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Native American Heritage Month: Tribal Youth and Juvenile Justice

By Kelbie Kennedy, Policy Counsel, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, National Congress of American Indians Wednesday, 28 November 2018 Posted in 2018

By Kelbie Kennedy, Policy Counsel, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, National Congress of American Indians

During Native American Heritage Month we recognize the diverse cultures, languages, histories, and traditions of all 573 American Indian and Alaska Native governments in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017 over 6.8 million people identified as American Indian or Alaska Native and one in every three is under the age of 18. With such a young population, federal laws surrounding juvenile justice have a large impact on tribal youth who are disproportionally represented in the system.

The Senate Can Decide: Are Children a Part of Thanksgiving?

By Sarah Bryer and Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 20 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

This week as families gather to break bread, give thanks, and count their blessings—there are 45,000 children locked in secure facilities across this country who will be absent from their families’ tables. 4000 of them will be in adult jails; at least one as young as the tender age of ten.

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.”

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