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2019 State Legislation Review: Fewer Children in the Adult System

Brian Evans Friday, 20 December 2019 Posted in 2019, Across the Country, Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

This year, the real-life story of five children wrongfully arrested and convicted in New York, dramatized in the Netflix series “When They See Us”, reminded us why protecting children from the criminal justice system is so important. The film was timely, reflecting and amplifying a point of view that has been increasingly, though not universally, adopted across ideological, geographical, and party lines. In 2019, states continued to push and pass positive legislation keeping children out of the adult criminal justice system.

Landmark Reforms Rolling Back Mandatory Transfer in Oregon & Florida

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director Thursday, 30 May 2019 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

Back in 1994, the year the infamous federal Crime Bill passed – accelerating mass incarceration throughout the United States – the voting public in Oregon chose to endorse Measure 11, a “tough-on-crime” proposal that required children as young as 15 to automatically be transferred to the adult criminal justice system for a wide variety of crimes. By 1997, the legislature had expanded the list of crimes to 23 and lengthened the mandatory sentences associated with them.

Removing Youth from Adult Jails & Prisons is a Racial Justice Issue: Making the Shift in Connecticut away from Prisons & Toward Communities

Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director Thursday, 18 April 2019 Posted in Campaigns

Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

When I was finally let into general population, entering into my cottage, I felt like I was walking into a dog pound, all of the youth banging on the doors to get my attention to send threats. While I was passing every door I would look at the kid behind it. All I could see were kids, black like me, that had been turned out due to the system.
- Romelo Gross, formerly incarcerated in Manson Youth Institution

On Monday, April 15th, Connecticut legislators Senator Gary Winfield, Representative Toni Walker, and Representative Robyn Porter joined the young adult leaders of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance Justice Advisors program to discuss how to shift away from holding children in adult jails and prisons in the state.  

A recurring theme throughout the event was that the prosecution and incarceration of children as adults has its roots in slavery and racial terror.  As a result, the punishment of adultification is most often reserved for black youth. This is true in Connecticut and nationally, where black youth are disproportionately represented in adult courts, jails and prisons.  This holds true even as the United States has reduced its daily population of youth in adult jails and prisons  by 53% since 2010, from 9,855 on any given night to 4,656.  

State Spotlight: Challenging Juvenile Transfer in Florida

Hannah Roberts, CFYJ Policy & Research Legal Fellow & Jeree Thomas, Policy Director Thursday, 14 March 2019 Posted in Campaigns

2019 is shaping up to be a transformative year for juvenile and criminal justice reform in Florida.  Florida legislators are considering 15 bills related to the transfer and treatment of youth prosecuted and incarcerated as adults in the state.  S.B. 850 and H.B. 339 eliminate mandatory transfer and prohibit the direct file of 14 and 15-year olds to adult court. S.B. 870 and HB 575 prohibit detaining youth awaiting trial in adult jails except in limited circumstances when a judge determines its in the interest of justice. S.B. 876, H.B. 1293, and HB 575 allow youth transferred to adult court to request a hearing to determine whether they must remain in adult court.

Torture By Another Name: The Use of Solitary Confinement on Youth and Young Adults in New Jersey Prisons

Duvall Ricks and David Crosby Tuesday, 26 June 2018 Posted in 2018, Campaigns

By Duvall Ricks and David Crosby, New Jersey Youth Caucus

In 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture deemed the use of solitary confinement against youth and individuals with mental health disabilities as torture.  For three years, I saw and experienced firsthand the impact of solitary on youth and young adults in adult jails and prisons. I watched fellow inmates crumble under the conditions of solitary.  Some committed suicide.  Others experienced severe depression and anger.  No one walks out of that experience feeling whole or somehow better than they were going in.

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

Gianna Nitti Tuesday, 27 March 2018 Posted in Campaigns

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.

Youth Justice in Alabama: Positive Steps

Brian Evans Wednesday, 10 January 2018 Posted in 2018, Campaigns

By Brian Evans, State Campaigns Director

From 2010-2015, an average of 600 children were tried as adults in Alabama each year; most of them were sent to adult court automatically, without any judicial review.  It is well known that the adult system is worse, both for the young people sent there, and because of higher recidivism rates, for the society that sent them there.  In an election year where reactionary, ‘80s-style, “tough on crime” rhetoric is making an unwelcome comeback, it is refreshing to see that Alabama apparently intends to move – albeit slowly – in the “smart on crime” direction.

California: Here’s What’s Moving in Youth Justice in 2017

Monday, 25 September 2017 Posted in 2017, Campaigns

By Abigail Appel, Juvenile Justice Fellow

Historically, children who are involved in the justice system at a young age are much more likely to be arrested again as adults. In an effort to dismantle this correlation and increase the likelihood that justice-involved youth have positive outcomes, California has recently passed a number of bills. These bills address various hurdles that make it much harder for youth with criminal records to be successful upon release. All of the bills move away from the “one size fits all” logic in order to give children better opportunities for rehabilitation and judges more leeway to determine a fair punishment.

Impact of Raise the Age on Mississippi’s juvenile courts

Thursday, 31 August 2017 Posted in 2017, Campaigns

By Josh Rovner

On July 1, 2011, Mississippi implemented Senate Bill 2969 (2010) to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year olds charged with most felonies. Reading old news clips confirms sense of the déjà vu for other campaigns – we’ve been here before.

New York and North Carolina Are The Last States To Raise The Age of which Children can be Funneled Through their Adult Jails and Prisons

Friday, 21 July 2017 Posted in 2017, Campaigns

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

2017 marks a historical milestone in the United States’ juvenile justice system.    After decades of advocacy, New York and North Carolina both passed legislation to raise their age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.  When both laws are fully implemented in 2019, it will be the first time in US history since the creation of the juvenile court that no state will automatically treat 16 year olds as adults solely because of their age.  While a vast majority of states treat individuals under 18 as youth and therefore start them in juvenile court, this age has never been uniformly agreed upon.

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