logobyline

twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Take Action Now

South Carolina Advocates Urge Legislators to Improve its JJ System to Serve Youth and Implement Raise the Age

Thursday, 23 February 2017 Posted in Take Action Now

By Jeree Thomas, Policy Director

Advocates across South Carolina submitted a letter to the South Carolina House Legislative Oversight Committee today.  The letter was in response to a January 2017 report by the Legislative Audit Council that found the following about the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ):

- DJJ had two uninvestigated and unreported deaths of youth in their care;
-  A lack of sufficient training for juvenile correctional officers;
- Non-compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA);
- Incomplete and inaccurate data tracking on the progress of youth in the system;
- Lack of accountability and quality assurance of juvenile services at the county-level and in its wilderness camps.

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.

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.

Chalking for Justice During Youth Justice ACTION Month

Jade Kendrick Thursday, 13 October 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

 

#YJAM has started off with a bang! Voices across the nation are raising awareness about youth justice. But there is another more artistic form of activism: Chalking! Chalk is a fun, harmless way of creating art while also sending a message. It's a perfect way to engage all ages into #YJAM festivities! So help us hit it the pavement and chalk up phrases and images to spread the #YJAM message. Then take a picture of your creation, share it on social media, and use the hashtag #YJAM.  No action is too small to bring awareness! Its as simple as chalking!

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 29 September 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is almost here, and this month we are turning Awareness into Action!

YJAM’s goal is to bring attention to a movement that prevents youth from entering the adult criminal justice system. Nearly 200,000 youths a year are tried, convicted, and incarcerated as adults in our country annually. YJAM works to unite people to take a stand together and become the voices for the silenced, incarcerated youths of their communities. For the past 8 years, people nationwide have hosted YJAM events and fundraisers. This October, you can also bring the movement to your community!

Visit our website, www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/yjam to learn more about YJAM and access an event planning guide. Our guide will help you plan anything from a dinner party to a concert and festival. You can also donate and encourage friends to sign up for our weekly YJAM newsletter to receive news on upcoming YJAM walk/5ks, film screenings, and other YJAM events near you (Sign up).

Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@justiceforyouth), Facebook (Campaign for Youth Justice) and Instagram (@justiceforyouth), to stay up to date on the latest juvenile justice news and happenings.

Also please,follow the hashtag #YJAM to see what others are doing for the month and share your own YJAM event and pictures! We hope you are inspired to take action, and together, we can stop the prosecution of juveniles as adults.

Thank you for your continued support. Let’s get ready to YJAM!

Register, Vote, and Reform

Emily Sands & Brian Evans Monday, 26 September 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count! Today is National Voter Registration Day, and it is vital to ensure you are able to cast your ballot on Election Day. One of the best ways to fight for youth justice is to vote for those who have the power to create legislative policy change. The children that are impacted by this legislation have to rely on the voting power of those who are of legal voting age.  You can be their advocate during this election!

The statistics on voter registration and participation are grim. The census bureau reported that in the 2012 presidential election only 65% of all citizens were registered to vote and only about 57% actually voted. The numbers for local and state elections are even lower. It is important not to get caught in this apathetic voting trap. Your vote will help choose representatives who understand the importance of creating a justice system that protects children.  

The power of voting isn’t only relevant at the national level. It is equally as significant to vote for your local representatives. Whether you are voting for judges, prosecutors, or state legislators, each vote can act as a step toward reform.  Your local representatives are going to have the greatest impact on possible policy changes, and your prosecutors and judges will have a tremendous impact on how youth are treated in practice.

Those you elect will be making vital decisions that could drastically improve the lives of kids most susceptible to being abandoned to the adult justice system. Policies such as raising the age for being tried as an adult, eliminating solitary confinement for juveniles, and creating alternatives to the traditional juvenile system are just a few of the ways we can construct a safer justice system for youth. We can no longer wait to address these issues when the risks for children in the system are so high. Don’t leave it to someone else to confront these challenges. You can play a powerful role in the campaign by casting your ballot and allowing your voice to be heard.

So don’t wait! Be part of the efforts to change the system and register to vote today!  

April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month - #ImplementPREA Week of Action: April 25th-29th

Monday, 11 April 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Over a decade ago, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) unanimously passed Congress.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued final regulations in August 2012 to implement PREA in order to end sexual violence behind bars. YOUR VOICE was instrumental in getting these regulations published and the Youthful Inmate Standard is a powerful tool in removing youth from adult jails and prisons.

Now we need you to help us #ImplementPREA!

