A child welfare abolitionist, a survivor of the juvenile justice system and a pioneering researcher into adolescent development and the effects of juvenile justice are the winners of Juvenile Law Center’s 2022 Leadership Prize.
The prominent Philadelphia-based center said the work of all three has “substantially improved the lives of the country’s most vulnerable youth.”
The winners, who will be honored May 12 in Philadelphia, are:
Cyntoia Brown Long, author/speaker; Foundation for Justice, Freedom and Mercy. At 16, she was tried as an adult for killing a man who solicited her for sex and was given a 51-year life sentence in Tennessee. Then-Gov. Bill Haslam, impressed with Long’s “exceptional strides in rehabilitation,” granted her clemency in 2019, after 15 years inside. Alongside her husband, Jaime, Long co-founded the JFAM Foundation, a nonprofit that works to develop opportunities for justice-involved youth to have a voice in the call for change.
Dorothy Roberts, attorney, professor of Africana studies, law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with her teaching and activism, Roberts is a prolific author of books about race, gender and class in American systems. Her next book is due out in early April: “Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World.”
Thomas Grisso, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts Medical School. He’s known for doing basic research on adolescents’ ability to comprehend and waive Miranda warnings, conducting the first major study of adolescents’ abilities related to competence to stand trial, and digging into how to improve juvenile justice responses to young offenders with behavioral health problems. Grisso’s credited with translating his research results into law and policy by producing tools that clinicians, lawyers and justice system personnel can use in the real world.
The Juvenile Law Center said its leadership awardees “are beacons for future generations and whose work has substantially improved the lives of youth.”
Correction: Thomas Grisso’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.