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The Results Are In: Did The Country #VoteYouthJustice?

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel Monday, 12 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel

The 2018 midterm elections have come to an end, and, while the outcomes of some races remain unknown, it is safe to say that the outcome for young people across the country was overwhelmingly positive. While most of the country was glued to the results in competitive U.S. House and Senate races, it was the state and local elections that that will make a huge difference in the lives of young people.

Starting with the top state executive, twenty states will welcome new governors in 2019. One of those new governors includes Tony Evers in Wisconsin. Governor-Elect Evers will be tasked with overseeing the closure of two juvenile prisons. Early in 2018, current Governor Scott Walker announced a plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections and treatment system, and in March, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires that two juvenile facilities, Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, to close by January 2021. Both facilities have been subject to investigations and lawsuits over allegations of excessive use of force, abuse, and neglect. Governor-Elect Evers campaigned on criminal justice reform, and his Lieutenant Governor-Elect, Mandela Barnes, showed a strong commitment to juvenile justice reform during his time in the Wisconsin General Assembly. While it is not often the case that a new governor will see through the projects of the past administration, this shift is likely to greatly benefit youth in the justice system (and hopefully pave the way for Wisconsin to FINALLY join 46 other states in raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18).

YOUTH JUSTICE ACTION MONTH 2018 – A LOT OF ACTION

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director Wednesday, 31 October 2018 Posted in CFYJ Updates

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director

With the theme #VoteYouthJustice – anticipating the election that is now less than a week away – this year’s Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) featured events and activities all across the country.  

Every October is Youth Justice Action Month, and this year, on the very first day, New York’s “Raise the Age” law went into effect for 16-year-olds, who are now no longer automatically tried as adults. All children under 18 were also removed from Rikers Island

All Tricks, No Treats for Some Young Teens This Halloween

By Katie Rankin, CFYJ Policy and Research Legal Fellow Monday, 29 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Katie Rankin, CFYJ Policy and Research Legal Fellow


Halloween is one of those quintessential holidays of childhood--when we still allow children to be children, engaging in fantasy play, and drumming up some harmless, time-tested tricks. We now learn--that even trick-or-treating is available to only some of our children; for children of color, the tricks on them - and it’s not funny. Recently, news stories have highlighted several  municipalities in Virginia whose “Halloween Rules” make the holiday anything but childlike. The law for each locality differs, but the overriding feature establishes age limits and a curfew for the night. These Virginia towns are not alone - cities across the country have similar ordinances that govern trick-or-treating on Halloween. The laws are not new; Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Virginia created their laws in 1968 and 1970, respectively. Portsmouth had a particularly bad Halloween in 1967 when a 14-year-old was stabbed and a high amount of vandalism occurred. In response to this, members of the community petitioned the city to create the age and time limit Halloween law that remains on the books today.

Girls Justice Day! Why Justice Reform Efforts Must Center the Voices of System-Involved Girls

By Rebecca Burney, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rights4Girls and Katie Rankin, CFYJ Research and Policy Legal Fellow Thursday, 25 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Rebecca Burney, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Rights4Girls and Katie Rankin, CFYJ Research and Policy Legal Fellow

In celebration of Girls’ Justice Day, we encourage you to uplift the voices of our most marginalized young women and girls. October marks both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Youth Justice Action Month, so it is only fitting that we focus on the experiences of girls in the juvenile justice system and the link between abuse and system-involvement.  However, all of our justice reform efforts must center the opinions of justice-involved girls who are the experts on their lived experiences.  We must listen to them.

ESSA and the Dirty A-Word

Jenna Tomasello, American Youth Policy Forum Tuesday, 23 October 2018

By Jenna Tomasello, American Youth Policy Forum

This post originally appeared on AYPF’s Forum for Thought blog.

Accountability means accepting responsibility for one's actions, yet it has become the “dirty word of today’s education reform.” Of recent, conversations about accountability in the education policy sphere have centered around the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its new accountability requirements that replaced the heavy handed “adequate yearly progress” system of accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ESSA underscores a commitment to high standards for all students, but aims to improve the one-size-fits-all approach to education accountability associated with NCLB. Under ESSA, states must develop a system of accountability within the newly established, more flexible federal guidelines to annually measure several indicators used to hold all public schools accountable for student performance.

The Negative Effect of “Hardening” Schools on Students of Color

Nicole Dooley and Rachel Marshall Monday, 22 October 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Nicole Dooley, Policy Counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel for the Campaign for Youth Justice

After the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, people across the country again started having too-familiar conversations around how to keep students safe from violence at school. These conversations covered a wide range of topics, from students discussing clear backpacks, to teachers and administrators taking emergency preparedness trainings, to state and federal lawmakers deciding how to spend money to make schools safer.

Our Unheard Voices: Youth On the Margins

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts Wednesday, 17 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts

With more than three decades between us working with young people in the criminal justice system, we knew exactly where we wanted to go to raise the volume on young voices. Especially with the 2017 California law ensuring the voting rights of people incarcerated in juvenile and adult jail facilities…we went directly to the juvenile halls and probation camps of Los Angeles County.

In Defense of Childhood: A Call to Action to Defend Immigrants Who Aren’t Citizens Yet, Especially Children

Kent Mendoza, Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson Tuesday, 09 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

 In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. This is the third blog in our series. 

By Kent Mendoza, Policy Coordinator for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson

I was brought to this country at age six.   I still remember the hardships my mom had to endure, coming to this country by herself, while living in Los Angeles searching a job that could support my siblings and I.  It was very hard for her to raise me by herself while still trying to settle down in a foreign place.  Her below living wage income meant that from the day I began my journey in this country, I was exposed to the harsh realities of living in a community where drugs, gangs, and violence were rampant.  This environment, which was a mixture of hard working families and disinvestment in community supports for young people, became my “normal.”

Reinterpreting Flores: What does this mean for the detention of minors?

Katie Rankin Wednesday, 03 October 2018 Posted in Federal Update

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. This is the second blog in our series. 

By Katie Rankin,  CFYJ Research and Policy Legal Fellow

On September 18, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs held a hearing on The Implications of the Reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement for Border Security and Illegal Immigration Incentives. The Flores Agreement sets forth a policy that requires immigrant children be released from detention to a parent, guardian, relative, or a designated party without delay. The agreement also sets forth standards on conditions for facilities in cases where a child cannot be released to a parent or guardian. Critics believe that this agreement creates incentives, or loopholes, for minors and family traveling with minors to cross the border illegally because minors must be treated differently.

YJAM: Ten Years of Raising Awareness & Taking Action for Youth

Roy Austin Friday, 28 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates, Take Action Now, Voices

By Marcy Mistrtett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Roy Austin, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis and former Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity (U.S. Domestic Policy Council)

Today is the first day of October, and the launch of the tenth anniversary of Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM). YJAM began with one mother whose 17-year-old son tragically took his life in an adult prison in Missouri. Since then, this month marks a time when communities across the country take action against inhumane and harsh treatment of children in the justice system.  In 2015 and 2016, the Campaign for Youth Justice worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council on proclamations issued in honor of YJAM and the progress made on behalf of young people who come in contact with the justice system.  In the 2016 proclamation, President Obama called on all of us to “affirm our commitment to helping children of every background become successful engaged citizens.”

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