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JJDPA Matters

Monday, 09 September 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

 

 
 


By Jill Ward

 

“It is therefore the further declared policy of Congress to provide the necessary resources, leadership, and coordination (1) to develop and implement effective methods of preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency; (2) to develop and conduct effective programs to prevent delinquency, to divert juveniles from the traditional juvenile justice system and to provide critically needed alternatives to institutionalization; (3) to improve the quality of juvenile justice in the United States; and (4) to increase the capacity of State and local governments and public and private agencies to conduct effective juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and rehabilitation programs and to provide research, evaluation, and training services in the field of juvenile delinquency prevention.” - PUBLIC LAW 93-415-SEPT. 7, 1974

This, in part, is the originally stated purpose of the landmark federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974.  Thirty-nine years later, that purpose still rings true.

Back then, leaders in the juvenile and criminal justice field recognized the need for national leadership to address the all too common practice of jailing children with adults, the overuse of incarceration to respond to non-violent and status offenses, and the lack of alternatives to appropriately meet the needs of young people in ways that helped them and strengthened the community.  Congress stepped up and passed this bi-partisan law to provide policy direction and support for states. 

Most recently reauthorized in 2002, the JJDPA embodies a partnership between the federal government and the U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia to protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice system, to effectively address high-risk and delinquent behavior and to improve community safety.  It is the only federal law that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system, provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements, and supports programs and practices that have significantly contributed to the reduction of juvenile crime and delinquency.

At the heart of the Act are four core protections that states must adhere to in order to receive federal support for their state system.  These protections help ensure the health and well-being of youth:

•    Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) keeps status offenders, such as runaways and truants, out of secure facilities;
•    Adult Jail and Lockup removal (Jail Removal) prevents youth from being placed in adults jails and lock-ups (with limited exceptions);
•    Sight and Sound Separation provides that when youth are held with adults (as occurs in limited instances) they be separated by both sight and sound from adult offenders;
•    Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) requires that states address the disproportionate contact of youth of color at key contact points in the juvenile justice system – from arrest to detention to confinement.

By most all accounts, the law has been a success.  The JJDPA has created a national floor that incentivizes states to embrace these core principles.  The federal dollars that flow through the law also help fund both evidence-based programs and promising new innovations and are critical in leveraging other state and local funding to improve state justice systems and reduce recidivism.  Without a strong federal law that is sufficiently resourced, we risk losing a major tool to help sustain current protections for youth and to advance additional reform. 

Unfortunately, federal funding has been repeatedly cut over the last decade.  Federal dollars available to support implementation of the JJDPA and other state and local reforms has steadily declined by 83 percent from 1999 to 2010.   And, the recent budget sequestration has further diminished federal investment in states to develop and implement state and local prevention and early intervention efforts that keep kids on the right track and contribute to the prevention and reduction of youth crime and violence.

Ensuring that the JJDPA does not continue to suffer drastic cuts or is not completely defunded is particularly critical to states’ compliance with the jail removal and separation core protections.  Although funding has diminished drastically since 2000, the limited funding states continue to receive through Title II of the JJDPA has helped the majority of states comply with the core protections.  Loss of JJDPA funds would be a huge step backward as many states would have little incentive or ability to comply with these protections, further undercutting policies to keep youth out of adult jails and prisons and other de-incarceration efforts.

Federally supported juvenile justice programs also enable communities to provide critical treatment and rehabilitative services, in safe conditions, that are tailored to the needs of youth and their families; protects public safety; and holds youth accountable.  Continued federal cuts will threaten these efforts to keep youth and families safe, and keep juvenile crime rates down.

The 39th birthday of this landmark law is the right time to highlight how far we’ve come and to make sure the purpose laid out nearly 40 years ago this month continues to be advanced and supported by Congress.  

In recognition of the passage of the JJDPA, advocates are making September 10 a National Day of Action to call on Congress to invest in the JJDPA and related juvenile justice programs.



Tell Congress we must continue to invest in the policies and programs that work for all our young people.   Tell them JJDPA matters.

This is part of the ACT4JJ Campaign's JJDPA Matters Blog Project, a 16-week series that launched Sept. 10, 2013. You can find the full series at the JJDPA Matters Action Center, click here.



Protecting Youth Behind Bars

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

 
 T.J. Parsell, Author, Filmmaker and Human Rights Activist gives his powerful and personal account of his sexual victimization experience while in prison.


