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YOU ARE INVITED! JOIN CFYJ for #YJAM on Oct 2nd as “We Burn Down The House”

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

October is rapidly approaching and so is Youth Justice Awareness Month! Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is an opportunity for communities, families, youth, and allies to host community-led actions and events that expose the consequences of children being processed in adult court and placed in adult jails and prisons. With events happening throughout the country, YJAM is not only a time to raise awareness but also a time to build collective action, to strengthen relationships with other advocates, and to join local advocacy campaigns working to create policy changes.

A Word of Thanks to YOU!

Monday, 04 November 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Voices

SPLC: Art, Poetry & Justice Slam in Mississippi

The Campaign for Youth Justice team would like to take a moment to thank all of you whose inspirational actions engaged, educated and activated communities during Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM).

Through Youth Justice Awareness Month, you lifted up the experience, voice and leadership of young people and their families who have been directly affected by the justice system. You took a stance against trying youth as adults, placing youth in adult jails and prisons, the over-incarceration of youth of color in the justice system, and the dangers of solitary confinement and the risk of violence and sexual assault in adult jails and prisons. 

Many of your states were highlighted in a new report, State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System” and you shared the good news with your communities.

FFLIC 5k Walk/Run in Louisiana


And although there was a government shutdown for the first half of October, that didn’t stop you from hosting events – such as film screenings, panel discussions, poetry slams, art exhibits, and 5k runs. By engaging your community, you move these issues forward and play a role in building youth justice wins throughout the country.

You showed how the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) matters to your communities because it sets federal standards for how youth in the justice system should be treated.  And your actions pressured Congress to keep investing in federal funds and to consider the reauthorization of the JJDPA.

SPLC event at the University of Alabama -Birmingham


During YJAM, you took actions to ensure that the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is being fully implemented in your states, and because of your efforts, the U.S. Department of Justice issued new guidance recommending that PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard be implemented by removing youth from adult jails and prisons!

Tracy McClard, Chair of Youth Justice Awareness Month, recently shared in an interview with JJIE, “No matter what side of the issue you are on, if you do the research, you're going to find that kids don't belong in adult systems in any way, shape or form.” It is people like Tracy and you, that give our youth a fighting chance. Your actions inspire us all to continue this momentum all year long!

 

Thank you to all organizations and their partners for hosting YJAM events in 2013:

ACLU of Mississippi
Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign
Alliance for Youth Justice
American University Students
Appalachian State University -Student Chapter of the American Correctional Association
Black on Both Sides
Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS)
CFYJ Fellowship Alumni
Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce
Child and Family Focus, Inc.
Children’s Defense Fund-Southern Regional Office
Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition
Correctional Association of New York - Juvenile Justice Project
DC Lawyers for Youth
Decarcerate PA
Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center
DeSoto County Parents and Students for Justice (DC-PSJ)
Education from the Inside Out Coalition
Elephant Rebellion
Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC)
Families and Friends Organized to Reform Juvenile Justice (FORJ)
Families of Youth Incarcerated (FYI)
First Defense Legal Aid
Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop
Illinois Juvenile Justice Initiative
Immigrant Youth Justice League
Just Kids Partnership
Kings Leadership Institute
Kuumba Lynx
Michigan Association for Children's Mental Health
Michigan Citizens for Prison Reform
Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency
Mikva Challenge
NAACP of Mississippi
Nochtli
One Voice of Mississippi
Project NIA
Renewed Minds, Inc.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI)
Tampa Interfaith Coalition for Juvenile Justice
The Children's Campaign - Florida
The National Crittenton Foundation
The Young People’s Project of Jackson
Tougaloo College Owens Health and Wellness Center
United Way of the Capital Area
University of Alabama at Birmingham - Criminal Justice Student Organization
University of Alabama at Birmingham - NAACP Student Chapter
University of Alabama at Birmingham - The Young Americans for Liberty
University of Maryland College Park- KSH Tzedek Student Fellowship
Voices for Florida Girls
Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project

To learn more about Youth Justice Awareness Month and event hosts, click HERE
 
Join us on Facebook and Twitter for more pictures, media coverage, and action opportunities. 
 
 

This Week's #Playground2Prison Snapshot Contest Winner...

Thursday, 31 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

It’s Friday, which means one thing – it’s time to pick the final winner of the #Playground2Prison snapshot contest! Every week, during Youth Justice Awareness Month, people have submitted snapshots telling us why they fight for youth justice. The winning submissions receive, a YJAM goody bag including great YJAM swag: a Childhood Interrupted DVD, YJAM bracelet, Playground to Prison poster, and a YJAM tote.

