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"There's No Excuse" Campaign Calls on Governors to Protect Youth from the Dangers of Adult Jails and Prisons

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 Posted in Take Action Now

During the month of April, thousands of individuals and organizations will be calling on  their governors to cease the practice of placing youth in adult jails and prisons in order to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  Passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, PREA restricts the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. The U.S. Department of Justice regulations state: “as a matter of policy, the Department supports strong limitations on the confinement of adults with juveniles.”  The regulations ban the housing of youth in the general adult population, prohibit contact between youth and adults in common areas, and limit the use of isolation.
Children in adult jails and prisons are:

--At the greatest risk of sexual victimization according to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission;

--Often placed in solitary confinement 'for their own protection' which is detrimental to their mental health and can result in suicide; and

--Denied educational services, counseling and other supports.
It is crucial that governors fully protect children from the dangers of adult jails and prisons.  Rather than try to segregate children from adults in adult jails and prisons which often leads to solitary confinement, governors should implement best practices by removing youth from adult jails and prisons.

Take Action Now!

Here are 2 things you can do today:
(1) Tell your governor there's no excuse for keeping kids in adult jails and prisons!
Click here to contact your governor!

(2) Spread the word!
Throughout the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we hope you will spread the word! We will be sharing information and ways to get involved. To get updates, view our blog, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @JusticeforYouth. Our hashtag is: #Implement PREA.

For additional information our PREA page, here.

THANK YOU! Your actions slowed down HB 217 in North Carolina. Let’s keep the pressure on!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013 Posted in Across the Country

By Angella Bellota

When legislators introduced HB 217 last week at the North Carolina General Assembly, your quick response to stand in solidarity with North Carolina youth and families slowed down the bill!

HB 217, would throw children as young as 13 into the adult criminal justice system and remove judicial oversight. If this bill were to pass, it would give prosecutors complete discretion over the future of NC children and strip juvenile court judges’ of their decision making power – the only neutral and unbiased decision maker in transfer cases.

Within a matter of days, here is what YOU were able to accomplish:

In less than two days, over 400 of you signed the petition started by NC youth leaders calling a stop to HB 217. This means that each of the fourteen members on the committee received over 400 emails urging them to oppose section 7, of HB 217.

Along with your calls and direct messages to friends, family and networks we not only flooded their phone lines but also their inboxes! Youth leaders also took action through social media, and the word to attend the hearing spread like wildfire. On the morning of the hearing, you were able to pack the room!

NC allies received an overwhelming amount of support from youth, students, advocates, faith leaders, attorneys and judges. Your presence is making it clear -- Our communities will not stand by and allow ineffective proposals to further criminalize youth!

The fight is not over!

We can expect the committee to most likely reconvene on Wednesday, April 3rd. We were informed that the committee will reconvene once the NC Advocates for Justice and others have a chance to meet with representatives from the Conference of District Attorneys the first week of April.

North Carolina allies are asking everyone to continue to put pressure on the decision makers involved on this bill. The primary sponsor, Rep. Stam has requested feedback and comments, and below you will find ways to continue to have your voice heard:

·         Each time someone signs the petition, bit.ly/NOHB217 the committee members receive a message urging them to oppose HB 217. If you have already signed, please take the next 30 seconds to share it through email and on social media! Help NC reach 500 signatures!

Join several other organizations sending in a formal letter opposing HB 217. If you are interested and/or need assistance drafting a letter, contact: Angella Bellota, Field Organizer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Make plans to attend the hearing next week. We will continue to share details with you as soon as we get them.

Are you interested in testifying? We can help! Contact Angella Bellota, Field Organizer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

We are excited to be a partner in North Carolina. Join us in showing your support by sharing this alert with your networks!

