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Articles tagged with: Juvenile Justice

Announcing the 2015 Multi-System Integration Certificate Program

Thursday, 09 July 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University‘s McCourt School of Public Policy is pleased to announce that the application window for the 2015 Multi-System Integration Certificate Program is now open through August 21, 2015. The Multi-System Integration Certificate Program will be held October 29 - November 4, 2015 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, and is designed to support local jurisdictions in their efforts to improve outcomes for youth known to both the child welfare and juvenile justice system (i.e. crossover youth) through a multi-disciplinary approach that highlights integration and collaboration.
The purpose of the certificate program is to bring together current and future leaders to increase their knowledge about multi-system reform efforts related to crossover youth, improve the operation of their organizations in serving this population, provide an opportunity for the development of collaborative leadership skills, and create a mutually supportive network of individuals across the country committed to systems reform. Participants receive instruction from national experts on cutting edge ideas, policies and practices including multi-system approaches, cost efficiency procedures, collaborative leadership techniques and proactive communication strategies.  After completing the program, participants will be responsible for the development of a capstone project -- a set of actions each participant will design and undertake within their organization or community to initiate or continue collaborative efforts related to crossover youth.
Additionally, the program highlights CJJR’s Crossover Youth Practice Model, which has been proven to assist jurisdictions in strengthening practices and policies related to crossover youth. CJJR has aligned the Multi-System Integration Certificate Program and the Crossover Youth Practice Model as a way to enhance knowledge of multi-systems issues in jurisdictions around the country, thereby assisting them in improving both child welfare and juvenile justice outcomes for these youth. In further support of this approach the program focuses on issues such as family engagement, behavioral health, education, and racial and ethnic disparities – as well as innovative and flexible financing strategies.
We encourage you to apply to the Multi-System Integration Certificate Program and consider passing along information about this opportunity to your colleagues and partners. For more information, please visit our website where you will find detailed information about the program, including how to apply, tuition, and available subsidies for those with financial need.  Again, applications are due by August 21, 2015. Please direct questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

An Update on the Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities

Samantha Goodman Friday, 26 June 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

On June 24, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released an update on the Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities. The 40-page document is a follow-up to the Foundation’s 2011 report No Place for Kids, which demonstrated America’s need to reduce juvenile incarceration. In the four years since, a new wave of evidence on the maltreatment of youth confined in state-funded juvenile facilities has emerged.
“The troubling evidence presented in this report should remove any remaining doubt that large conventional juvenile corrections facilities — or plainly stated, youth prisons — are inherently prone to abuse,” wrote the AECF.
The update concludes with the AECF’s call for better and more cost-efficient alternatives to rehabilitating delinquent youth, including “community-based supervision, treatment and youth development programs,” and keeping children at home with their families. For those who do require confinement, the AECF urges juvenile corrections agencies to create healthier, safe and more therapeutic facilities. Regardless of the circumstances, the four years of findings show, youth should never be in dangerous, violent, or abusive situations.
To read or download the full report, click here

A Call to Action: Dear Governors, Protect Our Children from Rape in Adult Jails and Prison Today. There's No Excuse.

Carmen Daugherty Friday, 15 May 2015 Posted in 2015, Across the Country


Last year, Gov. Rick Perry, refused to complete a process to bring Texas into full compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), saying it would result in unfunded mandates for local sheriffs and a reduction in prison guards. The actual gap between where Texas is and where it needs to be is relatively small, but the problems that remaining noncompliant will create for the state- including increased possibility for litigation and a loss of federal grant money - could be substantial.

Gov. Perry is just one example, in one state that magnifies a larger problem.

Over a decade ago, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved PREA, a bill designed to end sexual violence behind bars. The passage of PREA was a bipartisan effort, signed into law by President George W. Bush, also a former governor of Texas.  U.S. Department of Justice officials worked tirelessly to write and issue regulations in 2012 to implement PREA through several comment periods.  

Now is the time to ensure that all states are in compliance and the U.S. Attorney General and the nation's governors need to devote their attention to enforcing this law. Today, Governors from across the country will once again provide information to the Department of Justice as to whether the state will be in compliance, or continue working towards full compliance.

What's at stake if PREA is not enforced? 

For starters, the safety and well-being of the approximate 100,000 children placed in adult jails and prisons every year.  

