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A.C.T. to End Racism

Posted in 2019 Monday, 11 March 2019

A.C.T. to End Racism

Many activists and organizers are well versed in the ways that structural racism drives unfair outcomes for youth who come in contact with the law.  It is well documented that despite a near 60% drop in youth incarceration and continued falling arrest rates that in many places racial and ethnic disparities are increasing despite reform efforts.  Youth of color, particularly Black youth, who are charged, incarcerated, and sentenced as adults heavily bear the burden of these disparities. Not only are they treated more harshly than their white counterparts when arrested with the same crimes; but they are sentenced more extremely, often getting longer sentences than adults who commit similar crimes. This is unacceptable.

This is a key reason the Campaign for Youth Justice is launching the A.C.T. to End Racism campaign.  The vestiges of slavery, manifest destiny, and punitive immigration laws have wreaked havoc on many of our communities over centuries, that sadly, still continue today.  The justice system is not immune to being compromised by our collective practice, values, and policies that diminish, exclude, or harm people based on the color of their skin, their country of origin, or their Tribal affiliation.

Join us in advancing a fairer, more just legal system.  A system that treats all children in developmentally appropriate ways, that is responsive to any trauma they may have experienced, and that keeps youth in their homes and communities whenever possible. Over the next year, we will invite you to A-C-T to End Racism.

Awaken:

Join CFYJ in exploring research, practice, and first-hand accounts that have led to unequal treatment of young people who come in contact with the law.  Whether understanding the evolution of juvenile and criminal courts, law enforcement, or how public dollars are (and aren’t) spent, take time to learn more about how we became a nation who embraces a legal system that punishes children extremely and unfairly.

Confront:

Learn how communities and directly impacted youth and families are utilizing tools and advocacy strategies to address these concerns. Whether your locality or state is adopting a racial and ethnic impact statement prior to adopting new legislation, participatory budgeting to ensure fairer use of public funds, or collecting and disseminating data in a way that is accessible—communities are fighting to overturn racist practices. Share your practices to deepen our knowledge about ways to fight back.

Transform:

CFYJ will share examples from the field that are promising steps toward transforming the ways our justice system treats youth of color—with an emphasis on those who are charged with “serious” crimes or crimes that involve violence.  Too often system stakeholders notify us that there are youth who don’t belong in their adult facilities. Concerns about inadequate defense, overzealous prosecutor, extreme sentences, or lack of alternatives continue to pervade the system. Learn about ways we can push back against this to create a fairer and more just system.