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2014

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Friday, 04 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Across the Country

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, otherwise known as SAAM. A very serious issue, sexual assault affects everyone regardless of age, gender, orientation, class or race; sadly, almost 1 in 2women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. We, at the Campaign For Youth Justice, whole heartedly urge you to start a dialogue with those around you during the month about sexual violence. A key part to elimnating sexual violence from society is acknowledging that it can and does happen. Leading statisticians agree that the numbers on sexual violence underestimate the problem because many victims do not tell the police, family, or friends about the violence.
            The roots of the movement can be traced back to the late 1970’s England and the “TakeBack The Night” (TBTN) marches. Originally organized as a reaction to events of violence perpetrated against women on the streets of English cities, these female-only protests found their way over to America in 1978. As the movement grew, coordinators sought out a month to pay special attention raise special awareness about violence done to women; eventually members of the movement coalesced around the idea of selecting October to be the month to focus on violence against women issues. Slowly October became the focus of Domestic Violence Awareness activities. Advocates of sexual assault awareness soon sought another month to highlight the issues surrounding sexual assault arriving on this month, April.

 

For more information having to do with youths and for youths about sexual assault please visit the SAAM page on the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) website. There you will find videos, statistics and more resources about the Sexual Assault Awareness month campaign.    

 

UN Criticizes American Policies on Juveniles in Adult Courts and Prisons

Tuesday, 01 April 2014 Posted in 2014, Federal Update

By Christopher Costner
CFYJ Fellow

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued statements in regards to U.S. policies of incarcerating youth in adult prisons and also trying youth as adults. While the Committee applauded the recent efforts of the U.S. Supreme Court in banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for youth in Miller v. Alabama, they were openly critical of state policies that exclude 16 and 17 year-olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and cause them to be tried and convicted in an adult court. The Committee also expressed disapproval of the fact that many youth are placed in adult prisons and jails, exposing them to a risk of physical and/or sexual abuse due to their immaturity and lack of development.

Invisible No More: Let’s Make JJDPA Work for Girls

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Voices

By Jeannette Y. Pai-Espinosa

This post is part of the JJDPA Mattersblog, a project of the Act4JJ Campaign with help from SparkAction. The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turns 40 this September. Each month leading up to this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA.  To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA MattersAction Center, powered by SparkAction.

At the National Crittenton Foundation, we believe in the potential of all girls and young women, particularly those whose childhoods have been marked by persistent violence, abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. The obstacles they face can seem overwhelming, and yet we know that with the right combination of support, services and treatment, they can heal from complex trauma and break destructive generational cycles of poverty to build positive, safe and healthy lives.
 
Sadly, the responses of the systems with which these girls and young women are typically involved, particularly the juvenile justice system, can either “make” or “break” their chances of turning their lives around.
 
Approaches that assess and treat girls early in their involvement with juvenile justice, identify the root causes of the problems they are facing, and create interventions that are gender and culturally responsive and trauma-informed, go a long way toward supporting girls in their success.  These girls have a chance to learn how to address their complex childhood trauma so they can become productive members of society.
 
The truth is that involvement with the juvenile justice system – for girls and for boys – is a wake up call for help.  But the reality is that different factors drive girls and boys into the system.
 
In contrast, systems that treat girls as criminals and blame them for their behavior can do much more harm than good, as these behaviors are typically symptoms of the abuse, violence and neglect they experienced as children. This treatment re-traumatizes girls and places them in a downward spiral from which it is very difficult to recover. Girls whose trauma goes unaddressed become invisible to society, and marginalized from the American dream.
 
For girls, running away is quite often an attempt to escape sexual abuse by a parent, relative, family friend or foster parent,  and yet it often leads to the girls being arrested. Similarly, truancy is often a symptom of a chaotic home environment in which survival must be their priority, which often leads to poor school attendance that can lead to arrest. It is true that some young women end up in the juvenile justice system for aggressive behavior – but this is the exception not the rule.  For girls, early assessment and holistic services and supports that address the factors that drive girls into the system, build their resilience, and support them in healing from trauma would keep the vast majority of girls out of the juvenile justice system.
What We Can Do Now
 
This year, Congress may reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), the nation's landmark juvenile justice law. This presents a critical opportunity to take what we know about helping system-involved girls and make it a reality.  While the importance of gender responsiveness has always been a hallmark of the JJDPA, there is very little evidence of this at work in too many states and communities. Much more can be done to ensure that girls get the right help at the right time and in the right place in all communities across the country.
 
Fortunately, there is strong consensus in the field about how the JJDPA can be strengthened to insure that all youth, including girls, get the help they need to heal and thrive.  Together with the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy and the Human Rights Project for Girls, we have organized a series of meetings on marginalized girls, one of which was focused on state efforts to meet the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system. This meeting resulted in a comprehensive report – Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls: Lessons from the States – on the issues facing girls and recommendations to strengthen the juvenile justice response.
 



