Juvenile Justice: L.B.’s Story

March 20, 2014

The following is a client narrative from the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project (“the Clinic”).  For more on this important issue, click the “Juvenile Justice” tag below. 

L.B., age 18, is a special education child with a below 80 I.Q.  While at teh New Jersey Training School, L.B. was attacked in the gym with a sharp object.  The attack caused a severe laceration to L.B.’s eyeball.  When L.B. fell to the ground, two officers walked him to his room, instead of taking him to the infirmary.  The laceration was deep and L.B. bled on the floor of his room.  Officers forced L.B. to clean the blood from the floor.  L.B. was taken to the hospital about 30 minutes later.  L.B. spent almost two hours at the local hospital, and was then transferred to UMDNJ, where he spent four days and underwent two serious surgeries.  L.B. was advised by his physician that there was only a ten percent chance that he would regain vision in his eye.  Attempts by L.B.’s aunt to visit L.B. at the hospital were repeatedly denied by the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”).  It was only after the Clinic rigorously negotiated with the JJC that the aunt was finally permitted to visit.  Alarmingly, following the incident, L.B. was placed in the “medical isolation” room, where he stayed for four months in a glass-enclosed room for 23 hours per day and was prohibited from attending school or participating in recreational programming.  It was only after the Clinic wrote a letter to the Deputy Attorney General, expressing our concerns and urging the JJC to remove our client from medical isolation, that L.B. was released to the hospital dorm.

At the Community Foundation of New Jersey, we put heavy emphasis on seeking out critical and overlooked challenges such as these.  And so when we learned about L.B.’s story (and others like it) and the work of the Post-Disposition Advocacy Project, we decided to act.

Our Leadership Committee moved quickly, deploying a $30,000 grant to support the Project’s work in providing legal representation to incarcerated youth.  But now we need your help.  Your contribution to this worthwhile effort will allow us to ensure more of New Jersey’s incarcerated youth have legal representation and are treated according to the law.