does not mean inadequate representation. Quality legal representation will help protect Fifth Ward’s Black and Latino youth from the multigenerational trauma and financial barriers that result from involvement with the judicial system.

CUT’s Juvenile Justice Diversion Program, which is in its first year of operation, aims to break the school-to-prison pipeline and cultivate a culture of compassion.  The program aims to divert Fifth Ward students who are deemed at-risk, or are arrested, from involvement with the judicial system. Instead of having a charge filed with the court, adding barriers to future career opportunities, students are invited to participate in the Center’s program that provides holistic case management and opportunities for compassion-based restorative justice, community engagement, and mentoring.

The founding members of the Center include Pleasant Hill Ministries, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Berg & Androphy, Houston Habitat for Humanity, and Legacy Community Health. The program began with an assembly of committed partners that formed the 5th Ward Public Safety Leadership Council, which is led by the Center and includes the founding organizations of the Center, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Juvenile Probation, Houston Independent School District, and many other community leaders.

The Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project is a nonprofit legal services organization at the University of Houston Law Center.