Status Offenses Don't Deserve Detention

Monday, 24 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

This post is part of the JJDPA Matters blog, a project of the Act4JJ Campaign with help from SparkAction. The JJDPA, the nation's landmark juvenile justice law, turns 40 this September. Each month leading up to this anniversary, Act4JJ member organizations and allies will post blogs on issues related to the JJDPA. To learn more and take action in support of JJDPA, visit the Act4JJ JJDPA Matters Action Center, powered by SparkAction.

This piece originally appeared on The Hill and is reprinted here with permission.
The event highlighted the need to both reauthorize the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA), and to have an educated judiciary.

On March 12th, I had the chance to speak at a Capitol Hill Roundtable hosted by the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in conjunction with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

The JJDPA provides core protections for children who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, Congress has not acted to reauthorize this legislation in more than a decade.

Among the JJDPA’s key provisions is an assurance that children who commit so-called “status offenses” are not placed in secure detention. Status offenses include behaviors such as coming home after curfew, skipping school, and running away from home. They are behaviors that constitute a crime only because the person committing them is younger than 18.

CFYJ and the National PTA: Dedicated to Juvenile Justice Reform

Carmen Daugherty Thursday, 20 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) held its annual legislative conference last week at which CFYJ presented on recent state trends in keeping youth out of the adult criminal justice system. We highlighted the work of over 20 states in their efforts to end the placement of youth in criminal courts, jails, and prisons. Additionally, CFYJ provided background on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and shared recommendations to state-level PTA members on how to best advocate for JJDPA reauthorization and improve the current core requirements.

March is Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing

Thursday, 13 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Across the Country, Campaigns, Take Action Now

Please consider joining our friends at the Healing Justice Coalition during Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing. The Healing Justice Coalition's initiative is based in California but all are invited to implement these efforts nationwide. For more details, please read their message below: 

The Healing Justice Coalition invites faith communities, schools, and universities to unite in prayer, service and action to raise awareness of the realities of incarcerated youth, victims of crime, and families of both. This takes place at your place of worship or school.

Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing (JJMFH) is an opportunity for deeper insight and reflection through cross-over experiences. The Healing Justice Coalition invites faith leaders to visit incarcerated youth. We also provide speaker panels of formerly incarcerated youth and victims of crimes to visit your places of worship and schools.

Together we can transform the paradigm of justice; moving from an over reliance on punishment, to focusing on healing the wounds caused by crime.

Opportunities for Faith Communities:During JJMFH, The Healing Justice Coalition invites faith leaders to visit youth inside juvenile halls in Los Angeles County to manifest God's love for all children. This is typically a mutually transforming experience; moving and profoundly spiritual for the youth as well as the visiting faith leaders.

Opportunities for Schools and Universities:Through the Healing Justice Coalition, formally incarcerated youth and victims of crime share their journeys  with students. JJMFH is a rich opportunity for students to explore and reflect on the complexities of crime and punishment while moving towards a deeper understanding of restorative justice. 

Participating in Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing is EASY and PROFOUND. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Host a "Voices of Challenge" panel: A formerly incarcerated youth, parent of an incarcerated youth and a survivor/victim of crime share their stories.
  • Invite a formerly incarcerated youth to share insight into the realities of incarceration and the strength of the human spirit.
  • Lead a discussion or seminar in your congregation and/or school about the needs and situations of incarcerated youth and victims of crime.
  • Faith Leaders can sign up for a group pastoral visit to juvenile hall.
  • Offer prayers for everyone who has been impacted by crime; including victims, offenders, and families of both.
  • Mobilize your congregation and/or school in support of legislation that promotes restorative justice principles.      


Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about participating in Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing and visit the Healing Justice Coalition website for useful resources/templates for your event. 




CFYJ Participated in RebLaw Conference hosted by Yale University

Jessica Sandoval Wednesday, 05 March 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

In February, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) was represented at the Rebellious Lawyering Conference (RebLaw) hosted by Yale University. 

Dwayne Betts and Jessica Sandoval


RebLaw is the nation's largest student-run, public interest conference. Each year the conference brings together practitioners, law students, and community activists from around the country to discuss innovative and progressive approaches to law and social change. The conference, grounded in the spirit of influential attorney, Gerald Lopez's rebellious lawyering, seeks to build a community of law students, practitioners, and activists seeking to work in the service of social change movements and to challenge hierarchies of race, wealth, and gender within legal practice and education.

I was privileged to participate as a panelist on the “Roper, Graham, and Miller: What Now, What Next?” panel.  Youth can no longer be sentenced to death, life without parole for non-homicide offenses, or mandatory life without parole. The panel discussed the larger impact of these decisions. Our panel was facilitated by Dwayne Betts, long-time supporter and spokesperson for CFYJ and a first year law student at Yale.  The panelists included: Brandy Buskey, staff attorney at the ACLU;  Vinny Schiraldi, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Probation; and Marsha Levick, co-founder, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel of the Juvenile Law Center.

