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

Michael Dammerich Tuesday, 07 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, Take Action Now

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.

Am I Going to Die in Prison?

Jamal Lewis Tuesday, 31 July 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Jamal Lewis, New Jersey Parents' Caucus

“Am I going to die in prison?”  I was arrested and charged with committing my offenses at the age of 16. I was transferred into the adult criminal justice system at the age of 17.  I had none of the assistance available to youth serving their sentence in a youth facility, where young people were offered rehabilitation and vocational training.  There were no therapeutic or vocational programs in New Jersey State Prison, where I served the first 11 years of my sentence.  

Free Your Mind with Free Minds: A CFYJ Summer Speaker Series Event

Jasmine Awad Tuesday, 24 July 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Jasmine Awad, Policy and Legal Fellow

“Before Free Minds, I didn’t know how to read.”  

The Campaign for Youth Justice recently kicked off their 2018 Summer Speaker Series by hosting a “Write Lunch”, a tailored version of Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop’s Write Night,” where community volunteers gather alongside Free Minds Poet Ambassadors home from prison to provide feedback on the writing of Book Club members who are still incarcerated.

Wisconsin’s Next Governor: A Youth Justice Champion?

Michelle Hannemann Monday, 23 July 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Michelle Hannemann, CFYJ Spokesperson

There are many parents in the state of Wisconsinbut 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 feltnot 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.

Racial Wealth Gap to Racial Equity in Youth Justice

Benedict Roemer Thursday, 19 July 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Benedict Roemer, State Campaigns and Public Interest Communications Fellow

As evidenced by our country’s treatment of immigrant families at the border, the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown youth, and policies targeting communities of color here and abroad, the United States has continued its harmful and oppressive track record with people of color. And while the treatment of immigrants is a very visible testament to this reality, racial disparities continue to exist elsewhere as well. One area in particular is the racial wealth gap between communities of color and white communities in the United States. The racial wealth gap currently stands at a startling 13:1 differential among all households: The median net worth for a white household is $141,000, while the median  net worth of a black household is  only $11,000 per year. This divide in wealth is even greater for households living near the poverty line. For these households, the difference in median net worth is $18,000 vs. $0. Such a wide income and wealth gap leads to countless other disparities; in poverty, education, health, and incarceration.

Families Belong Together: The U.S. Has a Long History of Removing Children From Families

Rachel Marshall Friday, 13 July 2018 Posted in Federal Update

Children Don’t Belong in Cages, They Belong in Communities

By Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel

For the past 15 years, research has shown that when children are separated from their families there are lifelong negative consequences. The stress children experience when separated from their families can lead to an increased risk of numerous diseases, depression, substance abuse, and early mortality. Despite this knowledge, more than 2,000 children, including breastfeeding babies and toddlers, have been forcibly removed from the care of their parents.

The “Families Belong Together” Movement

Uyen Nguyen Tuesday, 10 July 2018 Posted in Federal Update

By Uyen Nguyen, Operations and Development Fellow

“Families Belong Together” is the movement responding to the current administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separates undocumented children from their parents at the U.S.– Mexico border. Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “zero-tolerance” approach toward undocumented immigrants, the U.S. government has separated at least 2,000 children from their parents.

Fighting to Prevent LGBTQ+ Erasure by the Department of Justice

Harmeet Kamboj Tuesday, 26 June 2018 Posted in 2018, Federal Update

By Harmeet Kamboj, Communications Associate

June is Pride Month, a time during which the LGBTQ+ community celebrates an array of identities that have long been rejected by mainstream culture and politics. But while rainbow flags fly across the country, LGBTQ+ people face increasing erasure as the Trump administration takes strategic steps to hinder data collection for and about this community. Most recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has made initial efforts to revise portions of the National Crime Victimization Survey by eliminating questions about gender identity and sexual orientation among 16- and 17-year-olds surveyed by the department.

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.

It’s Complicated: The U.S. and the International Human Rights of Children

Brian Evans Thursday, 21 June 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Brian Evans, State Campaigns Director

Almost 1,000 participants gathered in Paris, France at the end of May for the World Congress on Justice for Children, a global conference of youth justice professionals and advocates. The conference, organized by several European and international groups, was built thematically around the issue of children involved in “violent extremism” (no doubt a significant concern), but the workshops and conversations in the hallways and courtyards of the UNESCO House were much broader in scope.

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