logobyline

twitter  facebook  cfyj donate  amazon smile

Blog

Collateral Consequences: CFYJ's new report highlighting the long-term ramifications of incarcerating children as adults

Monday, 23 May 2016 Posted in Research & Policy

Today the Campaign for Youth Justice released Collateral Consequences, a new online report seeking to raise awareness on the long-lasting damages caused by the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating kids as adults. These consequences range from having a hard time finding a job to never being able to vote or to get education loans. 
The report also includes policy recommendations directed to the different levels of government, from local to federal representatives. 

Check out a video from Rev. Rubén Austria, the founding Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth on the damaging effects that collateral consequences can have on youth that have gone through the adult criminal justice system.

Click here to read the report and learn more about the collateral consequences of incarcerating youth in adult criminal justice system.

Please help us by spreading the word on social media:

Facebook

Check out the new online report by the Campaign For Youth Justice, “Collateral Consequences”, and learn more about the long-lasting damages caused by the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating kids as adults. http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/collateralconsequences/ 

CFYJ’S NEW REPORT: “Collateral Consequences” highlights the long-term ramifications of incarcerating children as adults, even far after they were released. http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/collateralconsequences/

Each year, approximately 95,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons.  While locked up as adults, children often face inhumane conditions including physical and sexual abuse, prolonged solitary confinement, and insufficient health and educational resources. CFYJ’S NEW REPORT: “Collateral Consequences” on the damaging impact http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/collateralconsequences/

VIDEO: Check out a video from Rev. Rubén Austria, the founding Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth on the damaging effects that "Collateral Consequences can have on youth that have gone through the adult criminal justice system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLCGAf-Uevk#YouthJustice

Twitter

.@justiceforyouth has new report about the long-term damages done to kids incarcerated as adults http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/collateralconsequences/

Incarcerating kids as adults is harmful & will hurt them their whole life. Check out a new report http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/collateralconsequences/

VIDEO: @rubenaustria of @CC4Y on collateral consequences of having youth in the adult criminal justice system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLCGAf-Uevk

Why Campaign for Youth Justice is Awesome

Wednesday, 18 May 2016 Posted in CFYJ Updates

 By Abby Anderson

Connecticut and I got involved with the Campaign for Youth Justice in late 2005.  They were a new organization, I was a new advocate and Raise the Age CT was a new challenge for the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance (CTJJA).  We were all a great fit for each other.  It’s been ten years; neither of us is new anymore and Raise the Age CT is in its second iteration, now referring to efforts to bring young adults up to the age of 20 into the juvenile justice system.   Connecticut’s progress is partially due to the ongoing support, networking opportunities and relationships the Campaign provided to CTJJA.

Raise the Age CT was a success because of a broad coalition of stakeholders across the state.  It was my job to stage-manage and organize among the advocates here.  Like I said, I was new and relied mainly on instinct - and the Campaign.  They provided technical, practical and moral support throughout the Raise the Age CT efforts, staying involved long after many supporters would have moved on.

As we worked to produce a short video, develop a presentation for community meetings, and coordinate an educational hearing, the campaign was there at every turn, pointing us in the direction of the latest research, experts and best practices.   They helped us understand how to get our information to a wide variety of stakeholders in a short period of time - technical support.  When legislative champions said, “It would be great if you could get a whole mess of people to the Capitol for a rally,” we turned to the campaign and said, “we didn’t plan for a rally – we don’t have the budget for buses!”  And the Campaign said, “plan the rally, we’ll cover the buses.” - practical support.   Of course, the staff added, “Also, do you need one or two of us to come up that day to help with coordination and crowd control?”  - moral support.

I joked (though it was true) that for a 12-18 month period I talked with the people at the campaign as much as I spoke with anyone in Connecticut.  They helped me, and the whole Connecticut coalition, through the stressful, unpredictable, exhausting – but ultimately successful Raise the Age process.

When the legislation passed in 2007, I didn’t fully understand that our work was just beginning.  Getting a state to say it’s going to do something is (I learned) much easier than getting the state to actually implement what it said it would do.  Luckily, the people at the campaign knew that an advocate’s job doesn’t end when legislation passes.  They provided the same supports and guidance to us as we moved through the more technical, less visible process of moving Raise the Age CT from a legislative  idea to an on-the-ground policy and practice reality.  The five years from original passage in 2007 to full implementation in 2012 required the full attention, investment and skill set of Connecticut advocates.  Skill sets that the campaign helped us to develop, augment and master.

