Henry Loran ’21 works to keep Pierce County kids out of juvenile detention
In Washington state, there are more than 11,000 youth under the age of 18 incarcerated in juvenile jails and detention centers. Henry Loran ’21 is working to make sure those kids and others like them get a second chance.
Last summer, Henry, a double major in politics and government and African American studies, started volunteering with the Community Accountability Board (CAB), a program within Pierce County Juvenile Court’s Diversion Unit. The group aims to come up with alternatives to court proceedings, which can be expensive and take an emotional toll on everyone involved, Henry says. CAB meets with youths and their families to discuss the severity of the crime committed and the youth’s best interests, and to find a more constructive course of action than going to court and possible detention.
The program provides additional protective measures, as well, says Henry, sealing the youth’s record from the public while still a minor and permanently once they become an adult. Without the diversion program, he says, more kids would spend time in jail and carry that experience with them—mentally, emotionally, and officially—throughout their lives. This solution offers opportunities for restitution, reconciliation, and the chance at a clean slate.
Henry learned about the volunteer opportunity with CAB through Puget Sound’s RISE (Reflective Immersive Sophomore Experience) program. It was an exciting prospect for the junior, as most internships in the criminal justice field are open only to graduate or law students. He attended a six-week training program, observing how cases were handled, and completed additional training to learn the intricacies of case paperwork and documentation, confidentiality requirements, and how to handle sensitive situations and information.
The experience of working directly with youth and their families has made a big impact on Henry. Observing how small-scale injustices at the juvenile court level impact kids—and the positive effect and hope that can come from diversion programs like that of the Community Accountability Board—have given him hands-on experience within the justice system and solidified his intent to study law after Puget Sound.
For now, Henry plans to stay involved. Once he turns 21, he hopes to advance within the program to serve as a CAB advocate, speaking in court on behalf of kids who are completing their rehabilitation plans, changing their behavior, and working to improve their lives.