To highlight the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), landmark legislation signed into law ten years ago this week, the American Bar Association (ABA) convened a panel of experts at the ABA's offices in Washington, D.C to discuss the impact of the law and the challenges in ensuring full implementation.  The panel included the Honorable Bobby Scott (D-VA) who was an original cosponsor of the PREA legislation; Mary Lou Leary, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice; T.J. Parsell, Author, Filmmaker and Human Rights Activist; Professor Brenda Smith of the American University's Washington College of Law; and the Honorable Reggie Walton of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 

 
Carmen Daugherty, the Vice Chair of the ABA's Individual Rights & Responsibilities Justice Committee and Policy Director for the Campaign for Youth Justice, kicked off the panel discussion by showing a five- minute trailer of a new film created by T.J. Parsell about his experience as a teenager in adult prison.  The film clip was a powerful image of the risks youth face when incarcerated in adult jails and prisons.  To view the film clip and to read more about T.J.’s story, visit here.
 
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary mentioned the Youthful Inmate Standard as one of the key standards in PREA and that sufficient funding from the Administration was needed to ensure it could be properly enacted.  She also indicated that it was crucial that more people apply to serve as auditors to enforce PREA's implementation in the states.
 
Brenda Smith recounted the major accomplishments of PREA to date, highlighting the fact that it establishes that sexual violence behind bars happens, it is very serious, and it must be addressed. "The PREA law has created a national discourse on the issue," according to Smith. She also underscored some of the challenges ahead such ensuring an appropriate balance between incentives for compliance and accountability. Smith urged advocates to read the standards, educate themselves on the impact of the standards, and to get involved in the work.
 
Judge Walton, who chaired the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), closed out the panel saying that "Prison rape is not something that has to be inevitable" and that "Leadership has to come from the top."
 
For additional information on PREA, visit:
 

As Prisons Prepare for PREA, Impact on Youthful Inmates May Be Major

Wednesday, 21 August 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange published the following article this week on the Prison Rape Elimination Act:

In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) — a federal legislative proposal that sought to curb incidents of sexual assault in both adult prisons and juvenile detention facilities — was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The newly formed National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) was then tasked with establishing PREA standards; ultimately, nine years would pass before the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the final standards set forth by the NPREC.

Read more here.

 

North Carolina Continues to Wait for Justice Reform

Angella Bellota Tuesday, 13 August 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Take Action Now

Rep. Avila, primary sponsor of HB 725

On July 26, the North Carolina General Assembly ended a much debated legislative session.  Many of you watched as social justice advocates fought back legislation that would harm voter rights, women’s rights, as well as reduce resources to NC’s education system which will impact thousands of youth and families across the state. For those of us in the youth justice field, we watched as youth justice advocates worked tirelessly for several months to push forward HB 725, the Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act (Raise the Age), as well as oppose HB 217, a bill that would remove judicial discretion from juvenile transfer cases and undermine the forward thinking policy recommendations of the Raise the Age campaign.

North Carolina experienced a difficult session but the commitment from youth justice supporters cannot go unnoticed. Many of you joined the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) in taking a stand for North Carolina youth.  Coordinating efforts with our allies on the ground, the CFYJ network, as well as other national partners – we made phone calls, wrote letters, conducted legislator visits, and signed on to petitions that reminded NC leaders that our NC allies were not in this fight alone.

We applaud you and thank you for your energy and persistence during this legislative session.  It is this collective effort that makes state campaigns stronger during session and for future campaigns. A recap of each legislative bill is below. Please make sure to visit Action for Children NC to stay connected to the Raise the Age campaign. If you have questions or would like to continue to receive state campaign updates, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Update on HB 725
HB 725 the Young Offender Rehabilitation Act (Raise the Age) received a successful second reading vote on the House floor – a 61 to 37 vote – a real sign of bipartisan support! Since session ended on the same day, the bill will now wait for the short session to begin in May 2014 and will resurface on the House calendar for a third reading before heading to the Senate. Outreach efforts will continue during the interim to prepare for the 2014 legislative session. Your continued support will give HB 725 a fighting chance during the short session in May. To learn more about HB 725, click HERE.

Update on HB 217
HB 217, the bill that would remove judicial discretion in juvenile transfer cases and place the fate of NC youth in the hands of prosecutors did not move out of the Senate because of your persistent and strong pushback.  Although we were able to stall the bill in the Senate Judiciary II committee, this bill has the opportunity to be re-introduced during the short session in May 2014. It is important to remember that elements of the 217 proposal were much worse than what it was eventually ratified to be, and that is in no small part to your actions. We will continue to monitor this piece of legislation and will keep you updated on local efforts to defeat this bill. For now, you can find more information about HB 217, HERE

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange published the following article this week on the Prison Rape Elimination Act

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange published the following article this week on the Prison Rape Elimination Act:

By James Swift

In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) — a federal legislative proposal that sought to curb incidents of sexual assault in both adult prisons and juvenile detention facilities — was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The newly formed National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC) was then tasked with establishing PREA standards; ultimately, nine years would pass before the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the final standards set forth by the NPREC.

