The field of juvenile justice is a tough one. Anyone who works with at-risk young people as a teacher, social worker, lawyer, outreach worker, health care provider, probation officer, or correctional officer and really cares about kids bumps up against challenges and hurdles and just plain bad days all the time. The kids themselves sometimes don’t make it easy and certainly society and its institutions doesn’t. It’s the caring that carries you through.
I recently read an interview in The Root with Bryan Stevenson, executive director of Equal Justice Initiative and lawyer for the defendants in the Supreme Court hearing against mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders. Towards the end of the interview the interviewer asks Mr. Stevenson why he has devoted his life to defending juvenile offenders especially those guilty of violent crimes. I could tell you what he said but it’s worth reading the whole interview.
His final words should be the anthem for everyone who cares about at-risk kids. What he said still gives me the chills.