These children include Ameen, incarcerated in adult prison as a teen, who wrote CFYJ a letter stating that he witnessed a 14 year old being sexually assaulted by three other inmates, and Antonio, sent to adult prison at age 17, who wrote to us about his experiences stating that, "I came to prison so young; sexual advances were made toward me. I had to defend myself the best way I knew how, which was to fight."  And these children include Rodney Hulin, sent to adult prison at 16, repeatedly raped and died by suicide. Unfortunately these stories are more common than we recognize and youth are 36 more times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility.

To protect children, the PREA regulations include the Youthful Inmate Standard that bans the housing of youth with adults, prohibits contact between youth and adults in common areas, and ensures youth are constantly supervised by staff.  At the same time, the regulations limit the use of solitary confinement in complying with this standard. Enforcement of the Youthful Inmate Standard is just the baseline for safety, and we need to encourage our jurisdictions to go further to ensure that no child is victimized in a detention facility.

Governors and local officials should implement the best practices to fully protect youth in the justice system.  Best practices include removing youth from adult jails and prisons, and instead placing them in juvenile detention and correctional facilities where they are more likely to receive developmentally appropriate services, educational programming and support by trained staff. 

States that need assistance should consult other states that have already adopted policies to keep children out of adult jails or prisons, such as Colorado, Indiana, and Virginia.  States can also seek federal technical assistance through the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored centers such as the National PREA Resource Center and the National Center for Youth in Custody and apply for federal grants from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Thousands of individuals and organizations in nearly every state have called on the U.S. Attorney General and the nation's governors to ensure that children are protected from the dangers of adult jails and prisons through the PREA. 

Since PREA was passed, an estimated one million children have cycled through adult jails and prisons.  Unfortunately, the PREA came too late to impact these childrens' safety and well-being. Now is the time for the U.S. Attorney General and the nation's governors to fully implement this law and protect our children.

Family Engagement is Crucial

Kay Xiao Friday, 01 May 2015 Posted in 2015, Take Action Now

By Kay Xiao, CFYJ Intern

At the Campaign for Youth Justice, we recognize that  affected communities are at the heart and center of any successful reform effort. This includes the families of young people  tried as adults. Families are oftentimes the most vocal and powerful advocates of youth justice and are instrumental in transforming the justice system. Their personal experiences not only help to bring an urgency and expertise to reform efforts, but also provide rich and detailed information as to ways systems can be strengthened to support families.

The input of families is crucial to creating legislative change.  Families who engage in legislative reform are incredibly courageous—they share share their personal stories with the policy makers and the public,  opening themselves up to potential public scrutiny for the advancement of  the greater good.  More importantly, families remind us that children prosecuted as adults are more than the worst thing they have ever done—they are sons, daughters, siblings, students, athletes, community leaders, authors, and so much more. This is why CFYJ believes in engaging with families and youth to take action at state and national levels through public awareness campaigns that result in legislative action.

CFYJ works with families and youth to:

Convene families and youth in leadership, community organizing, and media trainings 

  • Develop and train those who are interested in becoming CFYJ spokespeople 
  • Provide materials to families who are interested in sharing their stories with the media and other sources.Identify opportunities for youth and families to participate in national meetings and conferences. 
  • Identify opportunities for youth and families to participate and testify in Capitol Hill briefings and hearings in their own state. 
  • Coordinate meetings of families and youth with policy makers and federal government agency leaders to discuss family engagement, educate policy leaders on the issue, and create solutions to end the practice of processing youth in the adult criminal justice system. 
  • Provide a comprehensive Family Resource Guide to assist families who have a child who is at-risk or is currently being processed in the criminal justice system. 
  • Support Youth Justice Awareness Month events in states.

In order to better understand the issue at hand and offer recommendations for change, we need to hear about the experiences of those most affected by the current system. Share your story or provide a testimonial and learn more about the family engagement and partnership practices in the justice system.

