Youth Justice Action Month Blog

YOUTH JUSTICE ACTION MONTH 2018 – A LOT OF ACTION

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

YOUTH JUSTICE ACTION MONTH 2018 – A LOT OF ACTION

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director

With the theme #VoteYouthJustice – anticipating the election that is now less than a week away – this year’s Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) featured events and activities all across the country.  

Every October is Youth Justice Action Month, and this year, on the very first day, New York’s “Raise the Age” law went into effect for 16-year-olds, who are now no longer automatically tried as adults. All children under 18 were also removed from Rikers Island

The Negative Effect of “Hardening” Schools on Students of Color

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Negative Effect of “Hardening” Schools on Students of Color

By Nicole Dooley, Policy Counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel for the Campaign for Youth Justice

After the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, people across the country again started having too-familiar conversations around how to keep students safe from violence at school. These conversations covered a wide range of topics, from students discussing clear backpacks, to teachers and administrators taking emergency preparedness trainings, to state and federal lawmakers deciding how to spend money to make schools safer.

Enter Our #VoteYouthJustice Poster Design Contest

Thursday, 04 October 2018

Enter Our #VoteYouthJustice Poster Design Contest

Election Day 2018 is November 6. During October 2018, Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) will focus on the importance of elections in the fight for Youth Justice. Throughout the country, races for everything from School Board to the Courtroom to the State House will be in high gear, and the futures of young people will be at stake!

As part of YJAM, we’re asking young people around the country to design a #VoteYouthJustice poster. Five posters will be selected by the Campaign for Youth Justice’s spokespeople and those 5 posters will be voted on by the general public. The winning poster will be used by the Campaign for Youth Justice leading up to Election Day 2018.

Here’s what you need to know to enter the contest:

  1. Young people from across the country are invited to enter the YJAM #VoteYouthJustice Poster Design Contest by designing a poster that encompasses what voting youth justice looks like to them. Make sure you include the date of the election, November 6, 2018, in your poster design!
  2. Submit your poster here by midnight on October 18, 2018. You can submit a picture of your design or an original file.
  3. The top 5 posters will be announced October 23, 2018 and voting will open to the public from October 23, 2018 through October 29, 2018.
  4. A winner will be announced on October 30, 2018.

Submit your poster via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by midnight on October 18, 2018. A PDF or JPEG file are preferred. 

YJAM: Ten Years of Raising Awareness & Taking Action for Youth

Tuesday, 02 October 2018

 YJAM: Ten Years of Raising Awareness & Taking Action for Youth

By Marcy Mistrtett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Roy Austin, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis and former Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity (U.S. Domestic Policy Council)

Today is the first day of October, and the launch of the tenth anniversary of Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM). YJAM began with one mother whose 17-year-old son tragically took his life in an adult prison in Missouri. Since then, this month marks a time when communities across the country take action against inhumane and harsh treatment of children in the justice system.  In 2015 and 2016, the Campaign for Youth Justice worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council on proclamations issued in honor of YJAM and the progress made on behalf of young people who come in contact with the justice system.  In the 2016 proclamation, President Obama called on all of us to “affirm our commitment to helping children of every background become successful engaged citizens.”

It's National Voter Registration Day: Let's Get Ready to #VoteYouthJustice

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

It's National Voter Registration Day: Let's Get Ready to #VoteYouthJustice

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel

It seems like no matter where you turn these days, everyone is talking about the 2018 election, including the Campaign for Youth Justice. As we approach the kick off of Youth Justice Action Month in October, we’ve been focused on highlighting the issues that impact young people and why, when you head to the polls on November 6, you should #voteyouthjustice. While public safety often makes it onto the public polls and local political platforms, we spend little time re-imagining justice for our young people. In fact, three out of four people in local courtrooms—district attorneys, sheriffs, and some judges—are in elected positions. Their decisions directly affect our daily lives, especially when it comes to policing and the public safety of our most vulnerable population, our children.

This Is America: Can it be the Year to #VoteYouthJustice?

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

This Is America: Can it be the Year to #VoteYouthJustice?

By Aprill O. Turner, Communications Director

2018 has already been another year of tension in cities across the country between police officers and young black males.

The headlines of these incidents never seem to cease. In March, officers in Sacramento, Calif., opened fired and killed Stephon Clark for standing in his own backyard holding a cellphone. Then in April, Brooklyn police officers shot and killed Saheed Vassel, an unarmed black man with mental disabilities when they mistakenly mistook the pipe he was holding for a gun.

Philadelphia police officers arrested Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson in Starbucks in April for simply sitting in the store and waiting for their business partner for a meeting. And in May, a young black man, Anthony Wall — dressed in a tuxedo after having just taken his little sister to prom — was seen in a viral video getting choked by a police officer in Warsaw, N.C. at a Waffle House.

