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Across the Country

Vera Institute of Justice and National PREA Resource Center to Host Webinar on Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard of PREA

Monday, 13 May 2013 Posted in Across the Country

On Thursday, May 16th, the Vera Institute of Justice in conjunction with the National PREA Resource Center will host the first of two scheduled webinars on implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The webinar will be held at 3:00 p.m.
 
The Youthful Inmate Standard requires all prisons, jails, lock ups, and detention facilities to provide sight and sound separation between youth and adults while restricting the use of solitary confinement and isolation practices. This much anticipated webinar will be the first opportunity to learn how states plan to implement this standard and protect one of the most vulnerable populations in adult facilities. This is a critical time to address this issue because we know that:
 
  •   youth in jail are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in the general population;   
  • youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility; and
  •   to “protect” the youth in adult facilities, some jails and prisons keep youth in solitary isolation for upwards of 23 hours a day.
 
We hope you can participate on Thursday to learn what your state is doing to protect children in adult facilities. Register here for the webinar.

CFYJ Mother's Day Card Signing Event with Justice for Juniors

Thursday, 02 May 2013 Posted in Across the Country

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Yesterday, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), along with Justice for Juniors, held an event at the George Washington University for our Mother’s Day Card initiative. Justice for Juniors is a branch of George Washington University’s Protestant Campus Ministry association whose main focus is juvenile recidivism within Washington D.C.
 
 Every Mother’s Day, CFYJ sends Mother’s Day cards to women that have impacted the lives of the prisoners we correspond with. Mother’s Day is one of many holidays that the prisoners we correspond with are away from their loved ones which can be very difficult.  CFYJ attempts to aid this pain during this emotional time by being the voice for those currently incarcerated through Mother’s Day cards.
 
The event was a success, with about 20 students and volunteers in attendance. The first portion of the evening consisted of CFYJ spokespeople, Michael Kemp and Keela Hailes, as well as  a screening of CFYJ’s, Childhood Interrupted. Michael spoke on being able to participate in the Mother’s Day initiative while he was incarcerated and Keela spoke on the feelings as a mother of a child who was incarcerated. During the second portion of the evening, the volunteers helped sign Mother’s Day cards on behalf of those currently incarcerated. Each card also included a personalized message that came directly from their loved one. In total, nearly 120 Mother’s Day cards were sent to the strong women who have supported and loved those incarcerated, through the good times and the bad.
 
For pictures from last night’s event, please visit , here. 

North Carolina Kids Still in Danger: HB 217 Moves to Appropriations

Angella Bellota Thursday, 25 April 2013 Posted in Across the Country, Take Action Now

On April 17, committee members of Judiciary Subcommittee B convened and passed an amended version of HB 217 which is now scheduled to go to the Appropriations Committee. The language for the updated bill can be found, here.

 
HB 217 now includes two sections on juvenile transfer. Although there have been changes to the language about juvenile transfer, it is not enough.  North Carolina youth are still in danger of being sent to the adult criminal justice system. Specifically, the updated bill now states:
  
  •  B1 and B2 felonies committed by 15 year olds would be subject to prosecutorial discretion; and
  • All other felonies (C – E classifications) committed by 15 year olds will be sent to a study committee of Judiciary B Subcommittee to determine how often a prosecutor’s request for transfer is denied by the judiciary. 
 
“We are trying to solve a problem that does not exist…”
 
During the discussions before a vote on HB 217, many of the committee members questioned the need for the juvenile transfer section of the bill since judges currently have the discretion to decide whether or not a case can be transferred. Sponsors of the bill believed that prosecutors’ requests for transfers were being denied by judges at a high rate, but did not provide any evidence for this belief. 
 
In a state that is currently trying to evaluate how to most effectively use its limited resources, the North Carolina juvenile transfer section of HB 217 clearly reads as a misinformed and counterproductive policy recommendation.  
 
This is why a variety of expert practitioners - judges, university professors, attorneys, and legislators – have taken a stand to oppose the juvenile transfer section of HB 217. Although adjustments have been made to the language of the bill, the changes are not enough. Advocates from across the state are standing their ground and refuse to see the removal of judicial discretion and refuse to let ineffective policies like HB 217 throw more kids into the adult criminal justice system. One message still rings clear:


We must remove the juvenile transfer sections of HB 217!
 
The Campaign for Youth Justice and other organizations have vowed to continue providing support to North Carolina advocates and youth leaders who are doing all they can to protect NC kids. Here is how you can join them in their efforts:
 
#1 GET THE FACTS: North Carolina advocates have developed a new fact sheet that can inform all youth justice allies about HB 217 and the consequences it would have on youth and families if it were to pass. You can find the fact sheet, here.
 
#2 CONNECT: A new committee means connecting with NC legislators that now have the power to stop this bill. Use the script below to send a message to the Appropriations leadership. 
 
I urge you to oppose the juvenile transfer sections of HB 217. Deciding which court a youth should be processed through is a life-altering decision. Removing judicial oversight would lead to the unchecked prosecution of children in adult court. Prosecutors should NOT be given complete discretion over our children’s future. Oppose the juvenile transfer sections of HB 217 in order to maintain the appropriate checks and balances in NC’s court system. 
 
