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2016 Press Releases

CFYJ Applauds Gov. Jerry Brown For Continued Commitment to Juvenile Justice Reform

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (January 28, 2016) --  The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) commends California Gov. Jerry Brown for announcing a ballot initiative Wednesday that, if passed, would shift the decision on whether to try a juvenile as an adult from district attorneys to judges, a decision that has broad support from the American public. 

“We applaud Gov. Brown for joining law enforcement, faith leaders, and juvenile justice advocates to announce support for ending the direct filing of youth as young as age 14 into the adult criminal justice system.   We consider it vitally important that the decision on whether to deprive a young person access to the rehabilitative protections offered by the juvenile court is best made by a judge", said Mistrett.

California is one of only 15 states in the country that allows prosecutors, not judges, to decide whether to file a case in the adult court.  In the past decade, California has sent nearly 10,000 youth into the criminal justice system; more than 7,000 were directly filed into the adult criminal court with no review by a judge. Charging youth as adults has serious and life-long consequences for youth.  Multiple studies have shown that prosecuting youth as adults also decreases safety, as youth sent to adult court are more likely to recidivate, and with more serious crimes, than their counterparts who have access to the developmentally appropriate rehabilitative services offered in juvenile court.

"Governor Brown's leadership on this charge is an important statement to the country--passage of this ballot initiative will no doubt influence other states across the nation.  We are optimistic that the California voters will do what’s right for youth and get behind the Governor on this initiative," said Mistrett.  

The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 will also continue to reform the California criminal justice system by making nonviolent felons eligible for parole sooner, as well as allowing the prison system to give credit to prisoners for good behavior, rehabilitation and education, according to a release from the governor's office.  

Read the full text of the initiative here.

About The Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

A Letter To The Presidential Candidates

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

WASHINGON (February 26, 2016)

Dear Presidential Candidate,

We know you care about keeping our communities safe, ensuring the welfare of our children, and guaranteeing a fair and equitable justice system for all.  While there are realistic, sensible policies and programs that can help us realize these goals, our current justice system is like a bicycle stuck in one gear: incarceration. We rank number one in the world in the incarceration of youth -- wasting millions of dollars and lives in the process. Too many of our youth of color have unequal opportunities, and people are marching in the streets to protest the unfair and racist practices of our police and other justice stakeholders. Finally, our current justice system is more apt to blame parents than to engage families in solutions that can help their child get back on a positive track. The American people need a coherent and compelling vision for moving forward to address these issues, one that offers different responses to a variety of situations -- shifting gears to providing mental health treatment, addressing educational disabilities, and developing age-appropriate responses to children and teens. In that vein, we are offering you “Redefining Youth Justice: A Call to Action” (enclosed), as a roadmap for shifting our failed juvenile justice policies in a way that increases public safety, achieves better outcomes for our children and families, and brings us closer to a legal system that is fair and just for all.

The directors of 8 justice organizations we represent have, collectively, more than two centuries of experience in reforming our justice systems. During the past year, we worked together to articulate this shared vision for changing our country’s justice policies so that they contribute to our overall growth and health as a nation. This vision incorporates three fundamental ways in which our justice system can reorient its approach so that we can improve our youth and public safety outcomes. We recommend that we:


  1.  focus on child well-being, not child wrong-doing;
  2.  promote racial equity and fair treatment for all; and
  3.  rely on families and community engagement to hold youth accountable.

While all three are crucial to achieve a better justice system, we would like to focus your attention on the importance of promoting racial equity and fair treatment for all. It is well documented that although youth of color and white youth engage in the same levels of delinquent behavior, the juvenile justice system disproportionately engages with -- and harms -- communities of color. The evidence on the presence and scope of racial disparities is unequivocal: results from hundreds of studies submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice over the last two decades make clear that overrepresentation of youth of color is present at nearly all contact points on the juvenile justice continuum.  Although there have been efforts over the past 20 years to address this harm, far too little attention has been paid to the contribution that routine youth justice policies and practices have made to these persistent racial and ethnic disparities. As a country, we must make an explicit and committed decision to acknowledge and end the over-representation and disparate treatment of youth of color coming in contact with the justice system. And leaders like you must use your influence and position to acknowledge inequality and to inspire action.

