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Articles tagged with: Marcy Mistrett

#JuviePodcast Youth Justice Awareness Month – Marcy Mistrett Interview

Aprill O. Turner Monday, 10 October 2016 Posted in 2016, Voices

This post was taken from Juvie Podcast and the full article and podcast can be found here

A summons to Action in spreading Awareness about juvenile justice!

Did you know that in the United States, children who commit crimes, whatevertheir age, start out automatically in the adult criminal justice system, and that most defense attorneys who work with children and youth have no specialist knowledge or training in child and adolescent developmental factors? Did you know that a 12-year-old will be completely cut off from any parental access if they are processed through the adult system?

If you would like to know what really goes on when children and youth come into contact with the American criminal justice system, listen in. You are bound to learn a thing or few that will surprise, and even shock you.

We talk to Marcy Mistrett, CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington DC, a national advocacy organization committed to ending the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of children and youth in the adult criminal justice system. Every year, in October, CFYJ  promotes Youth Justice Awareness Month. We talk about some of the juvenile justice issues important for public awareness.

Listen here.

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 29 September 2016 Posted in 2016, 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!

Important First Steps to End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Federal Prisons

Marcy Mistreet Tuesday, 26 January 2016 Posted in 2016, Federal Update

President Obama Takes Important First Steps to End Solitary Confinement for Youth in Federal Prisons

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

In a historic moment yesterday, President Obama used his executive authority to end the use of solitary confinement for youth in the federal prison system.

This action is incredibly important to the numerous youth who are prosecuted and sentenced as adults in the federal bureau of prisons each year.  Youth housed in adult facilities are often subject to solitary confinement as a perverse means of “protecting” them from the adult population; making the abuse even more egregious for this population. Citing a Department of Justice review of the overuse and abuse of solitary confinement by the federal bureau of prisons, Mr. Obama called upon our “common humanity” to end this torturous practice.

The 53 recommendations drawn by the Department of Justice will apply to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the US Marshalls Service, but also sends a strong message to states to create a less harmful environment for those in its care.  The recommendations state that youth under age 18 “shall not be placed in restrictive housing”.  They further state that in “very rare” circumstances when there is serious and immediate risk of injury to another person, a youth may be removed and placed in restrictive housing as a “cool down” period—but only in consultation with a mental health professional.  While the recommendations stop short of articulating a specific maximum length of time allowed in those “very rare circumstances”, the recommendations clearly state that youth under 18 don’t belong in isolation, period.

But the recommendations go farther, and include recommendations for youth ages 18-24 that include training all correctional staff on young adult brain development and de-escalation tactics; developmentally responsive policies and practices including therapeutic housing communities and services to reduce the number of incidents that could lead to restrictive housing; and call to limit the use of restrictive housing whenever possible, and if used, to limit the length of stay and to identify appropriate services they can receive while in restrictive housing.

These recommendations are important first steps to ending the use of solitary confinement for youth.  The harmful effects of solitary confinement are well documented.  Individuals subjected to such extreme deprivation, locked in isolation for 23 hours a day for weeks, months, and even years, are linked to devastating, long term psychological consequences including depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from other individuals.  For youth whose minds and bodies are still growing and developing, these consequences are amplified and too often lead to dire consequences including self-harm and suicide.  In fact, the Department of Justice found that youth in solitary commit suicide at twice the rate of adults; and other research has shown that youth in solitary in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than if they were housed in the juvenile justice system.

In his announcement, President Obama stated, “ We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives. And if we can give them the hope of a better future, and a way to get back on their feet, then we will leave our children with a country that is safer, stronger, and worthy o our highest ideals.”

While we certainly applaud President Obama for taking this momentous step forward, we urge him to take further actions to protect youth in federal custody, such as preventing them from being in adult facilities to begin with.  In 2012, the recommendations made by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, included the charge to abandon practices like solitary confinement, which traumatize children and reduce their opportunities to become productive members of society.  However, the report also makes recommendation 6.9, “Whenever possible, prosecute youth offenders in the juvenile justice system instead of transferring their cases to adult courts.”  We urge Mr. Obama to use his remaining time in office to implement this recommendation by “strengthening federal regulations and essentially prohibit states and localities from incarcerating any person younger than 18 in an adult prison or jail as a condition of federal funding.”

It is long past due that our country starts treating children like children. Ending the practice of placing youth held in federal prisons in solitary confinement is a critical step toward this broader goal.  Now isn’t it time to ask why children are sentenced to time in federal prison at all?

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere

Marcy Mistrett Sunday, 17 January 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

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By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

The anniversary of Rev Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday presents us with a call of action to get involved in local, state and federal campaigns to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system.

