Grief is something we all experience at some point in our lives. When a child experiences grief and loss, those emotions, if not addressed, can cause adverse effects. Many of our country’s detained youth have fallen victim to these effects because they have been unable to address the underlying grief that causes their behaviors. Because of this, this Article advocates for creating a trauma-informed pretrial diversion program focused on helping grieving youth. First, this Article examines the overwhelming number of grieving children in our juvenile justice system, and how their grief has led them to where they are today. Second, this Article discusses what pretrial diversion is and why it should include assistance for these youth. Third, this Article shows that these programs do not exist for our youth currently and showcases the need for this to be added now. Fourth, this Article examines what a trauma-informed model looks like, and how it would look in a pretrial diversion program. Fifth, this Article explains how this trauma-informed pretrial diversion program would benefit the youth who encounter the juvenile justice system. Finally, this Article lays out what steps juvenile courts nationwide would have to take to implement a trauma-informed pretrial diversion program to help grieving children.
Cite as: Sydney Ford, Losing Someone Then Losing Yourself: Helping Juveniles in the Justice System Experiencing Grief With a Trauma-Informed Pretrial Diversion Program, 112 J. Crim. L. & Criminology Online 197 (2022).