We invite you to read the attached vision for reform and respond to us with your thoughts about how we can make sure that our country has a truly just system for holding youth accountable.  We would, individually and collectively, be happy to sit down with you and your staff to discuss how we can actualize this vision through federal and state practices and policies.

Respectfully,

(JPI, youth first, NJJN, CFSY, Burns, JLC, Justice 4 Families, CFYJ)

 

Campaign Calls on Governors and Local Sheriffs to Protect Youth from the Dangers of Adult Jails and Prisons

 

Ensure Your State is in Compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act

WASHINGTION (October 10, 2016) -- During the month of October as part of National Youth Justice Awareness/Action Month (YJAM), the Campaign for Youth Justice as well as advocacy organizations and individuals across the country are calling on Governors and local sheriffs to protect youth in adult jails and prisons by complying with the Youthful Inmate Standard of the Prison Rape Elimination Action (PREA) preferably by removing all youth from adult jails and prisons.

Passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, PREA restricts the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) adopted the Youthful Inmate Standard to restrict the placement of youth in adult facilities and attempt to safeguard those who do end up in adult facilities.

-The PREA Youthful Inmate Standard requires the following:
Banning the housing of youth in the general adult population;
-Prohibiting contact between youth and adults in common areas, and ensuring youth are constantly supervised by staff; and
-Limiting the use of isolation which causes or exacerbates mental health problems for youth.

By October 15, 2016, Governors must report to the Department of Justice whether their state is in full compliance with PREA or submit an assurance to use at least 5% of certain DOJ grant funds in order to achieve full compliance with PREA in future years. If they do not do one of these two things they risk losing a percentage of federal funding allocated for justice programs in their state.

Every year, approximately 200,000 youth are exposed to the dangers of the adult criminal justice system. It is crucial that Governors and local law enforcement make an effort to fully protect these youth.  We know that youth in adult facilities are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population and 36 times more likely to commit suicide than their peers in juvenile detention centers.  Of the 16 and 17 year olds who reported being victimized in adult jails and prisons, two-thirds reported being victimized more than once by other inmates and three-quarters were victimized by staff more than once.

This issue is particularly critical in states that automatically treat all 16 and/or 17 year olds as adults and in state that do not implement PREA at all.  Advocates in North Carolina and New York, the only two states in the country that automatically treat 16 and 17 year olds as adults have submitted letters to their Governors on this issue. This action is particularly timely given a recent lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 16 and 17 year olds held in solitary confinement sometimes for months at a time in an adult jail in Onondaga County, New York.  According to the lawsuit, since October 2015, the sheriff in Onondaga has placed at least 86 youth in solitary confinement over 250 times where they spent 23 hours a day locked in a tiny cell without services. 

In addition, youth advocates in Arkansas and Utah, the only states that haven’t implement PREA, have submitted a letter urging their Governors to also take steps to implement PREA and the Youthful Inmate Standard for the first time. 

To add your voice to the advocates calling for the end of placing youth in adult facilities, visit the Campaign for Youth Justice’s PREA Action Week Kit for more information on how to take action.  Visit here. 

Please visit CFYJ’s fact sheet on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, by visiting here:

Join the conversation on #ImplementPREA #YJAM

Follow CFYJ on Twitter, and Facebook.

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The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

For more background on this issue, please visit www.campaignforyouthjustice.org    

CFYJ Applauds South Carolina and Louisiana for Raising the Age

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2016) --  The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) commends South Carolina and Louisiana which have both raised the age at which youth are considered criminally responsible as adults. Last week, Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina signed bill S 916 into law, thereby from 17 to 18. She was followed yesterday by Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards,who also signed into law a bill that raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18. South Carolina and Louisiana now join 43 states and DC who consider keeping the vast majority of youth in the juvenile justices system.

“We applaud South Carolina and Louisiana for raising the age of criminal responsibility, a smart policy decision, supported by research that will both improve public safety and outcomes for youth.  We believe the juvenile justice system is best prepared to address the needs of children under the age of 18 by providing access to age appropriate services such as education and trauma informed care,” said CFYJ CEO Marcy Mistrett.

