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Articles tagged with: National Youth Justice Awareness Month

This Week's #Playground2Prison Snapshot Contest Winner...

Thursday, 31 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

It’s Friday, which means one thing – it’s time to pick the final winner of the #Playground2Prison snapshot contest! Every week, during Youth Justice Awareness Month, people have submitted snapshots telling us why they fight for youth justice. The winning submissions receive, a YJAM goody bag including great YJAM swag: a Childhood Interrupted DVD, YJAM bracelet, Playground to Prison poster, and a YJAM tote.

Change Agents for Youth Justice Reform

Angella Bellota Thursday, 31 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Voices

 

When pursuing change in your state, youth/adult partnerships are critical for campaign reform efforts. Youth are more than just their story and have a source of knowledge and leadership that should not be ignored. When young people are supported and treated as partners – their leadership shines through and their ability to meet the challenges of advocacy work, and  their ability to message the issue in unique ways, have led to some impressive moments. Check out some of the young leaders we’ve had the pleasure of working with in recent years. All are national spokespeople with Campaign for Youth Justice.

Jabriera Handy

image courtesy of Just Kids Partnership

We first met Jabriera when she was working on stopping a youth prison from being built in Maryland. She recently received the Spirit of Youth Award from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and she is currently a youth organizer for the Just Kids Partnership in her home state of Maryland.  In this excerpt, Jabriera testified before the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, sharing her experience as a way to educate and influence the task force on the critical need for reform.  The task force ultimately recommended what she had testified on: keep kids out the of the adult criminal justice system.

Good afternoon. My name is Jabreira Handy and I was exposed to violence as a youth incarcerated as an adult. At the age of 16, I was charged as an adult in the adult criminal justice system. It is because of my exposure to the adult system that I’m here to urge this task force not to expose any more young people to violence in the justice system, particularly in adult jails or prisons. It’s also fitting because this hearing comes as here, in the city of Baltimore, we are debating whether to build another adult jail for youth charged as adults, which disturbs me.

Words can't explain what I went through in the adult system. Tears hardly express the pain and discomfort of being judged as a criminal. At the age of sixteen, I got into an argument with my grandma. As she was disciplining me, I attempted to get her off me. I left the house and later on that day she died of a heart attack because of the argument. I was charged with her death. I was charged as an adult and spent eleven months in Baltimore City Detention Center. I was forced to shower with a woman twice my age and shamelessly exposed to a squat and cough in front of everyone while menstruating. I was neglected and did not receive the psychological and healthcare help I needed throughout my stay. I was treated as if I had been judged guilty of committing the crime or as they would say “as an adult.”

To read Jabriera’s complete testimony, click HERE

Michael Kemp

We met Michael after his release from prison and sadly 66 days after his release he was sent back.  We kept in touch through mail and after his release in 2010; he interned with us and ultimately became a spokesperson. Michael is a regular here at our office, he has been on several radio shows, was featured in The Washington Post and speaks regularly in classrooms, conferences and other events. He is a poet ambassador with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop in Washington, DC. In the clip below he talks about his visit with the U.S. Attorney General on reform efforts. He advocated for the appointment of an OJJDP Administrator and the critical need for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue final PREA regulations especially to protect youth in the justice system. Regulations were issued six weeks after the meeting with the Attorney General.

Click HERE to watch a clip of Michael during the “BarackTalk” event sponsored by the National League of Young Voters

Nicole Miera

image courtesy of NY Times

We met Nicole when we worked together with her and other allies on the Direct File Campaign in Colorado.  She is very passionate and committed to sharing the atrocities of her brother’s suicide in the Denver County Jail.  She has testified in hearings and on Capitol Hill.  She recently spoke with The New York Times and shared her family’s story and the tragedy that happened to her teenage brother Jimmy Stewart. Nicole has been a strong advocate in her state and through the involvement of her and other youth justice allies - legislative reform in her state was achieved.

