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Headshot of Zoe Siepert

Zoe Siepert

  • Hosted by Georgia Legal Services Program
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, UPS
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school Georgia State University College of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Zoe (she/her/hers) will address the collateral consequences of juvenile court involvement for children around Georgia.

In Georgia, Black students are referred by schools to law enforcement twice as frequently as their non-Black peers. Referral to the juvenile legal system can have long-lasting, devastating effects on children and serves as a catalyst to further enmesh Black children in the criminal legal system. In addition to these racial disparities, many children entering the juvenile justice system live in poverty, and more than 70% have mental health disorders. Because of these disadvantages, in conjunction with involvement in the juvenile legal system, court-involved children face many barriers outside the criminal legal process. Court-involved youth can face problems such as accessing education and health care, receiving appropriate disability services, housing instability, and involvement with the Division of Family & Children Services.

Georgia Legal Services Program is the only civil legal services provider for people unable to afford a lawyer in many places throughout Georgia. By working with Georgia Legal Services Program, Zoe will address the barriers children face due to juvenile court involvement.

Coming from a long line of educators and being an educator herself, Zoe believes every child can succeed in and out of the classroom if they have the tools they need. This project aims to provide those tools to children and their families.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Zoe will use three strategies to address the collateral consequences of children’s involvement with juvenile courts. Zoe will build and expand upon relationships with juvenile courts to create a direct referral pipeline from juvenile courts to Georgia Legal Services Program. Zoe will also provide holistic direct representation to court-involved children, including representing students at disciplinary proceedings, advocating for students in special education matters, ensuring access for behavioral and other health services, and addressing housing instability. Finally, Zoe will develop and distribute educational materials and programming to court-impacted families.

From teaching sixth grade to working at a Juvenile Public Defender Office, I’ve seen firsthand how juvenile court involvement can have a negative impact on nearly every aspect of a child’s life.

Zoe Siepert /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Christina Campbell

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