The room was packed full of law students from around the country who asked very insightful and provocative questions pertaining to these cases and juvenile justice reform in general.  The discussion was robust and wholly agreed upon that Roper, Graham, & Miller was correctly decided.   The panel also discussed that these cases have tightly driven home the message that kids are different and that many factors should be explored before ever considering the adult court as an option.  One option explored was that states and congress should consider not housing youth in adult facilities, and all youth should originate in juvenile justice system while the factors of each of their cases are
considered.

To read more about the dangers of housing youth in adult facilities, please click here.

CFYJ Submits Testimony to Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Solitary Confinement

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 Posted in 2014, Federal Update

By Aprill O. Turner

On Tuesday, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a second hearing on the use of solitary confinement in American prisons, jails and detention centers.

The hearing was held before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, entitled "Reassessing Solitary Confinement II: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences," examined the widespread use of solitary confinement  for federal, state, and local prisoners and detainees.

Leaders of the panel called on federal and state prison authorities to ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, pregnant women and the mentally ill as part of a national reassessment of the harshest method of incarceration. Citing the country's extensive use of solitary confinement since the 1980s, Durbin said the extreme conditions contribute to the gradual deterioration of prisoners' mental health. Durbin said more than half of prison suicides take place in solitary.

The United States now holds far more prisoners in solitary than any other nation. Researchers estimate that roughly 250,000 youth are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system every year and on any given day, approximately 10,000 youth are held in adult jails and prisons. The policy of many jails and prisons to “protect” youth from these conditions is solitary confinement.  Many children who are placed in isolation experience harmful consequences, for some children this has meant death.

Youth are frequently locked down 23 hours a day in small cells with no natural light.  These conditions can cause anxiety, paranoia, and exacerbate existing mental disorders and put youth at risk of suicide.  In fact, youth housed in adult jails are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than are youth housed in juvenile detention facilities.

Among the speakers was Damon Thibodeaux, a former Louisiana death-row prisoner who spent 15 years in solitary confinement, for 23 hours a day, before being exonerated in 2012. His cell in a  jail was 8-by-10 feet with three solid white walls, a toilet, sink, a bed, desk, and chair. Thibodeaux says he had five total visits in his 15 years in solitary.

"I do not condone what those who have killed and committed other serious offenses have done, but I also don’t condone what we do to them when we put them in solitary for years on end and treat them as subhuman,"  said Thibodeaux.  “We are better than that. As a civilized society, we should be better than that.”

Rick Raemisch, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections also testified.  Raemisch spent more than 20 hours locked down in Colorado's administrative segregation unit and published an account of the "mind-numbing'' experience.

"This isn't a way to treat an American, we are failing in this area of our mission,'' he said.
Piper Kerman, the author of the memoir-turned-Netflix-hit,  Orange is the New Black, testified that though she never spent time in solitary confinement during her 13-month stint in federal prison, women behind bars describe it as a “prison within a prison.”

Prison staff, Kerman told the senators in attendance, could keep inmates in solitary confinement for as long as they wanted. Kerman offered the account of a female inmate who did spend time in solitary in her testimony. The woman, Kerman said, felt remorse for her crimes, but "most of all I felt sorry that there wasn't a rope to kill myself, because every day was worse than the last."

Other testimonies were given by: Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Federal Bureau of Prisons; The Honorable Craig DeRoche, Justice Fellowship; and Marc Levin, Center for Effective Justice Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The hearing explored developments since the 2012 hearing, and what more should be done to curb the overuse of solitary confinement while controlling costs, protecting human rights, and improving public safety.

To view this hearing, click here.

Written testimony from the Campaign for Youth Justice can be found here.

Statement from Sue Burrell, Youth Law Center, Staff Attorney

Statement from Grace Warren, Advocate for Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justic
e
 

Campaign for Youth Justice Seeks Applicants for its 2014 Summer Fellowship Program- Deadline March 31!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 Posted in 2014, Voices

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The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), a national advocacy organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system, is accepting applications for its 2014 Summer Fellowship Program.
 
The Summer 2014 Fellowship Application deadline is March 31, 2014.  The following fellowship opportunities are currently available for Summer 2014:
 
 
For additional information about CFYJ, please visit, here.

Advocates Discuss the Need to Improve the JJDPA and Stregthen the role of OJJDP

Carmen Daugherty Wednesday, 19 February 2014 Posted in 2014, Uncategorised

 

On February 13th and 14th, the Campaign for Youth Justice participated in a meeting of the “Committee on a Prioritized Plan to Implement a Developmental Approach in Juvenile Justice Reform” held at the National Academies of Sciences. CFYJ’s Policy Director, Carmen Daugherty, participated in an afternoon panel with fellow advocates from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and Justice Policy Institute (JPI) to discuss the need to reauthorize, and appropriately fund, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The panelists discussed the importance of the JJDPA and how it helps states leverage federal dollars towards innovative, evidence based programming and the need for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to be the leader in juvenile justice research.

To learn more about why JJDPA matters, visit here

To read coverage by the Juvenile Justice Exchange about this meeting, visit here.

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