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
Legislator
Phone
Email
County/District
Rep. Nelson Dollar (Senior Chairman)
                919-715-0795
 
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Wake
Rep. Justin Burr (Chairman)
                919-733-5908
 
                This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Montgomery, Stanly
Rep. Bryan Holloway (Chairman)
 
919-733-5609
 
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Rockingham, Stokes
Rep.  Linda Johnson (Chairman)
                919-733-5861
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Cabarrus
 
#3 ACTIVATE: There are no easy wins when it comes to fighting for youth justice, so it is critical that you activate your networks on this detrimental bill. Please share this update and stay tuned for more action steps. To get connected with the youth leaders and organizations spearheading this effort in North Carolina, contact Angella Bellota, CFYJ Field Organizer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
 

CFYJ National Spokesperson Deon Jones selected as a 2013 Truman Scholar

Friday, 12 April 2013 Posted in Across the Country

 

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By Roger Ghatt

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation announced today the names of 62 exceptional college juniors from 54 U.S. colleges and universities who have been selected as 2013 Truman Scholars. The Campaign for Youth Justice is happy to announce that Deon Jones a National Youth Spokesperson for CFYJ has received a 2013 Truman Scholarship. Deon is a junior at American University majoring in political science. He is also founder of the Manifest Leadership Institute, a leadership program that caters to incarcerated youth. Deon was chosen for this prestigious award on the basis of his stellar academic and leadership accomplishments and the likelihood of his becoming an influential public service leader. As a Truman Scholar, Deon will receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
 
Deon is a dedicated public servant who has chosen as his career goal juvenile justice advocacy. The Campaign already considers him one of our leaders and someone to watch for the future. He will receive the award in a special ceremony at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, on June 2, 2013.
 
The Campaign for Youth Justice congratulates Deon on this esteemed accomplishment.

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!

CFYJ Welcomes Two New Employees!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 Posted in Across the Country

The Campaign for Youth Justice is excited to welcome two new senior staff members who have recently joined us this January. Aprill O. Turner, originally from Clearwater, Florida, will be the new Communications Director while Carmen Daugherty, native of Louisville Kentucky, will be the new Policy Director.

Our new Communications Director, Aprill is a Public Relations professional with more than twelve years of experience working with non-profit and corporate clients, as well as elected officials. Prior to coming to the Campaign for Youth Justice, Aprill has been a Communications Consultant for the National Association of Black Journalists, Senior Account Executive at CooperKatz Public Relations in New York City, as well as planned and conducted media outreach initiatives for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights. In addition, Aprill has worked on Capitol Hill in several media capacities as well as leading media strategy for several local, Congressional and Senatorial campaigns. Aprill obtained her Bachelor's degree in Legal Communications from Howard University and a Master's degree in Political Communication and Fundraising from The George Washington University. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Washington Association of Black Journalists.

As the new Communications Director, Aprill wishes to increase the exposure of the Campaign for Youth Justice in the organization’s target states as well as at the federal level. She was drawn to the Campaign by their clear focus on juvenile justice issues and wishes to spread that message further and wider.

Prior to joining the Campaign, Carmen, our new Policy Director, served as Deputy Director and staff attorney for Advocates for Justice and Education, a DC based non-profit, formed to educate parents, youth, and the community about the laws governing public education, specifically for children with special needs. In 2008, Carmen was appointed to the D.C. Mayor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Group where she works with city stakeholders to provide recommendations on district compliance with the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act. She also co-chairs the American Bar Association section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Public Education Committee which seeks to protect and advance the right of equal access and opportunity to public education for all people. Carmen received her undergraduate degree from Vassar College and her Juris Doctor from Tulane University School of Law.

As the Campaign’s Policy Director, Carmen assists both state based organizations and national partners in developing policy goals related to criminal justice reform. Carmen aspires to keep state level policy makers well informed about the policy options available to ensure that the long term outcome of legislation is beneficial rather than detrimental to the youth.

Both Aprill and Carmen are excited to be joining the Campaign’s efforts to raising awareness about youth incarceration in the adult criminal justice system!

New Web Resource to “Promote Safe Communities”

Wednesday, 16 January 2013 Posted in Across the Country


The National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) is pleased to announce a new web resource “Promote Safe Communities” available at: http://www.promotesafecommunities.org/.  The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) is a collaborative array of youth- and family- serving, social justice, law enforcement, corrections, and faith-based organizations, working to ensure healthy families, build strong communities and improve public safety by promoting fair and effective policies, practices and programs for youth involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

The website features:


Please post a link to your website in the comments field, and check the website often for action alerts, news updates, and upcoming meeting notices to stay involved with the work of the NJJDPC!

We appreciate your sharing this new resource with your networks!


In Response to Newtown: Recommendations from the Juvenile Justice Community

Monday, 07 January 2013 Posted in Across the Country, Research & Policy

As a member of the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), we participated in drafting a statement and recommendations for the Congress and the Administration in response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The tragic December 14th shootings in Newtown, Connecticut shook our nation’s confidence in its ability to prevent future violence and keep our children and our communities safe. While the Newtown incident was horrifying and shocking, it represents a small portion of the violence experienced by America’s youth. Tragedies like Newtown are exceedingly rare, but invite us to remember that in far too many communities, violence is common. As lawmakers discuss potential solutions to keep our communities and our children safer, including limits to the widespread accessibility of firearms, both illegal and legal, in the United States, we offer the expertise of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) and provide recommendations for a comprehensive approach to reduce violence and keep children and communities safe.

We hope that Congress and the Administration will utilize these recommendations in addressing potential policies to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future.

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