“Juvenile Justice: Stealing Childhood and Other Acts of Systemic Racism”

The over-representation of Black children in today’s juvenile justice system has its roots in the very invention of “delinquency” and establishment of a separate juvenile court in 1899. “Children were different,” argued the reformers, “and in need of protection.” Black children were excluded from protection then, and continue to be seen as less innocent, less deserving and treated more harshly at every step of the juvenile justice system, ultimately being stripped of even the status of “childhood.” Join Gabriella Celeste for a discussion titled “Juvenile Justice: Stealing Childhood and Other Acts of Systemic Racism” based on her years of experience as an attorney, advocate for justice and child policy activist.

It will be held Thursday, Feb. 18, from noon to 1 p.m. Register for the event.

This virtual event, part of the Office for Interprofessional Education, Research and Collaborative Practice’s monthly Interprofessional Dialogues series, is free and open to the community. These monthly dialogues about structural racism and how we can work collaboratively to mitigate this public health crisis are designed to build community among faculty, staff, students and community members within the Health Education Campus, across CWRU and throughout the neighborhoods adjacent to campus.

About the speaker

Celeste co-founded the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana in 1997 (now the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights) and has been instrumental in juvenile justice policy reform in Ohio. She convened national and local community partners to create and advocate for the adoption of a comprehensive police policy on how to interact appropriately with children and youth, and just recently the Cleveland Division of Police recently adopted a first-of-its-kind youth interactions policy. She also helped to bring youth training to the entire Cleveland police force on strategies for youth in crisis and recently released a review of highlights of lessons learned from the training.

Celeste also played a role in OH SB 256, the juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) bill, which was passed and signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in January 2021. This bipartisan legislation was the culmination of a decade of work following a U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing that children are developmentally different from adults and require special protections. She was reappointed to the Ohio Public Defender Commission by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2015 and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Magnolia Clubhouse, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey Community Advisory Board and the Cuyahoga County “Defending Childhood” Governing Board.