The injustices presented by youth being treated as adults in the criminal justice system are plentiful and continually positions the United States as an outlier in preserving the human rights of children. Several of the most egregious injustices include:
 
  • Treating children as though they are mini adults:  Research has proven that childrens’ brains handle decision-making, impulsivity, and causal relationships differently from adults.  Furthermore, they show great capacity to change. Not taking these differences into account is a gross injustice to our children.
  • Failing to provide children with appropriate protections at their arrest and during trial.  Children who are charged as adults are not afforded the protections of having their parents or guardians present during police interrogation.  Research has demonstrated that youth are much more likely to sign confessions, admit guilt, and feed law enforcement the answers that “they want” in order to go home. Despite having the greatest influence and support for their children, parents are often times left out of the equation which rehabilitation is considered.    
  • Treating children differently based on their race and ethnicity.  Children of color are much more likely to be prosecuted, sentenced and incarcerated as adults than their white counterparts.   These disparities are gross and unacceptable (African American youth are 9 times more likely to be sentenced to adult prison than white children for the same crimes; latino youth are 4 times more likely; and Tribal youth are nearly twice as likely).
  • Incarcerating children in adult facilities.  Children charged and sentenced as adults are housed in adult facilities.  They have very little access to developmentally appropriate education, mental health, substance abuse, or vocational services.  Rather, children are often held in solitary confinement to “protect” them from the adult population, isolating them 20-22 hours/day.
  • Punishing children the rest of their lives for poor decisions made in their childhood.  We know that a critical aspect of adolescence is learning to make good decisions; and having the opportunity to right the wrongs we make.  Children who are sentenced as adults carry their conviction the rest of their lives. 

For the past decade, the Campaign for Youth Justice has partnered with states, advocates, and impacted youth and families to challenge these practices.  We have seen the impact that unified voices can have in challenging injustices.  In fact, in the past ten years, 30 states have changed nearly 50 laws making it more difficult to prosecute, sentence and incarcerate children in the adult criminal justice system.

As we enter the 2016 legislative session, we encourage you to get involved in the local, state or federal campaigns that challenge this practice.  Legislation has already been introduced in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and South Carolina.  We expect several other states to introduce legislation in upcoming weeks to decrease the number of youth entering the adult criminal justice system.  We can only change these laws if communities are willing to stand for justice, and we need your help.

There are many ways to take a stand against injustice:

  • Sign on to your local campaign’s listserve to stay abreast of progress;
  • Call or tweet policymakers to show your support for reform;
  • Leverage your networks to learn more about this issue—host a discussion in your home, or community center, or house of faith to share with others the injustices being harbored against our youth;
  • Raise your voice in support—offer to write op eds or letters to the editor to call on policymakers to do what is right for children.

Justice is a fight well worth fighting for.  In the great words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  We hope to gain your support during this legislative session. For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Congress Passes Education Reform for Justice-involved Youth; Next up—Comprehensive JJ Reform

Friday, 11 December 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

ESSA

 By Jenny Collier, Chris Scott, and Marcy Mistrett

Yesterday, President Obama took a step toward improves access to quality education for young people involved in and returning from the juvenile justice system by signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, a bill that reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

Established in 1965 as part of the war on poverty ESEA has provided services to schools, communities, and neglected and  low-income children over the decades.  Title 1, aimed at improving outcomes for disadvantaged children as well as the primary source of federal funding for schools and districts, has been the cornerstone of the Act. Title 1, Part D was established to provide prevention and intervention programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent or at risk of dropping out of school.  Part D was created in part to help ensure that the educational needs of youth who come in contact with the law are addressed, since these young people often are behind in school, have higher rates of learning differences from the general population, and can fall behind in their education during periods of detention and reentry. To help address these educational needs, Title 1, part D provides funding for state agencies and districts to assist in the educational transition of students from correctional systems back to their home communities to help ensure that they get access to the same quality education as provided in the local community.

New provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Law will help improve the success of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and strengthen their reentry outcomes by providing increased access to education and supports upon reentry. Under the reauthorized and improved law, states receiving Title 1, Part D funding for prevention and intervention programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent or at risk, must promote:

1. Smoother education transitions for youth entering juvenile justice facilities, including records transfer, better planning and coordination of education between facilities and local education agencies, and educational assessment upon entry into a correctional facility, when practicable;

2.  Stronger reentry supports for youth returning to the community, including requiring education planning, credit transfer, and timely re-enrollment in appropriate educational placements for youth transitioning between correctional facilities and local educational agencies and programs, and requiring correctional facilities receiving funds under the law to coordinate educational services with local educational agencies so as to minimize education disruption;

3. Opportunities for youth to earn credits in secondary, postsecondary, or career/technical programming, and requiring transfer of secondary credits to the home school district upon reentry;

4. Prioritizing achievement of a regular high school diploma not just a GED;

5. Supportive services for youth who have had contact with both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

These critical provisions fill significant gaps in the existing education law that will complement pending reentry and education reforms and provisions in the proposed Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) reauthorization bill; hopefully the next bill to get passed that supports justice involved youth.

Jenny Collier is Project Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative, a joint youth reentry policy project of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps.

Chris Scott is a senior policy analyst at the Open Society Foundation, where he advocates for criminal, civil and racial justice.

