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Latinx Injustice

Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. Tuesday, 18 September 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. 

Our first blog is written by Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. at Michigan State University and CFYJ Board member.

For over two decades, advocates, community based practitioners, families, and researchers have challenged the Department of Justice to consider modifying data on the number of Latinx youth that spend part of their adolescence with juvenile justice systems. While some might consider this an inconsequential and unimportant issue, the failure to better understand the diversity of Latinx youth has serious implications. One assumption, for example, is that immigrant youth (those born outside of the U.S. or those that come early in their lives) are more likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system. Yet, there is no reliable way to substantiate or refute this claim. Research shows that immigrant adults are less likely to violate public laws – why do we assume this would be any different for children? Do we know whether generational status impacts involvement with juvenile justice systems? Evidence suggests yes, but most of the work to date has focused on only those that have recently immigrated with those that have not. 

Youth Justice Action Month is October – Less Than a Month Away!

Brian Evans Wednesday, 12 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) is October – less than a month away!

Whether you are just starting to organize, or are already planning something, please Sign up today so we can work with you to make YJAM as impactful as possible!

Kavanaugh Hearings: Justice Kennedy Was a Voice of Reason on Youth Justice, Now What?

Brian Evans Wednesday, 05 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

One of the legacies of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s tenure at the U.S. Supreme Court will be his central role in recognizing that, for the purposes of criminal justice, “children are different” and should be treated differently than adults

Basing his arguments on an emerging consensus in adolescent neuroscience and development, a consensus that continues to strengthen, Kennedy was a decisive voice in decisions that protected children from the harshest punishments applied to adults.

Class is Back in Session: It's Time To Rethink the Number of School Resource Officers in our Schools

Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 04 September 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

The end of summer has arrived.  Children across the country will officially be back in school this week.  Families have been busy getting ready—new shoes, uniforms, school supplies and bus passes. Children anticipate meeting a new teacher, seeing friends they missed over the summer, and routine schedules.

However, in far too many places, school leaders are struggling with inadequate budgets and public pressure to keep schools safe.  Too often, these responses rely on increasing the presence of law enforcement officers, or in some cases, allowing teachers and administrators to carry weapons in school. Despite there being too many multi-victim school shootings in the U.S., schools remain amongst the safest places for children to be.

Is it Enough? The Implementation of PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard

Jeree Thomas Tuesday, 04 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Federal Update

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

This September marks the 15th Anniversary of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a federal law enacted to address the problem of sexual assault and rape in U.S. detention centers, jails, lock ups, and prisons.  Regulations for the law specifically address one of the most vulnerable populations in adult jails and prisons: youth under age 18.

PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard was developed to create a minimum standard that protects youth in adult facilities from being raped or sexually assaulted by requiring that youth are held in housing where they are sight and sound separated from adults.  The standard also requires supervision when youth are outside of housing units with incarcerated adults. The challenges associated with keeping youth sight and sound separated under the standard has helped contribute to a growing number of state legislatures passing bills to create a presumption or a requirement that youth under 18 are held in juvenile placements even when they are prosecuted as adults. 

Bills A1233 and SJR18 Provide Hope for New Jersey Juvenile Defendants Serving Lengthy Sentences

Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright Tuesday, 28 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright, New Jersey Parents' Caucus

In 2012, the Supreme Court established in the landmark Miller v. Alabama decision that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Mandatory sentences to life without parole, the court argued, prevent the judge from considering the “mitigating effects of youth,” which were acknowledged in the Court’s earlier rulings of Roper v. Simmons (2005) and Graham v. Florida (2010). As a result, Miller established that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles, and judges must consider youth-related mitigating factors, including children’s individual characteristics and life circumstances, during sentencing.

Committed to the Fight for Justice: CFYJ’s Journey to Montgomery and Selma

Rachel Kenderdine Monday, 13 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Kenderdine, CFYJ Operations and Development Manager

This is the second of a two part series.

During CFYJ’s recent trip to Alabama, we made the drive to Selma, where on March 7, 1965, voting rights activists, peacefully attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, were stopped and beaten by police just across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The horrific incident became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The activists were forced to turn back and flee for their lives, but national outrage sparked by the injustice of Bloody Sunday allowed civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and now-Representative John Lewis (D-GA), to complete the march two weeks later with federal protections granted by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March--and the leadership of activists like Dr. King and John Lewis--also gave President Johnson the push he needed work with Congress to pass and sign federal legislation to protect the voting rights of African Americans. Though guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, African Americans across the South were prevented from registering to vote by local laws enforcing literacy tests or other means to keep blacks from accessing their voting rights.

CLIA’s Just Kids Campaign and Changing Public Views on Incarcerated Youth

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 Posted in 2018, CFYJ Updates

By Eric Rico, CFYJ Research & Policy Legal Fellow

For our fourth and final event in our Summer Guest Speaker Series, we had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Wall, the Government Relations Manager for the Just Kids Campaign at CLIA (Community Law in Action). CLIA’s Just Kids Campaign was formed in 2010 as an advocacy group made up of youth and adult partners who are devoted to ending the automatic prosecution of youth as adults in Maryland. The youth leaders generally range from 16-24 year-olds and have been involved in the justice system and charged as adults. The campaign provides educational and job opportunities that benefit youth, such as life skills training, ex-offender employment, and GED programs. Although these programs are important, one of the most crucial aspects of the campaign is that is allows these youth leaders to be effective advocates in the process of ending youth transfer. These young leaders are given a platform to meet with legislators, conduct public outreach, and share their stories, working to change public attitudes towards youth who are charged (or treated) as adults.

Committed to the Fight for Justice: CFYJ’s Journey to Montgomery and Selma

Rachel Kenderdine Tuesday, 07 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Kenderdine, CFYJ Operations and Development Manager

This is the first of a two part series.

When the Equal Justice Initiative’s new Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in April, CFYJ staff knew it was imperative to make a trip to Montgomery, Ala. to visit these powerful landmarks. One of our significant goals for 2018 has been to make our commitment to racial equity and justice explicit to our partners and the public; to reinforce our commitment to what racial equity really looks like--and the actions and steps we can take to decrease racial disparities and keep fighting for change. We know that youth of color still disproportionately experience police violence and the adult criminal justice system, as over 70 percent of youth in the adult criminal justice system are youth of color. As a campaign, it is our job to make change in the broken systems that still disempower and disenfranchise our youth--and this trip helped us to see why it is important to remain committed to the fight for justice, even when the current political climate makes this feel impossible.

Primary Election Day in Missouri: Why It's Important To #VoteYouthJustice

Michael Dammerich Tuesday, 07 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, Take Action Now

By Michael Dammerich, CFYJ Junior Board Member

Buying a house, renting a car, or even catching a Lyft are all simple things, right? Of course. However, we take it for granted you must be 18 to do any of those. Most people can agree on that. What about serving an adult prison sentence? In Missouri, kids as young as age 12 are "eligible" to find themselves behind bars in an adult institution.

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