SUMMARY: Hearing on “Improving Accountability and Oversight of Juvenile Justice Grants" United States Senate Judiciary Committee – April 21, 2015

Marcy Mistrett Wednesday, 22 April 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

act4jjSenator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on the oversight and accountability of juvenile justice programs authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The Act, first passed forty years ago and last reauthorized in 2002, provides guidance and funding to states around building effective juvenile and criminal justice systems that protect kids and promote public safety.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), housed under the Department of Justice, was created by the Act to ensure states comply with the four core requirements of JJDPA: (1) the de-institutionalization of status offenders, (2) the removal of youth from adult jails, (3) the sight and sound separation of youth from adults while confined, and (4) addressing the disproportionate minority contact of youth involved in the juvenile justice system. As Mr. Grassley highlighted, “Congress designed [juvenile justice] grants to be earned each year—not to be handed out as entitlements.” The hearing explored whether the Justice Department was providing adequate oversight to the administration of this Act.

Witnesses at the hearing articulated the need for more transparency between the federal government and states, attention to updating regulations and guidance for the Act, and delays and inconsistencies in compliance auditing. Furthermore, witnesses testified to the importance of the JJDPA in protecting our youth, with some notable excerpts below:

“The power of this law is that it really helps kids,” noted Elissa Rumsey, Compliance Monitoring Coordinator at OJJDP and DOJ Whistleblower, DC.

“ We need a strong federal presence with adequate funding. Congress should proceed with a fortified reintroduction of JJDPA,” Professor Dean Hill Rivkin, Distinguished Professor, University of Tennessee College of Law, TN

“The time is ripe to re-authorize the JJDPA and in so doing make the changes necessary to improve the accountability and oversight of juvenile justice grants. I do not view this hearing as an obstacle to re-authorization, but an opportunity to improve upon a historic and strategic Act of Congress that has assisted states like mine to do the right thing for youth.” Judge Steven Teske, Chief Judge, Clayton County Juvenile Court, GA.

At the hearing, Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) both reaffirmed their commitment to reintroducing and passing a strengthened Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The Senators co-sponsored S. 2999 to reauthorize JJDPA in December, 2014. The bill strengthened the core protections and accountability since the last reauthorization more than 13 years ago. 

To watch the hearing or read the testimony, go to the U.S, Senate Judiciary Committee website.

NEW REPORT: Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe under PREA

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

A new report, Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe under PREA: Alternative Strategies to the Use of Segregation in Prisons and Jails, was released this month by the Nation PREA Resource Center. The report serves as a guide that provides prison and jail administrators and staff with strategies for safely housing inmates at risk of sexual abuse without isolating them.

The Campaign for Youth Justice supports the specific recommendations with regard to the protection of youthful inmates in the criminal justice system because of the vulnerability of young people and the impacts of sexual abuse on their development and long-term well-being. We know youth in adult jails and prisons are at a higher rate of victimization and have a higher likelihood of being placed in solitary confinement. This report comes at a perfect time as states analyze their housing practices for their annual PREA compliance reporting.

Key ideas in the report on protecting youth in the system are as follows:

  • House youthful inmates in juvenile facilities until age 18
  • Create dedicated housing units with age-appropriate programming when youthful inmates are housed in adult facilities
  • Provide supervised opportunities for youthful inmates in adult facilities to participate in congregate activities

To learn more, tune in for the Keeping Vulnerable Populations Safe Under PREA: Alternative Strategies to the Use of Segregation Prisons and Jails webinarSegregation Prisons and Jails webinar on April 21, 2015 from 2:00-3:30 pm EDT.

Presenters will discuss the PREA standards that place restrictions on the use of involuntary protective custody and walk participants through a new implementation guide that provides strategies for prisons and jails on how to safely house inmates at risk of sexual abuse without isolating them. To register click here. For any questions regarding registration, please contact Priscilla Alabi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Conditions Necessary for Reform: Take Action Now

Marcy Mistrett Wednesday, 25 March 2015 Posted in 2015, Take Action Now

Only a few more weeks remain for the New York State legislature to decide whether to support Governor Cuomo’s Raise the Age Bill. A bill that would raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 16 to 18 years of age; aligning New York with the majority of the country. On March 16, the Children’s Defense Fund in NY held a symposium to educate the public on how the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice determined its recommendations and the impact the law would have, if passed, on youth and public safety.

