Below are the spokespersons for the the Campaign for Youth Justice. If you would like to speak to any one of these individuals, please contact Aprill O. Turner by phone at 202.558.3580, ext 20 or by email at
Fact sheet for media and about the campaign.
Complete fact sheet on kids in juvenile and adult justice systems.
Frequently Requested Studies:
National Poll on Public View of Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System (Polling Memo) (Polling Results) - GBA Strategies (October 2011)
Trying Juveniles as Adults: An Analysis of State Transfer Laws and Reporting - OJJDP (September 2011)
State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005 - 2010 - CFYJ (March 2011)
Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency? - OJJDP (June 2010)
Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to Adult Justice System - CDC (November 2007)
President and Chief Executive Officer
Liz brings more than two decades of experience to the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), an organization she founded that is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating children in the adult criminal justice system. In her capacity at CFYJ, Liz is responsible for overall strategy, management and fundraising. Liz currently serves on the steering committee of the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition. Prior to starting The Campaign for Youth Justice, Ms. Ryan served for five years as the Advocacy Director for the Youth Law Center’s Building Blocks for Youth Initiative, a project to reduce the over-incarceration and disparate treatment of children of color in the juvenile justice system. Ms. Ryan previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to U.S. Senator Thomas R. Carper during his terms as Delaware’s Governor and member of the US House of Representatives. She also served as a lobbyist for the Children’s Defense Fund. Ms. Ryan is a former VISTA volunteer. Ms. Ryan holds a BA from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) and an MA from The George Washington University (Washington, DC).
Jessica A. Sandoval
Jessica A. Sandoval, MPA is the Director of National Field Operations at the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national organization that is dedicated to ending the practice of prosecuting children under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. As a founding staff member of the organization, she was responsible for creating the communications infrastructure and established several initiatives to involve those who oppose prosecuting youth as adults, including affected families and incarcerated youth. She leads the organizations overall state campaign strategy and provides technical assistance to states engaged in reform efforts and campaigns. Ms. Sandoval uses her advocacy, political campaign and policy strategy expertise to build, implement and promote campaign successes and to increase field capacity and networks.
Ms. Sandoval has 20 years of juvenile justice experience. Her experience includes direct service, program management, local, state and federal policy and advocacy. She also served as an appointed Juvenile Justice Commissioner for the State of Colorado for 10 years.
Ms. Sandoval volunteers as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Free Minds Book Club and Writing workshop, an organization that serves youth who have been prosecuted as adults and who are housed at the DC Jail. In addition, she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lagniappe Education Foundation, a foundation that provides scholarships to graduating seniors at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ms. Sandoval graduated with a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado and a undergraduate degree in Human Services, from Metropolitan State College.
Aprill O. Turner
Director of Communications & Media Relations
Aprill Turner is a public relations professional with more than twelve years of experience working with non-profit and corporate clients, as well as elected officials, in the areas of political and communication strategy, message development, media training, crisis communications, branding, and public affairs.
Prior to coming to the Campaign for Youth Justice, Aprill taught public relations and journalism at Morgan State University and Loyola University in Baltimore, MD. She has also been Communications Consultant for the National Association of Black Journalists, Senior Account Executive at CooperKatz Public Relations in New York City, as well as planned and conducted media outreach initiatives for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights. In addition, Aprill has worked on Capitol Hill in several media capacities, including Press Advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Deputy Press Secretary to Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Communications Director to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York. Aprill has lead media strategy for several local, Congressional and Senatorial campaigns.
Aprill holds a bachelor's degree in legal communications from Howard University and a master's degree in political communication and fundraising from The George Washington University. Aprill is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the National Black Public Relations Society,and a former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
R. Dwayne Betts
Author and Spokesperson
Reginald Dwayne Betts is a husband and father of two sons. As a poet, essayist and national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. In 2011, Betts was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship to Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies. Betts was recently appointed by the White House to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The author of the memoir, A Question of Freedom (Avery/Penguin 2009), and the collection of poetry, Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James Books, 2010), Betts’ work possesses a careful, complicated and often difficult-to-confront intimacy that challenges conventional ideas about crime, masculinity and redemption. In 2010 he was awarded an NAACP Image Award for A Question of Freedom and a Soros Justice Fellowship to complete The Circumference of a Prison, a work of nonfiction exploring the criminal justice system's role in the every day lives of Americans who have not committed crimes.
Michael Kemp is a 22-year-old advocate and writer from Washington, D.C. He writes for the Campaign for Youth Justice, works as a re-entry coach with Free Minds Book Club and works at the Howard Theater. Michael was charged as an adult at the age of 16 and was only recently released. His writing has been published on blogs, newsletters and in national media outlets such as The Washington Post. In 2011, he was honored at the 7th Awards Grassroots Gala for his work on the school to prison pipeline.
Parent and Community Organizer
Tracy McClard, a mother from Missouri, joined the Campaign for Youth Justice in the summer of 2010. She became a parent activist for juvenile justice reform when her 17 year old son committed suicide while incarcerated in an adult facility. Tracy recently resigned from her teaching job to focus on creating a powerful family-based juvenile justice organization in Missouri. She is currently organizing a national 5K run/walk to bring awareness to the public about the issue of prosecuting children as adults.
Jabriera Handy is a 20-year-old advocate and organizer with the Just Kids Partnership to end the automatic prosecution of youth as adults in Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of 16, Jabriera was charged as an adult in the adult criminal justice system for a crime that she did not commit. She spent 11 months in Baltimore City Detention Center before her case was sent back to the juvenile justice system. Jabriera is now organizing families and sharing her story to try to stop the automatic prosecution of youth as adults in Maryland in order to ensure that no youth will ever have to go through what she experienced. She was recently awarded the 2012 Coalition for Juvenile Justice Spirit of Youth Award.
Photo by Marshall Clarke Photographs
Nicole Miera of Denver, Colorado, is the sister of James Stewart, a youth who was charged as an adult at the age of 17. Not only was James incarcerated in an adult facility, he was also held in solitary confinement for more than 23 hours a day. After spending approximately one month in an adult jail, James committed suicide. Upon researching the incomprehensible conditions her brother endured while incarcerated, Nicole became a tireless advocate for juvenile justice reform. She has testified in front of numerous legislatures and has joined with advocacy organizations to help pass two juvenile justice reform laws in Colorado. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition and is a national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice. Nicole is a mother of two children and is working towards a degree in nursing.
Gary Flakes is a 32-year-old mentor of at-risk youth and organizer of meetings with families whose loved ones were incarcerated as youth. At the age of 16, Gary was charged as an adult in the Colorado adult criminal justice system and proceeded to serve over 12 years in prison. After his release from prison, Gary became part of a leadership development company known as Living Intentionally For Excellence (L.I.F.E.) and formed a consulting company specializing in individual life coaching, strategic planning, and organizational leadership. Gary was then promoted to the position of State Civic Engagement Chair of the NAACP for the states of Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. He currently serves as an advocate and national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, discussing issues of juvenile justice, re-integration, and prison reform.