- Tammy Hughes, PhD
- Tiffany Sizemore, JD
- Jeffrey Shook, PhD, JD
Research Project Description
Most youth come into contact with the juvenile justice system have significant health, mental health, and substance use issues, have been excluded from school and other child-serving institutions, and/or are disconnected or excluded from necessary supports and resources in the community. For many, their defense attorney serves as their primary advocate to help them obtain medical and mental health services and to connect them with supports and resources. Most of these youth, however, are unable to afford an attorney and must rely on the indigent defense system, which provides the free legal defense services guaranteed in the Constitution. Unfortunately, indigent legal defense in the U.S. is marked by a severe lack of funding and high turnover and caseloads. Further, attorneys are trained in the law, not in how to assess and understand the needs of youth and the best means to address these needs. of indigent legal defense raises equity concerns and represents a lost opportunity to connect young people with resources, supports, and services that can address the health, mental health, and substance use issues they experience. One approach is the Holistic Representation Model (HRM). HRM features interdisciplinary teams of professionals working together on youths’ cases. Minutes legal and clinical services, such that social workers, psychologists, and/or counselors are collaborating with attorneys. We hypothesize that HRM can improve youth outcomes through several mechanisms. One, it can lead to better assessment and identification of needs than traditional legal representation. Two, through better assessment and identification of needs, the legal team can better advocate for and connect youth with necessary mental health, substance use, and medical services. Three, by providing a more effective and responsive representation, HRM can improve youth perceptions of the fairness of the system, and, subsequently, engagement and compliance with the system and with schooling, programs, and services. Through these mechanisms, we hypothesize that HRM can improve health, mental health, substance use, educational, and other outcomes for youth involved, or at risk of being involved in the justice system.
Tammy Hughes, PhD
Dr. Hughes is a Professor of School Psychology in the School of Education at Duquesne University. She is also a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist. Her clinical expertise includes assessment, counseling and consultation services in alternative education and juvenile justice settings focusing on parent‐school‐interagency treatment planning and integrity monitoring.
Tiffany Sizemore, JD
Ms. Sizemore is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Legal Education Duquesne University Law. She developed and directs the Juvenile Defender Clinic and the Education Law Clinic. Her expertise is in providing holistic representation to children charged with crimes in Allegheny County Juvenile Court and representing children who are facing school disciplinary and proceedings and special education matters.
Jeffrey Shook, PhD, JD
Dr. Shook is an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. His research examines the intersection of law, policy, and practice in the lives of children and youth.