CFYJ Congratulates Jessica Sandoval for her MSU Denver Distinguished Alumni Award

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

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WASHINGTON (February 18, 2016) – The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) congratulates Jessica Sandoval, Vice President and Deputy Director, for obtaining the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Sandoval was selected amongst the university’s top ten most impactful alumni, and among a pool of over 80,000 alumni, because of her endless and enduring fight to serve this nation’s youth beginning in her own hometown of Denver, CO.
 
Sandoval received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services, from Metropolitan State College of Denver and went on to receive her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Mrs. Sandoval’s career began in her home state of Colorado, where she previously worked as the Program Director for the Gang Rescue and Support Project – an organization targeting gang-involved youth in Denver.  In addition, Sandoval spent ten years as a member of the Colorado Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council.  She was originally appointed to the position by former Colorado Governor Roy R. Romer, and then re-appointed by former Colorado Governor Bill Owens.
 
Sandoval’s hard work has been one of the keys of CFYJ’s growth. As a founding staff member of the organization, she created the Campaign’s communications infrastructure, delivered technical assistance to state campaign partners and led several initiatives that engaged those who oppose prosecuting youth as adults, including affected families and incarcerated youth in reform efforts.
 
The MSU Denver Alumni Association will be hosting the Annual Distinguished Alumni Recognition Event, “The Get Rowdy Bowl”, on February 20, 2015 on the Auraria campus in Denver, CO.
 
CFYJ congratulates our colleague Jessica Sandoval on this distinguished honor.
 
CFYJ is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Jeree Thomas Joins the Campaign for Youth Justice as New Policy Director

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

Jeree Thomas Joins the Campaign for Youth Justice as New Policy Director

WASHINGTON (July 12, 2016) -- The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is pleased to announce the addition of its new Policy Director, Jeree Thomas.

Thomas joins CFYJ from the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond, Virginia. She started her legal career with JustChildren in 2011 as a Skadden Fellow representing incarcerated youth experiencing education and re-entry issues. Jeree currently serves as the campaign manager of the RISE (Re-invest in Supportive Environments) for Youth Campaign focused on investing in community-based alternatives to youth incarceration in Virginia.

"We are thrilled to have Jeree join our team, she has such great experience and has demonstrated a real commitment helping incarcerated youth," said Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ's CEO. "I am most excited about her passion around engaging families and ensuring they are an integral part of the reform process and in ensuring that kids receive the best possible outcomes."

Thomas received her B.A. from the College of William & Mary in Social Justice & Community Advocacy, where she received the President’s Award for Service to the Community, and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.  She received her law degree from the University of Virginia Law School, where she was one of five students selected for the first class of the Law and Public Service Program. She was also inducted into the Raven Society and received the James C. Slaughter Honor Award presented to an outstanding member of the graduating class.

Thomas is a member of the Virginia State Bar.  She has served as the co-chair of the Young Lawyers Conference Commission on Women & Minorities in the Legal Profession.  She also served as the Chair of Madison House Board of Directors, a non-profit that coordinates over 3,000 UVA student volunteers.  She is a co-author of Virginia CLE’s Education Law and Advocacy Manual, and an alumnus of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  In June 2016, Jeree was announced as the inaugural recipient of the Youth Justice Emerging Leader Award through the National Juvenile Justice Network. 

The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.


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Juvenile Justice Advocates Express Disappointment over Lack of Critical Funding for FY 2017

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 25, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Act4JJ Coalition, the collective voice of more than 150 organizations nationwide, expresses disappointment over the U.S. House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Committee failure to fund vital juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs for Fiscal Year 2017.

The vote to eliminate funding for FY 2017 comes on the heels of a decade of loss in funding for this measure. Last month, Senate appropriators recommended an increase in juvenile justice funding.  The coalition thought the appropriators would, at a minimum, maintain FY 2016 levels. Today’s vote moves the needle further away from the targeted federal involvement that has historically provided national leadership to states in preventing youth from entering the justice system.

“For the second year in a row, the U.S. House Appropriators have defunded juvenile justice programming.  It is disheartening to see this disinvestment in children and communities,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice, Act 4JJ Co-chair. “Federal spending for these discretionary programs—including juvenile justice funding for state programs keeps families and communities safer.”

