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Parent Testimonials

Diana Gonzalez

Good afternoon. My name is Diana Gonzalez. I am here to support H.B. 5782, calling for 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult justice system. I know first hand the consequences of treating youth like adults. My son was David Burgos. David committed suicide last July 24 while he was incarcerated at Manson Youth Institution. He was 17-years-old.

Georgia Mae Williamson

Thank you for allowing me to present my family’s story today. My name is Georgia Mae Williamson and my grandson, whom I will call “D,” was sentenced to juvenile life without the possibility of parole, a sentence of six years in a maximum secure-care prison. My grandson is an example of a child who fell through the cracks of the juvenile justice system.

D had always been physically and emotionally fragile. He was a sensitive child who required protection. We were shocked when D admitted his behavior which we later found out lacked evidence. We thought D definitely needed help, and our family turned to the system.

Grace Bauer

Testimony before the House Committe on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security

Hearing on "Keeping Youth Safe While in Custody -
Sexual Assault in Adult and Juvenile Facilities
February 23, 2010

Good afternoon Chairman Scott, Ranking Member Gohmert, and other members of the Subcommittee and thank you for having me here to testify. I would like to thank you - and everyone here today - for focusing on an issue of critical importance that for decades was ignored and treated with sneers and ignorance.

My name is Grace Bauer and I am the parent of a youth who has been involved with both the juvenile and the adult criminal justice system. I also work with the Campaign for Youth Justice organizing parents who have had their sons and daughters go through these systems. The Campaign is a national organization working to end the practice of prosecuting youth in adult court and to promote more effective approaches in the juvenile justice system as an effective alternative for these youth.

Ms. Catreeda R. Lloyd

Good afternoon, my name is Catreeda R. Lloyd, the parent of a child who, at the age of sixteen, was charged as an adult. He spent three months in the DC Department of Corrections without education or other services.

Just to say a few words about my son, while in custody in the DC Jail, he became withdrawn and angry. He began to isolate himself, and then his began to think that individuals in positions of authority had already labeled and stigmatized him.

Immediately following his arrest he began to feel inadequate, unjustly accused, and like everything was crashing down. He began second guessing himself, and wondering whether or not anybody cared. By this time, the courts had assigned him to live with me. During this change and these proceedings, we attempted to adapt and adjust to everything, but things didn’t get any better, my son began acting out. He spent three months in jail. I wasn’t informed that he would be tried as an adult until about two and a half months later.

Tracy McClard

Good Morning, Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Kline, and members of the House Education and Labor Committee. Thank you for having me here to testify today on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and share my story.

My name is Tracy McClard and I live in Jackson, MO. In 2008, I lost my barely 17 year old son, Jonathan, in Missouri’s criminal justice system.

Vicky Gunderson

Before the Wisconsin State Assembly
Committee on Corrections and the Courts - Assembly Bill 732
April 1, 2010

My name is Vicky Gunderson of Onalaska WI. I appreciate your time today to share our families experience with 17 yr olds being defined as adults in regard to Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. Our firstborn son, Kirk completed suicide while being held in the La Crosse County Jail at the age of 17.

Our son, Kirk turned 17 on June 9, 2005 and 9 days later was incarcerated. Over several years leading up to the incident, Kirk had suffered multiple concussions, and was unable to participate in sports, sports were his passion. He had been working a part-time job, and returned home the evening of June 18th with his girlfriend. He and his girlfriend exchanged words which his father overheard regarding drinking and driving. Shortly thereafter he grabbed a knife from the knife block on the counter and became violent stabbing his Dad and his younger brother.