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One-Year Anniversary Marks Blog Post Number One: Media Recommendations

As I approach the one year anniversary of opening the doors to my solo practice, I am reflecting on hard lessons learned. In turn, I am making resolutions about how I want to practice going forward: Among several other resolutions, I resolve to put more intention into regularly reflecting and writing. To this end, here is my first blog post!

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One of the key principles I want to hold true while practicing law is making it accessible. Access to the law can mean addressing the often financially unaffordable cost of hiring a lawyer to fight for you, your student, or your community; “access to the law” can also mean breaking down the tough-to-understand “legal-ese” that makes comprehending your rights difficult to impossible. I am dedicated to both of these manifestations of “access.”

I am hoping to use this space of my website to address the latter form of access: I want to make available resources and research that is otherwise often hard to track down while explaining the areas of those resources and research that may be obscure.

To take a first step along this mission, I am offering recommendations for media that is widely available, presented in a generally understandable way, and presents questions or ideas that I think are crucial to keep in mind when engaging with juvenile justice, education law, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

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Caught, “Episode 2: ‘They Look At Me Like a Menace.’”

The first season of this podcast is often heartbreaking as it presents the story of Z, a young man who was found to have robbed someone at gunpoint. The podcast asks the listener a lot of important questions about what we want our justice system to look like for young people—i.e. people who are, at the least, under the age of 18 and whose brains are not fully developed. This particular episode explores the challenging role that mental health plays in our juvenile justice system. How do we feel about locking up young people in boxes? How do we feel about locking up people with mental health illnesses that may have contributed to their alleged offenses in boxes? How do we feel when that person with mental health illness is so young that their sense of consequence, identity, and empathy are not fully developed? What resources are available to those young people? How are those young people treated?

Available at: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/589480586/caught

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Aftereffect, “Episode 4: ‘I Baker Act You. You Baker Acted Me.’”

The first season of this podcast unpacks the outcome of a widely covered shooting of an innocent black man who was a care provider for a man on the Autism spectrum. Specifically, this season explores the state of mental health care in Florida. This episode focuses on what happens when the police are called to the scene where an individual with a mental health, cognitive, or intellectual disability is having some sort of episode. The eponymous “Baker Act” gives law enforcement the right to intervene and indefinitely hospitalize individuals “in crisis.” This episode feels personally important as I have spent a lot of time and energy researching how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to law enforcement at the first point of contact with individuals with mental health disabilities.

Available at: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/episode-4

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Fresh Air, “America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness”

I love Terry Gross and have long-believed that a mark of “making it” as a thought leader or leader in one’s field is being interviewed on Fresh Air. This particular episode explores how deeply flawed our criminal justice and mental health care systems are today—often because we place people in desperate need of greater resources from the latter at the whims of the former.

Available at: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/10/627519801/behind-bars-mentally-ill-inmates-are-often-punished-for-their-symptoms

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Problem Areas, “Episode 9: ‘Research Problems, Reef Problems, Punitive Problems.’”

Season 1 of Wyatt Cenac’s 10-episode deep dive into a single “problematic” area of our society explores policing in the United States. While critics would likely say that Cenac has a clear agenda because of his liberal-leaning humor and progressive episode topics (see the episode on banning the police), I would argue that Cenac does a good job of asking important questions of liberals and conservatives alike. He asks us to question the existing systems, how they developed, and what the logical conclusions would be of implementing proposed solutions. This particular episode explores how effective restorative justice is both in a juvenile justice context as well as when implemented in the adult criminal justice system. Cenac’s candid confession fuels a profound conversation about what it means to someone who is a victim of a crime to be told that a conversation with the person who committed the offense will be the most effective method of finding resolution or justice. I am a staunch advocate for restorative justice—especially in the context of the juvenile justice system—and I found this episode left me with some important questions to ask of myself and the appropriateness of restorative justice for all instances.

Available at: https://www.hbo.com/wyatt-cenacs-problem-areas/season-1/episode-9

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That’s it for media dump for now. If you have some recommendations, please send them my way.

Onward,

Elie