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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.

Ten Years After the C4YJ Launches, We Are Not Done

Jason Ziedenberg, Research and Policy Director, The Justice Policy Institute Thursday, 03 November 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Impact Webslider

By Jason Ziedenberg, Research and Policy Director, The Justice Policy Institute: a think tank that served as the Campaign for Youth Justice’s fiscal sponsor when the project was launched in 2006.  

Last year, I got one of those calls that all of us fear. A friend whose stepson faced transfer to the adult court called me, looking for advice on anything I might know about how a young person might be treated when they were on adult probation. The young person eventually accepted a plea that resulted their being convicted on an adult felony, and avoided being in jail, and placed on probation because of the zealous advocacy of their parents.

For me, that call underlined that as the Campaign for Youth Justice celebrates its ten year anniversary, our collective work to end the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system is by no means finished.

Thank You for #YJAM 2016!

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

YJAM Thank You 11


As another Youth Justice Awareness Action Month draws to a close, there are at least two very important things left to do:


First: VOTE!
Organizing events, webinars, and online chats is vital for raising awareness and building support for positive changes to the way we approach youth justice, but on November 8, we can put that awareness into action. Folks in California can vote #YesOnProp57, and end the power of prosecutors to direct file kids into the adult court. In other states, voters can choose who prosecutes and/or judges our youth in courts of law, as well as legislators to pass and Governors to sign laws that reform flawed youth justice practices.


Second: Tell your Senator to vote to update the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
The JJDPA has been providing support for our country’s youth for over 40 years, and the new version (which has already passed in the U.S. House), will do even more to set standards and protections for youth in state juvenile justice programs. Tuesday, Nov 15. Call Sen McConnell 202-224-2541 and Sen Reid 202-224-3542 and ask them to pass JJDPA this Congress!


Let’s close #YJAM 2016 with a bang, by taking action in these two very important ways!

Guest Column: Empowering the Unheard

Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth Monday, 31 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

I spend my days working to reform our justice system and volunteering in prisons and juvenile detention centers because my experience is similar to that of many youth who enter of justice system.

When I was 18, I was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years after I was convicted of felony murder. Despite the horror of that situation, my story neither begins nor ends with it.

 

Alternatives to Youth Incarceration: New Report Calls for the End of Youth Prisons

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director Friday, 28 October 2016 Posted in Federal Update

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

“We do not need these huge facilities because all they do is break us down.”  Da’Quon Beaver, a community organizer for the RISE for Youth Campaign, recounted his experience of incarceration in several of Virginia’s large youth prisons on a panel held at the Department of Justice on Friday, October 21st. 

The panel discussion was preceded by a presentation of a new report entitled, The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model.  The report was written in collaboration between the Harvard Kennedy School and the National Institute of Justice.  It documents not only the failure of the youth prison model, but several state campaigns around the country to replace the model with community-based programs and placements for youth. 

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