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission found that, "more than any other group of incarcerated persons, youth incarcerated with adults are probably at the highest risk for sexual abuse."  In a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics’ study, data showed that three-quarters of youthful inmates aged 16 and 17 that reported sexual abuse (75.5%) were victimized more than once by staff and less than 1 in 10 reported the staff sexual misconduct to anyone.   Additionally, two-thirds (65.5%) of those youth that reported abuse were victimized more than once by other inmates. Yet, still on any given day, over 5,000 youth are detained or confined in adult jails and prisons.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During the week of April 25th, you can help CFYJ highlight PREA efforts across the country, at the state and federal levels. By May 15th, Governors will have to certify whether their state is in compliance with PREA, or make assurances that federal dollars will be used to come into compliance.

Help us monitor state responses and continue to advocate for full PREA implementation. Use #ImplementPREA to show your support.

Please visit our blog during the week of April 25th for updates on PREA from around the country.

Stay tuned for a possible #ImplementPREA Tweet chat during that week.

Additionally, here are some sample posts for social media, please share:

Twitter:

"There's No Excuse" national week of action to end prison rape #ImplementPREA

Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to end sexual abuse behind bars. Act now to #ImplementPREA

PROBLEM: Jails & prisons are not equipped to protect youth from dangers of adult facilities. SOLUTION: #ImplementPREA

PREA would help the more than 2 million people behind bars including the 100K youth in jails & prisons every day  #ImplementPREA

There's No Excuse! Protect Children from Rape in Adult Jails & Prisons. Take Action TODAY #ImplementPREA

Implementing PREA will save lives. Join our efforts to protect youth behind bars #ImplementPREA

Facebook:

On any given day, over 5,000 youth are confined in adult jails and prisons. Research shows that youth are not safe in adult facilities and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization. Youth are 36X more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. Take Action during the "There's No Excuse" #ImplementPREA.

Prison rape is no laughing matter: More than 2 million people behind bars including youth in jails & prisons are at risk of sexual abuse every day. The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to end sexual abuse behind bars. It’s time for Governors to ensure that PREA is implemented in every state. Learn more and take action #ImplementPREA.


In Solidarity,

The Campaign for Youth Justice

Momentum for Youth Justice in 2016

Thursday, 11 February 2016 Posted in Across the Country, Campaigns, Take Action Now

By Anne-Lise Vray, Juvenile Justice Fellow

The year 2016 has started off very well for youth justice issues, as actions and movements throughout the country have raised hopes of a positive evolution towards reforming and ending the adultification of youth. On the national level, the most important step at the beginning of this year was taken by President Obama, who used his executive authority to end the use of solitary confinement for youth in the federal prison system. Almost at the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that its Miller v. Alabama decision, which found that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment, was retroactive.

At the state level too, great movement is underway, from California where Governor Brown officially showed his support for a sentencing reform referendum that would include ending direct file, to Wisconsin where a report recommending raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction has just been released. Legislation in Wisconsin to do just that is pending. Earlier this month, another report, authorized by the Louisiana legislature, analyzed the benefits of raising the age in Louisiana and advocated strongly in favor of doing so. Louisiana’s legislative session starts in mid-March.

Additionally, a lot of legislative action is already happening across the country, with the potential of improving the lives of thousands of kids. This week should be crucial for the future of key bills dealing with juvenile justice issues, starting on Wednesday in Missouri with a Senate Committee hearing on SB 618 and SB 684, two bills that would keep more kids out of adult facilities.

In Florida, a second hearing on SB 314 was held today, February 11th. This bill would modify the direct file statutes to decrease the number of offenses in which a child can be direct filed in criminal court and create a reverse waiver mechanism. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee today, after passing unanimously out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee late last year. Today also, the conservative James Madison Institute released a report analyzing the long-term costs of the bill, and recommending that it be supported.

Additionally today, another hearing took place in Maryland on SB 243, a bill which would repeal laws that allow the automatic transfer of kids into the adult system. Finally, Michigan’s House Committee on Criminal Justice is expected to vote on a raise the age reform any day now.

Show your support, take action and be part of this movement of change. Together, we can create a better future for our children and a safer, fairer society.

Changing Youth Lives Through Testimony and Awareness

Alton Pitre - Juvenile Justice Advocate Thursday, 01 October 2015 Posted in Take Action Now

YJAM FB square 01Several years ago I found myself facing adult time as a teen in Los Angeles. I was held in detention for two years, serving dead time fighting my “fitness,” a court process where they were “determining” if I would be tried as a juvenile or an adult for a crime for which I was later exonerated. Presuming that I would be charged as an adult, I was housed separately from other youth in the detention center, even though we were all the same age. Through the years I spent pending my trial and since my release, I’ve learned that the juvenile justice system is failing our youth all over the nation, and it is time for everyone to realize that in its current state it is destructive and ineffective. 

I am constantly amazed yet distraught at how America treats its youth who are in essence its’ most vulnerable and teachable citizens. It’s true when people say that our children are the future but how can they ever be if they are often thrown away to die in prison? Sadly, the United States is the only country that does so.