The tone of the morning was set by Bryan Stevenson, founder of Equal Justice Initiative, author of the best selling book, Just Mercy, and a powerful voice in the reform efforts of the criminal justice system. Mr. Stevenson, sharing his belief that “all children should be treated as children” broke down four conditions necessary for reform:

  1. Reformers must be proximate to those impacted by the law—keep people who are impacted close to the reforms. See and feel their humanity and the trauma they have experienced, for it is the same humanity and trauma that is within us.
  2. Reformers must change the narrative. The US presumes too many black children as dangerous and guilty. This narrative must be replaced with one of truth and reconciliation.
  3. Reformers must protect our hopefulness. “Change will be minimized if we don’t believe that something better is possible.”
  4. Reformers must do uncomfortable things. “Justice requires this. We are all more than the worst thing we have ever done.”

These themes resonated throughout the morning. Building from the powerful statements from a formerly court-involved young person, Jim S., who talked about the transformative nature of the youth/family court for him personally; every member of the panel clearly was proximate to this issue. There was no lack of stories of injustice, racialization, and deprivation that youth experience when incarcerated—particularly when incarcerated side by side with adults.

Commissioners talked about the importance of bearing witness to the conditions that youth endured in adult jails and prisons—including cell-study, outdoor recreation in a 2 x 5 foot caged area, months of solitary confinement, isolation from their families, and lack of access to age appropriate services. The observation, documentation and sharing of these experiences has been critical to developing the political climate necessary for reform.

In terms of changing the narrative—Commissioners and community-based organizations articulated and accepted that youth of color are disproportionately harmed and traumatized by incarceration; but also commented that this harm extends to all youth who lack access to age appropriate services and to the communities in which they reside. Panelists highlighted the vicious cycle that treating kids as adults creates in our families and communities—and the need to invest resources up front to keep young people and families stable and out of the criminal justice system. Panelists, many who have been fighting to raise the age for half a decade, discussed ways they have seen “toughness” toward these young people evolve into “trauma informed” services and care. Many cited excellent community based programs and continuums of care that exist, but need to be scaled, to keep kids close to home and connected to their communities.

Hopefulness was referred to repeatedly. Advocates referred to the system changes that have happened to get NY ready to raise the age. From the Youth-Part Court, to the dramatic reduction in state-based youth care, to a reorganizing of financial streams that allow youth to get accessible services, all prior reform has gotten NY in a position where raising the age can be implemented effectively. There was also consensus that this bill is something that would benefit youth, regardless of where they lived in the state.

Finally, the uncomfortableness that has accompanied “Raising the Age” in NY was also expressed throughout the morning. Not a panelist spoke, who didn’t reference some discomfort—either with what they see happen to youth and families day to day; or from their frustration with lacking authority to make the change from where they sit; or from holding systems and families accountable; or even where the final recommendations from the Commission ended. One might say that it was the pervasiveness of the discomfort that ultimately led to action.

By all accounts, NY has in place the pieces necessary for reform; the question remains, is the legislature ready too? If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislator in NY, please TAKE ACTION now, by clicking here.

A Closer Look at Prison-Based Education

Kay Xiao Monday, 23 March 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

By Kay Xiao 

Last Tuesday, I attended Justice in Focus: the Path Forward – a talk hosted by the Vera Institute at George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. At the event, a series of speakers with diverse experiences and perspectives on the criminal justice system covered a comprehensive range of issues including the economic and social benefits of reducing harsh punishments, the need for positive relationships between law enforcement and the community, and the overall status quo of the criminal justice system in the United States today.

I was particularly enlightened by the segment on firsthand experiences where Craig DeRoche, President of the Justice Fellowship, and Stanley Richards, Senior Vice President of the Fortune Society, shared insights based on their own personal experiences within the criminal justice system. Richards brought forth an issue that is often overlooked in the discourse on criminal justice reform – education. A formerly incarcerated beneficiary of prison-based education, Richard’s experience reflects the significance and efficacy of providing opportunities for former inmates to reintegrate into society.

Research demonstrates that prison-based education helps shape the social and economic outcomes of former inmates. Participants have a 43 percent lower chance of returning to prison in comparison to non-participants. Additionally, prisoners who participated in academic or vocational education programs have been shown to have better employment outcomes post-release.

Moreover, prison-based education is cost effective by virtue of its effect on recidivism reduction. According to a meta-analysis conducted by the RAND Corporation, reincarceration costs are $0.87 million to $0.97 million less for those who receive correctional education, which outweigh the costs of prison-based education.

As the research suggests, the logic is simple. Give people the skills to be productive members of society and the positive effects will transcend the individual to the community.