Perhaps the most important legacy of our relationship with the campaign is just that – the relationships.  The people we met at the campaign and through their network remain friends, allies and partners in the work to this day.  The campaign is focused not on building and retaining knowledge for its own storage and use, but on exporting best practices, expertise and ideas as broadly as possible.   We are so proud to be part of the Campaign family and congratulate them on their first ten years. 

Abby Anderson is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance whose mission is to to reduce the number of children and youth entering the juvenile and criminal justice system, and advocate a safe, effective, and fair system for those involved.

This post is part of the CFYJ #IMPACT Blog Series, a project celebrating CFYJ's 10 years of commitment to juvenile justice reform.

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM: WHAT'S NEXT? - A Power Lunch with Marcy Mistrett

Monday, 16 May 2016 Posted in Voices

YOU'RE INVITED: A POWER LUNCH WITH MARCY MISTRETT, CEO OF THE CAMPAIGN FOR YOUTH JUSTICE
JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM: WHAT'S NEXT?


Join us for a conversation with Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. She will share the progress her organization has seen over the past 10 years in removing youth from the adult criminal justice system in 30 states and the next steps for advancing juvenile justice reform, including the critical need to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act.

Marcy Mistrett has been the CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) since 2014. CFYJ was launched just ten years ago to end the practice of prosecuting, sentencing and incarcerating young people in the adult criminal justice system.

Since CFYJ's inception, 30 states have changed 48 laws to make it more difficult to treat children like adults. Yet challenges persist, including the extreme racial and ethnic disparities of those youth sentenced to adult time in adult facilities.  CFYJ is committed to keeping impacted youth and families at the heart of each campaign and of shifting the public dialogue from one of extreme punishment to one focused on child wellness.

Thursday, May 19th 2016
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

The Raben Group Offices
1341 G St NW, 5th Floor
Washington D.C. 20005

RSVP HERE

“Raise the Age”, “Direct File”, and More: States Pursuing Youth Justice Reforms in 2016

Brain Evans Wednesday, 11 May 2016 Posted in Across the Country

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Coordinator

As the year 2016 moves towards its half-way point, one trend has been unmistakable: states are moving to keep more youth out of the adult criminal justice system. And it’s not a regional but a national phenomenon. Led by South Carolina, which is poised to “Raise the Age” of adult court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 – bills have passed both chambers and only minor reconciling of bill language remains – states are adopting a variety of policies designed to treat youth as youth.

Michigan and Louisiana have both seen “Raise the Age” bills pass in one of their legislative chambers – Michigan in the House, Louisiana in the Senate – and in both cases the prospect of the bills ultimately becoming law this year is good. In New York and Louisiana, the governors have vocally backed the “Raise the Age” efforts. In fact, eight of the 9 remaining states that have ages of criminal court jurisdiction lower than 18 have introduced legislation to “Raise the Age” over the past 2 legislative sessions.

But current reform efforts aren’t limited to “Raise the Age”. In Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Missouri, proposed reforms go beyond “Raise the Age” to include larger efforts to change the ways youth are treated by the criminal justice system.  

In Alabama and Missouri, proposals to remove pre-trial youth from adult jails have made serious progress. Alabama’s bill passed in the Senate but fell short of the finish line when their session ended on May 6, while Missouri’s bill looks very likely to become law. Similar legislation has been proposed in Washington, D.C., as part of an omnibus youth justice package.

Indiana has passed a law allowing some youth sent to adult court to access to a “reverse transfer” process that could send them back into the juvenile system, and in Vermont the power of prosecutors to “Direct File” youth into adult court has been drastically curtailed.

In Florida, where such prosecutorial discretion is used more than in any other state, a bill to curb “Direct File” passed unanimously out of two Senate committees before running out of time at the end of that state’s short 60-day session. Another attempt to reform the use of “Direct File” by prosecutors is underway in California, where a governor-supported ballot initiative on the issue may go before voters in November.