The Alliance for Youth Justice Visits Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools of Public Policy

Friday, 22 March 2013 Posted in Take Action Now

CFYJ with students from Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools of Public Policy

By Pauline Cao

This morning, the Alliance for Youth Justice, in partnership with the Campaign for Youth Justice, participated in a stimulating presentation for a class at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools of Public Policy.  Mary Kate, Kate, and Daniela are three graduate students at Smith College School for Social Work and have been working with the Campaign over the past few months, researching and creating useful fact sheets. Part of their project is to engage the community about juvenile justice issues, and what better way is there to engage the community than engaging the youth themselves?

The students at the Chavez School learn about public policy and social justice issues to empower them to use critical thinking as civic leaders that are committed to bettering the world. These high school students at the Capitol Hill campus are very intelligent and absorbed in the issues. They were engaged and had enlightening comments to contribute throughout the entire presentation.

The presentation consisted of discussions about juvenile justice issues and a panel that was facilitated by CFYJ’s Shanta’ Gray. The panel comprised of two CFYJ Spokespersons, Michael Kemp and Keila Hailes. Michael is a formerly incarcerated youth, and Keila’s son is a youth that was affected by the system.

After hearing Michael and Keila’s stories, the students were able to ask questions and have captivating discussions with the spokespeople. For example, during a discussion about education for youth after serving time, they often are sent to alternative schools instead of their typical class setting they were at before they were incarcerated. One student bravely opened up about how he went to an alternative school before attending a Chavez School and he is grateful for the school he is at now. He powerfully said, “I got out and I’m never going back”.  In fact, this student is graduating this year.

The students at Cesar Chavez had to do a take away ticket at the end of the presentation,  the take away was to share the information they learned in the presentation with their peers and the community. The students suggested sharing the material with teachers, friends, and specifically friends who have been affected by criminal justice system in Washington, DC.

National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) Releases "Promoting Safe Communities" Report and Recommendations to Congress

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 Posted in Federal Update, Take Action Now

Today, the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), a Coalition comprising more than 300 national, state, and local organizations working together to ensure healthy families, build strong communities, and improve community safety and well-being, released "Promoting Safe Communities: Recommendations to the Congress".

The report calls on Congress to support effective systems of justice for our youth by focusing on the following five priority areas:

  1. Restore Federal Leadership in Juvenile Justice Policy
  2. Support and Prioritize Prevention, Early Intervention, and Diversion Strategies
  3. Ensure Safety and Fairness for Court-Involved Youth
  4. Remove Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
  5. Support Youth Reentry

"The juvenile justice system across the U.S. is in urgent need of reform, and federal leadership is necessary to advance the pace of change. Congress has the unique opportunity to reverse this trend and promote and support evidence-based practices and policies that prevent delinquency, "said Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of the Campaign for Youth Justice. "It is our hope that the 113th Congress accepts these proposed recommendations to create better outcomes for our youth, as well as our communities."

NJJDPC comprises more than 300 national, state and local organizations working together to ensure healthy families, build strong communities, and improve community safety and well-being.

To take action in your state:

  1. Email this full report to your members of Congress with a note asking them to support these recommendations.
  2. Share this document and the NJJDPC website, promotesafecommunities, on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Human Rights Commission Hears Testimony Today on Youth in Adult Prisons

Monday, 11 March 2013 Posted in Federal Update

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Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a regional human rights body, is hearing testimony on the issue of U.S. incarceration of youth in adult prisons.   Thanks to Cynthia Soohoo, Director International Women's Human Rights Clinic at the City University of New York Law School, who reached out to CFYJ to urge that we submit testimony, we were able to participate in the hearing through the submission of written testimony.
CFYJ’s testimony focused on the fact that the United States is an outlier among nations in its policies that allow for the trying, sentencing and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system. Additional points made in the testimony centered on the research showing that trying youth as adults increases the likelihood that youth will reoffend, youth of color are disproportionately impacted by these policies, and that youth in adult jails and prisons are at high risk of violence and abuse and being placed solitary confinement and are denied education and rehabilitative services.  The testimony highlighted the fact that every national association of professionals with a policy related to housing youth in adult facilities uniformly rejects the practice of placing youth in adult facilities, public opinion polling also rejects the placement of youth in adult facilities, and that states are moving away from these policies.  The testimony concludes with recommendations for the commission to make to U.S. policymakers.

