Host Organisation: Howard League for Penal Reform

Adriana Matrigiani

Adriana began her Justice First Fellowship at the Howard League for Penal Reform in January 2022. She currently works with the solicitors to provide advice and representation to children and young adults in custody and in the community on a variety of prison and public law issues.

After completing her undergraduate degree in Law and Politics, Adriana took a break from her studies and worked in the hospitality sector while volunteering at various organisations, including the Prisoners Advice Service, Detention Action and Liberty. She then went on to work for a prison law firm, where she developed her passion for this area of the law. After completing her LPC LLM, Adriana worked as a paralegal for a human rights firm representing the Bereaved, Survivors and Residents of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Project

Children and young adults who come into contact with the criminal justice system often have overlapping education, health and social care needs. Those who remain in the system find themselves in a whole new reality – one that comes with its own distinct challenges. One of these is getting to grips with legal language and procedures.

It is crucial that children and young adults understand legal procedures and terminology if they are to uphold their legal rights in custody. What is becoming increasingly evident through the Howard League’s work with young people is that communication barriers – even just those flowing from the unfamiliarity with specific terms – can be a real setback and hinder their access to justice. The justice system needs to be responsive to the language needs of young people if we want them to fully engage and gain meaningful access to justice.

Adriana’s project aims to work with children and young adults in custody to promote knowledge of their rights and entitlements through educational workshops.

The objective is to produce thematic resources for young people to help them unpick and understand legal processes and terms. Working directly with young people will have the added value of being able to gauge how they experience legal processes and terminology and ensure their views are reflected in the design of the resources. The hope is that the project will be able to expand its remit and develop resources that cater to young people with learning and communication difficulties. Any learning lessons from the project would be shared across the wider sector in the hope of contributing to improved policy and practice.

The ultimate aim of the project is to help young people navigate the linguistic webs of the prison and wider justice system and reduce exclusion through rights and legal language education.

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