Signed into law in 1974, the JJDPA is the nation’s primary federal juvenile justice law.  It enables states to provide juvenile justice programs that offer the young people involved the support necessary for successful rehabilitation and re-entry into their communities.

Federal investments play an essential role in state juvenile justice efforts to protect youth. The coalition is concerned about the impact reductions in funding will have on states’ ability to serve youth.

“Federal juvenile justice programs need to be fully funded. Progress can’t be made if promises aren’t kept. We must have a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system; it is both cost effective and the morally right thing to do,” Marie Williams, Executive Director for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Act 4JJ Co-chair.

Federal JJDPA funding has declined more than 50 percent since 2002, including an 80 percent decrease in Title V funding—the only federal program that provides delinquency prevention funding at a local level. These funds support state systems that protect children from the dangers of adult jails and lockups; keep youth who run away from home or break curfew out of locked custody; and address the racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org.

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform Officially Partners With Campaign for Youth Justice

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR), which advocates to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system, has officially partnered with Campaign for Youth Justice, a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

(DECATUR – March 9, 2016) – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is pleased to support advocacy efforts of the Campaign for Youth Justice by officially partnering to lend the collective voice of our physician members to the national initiative to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. Medical literature reflects that adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for longterm consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system. Furthermore, youth in adult jails and prisons are more likely to be sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and, upon release, are more likely to re-offend than youth housed in juvenile facilities. Each of those experiences, as well as early developmental experiences that put youth and adolescents at risk for involvement with the criminal justice system, result in long-lasting, negative physical and mental health consequences that could be avoided by juvenile justice reform that identifies and diverts at-risk youth. Osvaldo Gaytan, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform’s Juvenile Justice Taskforce and a physician with specialties in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuropharmacology and early childhood trauma states “Children and adolescents are our future. I think we can all agree on that. As doctors, it is our duty to make a united stand against environmental factors that affect both the mental and physical health outcomes of our patients. Every bit of evidence we have as physicians points to the fact that adolescent brains do not function in an equal capacity as adult brains. Therefore, it is not scientifically sound to equate the functioning of an adolescent brain with that of an adult. It is unjust.” Please join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform and the Campaign for Youth Justice on insisting that the legal age for being treated as an adult be raised to 18 years of age as a national standard. About PfCJR: Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) was founded by a group of physicians who were struck by the myriad of ways that negative encounters with the criminal justice system lead to detrimental health consequences. We firmly believe that changing the interaction between the criminal justice system and individuals of targeted populations will ultimately lead to improved health of targeted communities. 

Presidential Proclamation -- National Youth Justice Awareness Month, 2016

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 30, 2016

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 A PROCLAMATION

The essential promise that we make to our young people -- that where they start must not determine how far they can go -- is part of what makes America exceptional. It is our shared responsibility to ensure all children are given a fair shot at life, including a quality education and equal opportunities to pursue their dreams. Too often in America, young people are not afforded a second chance after having made a mistake or poor decision -- the kind of chance some of their peers receive under more forgiving environments. Many of these young people lack institutional or family support and live in distressed communities. Others may have experienced trauma and violence or may struggle with disabilities, mental health issues, or substance use disorders. As a society, we must strive to reach these children earlier in life and modernize our juvenile and criminal justice systems to hold youth accountable for their actions without consigning them to a life on the margins. During National Youth Justice Awareness Month, we reaffirm our commitment to helping children of every background become successful and engaged citizens.

While the number of juvenile arrests have fallen sharply over the past decade, roughly 1 million juvenile arrests were made in 2014. An overwhelming majority of these arrests were for non-violent crimes, and nearly three-quarters of those arrested were male. Children of color, particularly black and Hispanic males and Native American youth, continue to be overrepresented across all levels of the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, far too many youth become involved with the adult criminal justice system each year -- including in several States where 17-year-olds are prosecuted as adults regardless of their crime, and two where 16-year-olds are as well. Children in the adult system have less access to rehabilitative services and often face higher recidivism and suicide rates. Some States have recently raised the age so that 16- and 17-year-olds are not unnecessarily tried in adult courts, and many are reforming sentencing laws and expanding access to age-appropriate transition services upon reentry.

