Encouraging Young Leaders to Fight for Juvenile Justice Reform
By Samantha Goodman, CFYJ Fellow
As part of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice's 2015 Youth Summit, CFYJ Policy Director Carmen Daugherty, along with DC Lawyers for Youth Executive Director Daniel Okonkwo and Free Minds Senior Poet Ambassador Gary Durant, presented on Keeping Young People Out of Adult Courts, Prisons, and Jails. The presentation was part of an annual two-day summit for emerging leaders in the field of juvenile justice hosted by CJJ and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Following Hill visits, where the attendees (aged 16-25) met with members of Congress and/or their staff to discuss and share stories on the need for youth justice reform, Daugherty challenged participants to consider how reform movements get started. Together, Daugherty, Okonkwo, and Durant helped the young leaders understand the difficulties and best ways to build a campaign or movement. Participants reflected on engaging unlikely allies, unifying one goal, and mustering commitment to the cause.
Keeping in line with the theme of the summit, Daugherty explained the problems with trying and incarcerating youth as adults. She presented state-by-state efforts and statistics, inviting the attendees to get involved in programs in their communities.
"There are no best practices for how to house kids in adult facilities because kids don't belong there," Daugherty said to the young leaders.
Okonkow outlined the DC Judge Our Youth Campaign and Durant shared his personal experience as a juvenile in the system as well as a poem he wrote when first involved with Free Minds.
For more information on how you can get involved in our efforts for juvenile justice reform, call the Campaign for Youth Justice at (202) 558- 3580.