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.
Campaign for Youth Justice