Even for those youth who were never convicted or otherwise found guilty, simply having had contact with our justice system can lead to lifelong barriers and an increased likelihood of ending up in a cycle of incarceration. To help break this cycle, my Administration increased funding for expunging juvenile records and took steps to ensure young people in juvenile and adult justice facilities can receive Pell Grants to pursue a quality education. The White House launched the Fair Chance Pledge to highlight employers and institutions of higher education that have committed to reducing barriers that justice-involved youth often face in accessing employment, training, and education. To build on these efforts, the Congress must reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to increase protections for youth and limit the number of minors held in adult jails and prisons. Reauthorizing the JJDPA will promote evidence-based practices, quality education, and trauma-informed care for incarcerated youth, while reducing punishments for things such as breaking curfew and truancy.

We have also seen too many of our youth held in solitary confinement while incarcerated, which can lead to devastating, long-term psychological consequences. Earlier this year, my Administration took steps to implement reforms that include banning this harmful practice for juveniles under the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. We must ensure that young people have quality legal representation throughout every stage of the legal process as well as age-appropriate and rehabilitative sentencing and placements. The financial costs of the juvenile court system can be debilitating and can unfairly penalize children from poor families -- by reducing the fees and fines imposed on youth, we can avoid pushing families into debt and decrease this disproportionate burden.

To meet these goals, we must engage young people before they find themselves locked into a path from which they cannot escape. The Departments of Justice and Education created the Supportive School Discipline Initiative to incentivize positive school climates and rethink discipline policies to foster safer and more supportive learning environments. They are also working to assist States, schools, and law enforcement partners in assessing the proper role of school resource officers and campus law enforcement professionals. The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services released a joint policy statement against the use of suspension and expulsion in preschool settings -- which disproportionately affect children of color. As part of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative, we are providing services such as job training and substance use disorder treatment and counseling for youth in juvenile facilities, and we are expanding the use of effective community-based alternatives to youth detention. We are also screening youth for exposure to trauma that can put them at greater risk of entering the juvenile justice system. And through the My Brother's Keeper initiative, we are working to address persistent opportunity gaps and ensure all young people can reach their full potential -- including by helping them get a healthy start in life, enter school ready to learn, and successfully enter the workforce.

When we invest in our children and redirect young people who have made misguided decisions, we can reduce our over-reliance on the juvenile and criminal justice systems and build stronger pathways to opportunity. In addition, for every dollar we put into high-quality early childhood education, we save at least twice that down the road in reduced crime. That is why my Administration has sought to expand high-quality early education by increasing funding for programs like Head Start and investing in preschool, child care, and evidence-based home visiting. Investing in our communities and our kids makes sense, and if we recognize that every child deserves to remain connected to their families and communities, we can ensure youth who come in contact with the law can have a chance at a brighter future.

This month, we come together to ensure all young people are supported, nurtured, and provided an opportunity to succeed. We must make sure youth in every community and from every walk of life can be known for more than their worst mistakes. With enhanced possibilities, a sense of optimism, and an open mind, they can all thrive and live up to the full measure of their promise.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2016 as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by taking action to support our youth and by participating in appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs in their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA.

*Proclamation orignally posted at www.whitehouse.gov.

SENATE APPROPRIATORS SUPPORT JUVENILE JUSTICE FUNDING: Coalition Leaders Applaud Senate Appropriations Committee for Sending Strong Message of Support for Federal Funding of Critical Juvenile Justice Programs

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

SENATE APPROPRIATORS SUPPORT JUVENILE JUSTICE FUNDING: Coalition Leaders Applaud Senate Appropriations Committee for Sending Strong Message of Support for Federal Funding of Critical Juvenile Justice Programs

WASHINGTON, DC (April 22, 2016) – Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017, which included funding for critical juvenile justice programs.  On behalf of our broad network of more than 300 organizations representing all states, territories and D.C., we strongly applaud Senate appropriators for recommending $272 million for juvenile justice programs in its FY17 bill and are particularly pleased with the proposed increases in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDPA) Title II State Formula Grant and Title V Local Delinquency Prevention programs.

