About YJAM

On the afternoon of January 4, 2008, Tracy McClard, a mother in Jackson, MO, received a call from the Missouri Department of Corrections. The call was to inform her that her seventeen-year-old son, Jonathan, was dead. Jonathan had taken his own life upon realizing that an adult sentence made it impossible to see a future for himself, especially a future that included his dream of becoming a doctor. Jonathan McClard was one of the thousands of children that end up in the adult criminal justice system every year. His future and the future of others like him are forever changed by adult convictions that put up barriers to education, housing, and employment.

girlsTracy memorialized Jonathan by hosting a 5K race to bring public awareness to the issue and to educate her Missouri lawmakers – to this day, she fights to put an end to these tragedies. Tracy knew the conditions which led to Jonathan’s death and is determined to stop such experiences from happening to another mother’s son or daughter. Her 5K Race in October 2008 was just a first step, and today she is an avid advocate in Missouri and has educated countless numbers of people, including youth, state representatives, and the general public. 

Inspired by Tracy and so many others fighting for justice, the Campaign for Youth Justice declared October to be National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM). Since 2009, YJAM has grown every year. Youth, families, students and advocates throughout the country have made YJAM what it is today – a movement to end the prosecution of youth in the adult system. In 2016, YJAM became Youth Justice ACTION Month, in recognition of the tremendous growth in activism and advocacy that has emerged in recent years.

thanksyjamYJAM aims to provide people across the country with an opportunity to develop action-oriented events in their communities. We know that the power for change lies in our communities, so every year people all over the country come together in October to shed light on an issue that impacts nearly 200,000 youth every year.

Whether this is your first YJAM or your tenth, we hope you are inspired to take action. Join us in the movement for youth justice! Together, we can work to ensure that youth are not tried, sentenced, or incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system.

A.C.T. to End Racism

At the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) we believe that for all children to thrive, we must commit to anti-racism work that involves addressing both internal and external racial and ethnic bias within ourselves, our organizations, our communities, our institutions, and our collective values.

We must acknowledge and reconcile the promise of the American dream with the reality of slavery, displacement, and racial and ethnic terror that served as the foundation of our country’s economy.

We must acknowledge that we are responsible for maintaining and supporting systems that perpetuate oppression and subjugation as a vestige of slavery, genocide, and exclusionary immigration policies.

We must confront, reflect upon, and stop taking actions that maintain or contribute to racial and ethnic bias, harm, and disparate negative outcomes against people of color.

We must commit to dismantling and reimagining a transformative justice system that provides accountability and consequences, but prioritizes the restoration of survivors and those who have committed harm over punishment.

A part of this legacy is the adultification of youth which is inherently racist and must be abolished in our laws, policies, and practices by:

  • Requiring resources that are currently directed to harmful institutions and practices to be reinvested into impacted communities to support the potential of and increase opportunities for children.
  • Amplifying and supporting the leadership of directly impacted youth and their loved ones to steer campaigns and direct how resources are spent in their communities.
  • Dedicating substantial human and financial resources into transformative justice by investing in policies, practices, and laws that heal and advance hope and peace.

The Campaign for Youth Justice is committed to awakening, confronting, and transforming ourselves, our communities, our institutions, and our values to reflect our core beliefs in equity, humanity, and justice for all.

Take Action Here

Contact Us

Campaign for Youth Justice
1220 L Street, NW, Suite 605, Washington, DC, 20005
www.campaignforyouthjustice.org