While there are still too many mechanisms for transferring youth into the adult system, it is clear that the states have come to recognize how harmful and counter-productive such transfers are. The results of this year will be better justice for more youth, with powerful positive momentum and strong prospects for even greater gains in the coming years.

How Systems Have Failed My Son this Mother’s Day

Jennifer Hoff Thursday, 05 May 2016 Posted in Voices

IMG 0065 3By Jennifer Hoff

The most difficult part of having our young, mentally-ill, adult son locked up in solitary confident in California State Prison for months at a time is not  the emotional and mental pain his father, little brothers and I experience as a result of him losing, “in person” contact privileges again or other punishments he might be subjected to that are analogous with such a placement. It is not the overwhelming sadness that arises when you realize you can’t remember your child’s smell because you have not been allowed to hug him for almost a year,  nor the missing of his sweet voice during a phone call.  It is not the daily emotional turmoil of having horrific mental images flash by the minds eye as an incessant reminder of his dire situation.  It is not even that he was allowed to suffer mentally for over three years, denied the very psychiatric medications that he was prescribed from age 12 to quell his frenetic thinking and allow him to process his interactions with the world in a safe and more humane manner. 

As a mother, what is most difficult is that his situation is the predictable outcome of our abysmal system of criminalizing those who “act out” despite lacking the cognitive capacity to do otherwise. We saw this coming for over 15 years and there was absolutely nothing we could do to prevent our son from being punished for his disability and being sucked into the revolving door of the criminal justice system once he turned 18. 

We sought out help for Matthew very early (age 5) as his mental health symptoms began interferring with him attending public schools.  We had access to private doctors and therapists, had the resources to pay for treatment and the wherewithal to request special education services from our school district.  We had the stamina to navigate, for years, a broken mental health system. A system in which no one who is “in charge” seems to be held accountable to help these sick children; nor informs you (the parents) that every provider at the case-planning meetings are hiding their ball under the table to effectively and covertly play the game of “pass the buck” shuffle. Ultimately, those “in charge” denied services for my son as long as possible to avoid costs and save the bottom line.…. For years, Matthew’s father and I paid out of pocket to send him to a clinical day program run by a team of doctors at a highly respected university.  The clinical-day program was eventually exchanged for a dozen failed special educational public school placements, which again failed our son.  Ultimately, we were faced with  all roads leading to the need for a intensive (and expensive) locked facility; an incredibly difficult decision had to be made.

As Matthew’s needs increased, the willingness of our county agencies to provide for them diminished.  Eventually, only legal action proved effective in forcing our school district and county behavioral health departments to meet their legal obligations of providing appropriate educational and psychiatric services for our disabled boy.

The worst part of this journey has been the nausea that comes with knowing my son’s experience is the norm; that this outcome is one of many predictable tragic end points for individuals like Matthew who “don’t respond” to the current protocol of medications and talk therapy.   He has found his peer group in prison.  The overwhelming majority of his neighbors are young men who also suffer from debilitating psychosis, paranoia and delusions, and who have lived in their awful set of circumstances from before they were even able to legally drive a car. 

Most of the prisoners Matthew has met have previously been in the foster and/or juvenile “justice” cog from the young age of 10. They have been labeled as “troubled” and “delinquent”, yet denied medications or treatment or even basic therapeutic services before the preventable tragedy occurs that drove them into the criminal justice system.  These young  venerable  young people do not stand a chance once they are “in trouble with the law” because necessary mental health interventions will be withheld and they will inevitably be funneled into youth or adult prisons… many before they even hit puberty. 

If you had asked me when Matthew was younger and still at home, cycling his way through ineffective treatments,  how I was doing, I would have most likely burst into tears; for navigating the pediatric side of this nightmare was an incomprehensible, demoralizing experience that  each year left its marks on my psyche and spirit.  The pain of watching your child be discarded like trash by the very agencies tasked with his care is not easily explained to even the closest friends.  Today when folks ask me the same question my response is less emotional but rarely is it a complete answer….. for even folks who actually might know our story, or who work in the “field of mental health” find it hard to grasp the reality that our system isn’t filled with “cracks” for these young people to fall into.  Rather, to everyone’s surprise and dismay, instead of cracks, there is a looming  cliff that we systematically push young people off of when they age into adulthood. 