Read more here.

 

OP-ED: Everyday Assaults of Young Offenders in Adult Prisons

Thursday, 08 August 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices



From the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
By David Chura

The panel, sponsored by Boston College, was titled “Youth in Prison: The Reality of the System.” I was there to share my experiences as a teacher who worked with teenagers, some as young as fifteen, serving time in an adult county jail. I was scheduled to speak after T.J.Parsell who, when he was seventeen, served several years in an adult prison and was raped by inmates a number of times. He survived that horrific time and now as an adult shares his experiences to advocate for changes in the way the criminal justice system treats minors.

As T.J. recounted the sexual assaults he lived through I kept wondering what I could add. His experiences were so shocking, so deplorable that I wondered what more could be said.

However, as I listened, I realized there was a lot I could add. According to the Campaign for Youth Justice, inmates under eighteen make up only one percent of the prison population yet are victims in 21 percent of prison rapes. Although those statistics are high, not all young offenders are subjected to the sexual abuse that T.J. went through and that many other kids continue to endure. Yet all teenagers in adult prison live with an endless series of violations on a daily basis, violations that I could only think to describe as “everyday rapes.” I saw that my contribution to the panel was to be a witness to those everyday degradations, assaults and violations that I learned about over the ten years that I taught in prison.

There was the everyday rape of random body searches—on the block, coming back from court, before seeing family on a visit. As Marcus, a seventeen-year-old who never shied away from speaking his mind, put it, “Being searched by police makes you feel dirty. They make you strip down, bend over, and…you know. They call it cavity search. I call it rape.”

My students lived with the everyday violation of never having any privacy when they showered, used the toilet, “went to New York” (one of their many jailhouse slang phrases for masturbating). All teenagers, whoever and wherever they are, work hard to hide their vulnerabilities especially when it comes to their bodies. In prison those vulnerabilities are even more pronounced and covered up by tough guy bravado because these boys know that their bodies—along with so much more—are no longer their own. As they put it, they were “state’s property.”

There was the everyday abuse of having their cells sacked by the emergency response team (ERT) on one of their random searches. I understood the need for such surprise searches. Even my students did, although they were loath to admit it. But none of us understood why a team of men in SWAT uniforms had to scream at you, throw you out of your bed, flip your mattress onto the floor, toss around the few clothes you had, then dump in a trash barrel family photos, letters — even school books that you never saw again — only to be threatened as the ERT left your cell, “We’ll get you next time.”

And “next time” might mean the everyday assault of being thrown into solitary confinement because you finally couldn't hold in your rage anymore at such arbitrary, senseless humiliation and started to mouth off the way only angry, hurt teenage boys can. There, in total isolation, was the endless everyday rape of losing contact with humanity until you lost contact with your own humanity and found yourself participating in your own everyday rape—not showering or brushing your teeth for weeks; sleeping twelve, fifteen hours a day; and when you were awake, screaming, shouting, howling just to let the world—and yourself—know that you’re still there (sort of), doing anything to fight off that final everyday rape of extinction, of disappearing.

Even if a kid can hold it all in, follow the rules, keep his head down, there was the everyday indignity of eating food that poisoned a growing body; of living in an overcrowded, noisy and smelly block, with the constant threat of violence, intimidation and extortion; of being forced to pay extortionist prices for food sold in the prison commissary; of not getting decent health care, or any health care at all, because the gold standard was to save the county money.

The “reality of the system” is a brutal one. The Federal government has finally acknowledged that young offenders must be protected from prison sexual violence. The “Youthful Inmate Standard” regulations established by the Prison Rape Elimination Act require all prisons, jails, lock ups, and detention facilities to provide “sight and sound separation between youth and adults while restricting the use of solitary confinement and isolation practices.”

But these regulations are only a first step in solving how young people are treated in the criminal justice system. If we really want to protect them from the full assault of prison culture—the everyday rapes that have devastating effects long into adulthood—then we must get these children out of the penal system altogether, a system that was never intended to handle young offenders, and place them in environments that are designed to rebuild and to create new lives.


This article was originally published by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, a non-profit online news source for people who care about youth and the law.

Family Engagement Listening Sessions Report Just Released!

Jessica Sandoval Monday, 05 August 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

On Thursday, July 30, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (OJJDP) released the much anticipated Family Listening Sessions Executive Summary, available online.

In 2011, OJJDP worked in partnership with the Campaign for Youth Justice on a series of listening sessions with families whose children have been impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems.  Sixteen states were represented from every region in the country. The purpose of these sessions was to inform OJJDP about the experiences of system-involved youth and their families and to explore ways to improve family engagement to ensure better outcomes for children, youth and families. Thanks to all of the family members who participated in this process, your time and contribution was invaluable to this process.