Calling Title II and Title V of the JJDPA, “the backbone of programs assisting State and local agencies to prevent juvenile delinquency and ensure that youth who are in contact with the juvenile justice system are treated fairly”, the Committee recommended a $5 million increase for Title II from $58 million in FY16 to $63 million for FY17 and an increase of nearly $10 million for Title V from $17.5 million in FY16 to $27.5 million in FY17. 

“JJDPA supports state compliance with federal law and creates incentives for research-based practices and innovations to implement effective and equitable juvenile services aimed at positive youth and family outcomes,” said Marie Williams, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and co-chair of the ACT4JJ coalition.

We were also pleased to see specific allocations to assist in community-based violence prevention efforts and in helping improve juvenile indigent defense . “As the Congress considers legislation to reauthorize this critical law, we are pleased that appropriators are continuing to recognize the important role the federal dollars play in helping states improve outcomes for youth, reduce recidivism and build safer communities, “ says Marcy Mistrett, CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice and co-chair of the ACT4JJ coalition. “We were also pleased to note that the increase in Title V funding allows for a return to competitive grants at the local level for prevention.  This is a great improvement over the past several years where one-hundred percent of  Title V funding was earmarked for special programs.”

The Senate failed to reinstate funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program despite support for this program by this coalition and in the Administration’s FY17 budget proposal. This program has supported vital state efforts to effectively strengthen juvenile court services, such as behavioral health screening and assessment for court-involved youth and alternatives to detention and we will continue to work with Congress and others to try to restore this funding.

For more information go to: http://www.act4jj.org/


The Campaign for Youth Justice Congratulates Board Member Dr. Francisco Villarruel on Presidential Appointment to CCJJ

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

Washington (October 27, 2016)- The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) would like to congratulate board member, Dr. Francisco Villarruel, for his presidential appointment to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile and Justice Delinquency Prevention (CCJJ).

Villarruel is Associate Chair for Education and Outreach at Michigan State University (MSU), a position he has held since 2015. Villarruel is also Professor and University Outreach and Engagement Senior Fellow at MSU, positions he has held since 2003 and 2002, respectively.

The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) established the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as an independent body within the executive branch of the federal government. The Council's primary functions are to coordinate federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children. In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Council meets in public meetings in which members discuss activities to facilitate and support cross-agency coordination.

“We are thrilled at this news and we know that Francisco will be an excellent asset to the Coordinating Council,” said CFYJ CEO Marcy Mistrett. “He is a true champion for youth and will put the best interests of system-involved children and families first.”

Villarruel has worked with numerous communities, state, and federal agencies to address the involvement of Latino youth in juvenile justice systems programs. Prior to joining the CFYJ board, he co-authored the first report on latino youth prosecuted as adults, “America’s Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice. Beyond his board service with CFYJ, he is also a founding member of The Alianza for Latino Youth Justice – a consortium of practitioners, advocates, funders, families and scholars that seek to engage in culturally relevant practices to address the needs of Latino youth secure placements. He has authored numerous policy reports that seek to contribute to a fair and equal justice program for youth. He has also been involved in research that focuses on youth development and what communities can do to foster the development transitions of youth to adulthood.

About the Campaign For Youth Justice:

The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

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Thousands to Participate in National Youth Justice ACTION Month Activities throughout the Country

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (SEPTEMBER 30, 2016) – During the month of October, thousands of people are participating in National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) activities throughout the country. National Youth Justice Awareness Month was created nine years ago by a Missouri parent, Tracy McClard, whose 16-year-old son was tried and prosecuted as an adult, and ultimately took his own life while incarcerated in an adult prison (Read her testimonial here).

This year YJAM is turning awareness into action. This year’s theme is ‘Youth Justice ACTION Month’.

“We lead this national movement to draw awareness to the issues that youth and their families face while in the adult justice system, because it is often overlooked,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “We are very happy that President Obama has helped shine a national light on this issue. Every year, an estimated 200,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults. Prosecuting youth in the adult criminal justice system goes against what research and brain science has proven: that youth are different from adults. Yet, youth sentenced as adults receive an adult criminal record, are denied employment and housing opportunities, and can be barred from receiving student financial aid.”