Marcy Mistrett is CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice that advocates for the removal of youth from the adult criminal justice system, and co-chair of the Act-4-JJ initiative that advances the reauthorization of the JJDPA.

Giving Thanks

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 26 November 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

Gratitude

As I reflect on the upcoming holidays, I am struck by how much gratitude is shared among juvenile justice reformers.

  • For the young people who courageously and repeatedly share their very personal stories in public—on paper, in the news, through blogs, in tweets, on panels and through imagery and artwork.  Your truth—often raw and trauma filled-- and yet, always hopeful about the possibility that tomorrow might be different.  Grateful that you have courage that most adults would never have nor be expected to share; you are changing the dialogue.
  • For the legislators who say “we are better than this”—and who make bold policy step--whether that is raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 21; calling for the end of solitary confinement for our young people; or committing to end the racial disparities that are so pervasive in our ‘just-us’ systems. Thank you; doing what’s right is often more important than what is possible.
  • To the family members who show up. Again and again. To labor through another legislative session; another promise for bipartisan reform; another year of trying to make children a legislative priority. While their own children sit, behind bars, far away from family support, hugs, and holidays. Grateful that you keep fighting when we know how tired you must be.
  • To the system administrators, and judges, and law enforcement who stand against the tide and remind us that these are OUR children.  For not taking away family visits as punishment; for pushing to close facilities knowing children need to be raised in families and communities; for citing “love” as a policy goal; for a willingness to turn over power; for acknowledging that harm is being done, we give you thanks. 
  • To the philanthropists who take risks, fund innovation, push for documentation and research. Who fund the unpopular and risky; that invest in tomorrow with dollars today. Who use their platforms to call for the closure of youth prisons; or transformative justice; or ending the practice of criminalizing children. We are grateful that you fill gaps; shout loudly; study, educate, and learn.
  • To the advocates—who never rest, who are often unsung heroes, behind the scenes tinkering. Who fight boldly and strategically to make the world better for our children and communities. Who think outside the box, who build from the community up and educate from policymakers down.  Who turn one dollar into fifty; and who achieve the “unbelievable.”  We are grateful for your impatience, unwillingness to compromise for children, for tolling the moral line, and reminding us all that these children are OUR future.

Honored to work among you—in this short year alone, on the one issue of removing youth from the adult criminal justice system you have introduced more than 20 bills, changed 7 state laws, educated hundreds of policymakers, moved the national dialogue, championed 13 bipartisan supporters on a federal bill, changed thousands of youth lives, made a difference. #Gratitude.

Marcy Mistrett
CEO
Campaign for Youth Justice

 

NJJDC: Promoting Safe Communities; Recommendations to the Administration

Marcy Mistrett Wednesday, 01 July 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

COVER
 
Today the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) released, “Promoting Safe Communities; Recommendations to the Administration,” a bi-annual call to action for the federal government to use it’s leadership to end the inhumane practices used against youth in contact with the law. 
 
Despite significant reforms over the past decade to reduce youth incarceration and out-of-home placements, there are still far too many youth being locked up in our juvenile and criminal justice systems. Despite falling crime rates and a 45% decrease in youth arrests over the past decade, the United States still arrests more than 600,000 youth a year, the vast majority of whom could be more effectively treated in community-based settings.  Each year, we incarcerate 55,000 children in state prisons, most who are there for non-violent crimes.  An additional 250,000 youth are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system annually; and on any given night more than 6,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons.
 
With strong federal leadership, the pace of juvenile justice reforms can be accelerated.  Research over the past 25 years has increased our understanding of what works and how to best approach juvenile delinquency and system reform.  Many jurisdictions across the country are implementing promising reforms, and there is an increasingly clear path for moving toward community and evidence-based approaches to reducing adolescent crime. 
 
In its final 18 months in office, the Administration has the opportunity and responsibility to support effective systems of justice for our youth and should begin by focusing on the following five priority areas: Restore Federal Leadership in Juvenile Justice Policy; Support and Prioritize Prevention, Early Intervention, and 
Diversion Strategies; Ensure Safety and Fairness for Court-Involved Youth; Remove Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System; Support Youth Reentry.
 
In a moment of  bi-partisan agreement that our juvenile and criminal justice systems are inhumane, ineffective and costly, it is time for the Administration to take action on behalf of our nation’s youth. 

Promoting Safe Communities: NJJDPC Recommendations to 114th Congress (2015-2016)

Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 10 March 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

FINAL2 NJJDPC Recs to 114th Congress Page 01

Promoting Safe Communities is a comprehensive document of issues and recommendations for the 114th Congress to promote safe communities by investing in policies that are both effective and based on adolescent development research regarding at-risk youth and the juvenile justice system.  The document calls for leadership and investment in 5 key priority areas, including the restoration of federal leadership in juvenile justice policy; the support and prioritization of prevention, early intervention and diversion strategies; safety and fairness for court-involved youth; the removal of youth from the adult criminal justice system; and support for youth reentering their communities.

Click here to view the recommendations.