Nowadays my response to the “how are you doing” question, yields a filtered mantra of “pretty good considering…” or “well I am still here…” .  I make it a point to share our story with anyone and everyone who will listen; not to be a source of pain for people, but rather to leverage the pain I feel into becoming the motivation they need to jump into action and become part of the solutions. 

This is our modern day human rights crisis…throwing away children into a churning system for the past 15-20 years  has not only been a costly, failed, social experiment of being “tough on crime,” but more egregiously, it has stolen the futures of thousands of young folks, by answering their cries of help with a lock and key. Most “troubled youth” are not born that way…they are generally created out of years of neglect, abuse, misdiagnosis, and failed treatment;  and then severely penalized when they act out with the very behaviors that textbooks outline-- the step by step progression from victim to offender.  We know these facts, yet somehow the past few decades have been marked with an all out war against the treatment of childhood offenders and a refusal to allow for the degree of cognitive functioning the individual possessed to be used as a method of defense aimed at rehabilitation over incarceration. 

We have criminalized behaviors psychiatrists say are “normal” for an immature, traumatized or sick brains…we know that some brains are different and lack capacity to fully function, yet our leaders have allowed generations of children to be swallowed into the pit of the criminal justice system to be forgotten.

I have hope though, and I know we are not alone. I know some families experience this same journey but with an even more tragic outcome.  I am grateful for the work advocates and non-profits are doing both in the mental health reform and juvenile justice fields.  These broken systems will not self-correct and it is up to impacted individuals and families to demand they change for the better.

I have perspective, our story’s tragic ending didn’t create catastrophic collateral damage to our child or to our community. For this, we know were are the lucky ones.

Last Mother’s Day when I went to see my son, he was able to visit me in person for a change.  We really enjoyed each other, holding hands and hugging…being face to face, looking in the same beautiful auburn eyes that peered up at me when he was a baby swaddled in my arms. Now, despite the new homemade tattoos he had someone ink on his beautiful face, (because it seemed like a good idea “at the time”…he says, “sorry mom”) he is still my boy deserving of help. 

Jennifer Hoff is a concrned mom and juvenile justice advocate.


White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett Addresses the Power of Choice with DYRS Youth

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 Posted in Voices

Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason and US Attorney’s Office Join National Reentry Week Efforts

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, US Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, and members of the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) spoke to young women at the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) about the power of choice and relationships yesterday as part of the Justice Department’s National Reentry Week efforts.

This visit started with a sexual assault awareness presentation to educate girls at DYRS’s Youth Services Center (YSC) on prevention methods and their rights in the District of Columbia.

The girls then participated in a group session with Jarrett and Mason, who addressed their 37-year friendship and the importance of building healthy relationships. “We weren’t much older than you guys when we met,” said Mason. “The relationships you have when you’re young are really important…the choices you make determine the future leaders that you are going to be.”

The young women enthusiastically engaged in a dynamic conversation where they learned about the roles Jarrett and Mason play in US Government and asked how they might be able to follow similar, important paths.

“Well, a lot of the challenges in this country happened over the course of years, and we’re trying to fix them in a relatively short period of time,” said Jarrett. “If we can help you all just a little bit, and give you the confidence to live up to your dreams, we’ll have done something.”

Both Jarrett and Mason agreed that “we need to do better by our young people because young people make mistakes,” a sentiment agreed upon by DYRS Director Clinton Lacey, who had welcomed the youth saying, “You are greater than your worst mistake and that’s why we brought you here today. It’s a time for women of color rising up to leadership, and we want you to have every opportunity possible to be a part of this.”

The visit coincided with the agency’s new strategy and heightened focus on girls programming and services, which recognizes that girls enter the juvenile justice system with personal stories of trauma, poverty, and physical, sexual and emotional violence. DYRS is developing and launching a trauma-informed, gender responsive program that is focused on healthy development, healing, restorative justice, and keeping girls closer to their home communities and families.

The event stemmed from biweekly girls groups that the USAO holds at YSC on topics such as sexual assault, self-awareness and domestic violence. These groups started three years ago to address the specific challenges of young women in the juvenile justice system.

