Associate Professor of Law
Sandra Simkins
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St
Camden, NJ 08102

Sandra Simkins is the Director and co-founder of the Children’s Justice Clinic and a nationally-recognized expert in juvenile defense. A published author, she was selected by the McArthur Foundation to participate in a juvenile justice reform initiative and is the Due Process Monitor in the settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and the Juvenile Court of Shelby County Tennessee.  

  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

Professor Simkins, is the Director and Co-founder of the Children’s Justice Clinic at Rutgers School of Law.  She was the Due Process Monitor for the settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and the Juvenile court of Shelby County, Tennessee (2012-2018).  In 2012 she received the Robert E. Shepard Jr. award for excellence in Juvenile Defense. Her book, When Kids Get Arrested, What Every Adult Should Know, was released in 2009. In 2008 she was selected by the MacArthur Foundation in to participate in the Models for Change (JIDAN). Areas of expertize include post disposition representation, conditions of confinement and solitary. 

Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2006, she spent 15 years working in criminal and juvenile defense. She served as assistant chief of the Juvenile Unit at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, supervising and training a staff of 40, including 23 lawyers, to represent children in the juvenile justice system. Professor Simkins also was involved in wide range of national and statewide policy reform for children. 

In 2016, 2015 and 2009, she was selected as "Lawyering Professor of the Year" and in 2007 she received the "New Professor of the Year" award, both at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden. In 2008, she was selected by the MacArthur Foundation to participate in the Models for Change Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network.

She served as co-director of the Northeast Region Juvenile Defender Center from 2006-2017, a subsidiary of the National Juvenile Defender Center, where she provides consultation and training to child advocates in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. She has championed the creation of effective statewide coalitions and led fundraising initiatives for program development. Her various fundraising efforts have created a specialized mental health and special education attorney, and a statewide training program for juvenile defenders in the state of Pennsylvania.

She was selected by Harvard Business School's Social Enterprise Philadelphia Club in 2005 to participate in advanced non-profit management training. In 2004, she was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation to partner with the Foundation's Juvenile Justice Aftercare Initiative in Pennsylvania, and was being recognized in The Philadelphia Lawyer for providing strong advocacy for children at each stage of juvenile court involvement. In 2002, she was the recipient of the American Bar Association's Award for Outstanding Representation of Children. Professor Simkins has taught the Criminal Defense Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Juvenile Law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law.



When Kids Get Arrested: What Every Adult Should Know, Rutgers University Press, 2009.  


Public Interest Burnout: Seven Factors that Increase the Risk, 17 DePaul College of Law, Journal for Social Justice 1, (forthcoming) Fall 2023. 

“The Pink Ghettoes of Public Interest Law: An Open Secret,” 68 Buffalo Law Review 3 (2020)

Rights, Race and Reform: 50 Years of Child Advocacy in the Juvenile Justice System, Chapter 14, No More “desert Devil’s Island”: the right to counsel for incarcerated children, Routledge Press, 2018.

Department of Justice Due Process Monitor, Juvenile Court Memphis Shelby County, Publication of 12 compliance reports, 2012-2018, See:

New Jersey: Juvenile Collateral Consequences Checklist, 2015. See:

Critical Role of Post-Disposition Representation in Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Youth, 8 John Marshall L. J. 312 (2015) (with Laura Cohen). 

Juvenile Solitary Confinement: New Jersey Makes an Important First Step, New Jersey Lawyer, October 2015.

Simkins, Success in Shelby County: A Roadmap to Systemic Juvenile Reform, Memphis University School of Law, (forthcoming, Spring 2014).  

Simkins, S., Beyer, M., Geis, L., The Harmful Use of Isolation in Juvenile Facilities: The Need for Post Disposition Representation, Washington University School of Law, Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 241-287, 2012.  

Book chapter for Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the topic of the book is “Vulnerable Populations in the Juvenile Justice System” and my chapter focuses on how New Jersey’s lack of Post Dispostional advocacy places children at risk, November 2009.

Simkins, S., Out of Sight Out of Mind: Lack of Post Dispositional Advocacy in Juvenile Court increases risk of Recidivism and Institutional Abuse, Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 60, No. 1, 207-224, Fall 2007. 

Simkins, S., Road Trip!! A Simple Solution for protecting girls from institutional abuse, Women Girls and Criminal Justice, Vol. 8 No. 1, December/January 2007. 

Lieberman, A, Simkins, S., Your patients in the juvenile justice system, and your role in their care and well-being, Contemporary Pediatrics, July 2006, pp. 57-64. 

Simkins, S., Hirsh, A., Horvat, E., Moss, M., The School to Prison Pipeline for Girls: The Role of Physical and Sexual Abuse, Children's Legal Rights Journal, Vol. 24, No. 4, Winter 2004, pp. 56-72. 

Simkins, S., The Female Detention Project: The Typical Girl in Detention in Philadelphia, February, 2004, The Prevention Researcher, Vol. 11, No. 1, February 2004, pp. 15-18. 

Beyer, M., Blair, G., Katz, S., Simkins, S., Steinberg, A., A Better way to Spend $500,000: How the Juvenile Justice System Fails Girls, Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1, Spring 2003, pp 51-76. 

Simkins, S., Katz, S., Criminalizing Abused Girls, Violence Against Women Journal, Vol. 8 No. 12, December 2002, pp. 1474-1499. 

Simkins, S., Creative Fundraising Leads to Development of Specialized Expertise within the Philadelphia Defender Association, Juvenile Justice Update, Vol.9 No.2, April/May 2003, p.13 

Collaboration of Girls Justice Initiative Advisory Board Justice by Gender, The Lack of Appropriate Prevention, Diversion and Treatment alternatives for Girls in the Justice System, Collaboration with the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association, May 1, 2001 

Ambrose, A., Simkins, S., Philadelphia's Female Detention Project, Women Girls and Criminal Justice, Vol.1 No.4, June/July 2000 p. 53. 

Simkins, S., Taking on the Challenge of Girls, National Defender Newsletter, American Bar Association, Summer 2000. 



Courses Taught
  • Clinical Legal Education
  • Criminal Law
  • Juvenile Justice