National Youth Justice Awareness Month
October is National Youth Justice Awareness month! The purpose of National Youth Justice Awareness Month is to raise awareness about youth prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system. Over the past three years, events have been held across the country. These events have all been successful in raising awareness and participation in important youth justice issues across the country. This year, over 20 states are hosting events in honor of National Youth Justice Awareness Month.
Click here to learn more about Planning an Event
Click here for 2012 state-by-state event information
Click here to learn about the history of Y-JAM
Click here to donate to Y-JAM 2012
Click here to learn about how you can get involved in Y-JAM 2012!
On the afternoon of January 4, 2008, Tracy McClard, a mother in Jackson, Missouri, received a call from the Missouri Department of Corrections. The call was to inform her that her seventeen-year-old son, Jonathan, was dead. Jonathan had taken his own life when an adult sentence made it impossible for him to see a future for himself, especially a future that included his dream of becoming a doctor. Jonathan McClard was one of the thousands and thousands of children that end up in the adult criminal justice system every year. His future and the others like him are forever changed by adult convictions that put up barriers to education, housing and employment. In addition to these barriers, children like Jonathan face bleak living conditions where they are 36 times more likely to commit suicide and are the most vulnerable population of inmates at risk of sexual assault. It doesn’t seem to matter that the ideas behind these laws have been debunked and we now know trying, sentencing and incarcerating children as adults actually increases crime and makes things worse, not better.
Tracy knew the truth about what had happened to Jonathan and was determined to stop it from ever happening to another mother’s son or daughter. In 2008, she began a 5K Race to bring public awareness to this issue and to educate her Missouri lawmakers. She joined the Alliance for Youth Justice, a project of the Campaign for Youth Justice, and shared her vision for a series of events that would be held in every state in the country. Her enthusiasm was contagious and this year we have twenty state campaigns that will be holding a community event to raise public awareness about the dangers and irrational practice of treating children as adults! With Tracy’s help, four other states participated in last year’s events that drew a great deal of media coverage and were very successful. Tracy isn’t stopping there! She is now pushing to have October declared National Youth Justice Awareness month.
In a few short years, Tracy has educated countless numbers of the uninformed public, state representatives, congressional members, youth and others. She has truly been an inspiration to the nearly 400 families from around the country who are working with the Alliance for Youth Justice and to all she meets. This is a real grassroots effort and families and organizations from around the country have stepped up to help Tracy in her outstanding and phenomenal work.
We are excited and motivated by the wonderful events taking place across the country in honor of National Youth Justice Awareness month in October. Every year a quarter of a million youths are tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults. As of this year, there are twenty local groups working together to end these injustices.
Is there an event in your state that you can attend and bring your friends to? Check it out here!
If you can't make it to an event, or you go to an event and want to do more, there are so many things you can do on behalf of the youth of today for Y-JAM
- Like to run? Is there any kind of race in your area in October? Run in it or volunteer and take a picture or video of yourself "running for justice." Post it on our facebook page or email it to us!
- Want a running buddy? Participate in 4 o'clock 4 Miles 4 Youth Fridays! Y-JAM Founder Tracy McClard will be virtually running with selected participants every Friday at 4 pm throughout the month of October. Sign up here!
- Are you a photographer or activist? Take a picture of yourself with a striking fact or figure or photograph about youth justice as part of our photo campaign throughout October. Share it on our facebook page or email it to us!
- Are you a videographer or film savy? Make a short video about youth justice and share it on our facebook or youtube page!
- Are you a writer? Write a poem or short story about youth justice and share it, or a picture of you with it on our facebook page or email it to us!
- Are you a community member? Organize a service day or service project in your community to help you. Post a picture on our facebook page or write about it for our blog!
- Are you an idea person? If you have other ideas of how to get people involved and excited about youth justice reform, get out and do it! And let us know!
- Not an activity person? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, hashtags #yjam and #youthjustice, for news about youth in the adult criminal justice system and for updates on events throughout October.
For a complete list of all Y-JAM events online, click here.
Help Y-JAM Grow by Donating $5, $50, or $500 today!
Donations can be made online or by check. To donate online, click the button below:
To donate by mail, please make your check out to "Campaign for Youth Justice" and mail to:
Campaign for Youth Justice1012 14th Street, N.W., Suite 610Washington, DC 20005