We applaud OJJDP for their commitment to make family engagement a priority for the agency and for the country. We hope that with these listening sessions and the release of the Family Comes First Report that the issue of family engagement will not be a sideline issue in the immediate future.  To access the Executive Summary, abstract and Family Comes First workbook, please use the links below.

Family Engagement Listening Sessions Executive Summary:
http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/241379.pdf

Family Engagement Listening Sessions Abstract:
http://www.ojjdp.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=263469

Family Comes First: A Workbook to Transform the Justice System by Partnering with Families: http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/family-comes-first.html

CFYJ Summer Institute Series Continues with “Write Night” Hosted by Free Minds Book Club

Friday, 26 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices


By: Haylea Workman

In the continuance of the Summer Institute Brown Bag Luncheon, the Campaign for Youth Justice Fellows attended Write Night on July 23rd, hosted by Free Minds Book Club. Write Night is a monthly meeting where members from the community gather to give feedback on poetry submitted by incarcerated youth. The feedback allows incarcerated youth to feel inspired and cared about by the community.

Fellows read poetry submissions and wrote feedback to each author and then previously incarcerated youth spoke up to explain to those in attendance the importance of connecting with youth through their writing. Many of the incarcerated youth are isolated for 23 hours a day, so they look forward to hearing from the community and working on their poetry. Write night is important because it allows youth to feel connected to the world outside of prison.

Write Night is hosted monthly at the Church of Pilgrim from 6-8pm. The Church of Pilgrim is located at 2201 P street NW. To learn more about upcoming Write Nights send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact Tara Libert at (202) 758-0829.

 

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is Only Two Months Away!

Angella Bellota Wednesday, 24 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Campaigns


During the month of October, allies throughout the country come together to engage their communities on youth justice issues, particularly the harmful impact of prosecuting children in the adult criminal justice system.  

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is an opportunity for families, youth, and allies to host community-led actions and events that expose the real-life consequences of children being processed in adult court and placed in adult jails and prisons. With events happening throughout the country, YJAM is not only a time to raise awareness but also a time to build collective action, to strengthen relationships with other advocates, and to join local advocacy campaigns working to create policy changes.

Every year in the U.S. an estimated 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults. These young people are our friends, siblings, sons and daughters. Each year, we build momentum to end the criminalization of our youth and the devastating long-term consequences they must face every day.

Will you join us in taking a stand for youth justice?  In past years, YJAM events have included:

  • 5K Run/Walk
  • Film Screenings
  • Art Exhibits
  • Poetry Slams
  • Community Service Days
  • Social Media campaigns
  • Teach-In Days  


The Campaign for Youth Justice plans to host several calls with those interested in organizing events in their state. If you would like to participate in these calls, please contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Upcoming calls:

  • July 30th - Hosting a 5K Run/Walk  
  • August 5th - FUNdraising for YJAM
  • August 19th - Media Planning for YJAM


STAY CONNECTED:

For general questions about YJAM or if you would like to host, organize or participate in a YJAM event, please contact CFYJ Field Organizer Angella Bellota: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

For media inquiries, please contact CFYJ Communications & Media Director Aprill Turner: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

Please visit our YJAM page to learn about the history of YJAM and for a roundup of upcoming events! 

CFYJ's Jessica Sandoval Confirmed for DC's Children and Youth Investment Trust Board Leadership

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices

By Haylea Workman

 
Jessica Sandoval,CFYJ Vice President and Deputy Director





On Monday, July 8th, Jessica Sandoval, Vice President and Deputy Director of the Campaign for Youth Justice testified before the DC Council as one of three candidates nominated for an appointment on the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation’s (CYITC) Board. The CYITC works to expand and improve services and opportunities for children and youth in the District of Columbia by leveraging both public and private dollars. Their vision is for each child and every youth in DC to have the opportunity to make positive choices that let them develop and grow into healthy productive adults.  

On July 10th, all three candidates were confirmed through a DC Council member vote. As a newly appointed board member of the Trust, Jessica will bring her national and state level expertise on youth justice issues. Both her expertise and experience in positions with the Denver District Attorney’s Juvenile Diversion Program, the Gang Rescue and Support Project, and the State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice under Governor Roy Romer, will provide the board with a fresh perspective on the improvement of services to youth and children in the District. Jessica’s involvement with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, National Crime Prevention Council, and the National League of Cities, will be beneficial to the Trust as it continues to improve its relationships with both local and federal entities.

At CFYJ Jessica leads the organization’s state campaign strategy and provides technical assistance to states engaged in youth justice reform efforts.

CFYJ wishes Jessica well on her new appointment.

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