Click HERE to read Nicole’s interview with The New York Times 

Dwayne Betts


We met Dwayne soon after his release from prison.  Over the years he has been an advocate for removing youth from the adult court. He is a talented author and poet and is currently attending law school at Yale.   Dwayne was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice, the first young person who was directly impacted by the justice system to serve on this council. In August, he was asked to speak to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and here is a recap of his remarks:


Click HERE to watch Dwayne speak to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)


In seeing how much Jabriera, Michael, Nicole, and Dwayne have been able to accomplish as young leaders, we think the message is clear: Youth are critical change agents in any social justice movement. Many of us know from experience the difficult task of being an advocate, so it never ceases to inspire us when young people stand up and speak out for youth justice reform and other issues impacting their peers and communities. We believe that youth and their families are integral to making real change happen and hope that you will join all of us in continuing to expose the dangers of youth in the adult system.

Continue to follow the youth voices conversation this week, using:
#YouthVoices  #YJAM  #youthjustice
 
Remember to share your message on why #youthvoices matter!
 
 
To learn more about the Campaign for Youth Justice Spokesperson Bureau, contact:
 Aprill Turner, Communications & Media Director: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Youth Justice Awareness Month: Advocate, Lend a Voice, Take Action

Monday, 28 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

By Alisha Carrington

The criminal adult system is no place for a child. In America over 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated every year. Many people are shocked at the statistics of the youth incarceration rate, but not many are willing to advocate, lend a voice and take action. Across the U.S. there are laws and policies that are harmful to children and place them right into adult jails and prisons where they rarely have access to education and rehabilitative services.

The Voices of Youth Justice Reform

Angella Bellota Sunday, 27 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country, Voices

In the last ten years, we have seen growing momentum in youth justice reform. Foundations, policymakers, child advocacy organizations, the legal community, and researchers have worked to educate the public and improve the juvenile justice system, but also the adult criminal justice system, where too many of our youth end up because of draconian state laws.

As critical as all of these allies are to the movement, the heart of the fight lives in our communities. There are too many examples of families who lose their children to the adult system who go it alone, to demand fairness and accountability from local and state leadership. And too many formerly incarcerated young people who return to their communities with adult records and find an antagonistic environment that is set up for them to fail instead of being directed to opportunities for a new start. Yet in the face of opposition, it is those most affected who take on the fight for justice, refuse to treat children as throwaways, and are courageous enough to put a face to the issue and to be messengers for reform.

Trending Now: Youth Justice Reform

Carmen Daugherty Monday, 14 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country

Twitter users are familiar with Worldwide Trends--popular hashtags of the moment. Fashion aficionados know what’s trending for each season.  Trend analysis usually predicts what will happen in the future with consideration of the past. How do advocates, families, and youth make “youth justice” a trend? 

On October 10th, CFYJ will release State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System which examines the accomplishments of states that enacted laws to keep kids out of the adult criminal justice system.  The trend is towards more humane and appropriate treatment of kids in the criminal justice system, yet there is still much work to be done in order to have a justice system that recognizes that kids are different and deserve a chance at rehabilitation over severe sanctions.

This Week's #Playground2Prison Snapshot Contest Winner...

Friday, 11 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now


It’s Friday, which means one thing – it’s time to pick this week’s winner of the #Playground2Prison snapshot contest! Every week, during Youth Justice Awareness Month, the winner of the snapshot contest will receive a YJAM goody bag including great YJAM swag: a Childhood Interrupted DVD, YJAM bracelet, Playground to Prison infographic poster, and a YJAM tote.
 

We received some great snapshots from this year’s first YJAM event at a happy hour fundraiser in DC. Guests posed with posters created by the Campaign for Youth Justice’s fellows and made signs indicating why they believe we need youth justice reform.
 

                                                This week’s winner is Marcus Bullock!

