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A Day In The Life

Tackling the Systemic Issues Faced by Young New Yorkers in the Special Litigation & Law Reform Unit

Christine Bella is pushing to make a better justice system for children in need. As a staff attorney in our Juvenile Rights Practice’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit (SLLRU), Christine is taking on the systemic issues that young New Yorkers are facing.

Christine helped to create two specialized projects that serve our young clients. The first is a new Youth Leadership Board (YLB), comprised of former JRP clients, who will provide valuable insight into the challenges that our young clients are facing. Christine believes that the YLB will be an invaluable resource, offering important perspectives into the issues big and small that young New Yorkers encounter in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

We look to address systemic issues that impact children in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

The second project Christine helped to launch is Set the Record Straight (STRS), which ensures that agencies are handling client arrest related information lawfully and confidentially. After doing some digging, Christine along with her SLLRU team discovered that the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the NYPD had illegally retained thousands of fingerprint records for young clients – records that should have been destroyed long ago. Christine understands that these records “can have long-ranging effects” on young New Yorkers, leading them to “lose jobs or other opportunities.” Just recently, Christine and her team had an illegal database of juvenile fingerprints destroyed. Read more about how she pushed the NYPD to give up these prints and keep our clients’ data confidential.

These projects are born out of and inform the work that our staff takes on every day.

Christine is deeply invested in upholding the rights of children in our justice system. Over her decades-long career, she has worked with clients in every aspect of a case – from representing children in neglect and abuse and delinquency proceedings, to serving families, and even advocating for New Yorkers in criminal cases. Christine has made sure to put the needs of her clients first every step of the way. These innovative projects are “born out of and inform the work that our staff takes on every day.” With her continued commitment to her clients, Christine is making our city a better place for young New Yorkers.


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