After about six months of my zealous advocacy, she had run away from three different programs and was now pregnant on the streets and still using heroin.

Sandra Simkins

Sandra Simkins, a former public defender and advocate for juveniles in the justice system, describes her efforts to “save” one of her clients.

So, of all the clients that I’ve ever represented, this one girl named Julie is the one that makes my husband most insane. I met her at a particular point in my career where I knew a lot about girls and how they got into the juvenile justice system, and I wanted to do something different. I wanted to approach this case and represent this one girl as though she were my own daughter, holding the entire system to really high expectations, to see if, to make the whole system give this one girl what I thought she deserved.

I met her when she was 16 years old, and she was working in, working as an escort to support her heroin addiction. And when I met her she had the numbers “187” on her neck about two inches high in very dark green ink, and I didn’t know that at the time but I later learned that 187 is the murder code in California.

Anyway, I had very high aspirations and I actually represented Julie for several years. But what’s interesting is that given my objective, you know, to try to give this girl the very best representation, after about six months of my zealous advocacy she had run away from three different programs and was now pregnant on the streets and still using heroin. And ultimately, you know, after lots of phone conversations, I was able to convince Julie to come and turn herself in. She spent the second part of her second trimester and third trimester in a juvenile facility. And I was there when she gave birth to the baby. And miraculously, miraculously, the baby was healthy.

However, immediately after Julie gave birth she ran away again, and the judge put her in a secure facility for girls, the most secure facility there was. And it was so ironic that there could not have been a worse ending. It wasn’t possible. Like, despite my good intentions, the bottom line was she ended up getting the worst possible outcome. Because she was in a very secure facility. You know, just awful, just awful.

But, looking back it’s really clear to me that I was very very invested in saving her and trying to change her life course. And I was overly, you know, I personally was too identified in that role. And I came to realize that I can’t save anybody. That’s not my job. That’s God’s job. I can’t save anyone and I’m really not in charge. You know everyone’s on their own path. And it’s like walking the labyrinth. They’ll get to the end when they get there. You know? And I can just witness a piece of their path, but it’s not my job to change their life course or even to think that I have all the answers.

Regular Sunday Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

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