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Missouri Passes Resolution to Review Youth in Adult System

Carmen Daugherty Wednesday, 07 May 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

Yesterday, continuing the move towards improving Missouri's justice system for ALL youth, Missouri's House of Representatives adopted SCR29, a resolution establishing a "Juvenile Justice Task Force" that will make recommendations to the General Assembly by 2015 on:

DOJ Releases Judicial Waiver Data on Youth, Shows Increase in Drug Offenses Waived to Criminal Court

Carmen Daugherty Tuesday, 29 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s latest bulletin, U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled nearly 1.4 million delinquency cases in 2010. “Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2010” shows that more than half (54%) of these cases were handled formally (i.e., a petition was filed requesting an adjudication or waiver hearing) and of the petitioned delinquency caseload, about 1% resulted in judicial waiver to adult criminal court. The number of delinquency cases judicially waived peaked in 1994 at 13,300 cases, more than double the number of cases waived in 1985. In 2010, juvenile courts waived an estimated 6,000 delinquency cases, 55% fewer cases than in 1994.

How the JJDPA Helps to Improve Outcomes for Youth of Color

Anna Wong Friday, 25 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Voices

By Anna Wong
W. Haywood Burns Institute

This week’s blog, How the JJDPA Helps to Improve Outcomes for Youth of Color, is from Anna Wong at the W. Haywood Burns Institute and talks about how we can reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and the important role the JJDPA plays in this work.

This is one of four core requirements of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), the federal law that sets standards for the care and custody of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and provides critical funding for the administration of juvenile justice around the country.

Report Shows Florida Prosecutors Abuse Direct File Power

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

In a recent report titled “Branded for Life,” the Human Rights Watch condemned the state of Florida’s outdated policies of allowing juveniles to be moved to the adult court through “direct file.” This policy allows a prosecutor to have unfettered discretion to move any juvenile offender under 18 into the adult court. “Florida transfers more children out of the juvenile system and into adult court than any other state. In the last five years alone, more than 12,000 juvenile crime suspects in Florida were transferred to the adult court system.” Roughly 98% of Florida youth in adult courts are there because of the arbitrary decisions of prosecutors stemming from this “direct file” process.

New Research Confirms 30-Year Trend of Poor Outcomes and Nearly Exclusive Impact on Minority Youth from Automatic Transfer to Adult Court

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

Today the Juvenile Justice Initiative released a new report, "Automatic Adult Prosecution of Children in Cook County, Illinois, 2010-2012". The report finds that only one white youth was among the 257 Cook County children charged with crimes requiring an automatic transfer to adult court in a recent three-year study period, and most of those children live in predominantly minority communities in the south and west sides of Chicago.

Maryland Adds Another Win for Youth Justice

Friday, 18 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Across the Country, Campaigns

Last week, Just Kids Partnership wrapped up its legislative session, passing two reforms that help youth charged as adults in Maryland. After a quick 90 day session, Maryland advocates built on the momentum from the 2013 legislative session, by getting two bills passed based on recommendations from the Task Force on Juvenile Court Jurisdiction which studied the issue of charging youth as adults in Maryland last year.

JJDPA Matters: A Look at the Latest Data on Race and Juvenile Justice

Josh Rovner Friday, 18 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

Josh Rovner is the State Advocacy Associate for the Sentencing Project, where he focuses on juvenile justice issues.

This post is part of the JJDPA Matters blog, a project of the Act4JJ Campaign with help from SparkAction. The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turns 40 this September. Each month leading up to this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA.  To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.
 The remarkable drop in juvenile arrest rates since the mid-1990s has done little to mitigate the gap between how frequently black and white teenagers encounter the juvenile justice system. These racial disparities threaten the credibility of a justice system that purports to treat everyone equitably.
Across the country, juvenile justice systems are marked by disparate racial outcomes at every stage of the process, starting with more frequent arrests for youth of color and ending with more frequent secure placement.

CFYJ Goes to College: Windows from Prison Art Exhibit

Jessica Sandoval Tuesday, 15 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised


By Jessica Sandoval

On Wednesday, April 9, CFYJ participated on a panel to discuss youth incarcerated in the adult system as part of the Windows from Prison project at George Mason University.  This two-week exhibit will feature hundreds of participants taking part in daily workshops, events, and community forums. Students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and George Mason University collaborated to create photographs requested by incarcerated Washingtonians. 