Change Agents for Youth Justice Reform

Angella Bellota Thursday, 31 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Voices

 

When pursuing change in your state, youth/adult partnerships are critical for campaign reform efforts. Youth are more than just their story and have a source of knowledge and leadership that should not be ignored. When young people are supported and treated as partners – their leadership shines through and their ability to meet the challenges of advocacy work, and  their ability to message the issue in unique ways, have led to some impressive moments. Check out some of the young leaders we’ve had the pleasure of working with in recent years. All are national spokespeople with Campaign for Youth Justice.

Jabriera Handy

image courtesy of Just Kids Partnership

We first met Jabriera when she was working on stopping a youth prison from being built in Maryland. She recently received the Spirit of Youth Award from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and she is currently a youth organizer for the Just Kids Partnership in her home state of Maryland.  In this excerpt, Jabriera testified before the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, sharing her experience as a way to educate and influence the task force on the critical need for reform.  The task force ultimately recommended what she had testified on: keep kids out the of the adult criminal justice system.

Good afternoon. My name is Jabreira Handy and I was exposed to violence as a youth incarcerated as an adult. At the age of 16, I was charged as an adult in the adult criminal justice system. It is because of my exposure to the adult system that I’m here to urge this task force not to expose any more young people to violence in the justice system, particularly in adult jails or prisons. It’s also fitting because this hearing comes as here, in the city of Baltimore, we are debating whether to build another adult jail for youth charged as adults, which disturbs me.

Words can't explain what I went through in the adult system. Tears hardly express the pain and discomfort of being judged as a criminal. At the age of sixteen, I got into an argument with my grandma. As she was disciplining me, I attempted to get her off me. I left the house and later on that day she died of a heart attack because of the argument. I was charged with her death. I was charged as an adult and spent eleven months in Baltimore City Detention Center. I was forced to shower with a woman twice my age and shamelessly exposed to a squat and cough in front of everyone while menstruating. I was neglected and did not receive the psychological and healthcare help I needed throughout my stay. I was treated as if I had been judged guilty of committing the crime or as they would say “as an adult.”

To read Jabriera’s complete testimony, click HERE

Michael Kemp

We met Michael after his release from prison and sadly 66 days after his release he was sent back.  We kept in touch through mail and after his release in 2010; he interned with us and ultimately became a spokesperson. Michael is a regular here at our office, he has been on several radio shows, was featured in The Washington Post and speaks regularly in classrooms, conferences and other events. He is a poet ambassador with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop in Washington, DC. In the clip below he talks about his visit with the U.S. Attorney General on reform efforts. He advocated for the appointment of an OJJDP Administrator and the critical need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue final PREA regulations especially to protect youth in the justice system. Regulations were issued six weeks after the meeting with the Attorney General.

Click HERE to watch a clip of Michael during the “BarackTalk” event sponsored by the National League of Young Voters

Nicole Miera

image courtesy of NY Times

We met Nicole when we worked together with her and other allies on the Direct File Campaign in Colorado.  She is very passionate and committed to sharing the atrocities of her brother’s suicide in the Denver County Jail.  She has testified in hearings and on Capitol Hill.  She recently spoke with The New York Times and shared her family’s story and the tragedy that happened to her teenage brother Jimmy Stewart. Nicole has been a strong advocate in her state and through the involvement of her and other youth justice allies - legislative reform in her state was achieved.

Click HERE to read Nicole’s interview with The New York Times 

Dwayne Betts


We met Dwayne soon after his release from prison.  Over the years he has been an advocate for removing youth from the adult court. He is a talented author and poet and is currently attending law school at Yale.   Dwayne was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice, the first young person who was directly impacted by the justice system to serve on this council. In August, he was asked to speak to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and here is a recap of his remarks:


Click HERE to watch Dwayne speak to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)


In seeing how much Jabriera, Michael, Nicole, and Dwayne have been able to accomplish as young leaders, we think the message is clear: Youth are critical change agents in any social justice movement. Many of us know from experience the difficult task of being an advocate, so it never ceases to inspire us when young people stand up and speak out for youth justice reform and other issues impacting their peers and communities. We believe that youth and their families are integral to making real change happen and hope that you will join all of us in continuing to expose the dangers of youth in the adult system.

Continue to follow the youth voices conversation this week, using:
#YouthVoices  #YJAM  #youthjustice
 
Remember to share your message on why #youthvoices matter!
 