 
 

We want to congratulate Marcus on his awesome snapshot demonstrating his support for ending #Playground2Prison and on receiving YJAM swag.
 

There are still 3 more chances to win your own YJAM swag this year! Submit photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget to include #Playground2Prison so that your snapshot will be considered for the winning photo of the week.
 

For more information about Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM), please visit our website: www.cfyj.org  and join the conversation online: #YJAM #youthjustice

Submit your #Playground2Prison Snapshot and Win YJAM Swag! Winners Selected Every Friday in October!

Angella Bellota Thursday, 03 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now


Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is in full swing! Throughout October, local partners will be hosting YJAM events raising awareness and taking action to end the incarceration of kids in the adult criminal justice system. 

To continue awareness efforts, CFYJ wants to give you a chance to walk away with some YJAM swag! Whether you’re attending a YJAM event in your state or if you’re following the YJAM actions online, we want everyone to have a chance to take action during Youth Justice Awareness Month! 


Check out the details on how to participate:    

  1. Using the hashtag, #Playground2Prison with your snapshot – share your thoughts on why its time to end #Playground2Prison:
    • Tell us why you believe its time for youth justice reform
    • Tell us how you or your community have taken action to improve the lives of youth
    • Highlight a statistic/reason youth should not be placed in the adult system 
    •  Tell us why you decided to take action during YJAM this year

     2.   Submit your snapshot:  

 
    • As an email, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Need messages for your #Playground2Prison snapshot? Let us know and we can send you templates! 

Remember to get creative! Each week Campaign for Youth Justice will select a winning photo and send that person their very own YJAM goody bag! Show your support for youth justice reform and join us in ending the #Playground2Prison. 

 

For more information about Youth Justice Awareness Month, click HERE

6th Annual Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) Kicks Off Today!

Tuesday, 01 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

 

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By Tracy McClard
 
The 6th annual Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) officially launches today. I hope you are as excited as I am! 
 
I started Youth Justice Awareness Month in October of 2008 during the most tragic time of my life.  Earlier that year my 16 year old son, Jonathan, died in an adult facility in Missouri. I was so devastated and angry that I wanted to make sure the American public was made aware of how we treat children who come in contact with the adult criminal justice system in this country.   YJAM provides families, youth, students, advocates and organizations a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about the tragedies that happen when children are placed in the adult criminal justice system. It is also an opportunity for all of us to take action locally, so we can build a movement that will end the criminalization of our children.
 
It’s easy to get involved in this movement!   In the time that I have been YJAM Chair, I have seen student groups, local churches, families, advocates, and state leaders, organize a variety of events that have built awareness as well as launched policy campaigns to end the prosecution of children in the adult system. Events can be as large as leading your own community-wide 5K walk/run or as simple as hosting a film screening or community discussion. Many organizations have also been able to raise awareness on the great services they provide to local youth and families, along with achieving fundraising goals for their work to continue. 
 
For YJAM 2013, I will be running “4 Miles 4 Youth” and blogging about my experience as well  as asking people to join me through a virtual run  as a way to fundraise for Families and Friends Organizing for Reform of Juvenile Justice (FORJ-MO), an organization I founded to change the Missouri state laws that turn our children into adults, with horrific outcomes, once they enter the adult criminal justice system.  If you are interested in participating virtually, please visit, here.   
 
To showcase the amazing reform efforts across the country and in honor of Youth Justice Awareness Month, on October 10thCampaign for Youth Justice is releasing its newest report, State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013: Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System. This report demonstrates what is possible when families, youth, and advocates work together to educate policy makers and make justice reform a reality.
 
I encourage all of you to follow the Campaign for Youth Justice as they spearhead Youth Justice Awareness Month. For more information about events happening nationwide, the 2013 YJAM issue themes, and how you can join us through social media, visit, here. and click on “Awareness Month.” 
 
Also, follow CFYJ on Facebook and Twitter
 
 

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! 

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