National Reentry Week is an effort by the Department of Justice to encourage and highlight the importance of “supporting successful reentry…because by helping individuals return to productive, law-abiding lives, we can reduce crime across the country and make our neighborhoods better places to live.” (www.doj.gov)

This blog is courtesy of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services

 

#Implement PREA Week of Action: A Conclusion

Friday, 22 April 2016 Posted in Campaigns, Voices

By Maheen Kaleem, Equal Justice Works Fellow/Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls

In 2001, the United States officially recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This recognition was the result of decades of activism on the part of advocates who worked tirelessly to end the silence that shrouds sexual violence. They have made incredible strides by educating the public about the inherently shaming nature of sexual violence, the importance of consent, and the knowledge that sexual violence plagues every community in our country. Throughout the U.S., 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives, and 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college.

While much of our advocacy has focused on adult women, we know that girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence: one in four American girls will experience sexual violence by the age of 18, and nearly half of all female rape survivors report being first victimized before the age of 18. And yet our discussions, even among advocates, often leave out our most vulnerable and marginalized girls- girls who are subjected to the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline.

In 2015, Rights4Girls, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation published a report entitled, The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story.  This report outlines how experiencing childhood sexual violence as a girl can actually create pathways into the juvenile justice system. Girls in the juvenile justice system report experiencing childhood sexual abuse at alarmingly high rates—rates as high as 80%. 

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of delinquency in girls. Put simply, girls in the juvenile justice system often find themselves there as a result of being sexually victimized as children. Among the most common offenses for which girls are arrested are running away, substance abuse, and prostitution. But oftentimes, girls are running away from abusive home environments or foster care placements. When they abuse substances, it is a coping strategy. And in many states, when girls fall victim to human traffickers who profit off of their sexual abuse, the girls themselves are arrested for prostitution.    

Research demonstrates that girls are sometimes arrested “for their own protection.” But detaining girls leaves them vulnerable to more sexual victimization. Once inside juvenile facilities, girls are disproportionately vulnerable to experiencing sexual violence: girls are ten to fifteen percent of the population in state and local facilities, and twenty-six percent of the victims of sexual victimization in juvenile facilities.

Both the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) include important protections to ensure that children do not become unnecessarily involved in the delinquency system, and that once involved, they are protected from additional sexual violence. In order to protect girls, we must ensure that that the JJDPA is reauthorized, and that PREA is effectively implemented.

But legislation can only be one piece of our efforts. If we are to realize a world where all girls are safe from sexual violence, then we must always remember our most vulnerable, our marginalized girls who all too often fall through the cracks.

2016: Recognizing that Kids are Different, Anniversaries of Kent, Miranda, and JDB

Friday, 22 April 2016 Posted in Across the Country

By Brittan Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow

The juvenile court was founded in Chicago in 1899 on the ideas that children were different than adults, should not be subject to adult prisons, and rehabilitation should be the main focus of juvenile detention. Over the years, the court has oscillated between treating children as completely different than adults where their trials require no standard procedural protections, or giving children the same floor of procedural protections as adults but then not allowing for their adolescent traits to inform the circumstances of their hearings or culpability.

Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided a case concerning a 15 year old Morris Kent.  In Kent v. United States the court addressed the fear that, “the child receives the worst of both worlds: that he gets neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children."  The court went out of its way to include information about the differences between a child and adult in court. Kent’s case held procedural protections were required when a child is being transferred into the adult system.

Kent has had a lasting legal legacy; several cases expanding or further defining the rights of youth are rooted in the holding from Kent. Following the year after Kent, In re Gault built on Kent’s due process protection of waiver by stating that due process encompasses procedural protections for juveniles in delinquency proceedings including right to notice, confrontation of witnesses, right to counsel, and the right against self-incrimination.  A few years later Kent’s due process reasoning was used in support of finding that jeopardy attaches with a juvenile court conviction for purposes of the double jeopardy prohibition, meaning that children cannot be tried and convicted in both juvenile and adult court for the same charge (Breed v. Jones, USC).  Kent’s reasoning has helped youth in certain jurisdictions assert rights to rehabilitative treatment (Pena v. New York State Div. For Youth), full investigations to support court’s findings (Virgin Islands ex rel. N.G.), and access to all proceedings for a child’s guardian ad litem (Inge v. Slayton,  4th cir.).