 
To learn more about the Campaign for Youth Justice Spokesperson Bureau, contact:
 Aprill Turner, Communications & Media Director: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Liz Ryan receives Award in Leadership at NPJS Annual Symposium

Carmen Daugherty Wednesday, 30 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

 

Michael Jones and Liz Ryan

 

 

Liz Ryan receives Award in Leadership at NPJS Annual Symposium
 
On October 22nd, the Campaign’s own Liz Ryan received the James E. Gould Leadership and Vision Award at the 19th Annual National Partnership for Juvenile Services Symposium on Juvenile Services. During her speech, Liz stated, “We need to create some space for others to come forward. We believe in the capacity of young people to become successful and we need to model that ourselves.” “We want to create opportunities for more people in the field.”  
 
The award was created in honor and recognition of the late-James E. Gould, a veteran staff member from the U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), who advocated for funding to support juvenile confinement training and technical assistance initiative. In addition to recognizing the great work of Liz, Mr. Josh Delaney from the Department of Justice and Ms. Teresa Abreu from Cook County, Illinois Juvenile Detention Center also received awards for their expertise and leadership in youth justice issues. “ 
 
Additionally, CFYJ presented at the Symposium to share new information and learn what was happening in the field. The Symposium was filled with outstanding speakers and provided an opportunity to build partnerships for enhanced service delivery. The Campaign focused its remarks on removing youth from adult jails and prisons and placing them into juvenile facilities. The Campaign shared its latest report State Trends and detailed how some states successfully removed youth from adult jails and prisons through legislative changes, county resolutions, and agreements between state jails and juvenile corrections. 
 
Congrats, Liz!




Youth Justice Awareness Month: Advocate, Lend a Voice, Take Action

Monday, 28 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

By Alisha Carrington

The criminal adult system is no place for a child. In America over 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated every year. Many people are shocked at the statistics of the youth incarceration rate, but not many are willing to advocate, lend a voice and take action. Across the U.S. there are laws and policies that are harmful to children and place them right into adult jails and prisons where they rarely have access to education and rehabilitative services.

The Voices of Youth Justice Reform

Angella Bellota Sunday, 27 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Voices

In the last ten years, we have seen growing momentum in youth justice reform. Foundations, policymakers, child advocacy organizations, the legal community, and researchers have worked to educate the public and improve the juvenile justice system, but also the adult criminal justice system, where too many of our youth end up because of draconian state laws.

As critical as all of these allies are to the movement, the heart of the fight lives in our communities. There are too many examples of families who lose their children to the adult system who go it alone, to demand fairness and accountability from local and state leadership. And too many formerly incarcerated young people who return to their communities with adult records and find an antagonistic environment that is set up for them to fail instead of being directed to opportunities for a new start. Yet in the face of opposition, it is those most affected who take on the fight for justice, refuse to treat children as throwaways, and are courageous enough to put a face to the issue and to be messengers for reform.

Join the Conversation: Today is Girls Justice Day

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now


By Jeannette Pai-Espinosa

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The National Crittenton Foundation

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Today, October 23rd is Girls Justice Day and as it approached I kept thinking about the girls and young women who I have come to know over the last few years, who are or were involved with the Juvenile Justice system. Their stories are as diverse as they are, but one thing that remains constant is the way in which their early lives have been shaped for them by abuse, neglect, violence and the betrayal of their trust by the very people whose job it was to love and protect them. Their experiences are unthinkable to most of us and yet it is essential that we see them not as victims or “bad girls” but as courageous and resilient survivors that need support in order to heal.
 
You can get to know some of them on our website at NationalCrittenton.org.
 
Girls are an invisible part of the juvenile justice system but sadly their numbers have increased steadily over the past several decades, rising from 17 percent in 1980 to 29 percent in 2011. Most of these girls, up to 73 percent, have histories of physical and sexual violence, which precedes their entry into the criminal and juvenile justice system. A study of 319 girls in the juvenile justice system in Florida found that 64 percent reported past abuse, including 37 percent reporting abuse by a parent; 55 percent reporting abuse by someone other than a parent; and 27 percent reporting both types of abuse.
Compounding their exposure to violence and abuse is the fact that girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for “status offenses” and often receive more severe punishment than boys. Status offenses are behaviors that would not be considered offenses at the age of majority, such as skipping school, running away, breaking curfew and possession or use of alcohol. Girls who are in the Juvenile Justice system need gender-responsive, trauma-informed services to heal from the violence and toxic stress they have experienced.
 
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has provided direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements and has significantly contributed to the reduction of juvenile crime and delinquency. Of particular importance to girls is support of the “deinstitutionalization of status offenders” or “DSO provision.” The JJDPA also requires states to assess how their juvenile justice programs are serving girls and taking steps to implement gender responsive plans to better serve them. So make a difference today by encouraging Congress to reauthorize the JJDPA at increased funding levels…really, it’s the least we can do.
 
