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CFYJ Applauds Illinois For Commuting Brian Harrington's Sentence During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aprill O. Turner, Vice President of Communications Monday, 04 May 2020 Posted in 2020

There are Other Stories Like Brian’s, Now is the Time for States to Step Up

Aprill O. Turner, CFYJ Vice President of Communications

Recently, Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker granted clemency to more than 1,000 incarcerated individuals including Brian Harrington, who at age fourteen was prosecuted as an adult and sentenced to twenty-five years under the state’s truth in sentencing law.  He served 13 years of his sentence before being granted executive clemency, getting to go home just shy of spending over half of his life incarcerated.

CFYJ first met Brian last year as he was preparing to present his case to the clemency board. To hear directly from Brian about his case and his experience in the adult system, listen to CFYJ’s podcast with him, here.

2020: Good Bills, Insufficient COVID-19 Response

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Monday, 27 April 2020 Posted in 2020

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

The COVID-19 pandemic, among many other things, cut state legislative sessions short, and naturally shifted attention away from policy and towards emergency responses, which have been slow and woefully inadequate compared to the scale of the crisis. 

But before this happened, things seemed to be moving in the right direction: several states had already successfully passed good legislation protecting children from being prosecuted, incarcerated, or sentenced as adults.

The states at the end of the alphabet were most productive.

Counting Incarcerated People on the 2020 Census

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow Tuesday, 14 April 2020 Posted in 2020

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow

In the middle of the current global health pandemic it is important to remember it is time to fill out the 2020 census. Every ten years, the Decennial U.S. Census is sent out nationwide to record the population of the country and the location of where each person lives. The census asks questions about the living situation and demographics of each resident in the U.S. in order to better understand the composition of the population and to ensure that each person is only counted once in the correct place.

Supporting Survivors During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow Thursday, 09 April 2020 Posted in 2020

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a time to support those who have been victims of sexual assault and to promote awareness on the sexual victimization that is still prevalent in our society. Sexual violence exists in all communities and affects individuals from all walks of life, no matter their race, age, or gender. About 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the U.S. have been the victim of sexual assault during their lifetime. Though the exact prevalence of sexual assault against children is not known due to lack of reporting, it is estimated that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. These traumatic experiences live on in the minds of victims and can have a multitude of psychological, emotional, and physical effects.

The Struggle to Get Youth Out of Incarceration As COVID-19 Spreads

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Thursday, 02 April 2020 Posted in 2020

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

COVID-19 appears to be moving into prisons, jails, and detention centers more quickly than the criminal legal system can (or will) respond. While most of those incarcerated are adults, there are thousands of children at risk in these dangerous facilities. The obvious solution – let as many children out as possible while ensuring they have a safe place to go – has not been so simple to implement, as different branches of government (judges, governors, mayors, prosecutors, etc.) need to make decisions to allow children to be released from court-ordered confinement. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

Use Your Voice and Vote Youth Justice

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow Monday, 30 March 2020 Posted in 2020

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow

On March 21st, over fifty-five years ago, the course of history was changed. In a landmark march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, African American men and women fought for their fundamental right to vote. Over 25,000 people, led by Martin Luther King Jr., gathered to battle the years of injustice and inequality that had tried to silence them. Despite the endless obstacles that were put in their way, these advocates were finally able to secure the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Youth Justice Community calls for Swift Action to Remove Youth from Secure Custody during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO Monday, 23 March 2020 Posted in 2020

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

Last week, the youth justice community called on governors, the federal government, local legislators, and juvenile justice department leaders to remove children from secure custody and reunite them with family members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for social distancing and frequent hand washing with soap and water, that are nearly impossible to implement in secure settingsalong with many local juvenile justice and correctional responses to end visitation and programming from external volunteers to slow the spread of COVID-19, youth in correctional settings remain at high risk of contracting the illness--particularly those youth with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, and immunosuppressive illnesses. Young people housed in adult facilities face particularly difficult conditions. Furthermore, as facilities decide to end in-person family visits, as schools close (including those in correctional settings), and volunteer programming is reduced or stopped—stressors on children in custody will increase. Communication on what protective measures are taking place in facilities and community supervision is essential and must be clear and frequent between juvenile justice staff, young people and families.  

Campaign for Youth Justice Update During the COVID-19 Crisis

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 Posted in 2020

The Campaign for Youth Justice is taking full precautionary measures in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, our staff is currently teleworking and we have postponed all of our in-person meetings and events for the foreseeable future. The safety of our community is of the utmost importance to us. We will follow all health and safety guidelines set forth by local, state and national officials, and will take all measures to ensure our protocols align with those guidelines.

Team CFYJ is available to you as we continue our work of advocating for youth in the adult criminal justice system. We recognize the extraordinary burden this is placing on our families who have loved ones and children who are incarcerated. We are working with other youth justice advocates to collect data and monitor the well being of youth in custody and in supervision, and we are making recommendations for their safe return home.

Please do not hesitate to call or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. we will answer. We also encourage you to visit our blog and social channels during this time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for our latest updates on all things youth justice.

We again thank you for your understanding and your continued support of CFYJ as we closely monitor this situation, and will share updates and changes to our meeting and event schedule as soon as they are available.

A Look At District Attorney Races in Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow Friday, 13 March 2020 Posted in 2020

By Madeleine Susi, CFYJ Communications Fellow

Over the past few months, people throughout the nation have been looking to the media for the latest updates concerning the largest political race in the country: the presidential election. Voters in many states have already shown up to the polls to vote in the primaries, with the biggest turn out on Super Tuesday, where fourteen states awarded a total of 1,357 delegates. The total delegate count from Super Tuesday is still coming in, but currently, Biden has pulled ahead with a total of 566 delegates and 4.6 million votes.

It’s Not All Bad. Really …

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Friday, 13 March 2020 Posted in 2020

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

It’s not all bad. Really … 

For example, good legislation to reduce the number of children transferred to the adult court, or at least mitigate the harm caused by this practice, has started to move in state legislatures. Three state legislatures – in Utah, Virginia, and Washington – have passed good transfer reform bills just this week.

As with other issues, the Virginia General Assembly has been busy in this area. First, Virginia passed a bill giving children sentenced as adults eligibility for parole after 20 years (HB 35, signed into law). It has now also passed a bill to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for children charged as adults (HB 744) and, perhaps most significantly, legislation (HB 477/SB 546) that would raise to 16 the age at which a prosecutor could directly file adult charges.

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