Decided the same year, Miranda v. Arizona gave individuals questioned by the police the right to be informed of their rights. The Miranda warnings are known by most people because of their use in TV and movies. Subsequently police went on to give individuals Miranda warnings but there were no specialized warnings for children. The warning was assumed to be age neutral and an adequate procedure to ensure that an individual’s Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination was upheld.

Five years ago in the case of J.D.B  v North Carolina the court finally addressed the relationship between Miranda warnings and children, Justice Sotomayor announcing that,

“It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave. Seeing no reason for police officers or courts to blind themselves to that commonsense reality, we hold that] a child's age properly informs the Miranda custody analysis.”

More and more the Court is considering the effects of age on the application of criminal procedure and juvenile interaction with the criminal justice system. In Kent, the Court touched on the difference between youth and adults in its ruling but the development of brain science and what is known about how differently the adolescent brain works has had a huge impact on Supreme Court treating children differently. Because adolescent brains are different than adults, what actions are appropriate to ensure their constitutional rights are upheld should be different than adults.

While we look back to see how far the court has come in its understanding of juvenile rights, we shouldn’t forget to look forward also and continue to push for juvenile rights. In every state there are still laws that allow for youth to be tried in adult courts. The Supreme Court has established that children are not adults. Not only is treating children both as people who need to be taken care of and people who are mature enough to make life altering confusing, it also does not allow for a system in which we can determine what states should do to protect youths’ constitutional rights.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: Protecting Kids, Protecting Communities – Youth Voices Call on Congress to Act

Thursday, 21 April 2016 Posted in Voices

By Anne-Lise Vray, Juvenile Justice Fellow

On April 20th, the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Coalition (ACT4JJ) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill about the importance of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which has been due for reauthorization since 2007. The panel, “JJDPA: Protecting Kids, Protecting Communities” primarily focused on a proposed change to strengthen one of the JJDPA’s core protections for children in custody—the phasing out the valid court order (VCO) exception to the deinstitutionalization of status offenders requirement.   A status offender is a child who is not charged with a crime, but rather someone who is arrested for childhood misbehavior such as running away from home, skipping school, or speaking back to an adult. 

Years of research on evidence based practice and new developments in brain science and adolescent development have shown that incarcerating a child for a status offense creates trauma and can increase the likelihood of future risky or even criminal behavior.  Despite this knowledge, 7,000 children are still incarcerated each year for committing status offenses. 

The panel featured Judge George Timberlake from Southern Illinois and Jerry Walsh from Arkansas who has run youth emergency shelters, group homes, and programs for serious youth offenders.  Both unequivocally called for juvenile justice systems to keep children who have committed status offenses out of youth prisons and instead keep them close to home, with supports, to more effectively address the reasons for the risky behavior.  Two young women, Ashley Jackson from Tallahassee, FL and Jhanae Burnett from Minneapolis, MN, joined the panel to discuss community based alternatives that helped them get back on the right track. Ashley Jackson is a graduate of BoysTown USA in Tallahassee.  Ashley had been in 15 foster homes before she was incarcerated for running away from several of those placements.  She says, “No one listened. Not once.  I went to detention for six months which made me aggressive, hostile and less trustworthy.  But BoysTown fought for me.  They were the first place that made me feel like they wanted me there.  They listened to me.” 

Jhanae shared, “I was never a bad child. I worked and was in school, but was having some transitions at home and got arrested”, explained Jhanae.  She said that at her first court hearing, the judge wanted to put her on probation and send her to a scared straight program at a women’s prison to teach her a lesson.  Fortunately, her family moved and the district she was moved to embraced a more community-based approach and placed her at a program at the YMCA.  This program connected Jhanae with other young women a girls-specific program.  She was matched with a mentor who helped her with education, work goals, and housing assistance.  Jhanae shared, “I got off probation and never saw my probation officer again. But Stacey [her mentor] is still there in the community with me.” Indeed, Stacey flew with Jhanae out to Washington to be part of a youth-fly in advocacy day to encourage federal support of juvenile justice programs that work.  Both Ashley and Jhanae are attending college now.  

