As part of the Defending Childhood Task Force, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree participated in a hearing on March 21, hosted at the University of Miami School of Law, addressing the problem of children’s exposure to community violence.
The Miami hearing was the third in a series of four public hearings sponsored by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence (the “Defending Childhood Task Force”).
Ogletree facilitated an interactive discussion with the Honorable Michael J. Ryan of the Cleveland Municipal Court and Vicki Spriggs, Chief Executive Officer at the Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates. The witnesses discussed the complex ethical, emotional, legal and public policy questions raised by children’s exposure to violence.
The Defending Childhood Task Force is chaired by Joe Torre, former manager of the New York Yankees, founder of the Joe Torre Safe at Home® Foundation, and a witness to violence as a child, and Robert Listenbee, Jr., Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Thirteen experts in children’s exposure to violence comprise the task force’s membership. The task force is staffed by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD).
In November, Attorney General Eric Holder charged the task force with examining ways to prevent, treat, and reduce children’s exposure to violence. At the end of 2012, the task force will submit high-level recommendations to the Attorney General. That report will serve as a “blueprint” for addressing children’s exposure to violence.
Prior to the Miami hearing was a November 2011 Baltimore hearing which examined the scope of the issue, and a January 2012 Albuquerque hearing considering the particular concerns and needs in rural and tribal settings in dealing with violence faced by children. The fourth and last hearing, which will take place on April 24 in Detroit, will focus on how to protect children, help them heal from violence, and allow them to thrive.
Previous featured witnesses include Dr. Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Dr. David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, Esta Soler of Futures Without Violence, and Sonja Sohn of HBO’s “The Wire.”
The Defending Childhood Task Force is interested in hearing from community members and professionals who work with children and families who have experienced violence and from directly impacted individuals.
Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is the author of several books, including most recently “The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America” (Palgrave-Macmillan 2010).