When youth from Washington are placed in the federal penitentiary system, they can be sent to any prison across the country (potentially thousands of miles away from family or friends). Windows From Prison utilizes photography as a way to bridge this distance while creating space and humanistic entry points for students, teachers, NGO's, family members of incarcerated individuals, former prisoners, and policy makers to engage with the sources, impacts, and alternatives to mass incarceration.
“If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?”
This question was asked to prisoners who are from Washington but who have been sent to prisons across the country. As responses came back, students from George Mason University and Duke Ellington High School went across the city, created the requested photographs, and mailed the images to the incarcerated participants.

From April 7 -21, the photographs, which have each been printed on 10-foot banners, will be exhibited on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus (situated in the main public square in front of the Fenwick Library).

For the exhibit, the project has partnered students, teachers, policy advocates, former prisoners, and community members to produce an extensive set of public programing. Each day will feature film screenings, brainstorming sessions, lectures, poetry readings, and more in hopes of meaningfully exploring the causes, effects, and alternatives to incarceration.
For more information, the requested images from those incarcerated and a list of events, visit, here
To learn more about the efforts to remove youth from the adult court in the District of Columbia, please visit CFYJ's website, here.  

Tolerance in Schools for Latino Students: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline

Sunday, 13 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Campaigns

By Leah Robertson

On April 15, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute hosted a discussion on how policymakers, community advocates, and school administrators can work together to change existing policies and practices to ensure that schools lead all students down pathways toward success, not prisons.

Panelists Deputy Director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) Dana Shoenberg, Campaign for Youth Justice Policy Director Carmen Daugherty, and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education al Fund (MALDEF) Regional Counsel James Ferg-Cadima spoke about the disparate and detrimental affects the school-to-prison pipeline has on today’s youth, emphasizing that there are better alternatives that legislators and voters can take action on.

Daugherty provided some background and an explanation of the school-to-prison pipeline and its disparate effects on Latino youth. In particular, she explained how the pipeline perpetuates itself cyclically. In addition, Shoenberg utilized this “cycle” metaphor to explain the mechanisms by which zero tolerance policies discriminate against youth of color and results in poorer student performance and disengagement. Zero tolerance policies have evolved from more objective categories of behavior, such as bringing weapons to school, to a much more subjective standard, i.e., disrespecting a teacher. These subjective standards disproportionately affect children of color and children with special needs. Zero tolerance policies punish rather than understand and address underlying causes of misbehavior and are seen more often in urban schools and schools that primarily serve youth of color, and contribute to what education specialists call the “achievement gap.”

Unfortunately, rather than attempt to remedy this cycle, Congress is currently considering adding more police officers to schools, which only exacerbates the issue. Police presence on school campuses have shown only to stimulate the pipeline without leading to safer schools, particularly for students of color because police officers, rather than trained counselors and teachers, are referred to handle behavioral issues. These “School Resource Officers” (SROs) are less likely to be trained in adolescent development and management and are more likely to refer kids to the justice system, leading them straight down the pipeline to prison for minor infractions characteristic of teenagers.

When funding goes to police or SROs rather than teachers and school counselors, students do not have the positive behavioral supports they need to stay engaged and achieve academic progress. Additionally when school administrators relinquish to SROs their disciplinary responsibilities, we see an increase of referrals to the juvenile justice system, further pushing children out of school. This is of particular importance because police in schools are called in for a variety of behaviors only about 5 percent of which are criminal offenses, but many of which are nevertheless referred to the justice system.

The good news is there is plenty that Congress can do to remedy this situation. Ferg-Cadima and Shoenberg left the audience with the call on Congress to:

Collect and research data regarding school discipline practices in their district;

Pressure the While House and Departments of Education and Justice to issue disciplinary guidance; and

Consider passing legislation including the Youth Promise Act and reauthorize and support the President’s budget for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

We support the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for hosting this discussion and for making this issue a priority, and we hope that Congress will take action to ensure the best future for all of America’s children.

New York Governor Forms Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice

Friday, 11 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Federal Update

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By Christopher Costner

CFYJ Fellow

On April 9, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced the members for his Commission

on Youth, Public Safety & Justice. This Commission will generate recommendations and policies regarding youth in New York’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. The Governor indicated that New York’s laws are archaic and in desperate need of improvement. New York is currently one of only two states (North Carolina being the second) that automatically charges 16 and 17 year olds as adults. In 2013 alone, New York State had 33,000 cases handled in the adult court system involving children only 16 and 17 years old. Due to this, thousands of children were denied the proper services and help that they would be offered in juvenile courts and detention facilities. Members appointed to the commission include several justice focused groups such as: the Albany Chief of Police, NYC Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, and Executive Director of the Correctional Association of NY.

This Commission is a great step towards justice for New York youth, and the Campaign for Youth Justice will be eager to follow the work of this prestigious commission. For more information see this press release from the Governor’s Office, which outlines the Commission’s goals and all the participating members.
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