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2019 State Legislation Review: Fewer Children in the Adult System

Brian Evans Friday, 20 December 2019 Posted in 2019, Across the Country, Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

This year, the real-life story of five children wrongfully arrested and convicted in New York, dramatized in the Netflix series “When They See Us”, reminded us why protecting children from the criminal justice system is so important. The film was timely, reflecting and amplifying a point of view that has been increasingly, though not universally, adopted across ideological, geographical, and party lines. In 2019, states continued to push and pass positive legislation keeping children out of the adult criminal justice system.

To Whom I Give Thanks...

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO Tuesday, 26 November 2019 Posted in 2019

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

In the field of youth justice, giving thanks isn't something that  happens on just one day in November. In fact, the history of Thanksgiving demands that we acknowledge the profound injustice on which this holiday is based. Yet, the principles of gratitude are inherent in the fight for justice. 

When thinking about the number of youth who won't be home with family over the upcoming holiday season, I give thanks for:

  • Our families who fight for other children when still worrying about the safety of their own;
  • Our families who find a way to forgiveness after being harmed by violence.
  • Our children who suffer unimaginabely by being housed in adult jails and prisons, who continue to hope and love through their pain;
  • Our warriors who call for abolition and investment over incarceration--and those who believe that families can heal, even after generations of truama;
  • Our legislators who fight for what is right over what is winnable;
  • Our staff who never count hours or tears or hugs; 
  • Our laws that have been changed and implemented with integrity;
  • Our willingness to insist on a racial justice lens to this work; 
  • Our communities who move us from reform to transform to healing; 
  • Our elected leaders who are willing to take risks to try something new; 

Justice requires both healing and liberation.  The Campaign for Youth Justice is thankful to join a movement that insists on both for our children and communities.

Please consider supporting our work by donating here.

States Embrace the Juvenile Justice Reform Act

By Wanda Barradas, CFYJ Fellow Monday, 18 November 2019 Posted in 2019

In the last few weeks of the 115th Congress, and after letting the law go unauthorized for nearly 16 years, Congress finally passed H.R. 6964, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 (JJRA), which reauthorized the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). This critical federal law improves the conditions for youth involved in the juvenile justice system across the country, and the reauthorization made critical updates to the four core protections for justice-involved youth provided by the law:

State and Local Elections 2019: Criminal Justice Implications

By Javier Aguilar, CFYJ Fellow Thursday, 07 November 2019 Posted in 2019

On November 5, 2019,  the United States held numerous state and local elections throughout the country, encompassing a variety of governor and prosecutor positions. According to the political report, The Appeal, approximately 500 prosecutors and sheriffs will be elected in 2019, which will be instrumental in shaping criminal justice reforms. On Tuesday night, Americans in several states had the chance to support candidates that have proposed policy initiatives that will mitigate the racial disparities within the criminal justice system by reducing the high volume of felony convictions and supporting voting rights for citizens returning from felony convictions.

#YJAM2019: Lots of Action for Youth Justice

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Thursday, 31 October 2019 Posted in 2019

Dear Friends and Partners, 

During Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) this October, groups, organizations, and individuals across the country engaged in discussions about youth justice, and about the racism inherent in the youth and criminal justice systems. 

We are happy to report that YJAM was a great success!

Oct. 29 #NoChildInAdultJail Day of Action

Monday, 28 October 2019 Posted in 2019

On Tuesday, October 29, we want to encourage states to change their laws to get in line with JJDPA requirements and prohibit ALL children from ever being held in an adult jail. Using the hashtag #NoChildInAdultJail, post photos, videos, or anything creative to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and/or Twitter calling on your state to keep children out of adult jails. You can tag CFYJ - @justiceforyouth - or your state’s governor, or any other elected officials you feel should know about this, including local or county officials.

When the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was re-authorized at the end of 2018, it included a requirement that, within three years, all states must keep ALL children out of adult jails—including those charged as if they were adults. Since 1980, federal law required youth pending delinquency charges to be removed from adult jails; but the law fell short of protecting youth facing adult charges. This loophole means that many states still allow children facing adult time to be jailed with adults, or (as in New York and Connecticut) held in facilities run by the adult-side corrections departments.

This is very harmful for children! 

“Unlike juvenile detention facilities, adult jails are not designed with a focus on rehabilitation, and staff receive little or no training on the social, emotional, or psychological needs of children, nor do they provide adjustments to physical techniques used to control older inmates.” - R. Marshall (2019). Removing Youth from Adult Jails: A 50-State Scan of Pretrial Detention Laws for Youth Transferred to the Adult System. Washington, DC; Campaign for Youth Justice.

Here’s a map of states that do and do not allow children pending adult charges to be jailed with adults. If your state is one that keeps all youth in age-appropriate facilities (those in green) – congratulations! – you can submit a post recognizing or celebrating that fact.

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Resetting Existing Tables of Power: Justice Advisors in Connecticut

By Iliana Pujols, Director of Community Connections, Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance Wednesday, 23 October 2019 Posted in 2019

By Iliana Pujols, Director of Community Connections, Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance

When you think about how the current juvenile justice system is structured, you don’t automatically recognize the flaws. People perceive the JJ system as a system that is in place to correct someone’s wrong-doing, or keep “harm out of the community”. As a person who has been a part of both a community and the juvenile justice system, I’ve been able to identify how this system that I thought was made to protect is one that is actually causing more harm than good. The more I’ve learned about the juvenile justice system, the more I realize that those who are actually being affected by its processes should be included in the conversations about changes in juvenile justice practices, policies, and procedures.

Restorative Justice Diversion and Disrupting Racism in Nashville

By Emily Higgins, Raphah Institute Saturday, 19 October 2019 Posted in 2019

By Emily Higgins, Raphah Institute

Harmful racial and ethnic disparities (RED), particularly in economic and educational structures, feeds RED in the criminal-legal systems. In turn, RED in the criminal-legal system feeds economic and educational RED, and this destructive cycle becomes imbedded in a family – and in an entire community.

Restorative justice is one way to interrupt this cycle and, thus, reduce harmful RED.

Girls of Color and the Criminalization of Trafficking Survivors

Cherice Hopkins, Rights4Girls Saturday, 12 October 2019 Posted in 2019

By Cherice Hopkins, Rights4Girls

This Youth Justice Action Month as families, advocates, and communities participate in acts to end racism and the over-criminalization of young people of color, it is crucial that our efforts intentionally and explicitly uplift the voices and experiences of girls touched by the juvenile justice system. Similar to boys of color, girls of color are disproportionately pushed into the juvenile justice system. In fact, girls of color account for 22% of the youth population, but 66% of incarcerated girls. However, girls’ experiences in the system are distinct from boys, as are the reasons they are pushed into the system. Girls enter the system through pathways that are directly tied to their experiences of interpersonal violence and trauma—a process we call the Abuse to Prison Pipeline. A particularly troubling example of the Abuse to Prison Pipeline is the continued criminalization of child sex trafficking survivors.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Blocking the Trump Administration

Javier Aguilar, CFYJ Fellow Wednesday, 09 October 2019 Posted in 2019

The Trump administration was rebuked by a federal judge on September 27 for its attempt to undo the pivotal Flores Settlement Agreement in an effort to indefinitely detain immigrant children fleeing to the United States for asylum. The judge rejected the sweeping attempt made by the administration that would have given them the authority to keep families in detention centers for as long as it takes to fully process their asylum case and essentially revoked the Flores Settlement Agreement.  This is a critical finding that reflects the well-documented harms of detention on children.

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