These young women were joined by Daniel Mendoza from Oakland, CA’s CURYJ program (Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ).   Daniel met with several Members of Congress to share how working in his community helped him get on the right path.  CURYJ trains formerly incarcerated youth in community organizing and entrepreneurship.  Daniel proudly relayed how CURYJ opened a coffee shop that only employs formerly incarcerated youth—and how this community program helped him and others stay on the right track. 

What was abundantly clear from all the panelists and youth that joined the discussion that day, was that black and brown youth bear the brunt of incarceration for status offenses and that there are much more effective ways to deal with youth misbehavior than incarceration.  The speakers, urged the packed room to join the movement and reauthorize the JJDPA THIS YEAR. 

You too can Join the movement !  Ask Senator Tom Cotton to release the hold on the JJDPA reauthorization so it can pass the Senate and move onto the House of Representatives for a vote. Each voice counts! Here are a few tweet samples you can use:

- 70% of Americans support requiring states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. @SenTomCotton, pass S1169 now! #JJDPAmatters

- 83% of Americans support investment in community-based alts to incarceration. @SenTomCotton should listen and help pass S1169 #JJDPAmatters

- 83% of Americans think youth SHOULD NOT be locked up for status offenses like skipping school or running away: @SenTomCotton #JJDPAmatters

- Hey @SenTomCotton: 92% of Americans think its important the JJ system help young people get back on track. S1169 would do that #JJDPAmatters

- @SenTomCotton 73% of Americans say teaching youth to take responsibility for their actions does not require incarceration #JJDPAmatters

- Two-thirds of Ark's incarcerated youth did not commit a violent offense. We can do better @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

- Arkansas children are among the most likely to be sexually victimized while incarcerated. We can do better @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

- The time is now to pass the JJDPA and stop incarcerating our children for skipping school @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

- We need to get JJDPA through the Senate. Release the hold @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

- We need a strengthened #juvenilejustice bill to protect our most vulnerable youth. Get JJDPA through the Senate @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

- We need to get JJDPA through the Senate. Release the hold @SenTomCotton! #JJDPAMatters 

- Arkansas can do better @SenTomCotton and so can the US. Release the hold on JJDPA! #JJDPAMatters

- Two-thirds of Ark's incarcerated youth did not commit violent offenses. We can do better @SenTomCotton #JJDPAMatters

Ten Years of #IMPACT

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 Posted in CFYJ Updates

10 YEARS OF IMPACT 
By Jill Ward

Ten years of impact.  It certainly is something to celebrate and I am proud to have been working with the Campaign for Youth Justice in some capacity for each one of those 10 years.  

Over the next weeks and months the Campaign will look back on the last decade and lift up all those moments that define a successful organization and movement.  And rightly so.  They are significant achievements and deserve to be celebrated.  But what makes the Campaign the success that is has been and will continue to be are the little victories.  The largely unheralded and unseen ways that the Campaign sees the need or the opportunity and acts. 

Whether it is taking one mother’s vision of a more just system and society and helping to elevate that into national month of awareness or making the case about the importance of federal investment both in real dollars for the states and in making sure our national leaders are working for all our kids, the campaign is always looking for ways to advance the conversation, elevate the issue, and make an impact on the policies that touch our kids.

In his book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson recounts a church meeting where he spoke about a death row client he was representing and encouraged the gathering to recall the Bible story about the accusers who sought to stone an adulterous woman and Jesus’ admonition to them, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

Stevenson goes on to say, “But today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion. I told the congregation that we can't simply watch that happen. I told them we have to be stonecatchers.”

The Campaign is a stonecatcher.  In the halls of Congress, in state capitals, in meeting rooms and in newsrooms, the Campaign has been there armed with research, advocacy, strategic know-how and support to empower, educate, and advance policies that treat children as children.

Catalyst for change.  Decade of impact.  Catching stones.  By any name or measure, in ways both visible and invisible, and in partnership with constituencies across the country, the Campaign has helped to create a better world for all our children.  Can’t wait for what the next 10 years will bring.

Jill Ward is a juvenile justice advocate and public policy consultant. She served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Campaign for Youth Justice from 2006-2009 and is currently working with CFYJ as a federal policy advisor.  

This post is part of the CFYJ #IMPACT Blog Series, a project celebrating CFYJ's 10 years of commitment to juvenile justice reform.

[12 3 4 5  >>