For a full copy of the CFYJ testimony, visit here.


 

Students Say NO to Police in Schools

Tuesday, 05 March 2013 Posted in Take Action Now

By Leah Robertson

The Youth Justice Coalition says no to armed police in schools. A coalition of students visited Washington, D.C. yesterday to stage a rally and march from Congress to the White House to demand “Counselors, not Cops.”

 

Students stand in front of Congress

to say NO to cops in Schools

Following the tragedy at Newtown, Congress has been considering legislation and funding to put more cops in schools. However, these students vocalized how they have already seen that police presence in schools does not create the positive learning environments students need to promote a positive learning environment. On the contrary, police presence in schools leads to more suspensions and expulsions, which research shows funnel more kids to the juvenile justice system, and sometimes takes them directly to the adult criminal justice system.

It was so inspiring to see these young people coming together to take a stand for their right to education and safety. Several teenagers spoke out about their personal experiences with police officers in schools. They consistently emphasized the physical and emotional scars of misplaced investments: funding police officers instead of teachers, counselors, and evidence-based programs.

Counselors, Not Cops.

Counsel, Don't Cuff.

One young man spoke about the life-changing impact one counselor had on him. This counselor helped him change from a confused and angry teenager to a motivated student. If this one counselor taking a personal interest in him could have such an impact, imagine what our youth could do if we increased the ratio of counselors to students from 500:1 to 100:1 or even 50:1, rather than investing in more police who are likely to criminalize our students at a fragile and critical identity-building stage in their lives. Imagine what we could do with all the money saved by keeping youth out of the pipeline to prison and on the course to college and careers.

For more information on the Youth Justice Coalition Rally, click here.

For press clips, click here.

Counties Focus on Juvenile Justice Reforms, Federal Role

Monday, 04 March 2013 Posted in Federal Update

 

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This week, members of the National Association of Counties (NACo) were in Washington to talk about crucial issues facing counties, including juvenile justice reforms and federal funding for juvenile justice.  NACo's Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice, chaired Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler of Dakota County, Minnesota met on March 2 and heard from Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign (www.act4jj.org) co-chairs Nancy Gannon Hornberger (Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice) and Liz Ryan (President & CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice).
 
In her remarks, Nancy highlighted the importance of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) and how funding has supported effective juvenile justice programs at the county level.  Additionally, she talked about efforts to pass the Youth Promise Act (YPA), legislation authored by Rep. Bobby Scott.  The YPA bill is set to be introduced in the next week and NACo members discussed how they could support this crucial piece of legislation.
 
Liz talked about the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the importance of federal funding for the JJDPA.  NACo is a member of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign to reauthorize and adequately fund the JJDPA, and Liz encouraged NACo members to take that message to congressional offices as well as invite Members of Congress to visit county juvenile justice programs to see first-hand what is working in juvenile justice.  
 
Bobby Vassar, Counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, joined the session to discuss the importance of the Youth Promise Act.  Both Nancy and Liz applauded his work in the House on the YPA and in ensuring adequate funding for juvenile justice programs.  NACo’s Dalen Harris, who organized the session, was also commended for his tremendous efforts to ensure NACo members were being heard on the hill on juvenile justice.
 
At the meeting, NACo approved a position statement on juvenile and criminal justice, including a position on the transfer of youth to adult court, "NACo opposes trying and sentencing youth in adult criminal court, except in the case of a chronic and violent offender, and then only at the discretion of a juvenile court judge."  For the full statement, visit here.
NACo released a position paper "Support Vulnerable Youth: Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act" available online at here.

For a copy of the presentation, visit here.

