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Removing Youth from Adult Jails & Prisons is a Racial Justice Issue: Making the Shift in Connecticut away from Prisons & Toward Communities

Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director Thursday, 18 April 2019 Posted in Campaigns

Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

When I was finally let into general population, entering into my cottage, I felt like I was walking into a dog pound, all of the youth banging on the doors to get my attention to send threats. While I was passing every door I would look at the kid behind it. All I could see were kids, black like me, that had been turned out due to the system.
- Romelo Gross, formerly incarcerated in Manson Youth Institution

On Monday, April 15th, Connecticut legislators Senator Gary Winfield, Representative Toni Walker, and Representative Robyn Porter joined the young adult leaders of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance Justice Advisors program to discuss how to shift away from holding children in adult jails and prisons in the state.  

A recurring theme throughout the event was that the prosecution and incarceration of children as adults has its roots in slavery and racial terror.  As a result, the punishment of adultification is most often reserved for black youth. This is true in Connecticut and nationally, where black youth are disproportionately represented in adult courts, jails and prisons.  This holds true even as the United States has reduced its daily population of youth in adult jails and prisons  by 53% since 2010, from 9,855 on any given night to 4,656.  

D.C. Emancipation Day

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO Tuesday, 16 April 2019 Posted in 2019

Every April 16, Washingtonians celebrate the anniversary of the day that more than 3,000 of its residents were emancipated from slavery. One-hundred and fifty-seven years after slavery officially ended in the District, the legacy of slavery remains with us in the nation’s capital. Through the halls of Congress and the White House, both erected through the labor of enslaved people to the current lack of representation in the U.S. Congress, we are reminded of the many ways that the residents of the District of Columbia are still fighting for freedom and equality.

OJJDP Data Supports the “Raise the Age Effect”

Hannah Kehrer, CFYJ State & Communications Fellow Tuesday, 26 March 2019 Posted in 2019

At the beginning of the year, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released multiple new data reports; one specifically highlighting the “Arrest Characteristics of Older Juveniles and Young Adults.” These data points show that since 2008, arrest rates have declined 60% for ages 15–17, 50% for ages 18–20, and 31% for ages 21–24. As states have “Raised the Age” of criminal responsibility to 18 or higher, the arrest rates of 18-20 year olds is also falling faster than other age groups in the adult systems.

Raise the Age Month

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Monday, 25 March 2019 Posted in 2019

It started on the last day of February, when Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced his intention to “Raise the Age” of adult court jurisdiction to 18 as part of his executive budget. By mid-March, all four states that have yet to pass such “Raise the Age” legislation had taken significant actions towards doing so.

Kent v. U.S. 53 Years Later

Hannah Roberts Thursday, 21 March 2019 Posted in 2019

March 21, 2019 marks the 53rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kent v. United States.  In Kent, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the juvenile court judge’s cursory consideration of Morris Kent’s case before transferring him to adult court violated DC’s Juvenile Court Act which required “full investigation” as well as fundamental due process.

How Social Workers Help Keep Youth Out of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Jeree Thomas and Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 19 March 2019 Posted in 2019

March is Social Work Month.  This month we thank and celebrate social workers across the country for the incredible impact they have on the most vulnerable youth and adults in our communities. The categorizes the following key action areas unique to social work:  promoting social change, problem solving in human relationships, and empowering and liberating all people. Given this, it is no surprise that social workers play a vital role in youth justice reform.

State Spotlight: Challenging Juvenile Transfer in Florida

Hannah Roberts, CFYJ Policy & Research Legal Fellow & Jeree Thomas, Policy Director Thursday, 14 March 2019 Posted in Campaigns

2019 is shaping up to be a transformative year for juvenile and criminal justice reform in Florida.  Florida legislators are considering 15 bills related to the transfer and treatment of youth prosecuted and incarcerated as adults in the state.  S.B. 850 and H.B. 339 eliminate mandatory transfer and prohibit the direct file of 14 and 15-year olds to adult court. S.B. 870 and HB 575 prohibit detaining youth awaiting trial in adult jails except in limited circumstances when a judge determines its in the interest of justice. S.B. 876, H.B. 1293, and HB 575 allow youth transferred to adult court to request a hearing to determine whether they must remain in adult court.

A.C.T. to End Racism

Marcy Mistrett Monday, 11 March 2019 Posted in 2019

Many activists and organizers are well versed in the ways that structural racism drives unfair outcomes for youth who come in contact with the law.  It is well documented that despite a near 60% drop in youth incarceration and continued falling arrest rates that in many places racial and ethnic disparities are increasing despite reform efforts.  Youth of color, particularly Black youth, who are charged, incarcerated, and sentenced as adults heavily bear the burden of these disparities. Not only are they treated more harshly than their white counterparts when arrested with the same crimes; but they are sentenced more extremely, often getting longer sentences than adults who commit similar crimes. This is unacceptable.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Submission

Rachel Marshall Wednesday, 06 March 2019 Posted in 2019

This month, the United Nations’ (U.N.) Human Rights Committee will begin the process for its periodic review of U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR requires state members to enforce a wide range of human rights and was ratified by the U.S. in 1992. While the U.S. often presents itself as a beacon for upholding human rights, past reviews have revealed that the U.S. continues to fail to meet its obligations under the ICCPR. International law, including the ICCPR, recognizes that children in conflict with the law have the right to special protection because of their youth, capacity for change, and the long term detrimental impact that adult criminal punishments can have during a crucial time in their development.

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