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National Youth Justice Coalition Releases Recommendations for the First 100 Days of the Biden/Harris Administration

Posted in 2020 Press Releases

Date: December 7, 2020

Marcy Mistrett, CEO
Campaign for Youth Justice

Naomi Evans, Executive Director
Coalition for Juvenile Justice

National Youth Justice Coalition Releases Recommendations for the
First 100 Days of the Biden/Harris Administration

December 7, 2020: The youth justice field is calling on the Biden/Harris Administration to follow through during their first 100 days in office on key promises they made to invest in and strengthen our nation’s youth justice system.  The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), a national coalition of more than 250 members, issued strong recommendations for the first 100 days of the next administration this week. The Biden/Harris campaign promised to funnel $1 billion a year towards reforming the juvenile justice system and keep youth out of adult correctional facilities, both priorities for the youth justice field. 

One-Hundred day priorities include:  

  1. Coordinating OJJDP guidance with the President-elect’s task force on COVID 19 and rescinding OJJDP current guidance on COVID-19 that does not follow CDC recommendations; 
  2. Supporting a full and robust implementation of the recently-reauthorized Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act, which is the primary federal law on youth justice in our country; 
  3. Reducing youth incarceration by investing $100 million to close youth prisons; and 
  4. Reinstate and update key guidance that protects youth by eliminating fines and fees on youth, that guides states on ways to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and that protects LGBTQ/GNC youth and other vulnerable youth populations. 

The number of youth arrests  has declined 60 percent between 2008 and 2018, and now accounts for only 7 percent of the nation’s crime. This trend has continued as states have also reduced youth incarceration by more than 55%, and returned 60% of children in the adult court back to the more appropriate youth justice system. Despite these celebrated accomplishments, racial and ethnic disparities continue to grow, resulting in the unequal treatment of children of color who come in contact with the law.

“Following four years of lackluster and harmful leadership at OJJDP, it is imperative that the Biden/Harris Administration rebuild and support the federal response to youth justice. With a newly reauthorized JJDP Act, states need federal guidance and technical support to comply with the  improved federal law that focuses on prevention and community-based supports for children,” says Marcy Mistrett, a Steering Committee member at NJJDPC, and CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice. 

Young people and staff in correctional facilities have also not been spared from COVID-19. As of mid-November, more than 2,300 youth have tested positive in youth correctional facilities, a number that continues to grow at an alarming rate. At least four youth correctional staff have lost their lives, yet no support has come to states from the current administration.  We know that youth of color, who are dramatically over-representing in the justice system, are also those most vulnerable to serious outcomes if they contract COVID-19. 

“One of the persistent and harmful issues the youth justice system continues to face is the different treatment of Black, Latinx, and tribal youth by our legal system. We need executive leadership calling an end to this, and ensuring that our incarcerated children, 70% of whom have committed low level offenses, are able to be home with family during this pandemic. We know that youth facilities can not adequately follow CDC advice for social distancing, hand washing, etc., and that too many children are spending the majority of their days locked in their cells instead of receiving programming. This has to stop,” says Naomi Evans, NJJDPC Steering Committee member and Executive Director at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

The NJJDPC looks forward to working with the  new  administration to advance these  priorities for youth justice and to ensure that all our children receive age-appropriate, rehabilitative, culturally responsive and trauma-responsive services so they can get back on the right track.