We are delighted to announce that former CSE Institute extern Natasha Felder (CWSL ’16) is serving the greater Philadelphia community as a prestigious Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow. Prior to securing this position, Natasha worked as a residential treatment counselor at The Village in Rosemont, PA and as a Philadelphia County juvenile probation officer. She also has experience working as a reintegration worker for youth who are adjudicated delinquent in Philadelphia. Needless to say, Natasha has dedicated her professional career to addressing the circumstances and improving the outcomes for children involved in the juvenile justice system.
As a Stoneleigh Fellow, Natasha will continue to focus on juvenile justice reform. Natasha is working with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, a Philadelphia non-profit organization that provides legal and social services to children prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. Within that capacity, Natasha will develop a comprehensive resource guide for court-appointed attorneys tasked with representing girls who have been charged as adults in the criminal justice system. The purpose of the resource guide is to educate defense attorneys and other stakeholders about the complicated issues that specifically affect girls involved in the criminal justice system in unique ways—including sexual abuse history and trauma, pregnancy, housing instability, and the lack of adequate educational or vocational opportunities. The guide will also advise best practices and list concrete resources that can support the attorney and her client throughout the period of representation and beyond.
Because of their ages and ongoing mental and emotional development, “juvenile lifers” (minors sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole) and other juveniles charged and sentenced as adults are generally more vulnerable to the harms of incarceration ; however, the young women and girls within those populations are arguably more vulnerable and are often overlooked by the systems they are subjected to. In formulating this guide Natasha aims to highlight the scarcity of gender-responsive programs designed for girls within the juvenile justice system, provide recommendations for the implementation of new programs, and connect attorneys with essential information and existing resources. We look forward to getting our copy. Congratulations, Natasha!
Natasha Felder, J.D., M.S.
 In the 2011 Supreme Court decision J.D.B. v. North Carolina, Justice Sotomayor introduces the Court’s majority opinion by concluding that it is “beyond dispute” that minors are more susceptible to coercion and more easily compelled to cooperate with law enforcement than adults in the same situation. 131 S.Ct. 2394. Although that case focused narrowly on the question of whether custody was established, Justice Sotomayor reiterated that the “commonsense” conclusion can easily be applied to all aspects of the juvenile justice system. Id. at 2398-99.