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UHLC's Center for Children, Law & Policy to host CLE addressing youth advocacy in response to COVID-19 pandemic

April 9, 2020 - The University of Houston Law Center's Center for Children Law & Policy will lead a discussion that will advise juvenile advocates on methods to adjust their practice for their clients amid the spread of the coronavirus.

The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 14 via Zoom.

"It is important for children to not be held in a detention facility," said Ellen Marrus, director of the Center for Children, Law & Policy and Royce Till Professor of Law. "Through this CLE we are trying to give attorneys tools that they can use to advocate for their clients in Harris County youth detention.

"Just as COVID-19 can be easily spread through adult facilities, the same is true for youth centers. Children and adults are at risk. Additionally, the detention center is not equipped to provide appropriate medical care in time of a pandemic."

Topics to be discussed are the national outlook for juvenile justice, an update on Harris County detention facilities and what attorneys can do to help their clients in detention. In addition to Marrus, speakers include Steven Halpert and Christopher Sailer from the Harris County Public Defender's Office and Mary Ann Scali of the National Juvenile Defender Center.

"First, it is important to reduce the number of children in detention," she said. "Those that can return home should be sent home with appropriate safety measures in place for the child’s health and the health of those in the home. If any children do not have a home they can return to at this time they should be placed in another suitable home such as another relative or foster care.

Marrus added that no new children should be admitted to detention unless seriously bodily harm was caused to another person.

"Detention is harmful for a child in normal circumstances, it is even more detrimental at this time," she said. "Children in detention are more likely to have mental health issues that will be exacerbated by being removed from their family and community at a time when their fear of COVID-19 is present and growing."

Continuing legal education credit for the seminar is pending. Click here for registration information.

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