Get Your Candidates Talking About Youth Justice

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

By Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel

We’re a little less than 5 months away from 2018’s crucial midterm elections, but before we can get there, states across the country are voting in packed primary elections. Here at the Campaign for Youth Justice, we’re using this opportunity to make sure local communities are getting out to vote and getting their local candidates to talk about youth justice. That’s why we were thrilled to hear Pod Save the People host DeRay McKesson talk to two out of the three candidates for Baltimore State’s Attorney on a recent episode of the podcast ahead of Maryland’s June 26 primary election (he invited all three candidates, but the third candidate did not respond).

Is 2018 the Year of Women in Politics?

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

By Jill Ward, Senior Advocacy Consultant, Youth First Initiative

“We're half the people; we should be half the Congress.” - Jeannette Rankin of Montana, first woman to hold federal office in the United States

That was the vision of the first woman elected to Congress in 1916, four years before the 19th amendment secured (white) women’s right to vote and another 45 years before African American men and women were able to exercise their right to vote.

We are not there yet, but 2018 promises to be a seminal year for women in politics. Today, there are 84 women in the House of Representatives and 23 in the Senate – roughly 20% of the Congress. Of the 107 women serving in Congress, 38, or 35.5%, are women of color. An improvement over time, but still far from half the Congress.

Justice, Fairness, and Power: Why District Attorney Races Matter on Ballots in 2018

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

By Gianna Nitti, Public Interest Communications and State Campaigns Fellow

In our country one of the elected officials that holds the most power, and often for long terms, is the District Attorney (alternative titles include commonwealth's attorney in Kentucky and Virginia, state's or county attorney in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont, and circuit solicitor in South Carolina). DA’s have a crucial role in the criminal justice system – they are responsible for deciding whether or not to prosecute a case and the level of charges and sentences that they are going to pursue.

Unfortunately, 85 percent of DA’s run unopposed, and there are many who have “tough-on-crime” beliefs, which are increasingly being promoted by the likes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. These beliefs have a negative impact on those who come in contact with the criminal justice system, especially youth, as well as on public safety through higher recidivism rates.

The Importance of Women’s Engagement in Our Political Process

Wednesday, 07 March 2018

By Gianna Nitti, Public Interest Communications and State Campaigns Fellow

March celebrates International Women’s Day, a time where we collectively take a look around the world and throughout history to recognize the groundbreaking social, economic, cultural and political contributions of women to our country and the world. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, CFYJ is looking at where and how women in our country are serving in elected office, especially in positions that can benefit youth justice, as well as potential for increased engagement in this regard.

Of the roughly 42,000 elected offices in the United States, from the presidency down to local offices, women hold about 12,180 positions, or 29% of these positions.

Elected officials are instrumental in creating and implementing laws that govern our towns, cities, counties, states, and country. When our elected officials do not represent the backgrounds and experiences of their constituents, critical issues that impact those who are unrepresented are pushed to the wayside and forgotten. When women and minorities are left out of the conversation, our progression forward into the future stalls, and we fall behind as a nation.

 

Vote Local: #VoteYouthJustice

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

Justice is local and voting matters. The health of a democracy rests on the ability and interest of its citizens to vote. Yet, the U.S. history on voting rights is spotty.

The Campaign for Youth Justice joins the many other national organizations and movements in calling for our local communities to come out and VOTE in local elections; because voting for youth justice matters.

While public safety often makes it onto the public polls and local political platforms, we spend a lot less time reimagining justice for our young people. However, by getting local candidates to talk about youth justice as part of their platforms—we can hold them accountable to a more fair and balanced justice system.

YouthJustice, Inc.: Using Legal Education to Disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Monday, 30 October 2017

By Dionna Y. Shinn, Esq., Founder, CEO of Youth Justice, Inc.

Currently, youth around the country face unprecedented challenges in schools. The creation of zero-tolerance discipline policies, increased police presence in the form of School Resource Officers (SROs), excessive suspensions for minor infractions and misuse of expulsions have created an antagonistic and intimidating education environment. Youth find themselves treated more like punitively controlled agents, rather than students in need of academic and socio-emotional support. These occurrences have created a disturbing movement known as the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Businesses Building a Better Way for Formerly Incarcerated Youth

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

By Rachel Kenderdine, Operations & Human Resources Manager

This week, as a part of October’s Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM), we are celebrating Alternative Pathways out of the adult system. For many youth prosecuted and incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system, life after release is challenging. Adult criminal charges can often act as a prison sentence, even once youth are no longer behind bars—opportunities to get a job, especially one with a livable wage, to attend college, and even to find housing are limited, since many establishments will not even consider an applicant if they have a past felony charge. Since 90% of incarcerated youth return home before their 25th birthday, these young people often feel that their hopes for a future are dashed before they have a chance to show their potential.

Contact Us

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