May 31 , 2023 — The Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project (JCAP) was featured in the Houston Lawyer in the March/April issue for its work in juvenile justice reform. Recognized as a nonprofit making a difference in the community, JCAP was regaled for its representation of youth in the courtroom, community outreach and the sealing of juvenile court records.
Founded by University of Houston Law Center professors Katya Dow (’92) and David Dow in 2014, JCAP strives to provide holistic legal representation. UHLC students have assisted in the successful sealing of 1,000+ juvenile misdemeanor and felony records free of charge, and Katya Dow, JCAP legal programs director and UH Law professor, has trained 200+ pro bono attorneys to seal records.
“JCAP was created with the mission of reducing juvenile delinquency, including its underlying causes, improving life outcomes for economically and socially disadvantaged youth through the provision of legal, educational and social support services, and addressing issues of systemic racism in the criminal and juvenile justice systems,” said Katya Dow in the Houston Lawyer article.
JCAP consists of four fundamental programs: the Direct Juvenile Representation Program, Juvenile and Adult Record Sealing Program, Education Rights Program and the Legal Education Program, highlighting issues such as dual-system involvement with both the child welfare system and the criminal or juvenile justice system.
Making a significant impact on the lives of socially and economically disadvantaged youth, JCAP is emphasizing the value of education and social support services. Its focus on uncovering the root cause of juvenile delinquency is a model for other legal service providers and is making a lasting impression.
Katya Dow suggests community outreach as a simple way to reduce juvenile delinquency and improve life outcomes. Through a school discipline representation program, the school-to-prison pipeline could be offset by a direct representation to juveniles in disciplinary proceedings, criminal justice system for disciplinary infractions in public schools in the Houston area and the juvenile justice system.
In coordination with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department’s QUEST Program, JCAP offers legal education to provide therapeutic services to teens that have not responded to standard treatment. The program targets youth rehabilitation through interpersonal processes, teaching youth to acquire and improve social skills and connections.
“As an adjunct to the QUEST program, JCAP provides legal education concerning record sealing, the collateral consequences of juvenile records as well as information about organizations that will hire you with records,” said Katya Dow in Houston Lawyer. “JCAP also does what is necessary to provide these youth with a better understanding of how to navigate the legal issues they may experience in their futures.”
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