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Week of Paradox: Martin Luther King Day to Inauguration of President Elect Trump

Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 17 January 2017 Posted in Voices

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

The week of January 15, 2017 is one book-ended by two events of national importance that, juxtaposed, provide us an opportunity to re-evaluate and recommit to our values and beliefs as a country and to our children. Monday, we celebrated Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday – a day marked with our country’s values of hope, inclusion, justice and freedom. By Friday, we welcome in President-Elect Trump, who won his election based on values of fear, bigotry, and exclusion. Yet, what state campaigns that fight for the removal of youth from the adult court can verify, is that in providing a clear roadmap toward justice, we can overcome fear, bridge this paradox and become stronger together.

State v. Aalim: Ending Mandatory Transfer of Youth to the Adult Court in Ohio

Monday, 09 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns, Voices

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

Right before the holidays, on December 22, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided State v. Aalim and wrote an opinion that is a gift of true due process for Ohio’s youth at risk of mandatory transfer to the adult criminal justice system. 

In State v. Aalim, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the state’s mandatory transfer statute which requires the transfer of youth to the adult system when they are a certain age and have committed a certain offense “violates juveniles’ right to due process as guaranteed by Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution.”  Aalim argued and the Court agreed that due process requires that every youth receive an opportunity to demonstrate capacity to change, that youth is a mitigating, not aggravating factor, that the mandatory statute’s irrefutable presumption to transfer is fundamentally unfair, and that youth have a right to have their individual characteristics considered at every stage in a proceeding, not just sentencing.  As a result, the mandatory transfer statute does not provide due process, and is therefore unconstitutional. 

Looking Back

Brian Evans Thursday, 05 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns

A Look Back At 2016

2016 was in many ways – let’s face it – a wretched year. But for the work to protect youth from the horrors of the adult criminal justice system, 2016 was actually a pretty good year.

The states of South Carolina and Louisiana passed laws to raise the age of adult court jurisdiction to 18. The states of Vermont and California both ended the practice of allowing prosecutors, without judicial review, to “direct file” juveniles into adult court.

A new law in Indiana will allow some youth charged as adults to transfer back into the juvenile system, and a new law in Arizona will keep some kids charged as adults out of adult jails while they await their trials.  And Washington, D.C., included removing youth from adult jails in its Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016.

CFYJ 2016 Year in Review

Marcy Mistrett Monday, 19 December 2016 Posted in CFYJ Updates

2016

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice

2016 was quite the year to celebrate the IMPACT of ending the adultification of youth by the justice system. States continue to lead reform efforts, thanks to the stellar work of advocates and impacted youth and their families in championing these reforms as: a bipartisan issue, that makes sense for young people, public safety, and states’ bottom line.  We can absolutely say this year's reforms happened nationally: From Vermont to South Carolina and Louisiana to Indiana, Arizona to California and Washington, DC -- legislators are passing, with wide margins, reforms that take into account that children are different from adults. At the federal level, we got farther on the reauthorization of the JJDPA than we have in 15 years--with strongly supported bipartisan bills that passed in the House, and almost through the Senate-- that would call for removing youth certified as adults from adult jails while they pend trial. And the POTUS took notice, and paid a lot of attention to young men of color in our justice system, using his executive powers to leverage change.

What Writing a Book about a Juvenile Lifer Taught Me

Friday, 16 December 2016

By Jean Trounstine

In April, 2016, my book Boy With A Knife: The Story of Murder, Remorse, and a Prisoner's Fight for Justice was published by Ig Publishing. But getting the book into print was hardly the beginning of my getting to know Karter Reed, a once juvenile lifer, who eventually won parole by suing and then settling with the Parole Board in Massachusetts. It was hardly the beginning of my coming to now firmly held beliefs: that our country must not send youth to adult prisons and that as a nation, we have come late to the compassion table.

It’s Time to Treat Our Youth as Youth: The Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform Adopt a Policy Statement in Support of Keeping Youth out of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Monday, 12 December 2016 Posted in Voices

This statement was originally published on the Physicians for Criminal Justice Reforn's website. 

The Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform support the end of the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Each year, approximately 200,000 youth are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. According to decades of medical literature, adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for long-term consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty, and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system.

International Human Rights Day: Let's give our youth the human rights they deserve.

Friday, 09 December 2016 Posted in Across the Country

By Anne-Lise Vray, Communications Associate

Human Rights are defined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status.” Such rights are protected by the law, including international treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the US has signed in 1995 but failed to ratify since then.

Reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 Posted in CFYJ Updates, Voices

By Jessica Sandoval and Roger Ghatt

As the Campaign for Youth Justice commemorates 10 years of advocating on behalf of youth, we are also reflective of our tenure at the Campaign.  Ten years ago we started from scratch, with not even an office to call home, but one thing has remained the same: we continue to be guided by urgency.  There are still too many youth transferred to and prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system.  We aspire to continue changing that.  We have made significant progress and are very proud of our contributions to the work; this year we have celebrated our 10 years of impact. It has been wonderful to be able to celebrate of all the reforms we have been a part of over the past 10 years. Now is a good time to acknowledge all of our accomplishments and to consider new strategies for continuing to build a movement that advances nationwide reforms in removing youth from the adult criminal justice system.

STOP Solitary Confinement. STOP Inhumane Treatment - Lewisburg Call to Action

Jessica Sandoval Thursday, 10 November 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Lewisburg A Call to Action

Within our criminal justice system, the degree of abuse is often not apparent. Many don’t realize what kinds of abuse incarcerated youth are subjected to. United States Penitentiary Lewisburg (USP) is no exception. The National Religious Campaign against Torture released a call to action after a series of stories emerged from USP Lewisburg. These stories were posted by The Marshall Project and NPR, and depict harrowing conditions and treatment of those who are incarcerated there.

California Voters End “Direct File”

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director Wednesday, 09 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, State Campaign Director

Yesterday, outside the glare of the extremely contentious national election, California voters chose to end prosecutorial “direct file” by endorsing Prop 57. This result shows that the power of people to come together and do what is right for kids and communities is as strong as ever.

Prop 57 ends the “direct file” of juveniles, which is likely to keep many young people out of the adult system altogether. It also featured much discussed provisions for rehabilitation and early release of adults convicted of non-violent crimes. The vote was not close, with about 64% choosing to support the proposition.

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