Youth Justice Action Month Blog

Youth Justice Action Month is October – Less Than a Month Away!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Youth Justice Action Month is October – Less Than a Month Away!

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) is October – less than a month away!  Whether you are just starting to organize, or are already planning something, please Sign up today so we can work with you to make YJAM as impactful as possible!  

Since 2008, YJAM events and activities have elevated and amplified the conversation about the need for better youth justice policies. The 10th anniversary of YJAM will take place in the final lead-up to one of the most important election days in memory.

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.

Primary Election Day in Missouri: Why It's Important To #VoteYouthJustice

Tuesday, 07 August 2018

Primary Election Day in Missouri: Why It's Important To #VoteYouthJustice

By Michael Dammerich, CFYJ Junior Board Member

Buying a house, renting a car, or even catching a Lyft are all simple things, right? Of course. However, we take it for granted you must be 18 to do any of those. Most people can agree on that. What about serving an adult prison sentence? In Missouri, kids as young as age 12 are "eligible" to find themselves behind bars in an adult institution.

As a state, Missouri has a considerable portion of the budget allocated for education. In fact, the Governor suggested that the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 have funding for education services over four times greater than that of corrections. With priorities in funding outlined as such, it should follow there is legislation to supplement the focus on education. However, when a minor finds themselves in the criminal justice system they receive no benefit of that fiscal allotment.

Wisconsin’s Next Governor: A Youth Justice Champion?

Monday, 23 July 2018

Wisconsin’s Next Governor: A Youth Justice Champion?

By Michelle Hannemann, CFYJ Spokesperson

There are many parents in the state of Wisconsin—but not many can say they are the mother of a felon that was charged as an adult for a crime he committed when he was a 14-year-old child. Clearly this is nothing to be proud of; however, I can be proud of how our son has evolved and overcome our state justice system’s tragic decision to treat him like an adult when he was a child. Speaking from experience, I never want another parent to have to endure the hopeless and overwhelming feelings of fear I continually felt—not knowing what was going to happen to my son. Sadly, our worst fears came true and our son was sent to prison. This does not need to happen to a child you love and care for. No one ever thinks it is going to be their child, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend’s child, etc., but it can happen! Children will continue to make bad decisions at times in their lives as they are learning and developing through life. Do they need consequences? ABSOLUTELY! But adult jails and prisons are no place for a child.

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.

Should Troubled Teens Go to Wilderness Programs or Boot Camps?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Should Troubled Teens Go to Wilderness Programs or Boot Camps?

This blog was originally posted on Multisystemic Therapy' Services's website. We are reposting it with their authorization. 

If you're thinking of sending your teen to a wilderness program or boot camp, think twice.

It's not uncommon for an overwhelmed parent to say, “I need to send him [or her] someplace else.” Whether a young person is running away, refusing to attend school, using drugs or is involved in crime, many parents come to believe military-style boot camps or wilderness programs are the only options left. Heavily marketed and popularized in the 1990s, some parents see boot camps as the way to send a clear message to their kids that their behavior will no longer be tolerated.

Girls' Justice Day

Friday, 20 October 2017

Girls' Justice Day

By Cherice Hopkins, Esq. and Hayley Carlisle

Today is Girls’ Justice Day, a day during Youth Justice Action Month that serves as a reminder to uplift and reflect on the unique experiences of girls in the juvenile justice system. It is particularly significant that Girls’ Justice Day also takes place during Domestic Violence Awareness Month because for most justice-involved girls, their paths into the juvenile justice system begin with abuse. 


Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Let’s break the chains of the black youth’s mind

So that they will remain devine

We were never monkeys swinging from vines

So never look down on own kind

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