Kids, Cops, and Confessions Explores Mysterious World of the Interrogation Room

Friday, 01 March 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

 

By Leah Robertson

The growing research on adolescent development, mounting evidence against eye witness testimony, and the exposure of numerous cases of false confessions make Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room by University of Minnesota Professor Barry C.Feld an intriguing and incredibly useful body of research for anyone involved in the juvenile justice system. Feld uses data from Minnesota to delve into the factors surrounding the interrogations of youth to determine some of the factors that impact case outcomes. In particular, he focuses on how Interrogators utilize the same techniques they would adults despite the incredible developmental differences between the two and the strong likelihood that youth will confess to a delinquent act almost immediately.


Feld set about this task because “despite the crucial role of interrogation in criminal and juvenile justice, we know remarkably little about what happens when police question suspects, what the outcomes of interviews are, or how they affect justice administration” (Feld Page 2). This data could not have been collected nearly anywhere else because Minnesota is one of very few areas that record all interrogations. In an interview with the Campaign, Feld expressed his surprise that more states have not followed Minnesota’s lead, and he asserted that he believes all interrogations should be recorded everywhere to eliminate much of the mystery and potential manipulation around interrogation.

This book comes at a particularly momentous time when “Central Park 5,” a documentary about five kids who falsely confessed to a horrific crime after hours of interrogation in New York City, has brought popular attention to the issue. Feld addresses this point in his book, when he says that most kids confess to their crimes rather quickly, especially if a parent or authority figure is present. Interrogations that last hours should be a huge red flag to any judge or jury. Most kids, just like those in the Central Park Jogger case, just want to go home, and after hours of interrogation, they do not have the developmental capacity to understand the implications of their actions.
Additionally, Feld focuses on the differences between youth and adults, particularly when it comes to juvenile crime and interrogation. He notes that youths “risk perception actually declinesduring mid-adolescence and then increases gradually in the early twenties.”(Page 8) This can be seen in his extensive study of Miranda Rights, and the fact that the “vast majority (92.8%) of all the juveniles in this study waived their Mirandarights” (Page 206) despite the fact that “young and mid-adolescents do not possess the competence of adults to exercise Miranda” (Page 8).
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in ways to reform the juvenile justice system, particularly family members and juvenile justice system stakeholders. While reforming and “right-sizing” the juvenile justice system, it is important that we also make sure the contact youth do have with law enforcement is fair and developmentally-appropriate to help our youth and make our communities safer.
For those who wish to learn more, you can purchase this book here. For more publications by Feld, visit the University of Minnesota website

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Baltimore Sun - More cops in schools isn't the solution, By Liz Ryan

Thursday, 28 February 2013 Posted in Voices


Today CFYJ's President & CEO, Liz Ryan wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, "More Cops In Schools Isn't the Solution":

Baltimore Sun

February 28, 2013
More Cops Isn't the Solution: Instead of turning kids into criminals, we need more resources for programs that work

By Liz Ryan

In response to the Newtown tragedy in December, the Obama administration proposed a package of reforms, including a proposal to provide $150 million for local jurisdictions to hire new school resource officers (SROs) or counselors and $4 billion for the Community Oriented Police (COPS) program, which can also be used to hire law enforcement in schools. Members of Congress will be considering these proposals in the appropriations process and have introduced a number of others that would authorize more law enforcement officers in schools.

Visit here for the full article.

Spread the Word- CFYJ is looking for Summer 2013 Fellows!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 Posted in Take Action Now

The Campaign for Youth Justice  is accepting applications for its fellowship program. We accept part-time and full-time interns during the fall and spring semesters (preferring students who can commit to an entire academic year), and full-time interns during the summer (at least an 8 week commitment).


The Summer 2013 Fellowship Application deadline is March 31, 2013.  The following fellowship opportunities are currently available for Summer 2013:


Summer 2013 Fellow in Field and Outreach
Summer 2013 Fellow in National Outreach
Summer 2013 Fellow in Research and Policy
Summer 2013 Fellow in Communications


For additional information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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