What We Do

The Youth Advocacy Division (YAD) ensures that every child from an indigent family in Massachusetts has access to zealous legal representation that incorporates a Youth Development Approach, resulting in fair treatment in court.  YAD works with each client to achieve both legal and life success.  Accordingly, YAD provides leadership, training, support, and oversight to a diverse and collaborative juvenile defense bar across the state. Through individual representation and systemic advocacy, YAD partners with other state agencies, as well as community organizations and local agencies, to work toward creating safer and healthier communities.

Established by the Committee for Public Counsel Services in 1992, the Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) began with a goal of protecting and advancing the legal and human rights of children and promoting their healthy development, through active partnerships in Boston’s communities.  At the time, YAP consisted of one fulltime and one half-time attorneys.  YAP became the Youth Advocacy Division in 2009 and now includes over four hundred specially trained private attorneys that accept delinquency, youthful offender, appeals, juvenile murder parole hearings, and GCL revocation cases, as well as nine staff offices in which lawyers and forensic social service advocates work together as a team to help young people achieve their legal and life goals.

The Youth Advocacy Division is comprised of the Staff Offices, Private Counsel, Juvenile Appeals, YAD Training, and Revocation Panel.


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Youth Advocacy News

Presidential Proclamation — National Youth Justice Awareness Month, 2016 October 5, 2016 - NATIONAL YOUTH JUSTICE AWARENESS MONTH, 2016 – – – – – – – BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION The essential promise that we make to our young people — that where they start must not determine how far they can go — is part of what makes America exceptional. […]
Debtor’s Prisons for Kids? The High Cost of Fees and Fines in the Juvenile Justice System. August 31, 2016 - The Juvenile Law Center (JLC) today released Debtors’ Prison for Kids? The High Cost of Fines and Fees in the Juvenile Justice System, a groundbreaking report on the impact of juvenile court costs on youth and their families. The report was featured in a New York Times article this morning, and includes a companion microsite […]
High School Suspensions Cost The Country $35 Billion Annually, Report Estimates June 3, 2016 - When students get suspended from school for a few days, they may not be the only ones who miss out.  A report released by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project tries for the first time to quantify the full social cost of so-called “exclusionary discipline.” Here is the link to the story on NPR.
Police routinely read juveniles their Miranda rights, but do kids really understand them? June 2, 2016 - Not surprisingly the answer is no.  Here is the ABA article. Here is a link to the Grisso study published in 1980:  Juveniles’ Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights: An Empirical Study    
Massachusetts Touted as a National Leader in Juvenile Defense Standards May 6, 2016 - When Stateline reporter Rebecca Beitisch interviewed lawyers around the country about juvenile defense standards juvenile justice advocates and defenders pointed to the Committee for Public Counsel Services as a leader in juvenile defense for the standards placed on lawyers, the training required of them and the approach taken with kids.  Here is a link to […]
Trial Courts Issue Sentencing Best Practices Reports May 4, 2016 -   Trial Court Establishes Best Practice Principles in Criminal Sentencing*  BOSTON, MA — The Massachusetts Trial Court today announced that the four Trial Court departments with criminal jurisdiction have issued comprehensive criminal sentencing reports, including best practice principles to assist judges in developing individualized, evidence-based sentences that are intended to improve offenders’ chances of success […]
Watch “Poverty, Violence, and the Developing Mind” April 29, 2016 - From the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior @ MGH: An increasing number of children are at risk for exposure to severe violence and dangerous living conditions. During this panel event, experts wrestled with the following question: What are the implications of trauma exposure and toxic stress for healthy brain development? Click here to watch […]
Girls in the Juvenile Justice system are often victims of family violence, report finds. April 19, 2016 - “Girls in the criminal justice system report far higher rates of in-home sexual abuse and are detained for minor offenses more often than boys, in what becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of imprisonment.”  Girls in Juvenile Detention are often the Victims of Family Abuse, Report finds , here is the link to the report discussed in […]
Less is more when it comes to probation for juveniles April 19, 2016 - This article is a good compilation of the studies out there that with most kids less (probation supervision/conditions) is more. Case Now Strong for Ending Probation as a Default Disposition in Juvenile Defense. This is also what former (acting) Mass. Commissioner of Probation Ron Corbett says about probation generally in his article The Burdens of […]
Young Adult Justice March 29, 2016 - Check out the website that Harvard’s Kennedy School put together about this emerging practice area. What is Young Adult Justice?*