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Brian Thomas

  • Hosted by Disability Rights Pennsylvania
  • Sponsored by Comcast, Duane Morris LLP
  • Service location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Disability Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Brian (he/him/his)  will work to increase access to education and mental health care for young people with disabilities in Philadelphia’s juvenile justice system through direct legal representation and advocacy for community-based alternatives to detention.

In Philadelphia, children with disabilities are dramatically overrepresented in the city’s juvenile justice system. Coming into contact with this system often disrupts educational progress and pushes kids with disabilities further to the margins, leading to higher rates of recidivism, lower graduation rates, and economic precarity. With the support of legal advocates focused on the unique barriers posed to them, children with disabilities can disrupt this cycle. Increasing access to free appropriate education and necessary mental healthcare is crucial to reducing recidivism and allowing children with disabilities to reach their potential.

Fellowship Plans

Brian will provide direct legal representation to kids with disabilities impacted by Philadelphia’s juvenile justice system, focusing primarily on educational rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and clearing obstacles to necessary mental healthcare. In addition to direct representation, he will work in coalition with community organizations to build more robust alternatives to detention and increase awareness in the community about the legal rights of children with disabilities in the justice system. Finally, he will produce a report on the issues faced by children with disabilities in the city’s juvenile justice system and potential solutions.

All children deserve to thrive. My Equal Justice Works Fellowship will allow me to continue advocating for young people in Philadelphia and fighting to access the resources they deserve.

Brian Thomas /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Brian

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Julia Souza

Host: Law Foundation of Silicon Valley

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Beth Kurtz

Host: Children’s Law Center

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Stephanie Cocce

Host: Greater Boston Legal Services

Sponsor: Anonymous

Rajan Anthony Sonik

Host: Massachusetts Law Reform Institute/ LSC of Harvard

Sponsor: Biogen, Mintz