 
Just imagine for a minute how you would feel and what you would do if you learned that your child had been the victim of abuse – wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure they received the support they needed and to advocate for justice?
 
Now imagine that you are the child and you have no where and no one to go to……
 
Take action, make a difference, don’t let girls in the juvenile justice be invisible.
 
Join the conversation, here is how:

Twitter Messages-
  • Support girls in juvenile justice get appropriate svcs, protect youth & promote safe communities http://ow.ly/q1IE8 #YJAM #GirlsJustice   
  • Ensure that girls aren’t unnecessarily locked http://ow.ly/q1IE8 #YJAM #GirlsJustice 
  • Girls Justice Day-Learn about girls in juvenile justice & view Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls Report http://ow.ly/q1RR1

Facebook Messages-

  •  Did you know that that Juvenile Justice Delinquency Act (JJDPA) keeps youth from being locked up for actions that would not be considered offenses at the age of majority, which is a critical protection for girls? This is important for girls because girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses, thus ensuring girls are not unnecessarily locked up and exposed to negative influences and social stigmatization. Sign the petition to support girls at http://ow.ly/q1IE8 
  •  The Juvenile Justice Delinquency Act (JJDPA) also requires states to assess how their juvenile justice programs are serving girls and taking steps to implement gender responsive plans to better serve them, since most girls in the system have experienced severe violence and complex trauma in their lives before becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Support girls in juvenile justice get appropriate services by signing the petition that tells Congress to take action on the JJDPA at http://ow.ly/q1IE8.

 

CFYJ Presents at the19th National Symposium on Juvenile Services

Roger Ghatt Tuesday, 22 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

Join the Campaign for Youth Justice in celebrating the 19th National Symposium on Juvenile Services “Youth Development in Juvenile Justice: Promising Approaches, Positive Conditions and Safe and Protective Environments.” The event is sponsored by the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) and takes place on October 20-24, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. CFYJ will be hosting “Jail Removal of Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems: A State Trends Update,” a panel session that will discuss the policy reforms that a number of states have undertaken in the last decade, including the removal of youth from the adult criminal justice system and from adult jails and prisons. The panel will take place on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:15-4:45 p.m. The panelists will include CFYJ’s Director of Policy Carmen Daugherty.

 
NPJS is an umbrella organization who strives to advocate for the highest standards in care, management and programming for detained youth. Its mission is to strengthen training and professional development opportunities for practitioners and lead juvenile justice systemic reform efforts. For more information, you can visit their website, here
 
 

10 Years Too Long

Carmen Daugherty Monday, 21 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

 
More than a decade ago, a federal law was created to decrease and prevent prison rape and sexual assault in U.S. jails, prisons, detention centers, and lock ups. Yet, ten years later, youth under 18 are still at the highest risk of sexual victimization in adult detention facilities. With nearly 100,000 youth in adult jails and prisons each year, more must be done to protect youth under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
 
Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) creates awareness for youth in the adult system, and this week, YJAM will focus on raising awareness for the full implementation of PREA. 
 
PREA includes standards for youth under 18 in adult facilities. Unfortunately, the regulations do not call for the complete removal of kids in adult facilities, but Governors should see these regulations as a floor, not a ceiling.  Under PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard, facilities must keep youth under 18 sight and sound separated from adults. Often times, adult facilities use solitary confinement or “segregation” to keep youth safe and away from adult offenders. Sadly, youth placed in solitary or segregation are not any safer since we know that youth in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than their counterparts in juvenile facilities. To account for this, the Youthful Inmate Standard states that the use of isolation should not be used as a means to separate youth from adults.
 
We know that most juvenile justice systems across the country are better equipped to provide developmentally appropriate programs and services for youth. Additionally, youth in juvenile facilities receive true rehabilitative services that lower the chances of recidivism and provide a real opportunity to reenter their communities successfully.
 
Right now, states are auditing their detention facilities—jails, prisons, lock ups--to see if each is in compliance with PREA. Governors must certify whether their state meets basic requirements spelled out by PREA to keep inmates safe from sexual assault. This week, we are calling on you to tell your Governors to fully implement the Youthful Inmate Standard of PREA and tell the oversight agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, to have a stronger voice to protect children held in adult facilities.

We can not let another 10 years go by without states removing children from adult jails and prisons. Take action today. Let the U.S. Attorney General know that kids need to be removed from adult jails and prisons. 

 
 
Join us this week in continuing the conversation on youth justice issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter using: 
 
#ImplementPREA   #YJAM   #youthjustice

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