Last year, President Barack Obama officially declared October, "National Youth Justice Awareness Month", raising the profile and priority of this awareness month. The President pointed to the fact that two states still prosecute all 16-year-olds as adults regardless of their crime, and said, "Involvement in the justice system -- even as a minor, and even if it does not result in a finding of guilt, delinquency, or conviction -- can significantly impede a person's ability to pursue a higher education, obtain a loan, find employment, or secure quality housing." Since the President’s proclamation, two states, Louisiana and South Carolina, raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.

Nearly 40 events across the country will range from service days, 5K walks/runs, film screenings, art shows, poetry slams and conferences. Local non-profits, volunteers and family members directly affected by the social injustice of having the youth in their lives charged, prosecuted and sentenced in the adult criminal justice system have organized the events.

The Campaign for Youth Justice sponsors and provides technical assistance, including financial support and informational materials, to the YJAM events.

About the Campaign for Youth Justice:

The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

For more information about Y-JAM http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/yjam/

or Follow us on Twitter @ JusticeForYouth and Like us on Facebook at: Campaign for Youth Justice

U. S. House Committee Approves Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Federal Juvenile Justice Law

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

H.R. 5963 would reauthorize and strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to support state efforts to improve their juvenile justice systems, protect kids, and build safer communities

WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2016) –Today, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unanimously approved, by voice vote, H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016, which strengthens and updates the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA).

Signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety. 

“Today’s historic action by the House Committee Education and the Workforce reaffirms Congress’ bi-partisan commitment to this successful law, which – for more than 40 years – has strengthened states’ ability to keep children and youth out of the justice system, protect those young people in custody, and advance evidence-based practices to help youth get back on track and keep communities safe,” said Marcy Mistrett, Co-chair of the Act4JJ Campaign and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice.  “We commend the Committee for its leadership and strong bipartisan vision on juvenile justice reform and we look forward to continuing to work closely Committee members and their House and Senate colleagues toward final passage this year.”

More than eight years overdue for reauthorization, the JJDPA is the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements.

H.R. 5963 would build upon these national standards by reducing the placement of youth in adult jails pre-trial, providing more structure to the law’s requirement to decrease racial and ethnic disparities, and calling on states to phase out exceptions that allow the detention of youth who have engaged in status offense behaviors.  The bill also promotes the use of alternatives to incarceration; supports the implementation of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices; calls for the elimination of dangerous practices in confinement, including eliminating the use of restraints on pregnant girls; improves conditions and educational services for incarcerated youth; focuses on the particular needs of special youth population such as trafficked youth and Tribal youth; and increases accountability.

The bill was introduced on September 9, 2016 by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and is co-sponsored by Chairman Kline (R-MN) and Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org

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About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.

U.S. House of House of Representatives Overwhelmingly Passes H.R. 5963 to Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act

Posted in 2016 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (Sept. 23, 2016)-- Yesterday, the U.S. House of House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted for the passage of H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act of 2016, which strengthens and updates the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA).

The measure passed with a vote of 382 to 29. The act, which was originally introduced by the Education and Workforce Committee, garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats.

The bill is an update of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which has been expired since 2007. It would withhold federal funding from states that hold minors in adult jails. Unlike previous versions of the law, the new bill would extend that protection to juveniles who have been charged with adult crimes but are still awaiting trial

Signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974, and most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety.

More than eight years overdue for reauthorization, the JJDPA is the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements.

H.R. 5963 would build upon these national standards by reducing the placement of youth in adult jails pre-trial, providing more structure to the law’s requirement to decrease racial and ethnic disparities, and calling on states to phase out exceptions that allow the detention of youth who have engaged in status offense behaviors. The bill also promotes the use of alternatives to incarceration; supports the implementation of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices; calls for the elimination of dangerous practices in confinement, including eliminating the use of restraints on pregnant girls; improves conditions and educational services for incarcerated youth; focuses on the particular needs of special youth population such as trafficked youth and Tribal youth; and increases accountability.

The ACT4JJ Coalition would like to thank everyone for their support in achieving this milestone and for the wide bipartisan support received.

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org.



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About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.