Advancing the rights and opportunities of persons with mental disabilities through quality legal advocacy and education in Massachusetts

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DYS Project Resources


DYS Project Pamphlet:
English version
Spanish version


These nine checklists, available in English and Spanish, help families walk through a youth's involvement with the Massachusetts juvenile justice system and the Department of Youth Services.

Checklists for Families


These occasional newsletter highlights topics and events relevant to the Massachusetts juvenile justice system and Department of Youth Services.

May 2011
February 2010
January 2009
March 2008
August 2006
March 2006

Resource Guide

The third edition of the comprehensive resource for families, youth and advocates:
Just for Youth: Advocating for Youths in the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (2010) Now including updates through June 2012.

Useful Links

The following websites provide further information related to the Massachusetts juvenile justice system and Department of Youth Services:

Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ)
CfJJ is an independent, non-profit, public policy advocacy organization working to improve the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts. CfJJ advocates, convenes, conducts research, and educate the public on important juvenile justice issues. CfJJ hosts juvenile justice forums on hot topics and trends in the juvenile justice system that are free and open to the public. CfJJ has information on their web site about the Massachusetts juvenile justice system.

Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (CLUM)
CLUM works on issues of juvenile justice, including efforts to remedy or eliminate school policies that disproportionately exclude students of color from the Massachusetts school system by channeling them into the juvenile justice system. CLUM also works to redress the over-representation of minority youth at every point of the juvenile justice system.

Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard University School of Law
Harvard Law School students, supervised by Criminal Justice Institute attorneys, represent both adults and juveniles on a variety of matters from misdemeanors to felonies. The clinic services Dorchester Juvenile & Roxbury District Courts.

EdLaw Project
An advocacy organization, jointly operated by the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, Inc. (CLC) and the Youth Advocacy Department (YAD), working to ensure the rights of Boston youth to a quality education. Provides legal representation for children facing expulsions, suspensions or disciplinary proceedings, or in matters concerning special education. To be eligible for legal services, the youth must reside in Boston and meet legal services income guidelines. The EdLaw Project has a special focus on advocacy for court-involved youth.

Equity Project The Equity Project is an initiative to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth in juvenile delinquency courts are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. The Equity Project examines issues that impact LGBT youth during the entire delinquency process, ranging from arrest through post-disposition.

Juvenile Defense Network (JDN)
JDN is a training and support project to aide juvenile defense lawyers in Massachusetts who represent children in delinquency and youthful offender cases. JDN is an initiative of the Youth Advocacy Project.

Juvenile Defenders Clinic of Suffolk University Law School
The clinic serves the Boston Juvenile Court, South Boston and West Roxbury, using law students to represent juveniles charged with crimes. Staff attorneys and clinical supervisors help in the defense of clients.

Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at Boston College School of Law
The Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project specializes in cross-system representation of girls involved in the juvenile justice system. The project serves the Roxbury and Dorchester areas, as well as Lowell.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)
Massachusetts Advocates for Children, formerly Massachusetts Advocacy Center, is a private non-profit organization advocating for children who face barriers to equal educational and life opportunities. MAC’s Children’s Law Support Project (CLSP) pursues legal needs of Massachusetts’ low income children. MAC accepts calls from families seeking advice, information or representation on concerns related to special education, school exclusions (suspensions or expulsions), the needs of children exposed to family violence, schooling disrupted by homelessness, autism, and MCAS.

Prisoner Legal Services (PLS)
PLS is an independent state agency that provides civil legal services to people in Massachusetts prisons and jails including youthful offenders sentenced to prison or jail. The office does not provide criminal defense services. PLS is particularly concerned with health and mental health care, guard-on-prisoner violence, physical conditions of confinement, and segregation and isolation.

National Juvenile Justice Network
This organization helps state juvenile justice coalitions to advocate for fair, equitable and developmentally appropriate adjudication and treatment for all youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system.

Parent Professional Advocacy League (PAL)
PAL is the statewide organization of the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. PAL provides support, education, and advocacy around issues related to children’s mental health.

Youth Advocacy Department (YAD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)
YAD is a unit of the state public defender agency (CPCS). YAD has offices across the state. YAD provides lawyers to represent juveniles in delinquency and youthful offender cases. The project also offers social service needs and psychological assessments, as well as case management and referrals to community services. YAD produces Community Notebooks, a resource for youth in the juvenile justice system, available on the YAD web site. YAD office locations are available at

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