Many organizations are raising concerns about keeping youth in detention and congregate care facilities given the instructions to social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19. Advocates have been urging states to release as many youth as possible from these settings in order to protect youth, particularly those at a high risk from the virus. In addition, advocates urge that youth on probation and other forms of supervision be allowed to suspend regular meetings with probation officers and programs or to meet virtually or by phone. Lawyers can utilize the information and arguments put together by advocates to fight for their individual clients, for example by bringing a motion for the immediate release of a client due to the public health crisis or by arguing for facilities refusing to release youth to arrange ways for them to visit regularly with their families by phone or virtually.
Below are some resources to assist with this advocacy:
- National Juvenile Defender Center COVID-19 Resources
- Center for Children’s Law and Policy Statement on Urgent Action Needed by Youth Justice Professionals in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
- “I Want to See my Child.” Juvenile Lockups Cut Visits Over COVID-19 Fears
- Youth Justice Advocates in 22 States Demand Governors and System Leaders Release Incarcerated Youth Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
- Making An Emergency Plan with Youth in Congregate Care in California: A Checklist for Dependency Attorneys, Youth Providers, and Advocates
- Youth Law Center Statement on COVID-19 and Youth in the Juvenile Justice System