Belonging: Kristin Henning on The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth, Her Work as a Georgetown Law Professor, and Why Juveniles Are Stereotyped From Just the Word Itself

A World of Difference
A World of Difference
Belonging: Kristin Henning on The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth, Her Work as a Georgetown Law Professor, and Why Juveniles Are Stereotyped From Just the Word Itself

A nationally recognized writer, trainer, and consultant in juvenile justice reform, Kristin Henning speaks on the intersection of race, adolescence, and policing. Her book,The Rage of Innocence, is a powerful analysis of how the legal system criminalizes normal adolescent behavior in communities of color. In it, she lays bare the long-term consequences of racism and trauma that Black children experience at the hands of police (and their vigilante surrogates) and explains how discriminatory and aggressive policing has socialized a generation of Black teenagers to fear and resent the police. In her lectures and workshops, Henning examines how normal adolescent behaviors are distorted into crime and deviance among Black youth, who are denied the grace and tolerance society extends to their white peers. Drawing upon her experience working in D.C.’s juvenile courts, she examines the physical and psychological harms of constant discriminatory and aggressive police surveillance during adolescence – the last period of significant flexibility in the brain – and discusses the devastating long-term consequences criminalization has on the development of Black youth.

In her timely and essential workshops, Kristin Henning helps organizations identify unconscious racial bias and challenge racial injustice and inequality. In her educational and dynamic talks, she discusses the challenges she encountered in her legal career and the need for police, prosecutors, and judges to examine their personal biases and combat them in favor of equitable treatment.

Kristin Henning is the Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown Law, where she teaches students about criminal law, family law, and racial bias in the juvenile and criminal legal systems. Before joining Georgetown University, she worked as a public defender, where she organized and led a juvenile unit representing children arrested in the Washington D.C. area. She is currently the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center and serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. Henning received her B.A. from Duke University and J.D. from Yale University. She has received numerous awards for commitment to justice, including the 2021 Juvenile Leadership Prize from the Juvenile Law Center, the 2015 Award for Youth Justice from the DC Lawyers for Youth and 2013 Robert E. Shepherd, Jr. Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense by the National Juvenile Defender Center.

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