Cardenas and Harris Introduce Resolutions in Honor of Youth Justice Action Month
Washington, D.C. (October 17, 2019) – The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) applauds Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) for introducing resolutions today in their respective chambers declaring October to be “National Youth Justice Action Month.”
Youth Justice Action Month, or YJAM, was inspired by Tracy McClard, a mother in Jackson, MO, whose son, Jonathan, died by suicide after being transferred to the adult criminal justice system and incarcerated in an adult facility. To honor Jonathan’s life, Tracy hosted a 5K race to bring public awareness to the issue of youth being transferred to the adult criminal justice system. Since that first race in 2008, youth justice advocates around the country have come together to organize events and online activities every October to raise awareness and inspire action on behalf of young people impacted by our criminal justice system.
As noted in the Congressional resolutions, an estimated 76,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults every year in the United States, and most of the youth are prosecuted for nonviolent offenses.
This YJAM, the Campaign for Youth Justice is celebrating the more than 100 pieces of legislation that have been passed since our founding, including the reauthorization of the cornerstone federal statute on juvenile justice, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The legislation passed in the last decade has reduced, restricted, or ended the trial, incarceration, or sentencing of children in adult courts. But we also note that racial and ethnic disparities inherent in the system have not improved – more clear evidence that racism remains a centerpiece of our justice system.
“Despite the immense progress we have made in reforming the juvenile justice system, youth of color and other vulnerable populations of youth continue to be disproportionately represented in both our juvenile and adult criminal justice systems,” said CFYJ CEO Marcy Mistrett. “We thank Congressman Cardenas and Senator Harris for declaring October to be National Youth Justice Action Month in order to highlight not only the progress we have made, but how far we still have to go.”