When kids are locked up as adults they are immediately subjected to punishment instead of rehabilitation. Hence, they are deprived of the care and treatment necessary to turn their lives around; instead they are exposed to threats and acts, of physical, sexual and mental trauma and abuse. For their “protection” from this abuse, they are welcomed into the beautiful world of solitary confinement, burying them alive and permanently interrupting healthy brain development.

I have countless childhood friends who have lost the rest of their fruitful lives to the prison system. Yes, children will make mistakes; some will make bad mistakes depending on the type of environment they were raised in and the supports they had (or lacked). However, children shouldn’t be judged solely on the type of crime they committed but also considering the contributing background factors leading up to why they did it.  They should have the chance to learn from their mistakes and choose differently.

Currently, I am a  24-year-old, full-time student at Morehouse College and ambassador for juvenile justice reform. Through sharing my story of overcoming both the mean streets of Los Angeles and incarceration, I have been able to travel the country writing and speaking about this injustice. I have written op-eds that have gained the likes of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Michael Eric Dyson, Rosie O’Donnell, and Orange is the New Black’s author Piper Kerman, all, who have shared them on their Twitter accounts.

In California, I participate in lobbying efforts with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), advocating for legislation that provides second chances to youthful offenders. This September, ARC helped passed SB261, which extends parole eligibility to 16,000 offenders under the age of 23. I also visited D.C. with ARC on a policy trip advocating for criminal justice reform at the White House.

This summer, I visited Washington D.C. again, interning with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization where I was able to extend my political advocacy on a national level. There I attended congressional briefings and met with members of Congress, advocating for reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The JJDPA addresses youth in detention by providing funding to state programs that serve at-risk youth, addressing disproportionate minority contact (DMC) and removing status offenders from secure detention and youth from adult jails, or at least ensuring sight and sound separation. You can take action for the JJDPA here.

The practice of locking up and trying kids as adults is harmful to our youth and the world. Youth sentenced as adults are often condemned without a chance to redeem their freedom, even after they have been truly rehabilitated and served many years in prison. It is imperative that awareness of this devastating problem is brought to the attention of everyone in our nation, especially our law enforcement and policymakers. No child should be subjugated to this type of tyranny.

This month is Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM). As fellow caring human beings and advocates for justice, now is the time to challenge ourselves to get involved in this movement. We must use our personal stories and experiences to change the minds and hearts of those in power. Our children deserve to be treated like the children they are.

Written by Alton Pitre, Juvenile Justice Advocate.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RDmeXbqPBA
https://twitter.com/thejayalligator
http://jjie.org/author/altonpitre

YJAM: A Month to Celebrate … and Keep Fighting for Juvenile Justice

Marcy Mistrett Wednesday, 30 September 2015 Posted in Take Action Now

left hand outstretched11The chorus of voices calling for criminal and youth justice reform, from all points of the political spectrum, has never been louder. This is a good thing, yet some groups, like youth charged as adults, continue to fall through the cracks. That’s why Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is more important than ever.

Since its first year back in 2008, YJAM has continued to grow, with more groups holding more events in more places.  Also since that time, 30 of states have passed 48 laws reforming the system and reducing the number of kids subjected to the adult criminal justice system.

But while we should celebrate these steps forward, we have to acknowledge that there is MUCH left to do.  The way we treat kids in our justice system is directly contradicted by science, and continues to be riddled with racial biases and disparities. Nine states still need to “Raise the Age” because they consider all youth to be criminally responsible at age 17 (or in the case of New York and North Carolina, age 16), no matter how minimal the charge. Fifteen states still empower prosecutors to “Directly File” kids into the adult criminal justice system without any judicial review. 23 states (including Washington, DC) have not set a minimum age of when a child can be prosecuted as an adult.  Kids are too often still housed in adult jails and prisons, either with adult prisoners, or isolated in solitary confinement.

Raising awareness is an essential first step to ending these practices, and raising awareness is what YJAM is all about.  Throughout this month, CFYJ and other groups and individuals will be highlighting the stories of those directly impacted by, and those with expert knowledge of, this system that unjustly (and counter-productively) treats kids as adults.

Please help us share and amplify these stories; they are the key to opening the hearts and minds of those with the authority to legislate change. Below find the top five ways you can join the movement:

TWEETS

Pres Obama declares October Youth Justice Awareness Month! http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1 #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters

YJAM is here!  Learn more about Youth Justice Awareness Month and get involved http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1 #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters

It's official!  October is Youth Justice Awareness Month.  Check it out at http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1 #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters

Time to get your #YJAM on!  http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1   #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters


FACEBOOK

President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation declaring October 'National Youth Justice Awareness Month' and calls on Americans to "observe this month by getting involved in community efforts to support our youth, and by participating in appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs." http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1 #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters

Today kicks off Youth Justice Awareness Month and the White House has made it official!  Check out the President's proclamation and learn more about how you can get involved!http://bit.ly/1KOKfD1 #YJAM #youthjustice #JJDPAmatters

[12 3 4 5  >>