March is Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing

Kay Xiao Monday, 09 March 2015 Posted in 2015, Across the Country

March marks the annual Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing. This month brings together congregations of all faiths, schools and universities in prayer, service and action. The goal is to offer young offenders hope and alternatives to a lifetime as a hardened criminal by raising awareness and creating engagement with issues pertaining to juvenile justice.

How to Get Involved:

  • Place a bulletin in your faith organization’s newsletter.
  • Throughout the month of March discuss juvenile justice in your weekly faith service.
  • Post a flyer in your place of worship.
  • Host a candle light vigil in your faith community in remembrance of youth in the justice system.
  • Host a discussion after a faith service in your community about juvenile justice issues. Such topics could be sentencing laws, sending children into the adult court system, willful defiance or the classification process in the prison system that sends youthful offenders to higher level prisons than adults for the same crime.
  • Support neighborhood groups that work to create cooperative relationships between neighbors, faith communities, and law enforcement to create a safe and secure community.
  • Support or volunteer with programs that promote victim ministry in your place of worship.
  • Support or volunteer with the ministry at your local detention center.
  • Provide spiritual, material, or emotional assistance to those reentering society, both youth and adult. Schools and places of worship are encouraged to invite formerly incarcerated youth to share their experiences and insights about the juvenile justice system.

For more information or to schedule a speaker please contact Javier Stauring at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CFYJ testifies on conditions of confinement for DC Youth in Jail

Najja Quail, CFYJ Intern Monday, 23 February 2015 Posted in 2015, Federal Update

by Najja Quail, CFYJ Intern

On February 19th, DC Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D – DC), Chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary held a Performance Oversight Hearing for the Department of Corrections (DOC), the Office of Returning Citizens Affairs (ORCA), the Corrections Information Council (CIC), and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). At the hearing, the Campaign for Youth Justice testified on the conditions of confinement for youth held in the Juvenile Unit of the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF), the severe lack of programming for these youth, as well as the need for staff training on adolescent development. One of the top issues mentioned by Carmen Daugherty, Policy Director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, was the issue of solitary confinement and its harmful impact on youth. Daniel Okonkwo, Executive Director of DC Lawyers for Youth testified at the hearing on the inadequacy of adult facilities to provide the services that youth need for positive development. He highlighted a need for education, exercise, and pro-social interactions with positive role models. Okonkwo stated that passage of the Youth Offender Accountability and Rehabilitation Act (YOARA) would alleviate some of the concerns raised by advocates, families, and youth.

During questioning, Councilmember McDuffie raised some questions to Thomas Faust, the Director of the Department of Corrections, regarding some of the poignant issues and concerns regarding youth housed at CTF. Currently, according to Faust, 11 youth are confined in CTF. When questioned about solitary confinement, Faust responded that he “rejected” the term “solitary confinement” because what was actually occurring was an “administrative segregation.” Based on his response, “administrative segregation” means being in a cell for 23 hours a day for a maximum of 5 days, at which time a committee must review whether or not the youth held in this solitary confinement will remain “administratively segregated, ”or be released back to the general population. As the Campaign testified, studies have shown that this type of treatment, whether you call it “administrative segregation” or “solitary confinement,” is harmful to the mental, physical, and emotional health of developing youth.

Furthermore, Faust testified that he questions whether or not the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services’ facility is equipped to house the youth in the Juvenile Unit of the Correctional Treatment Facility due to the fact that some of the youth are “violent offenders.” He then testified that the youth housed in the Correctional Treatment Facility were less likely to act out and were given more privileges due to good behavior which would lead one to believe that maybe there’s more to be said about the “violent offenders” he deemed unsafe for housing in a youth facility. Studies have shown that youth can be rehabilitated, which is the basis for having a separate facility and judicial system for youth and Faust’s testimony on the good behavior of the youth housed in the Correctional Treatment Facility is evidence of this fact. It also further solidifies the need to educate DC Council on the ways youth are treated when they have contact with the law and how YOARA can strengthen public safety by providing much needed rehabilitative services to all youth.

CFYJ continues to monitor conditions of confinement at the CTF and plan on providing testimony at the upcoming DOC budget hearings scheduled for the spring. If interested in providing testimony, please contact Carmen Daugherty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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