Who Will Protect the Children? The Untold Story of Unaccompanied Minors in Witness Protection Programs
University of Pennsylvania Law School
June 1, 2011
Whittier J. Child & Family Advocacy, 2013, Forthcoming
The juvenile justice system was designed with the special needs of minors in mind. However, on every given day, children and youths interact with the criminal justice system under countless different circumstances, beyond the boundaries of the juvenile justice system. The inclusion of unaccompanied juveniles in witness protection programs is only one of the less commonly explored such interactions. This article is the first scholarly piece to peek into the secretive world of witness protection, to identify the unique challenges associated with the protection of unaccompanied minor witnesses. Using authentic case-studies and invaluable insights of practitioners in the field, it provides an in-depth interdisciplinary analysis of the legal, social, psychological and developmental factors that affect the protection of adolescents. Thus, the article provides a comprehensive basis for policy decisions that facilitate the effective protection of minor witnesses, who are a vital element in the prosecution of serious felonies threatening public safety. More broadly, it can inform policy makers about the unique characteristics of juveniles, and the urgent importance of adapting criminal justice policies, beyond the criminal justice system, to their special needs, in order to increase efficacy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: Juvenile Justice, Witness Protection, gang violence, Criminal Procedure, criminal law, evidence, children's rights, child welfare, unaccompanied minors
Date posted: November 8, 2012 ; Last revised: December 7, 2013