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Black History Month: Honoring The Voices of Youth Justice

By Aprill O. Turner, CFYJ Communications Director Monday, 03 February 2020 Posted in 2020

In recognition of Black History Month, CFYJ will feature a month-long series that celebrates advocates, elected officials and spokespeople that are leading the charge to reform how youth are treated in the criminal justice system.

By Aprill O. Turner, CFYJ Communications Director 

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and remember all the ways that African Americans have contributed to our history and culture. It is also a time to reflect on the ills that still plague us as a nation -- and to learn from the injustices and adversities the Black community has faced.


By Marcy Mistrett, CEO Thursday, 16 January 2020 Posted in 2020

Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day on and not off: Support the Justice for Juveniles Act

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

It’s a nice coincidence that the much awaited film based on Bryan Stevenson’s life, Just Mercy, launched just weeks before the country celebrates the birthday of one of our greatest social justice warriors, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have been 91 today had he not been assassinated.

Dr. King upheld the principles of justice, equal opportunity and love in his call for a Beloved Community. He was arrested and jailed 29 times; so was no stranger to the mistreatment inmates received in southern jails, including in Montgomery, AL, the same city where Stevenson’s Equal Justice  Initiative was founded.  He was able to see humanity in his oppressors, and found forgiveness for those who committed harm against him and his family.

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.

2019 Federal Wrap Up

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel Friday, 13 December 2019 Posted in Federal Update

The start of 2019 was an exciting one for juvenile justice advocates – coming off the reauthorization of the of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), the possibilities for reform in the 116th Congress felt endless. As outlined in the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition’s (NJJDPC) recommendations to the new Congress, we urged Congress to build on the momentum of the JJDPA reauthorization by embracing a positive vision for youth justice reform; ensuring developmentally appropriate responses to justice-involved youth; reducing reliance on detention and incarceration, instead investing in communities; ensuring fairness, equity, and safety for justice-involved youth; and helping youth successfully re-enter their communities.

As the first session of the 116th Congress comes to an end, let’s see whether Congress took up any of our recommendations:

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.

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