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Join the Conversation: Today is Girls Justice Day

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now


By Jeannette Pai-Espinosa

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The National Crittenton Foundation

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Today, October 23rd is Girls Justice Day and as it approached I kept thinking about the girls and young women who I have come to know over the last few years, who are or were involved with the Juvenile Justice system. Their stories are as diverse as they are, but one thing that remains constant is the way in which their early lives have been shaped for them by abuse, neglect, violence and the betrayal of their trust by the very people whose job it was to love and protect them. Their experiences are unthinkable to most of us and yet it is essential that we see them not as victims or “bad girls” but as courageous and resilient survivors that need support in order to heal.
 
You can get to know some of them on our website at NationalCrittenton.org.
 
Girls are an invisible part of the juvenile justice system but sadly their numbers have increased steadily over the past several decades, rising from 17 percent in 1980 to 29 percent in 2011. Most of these girls, up to 73 percent, have histories of physical and sexual violence, which precedes their entry into the criminal and juvenile justice system. A study of 319 girls in the juvenile justice system in Florida found that 64 percent reported past abuse, including 37 percent reporting abuse by a parent; 55 percent reporting abuse by someone other than a parent; and 27 percent reporting both types of abuse.
Compounding their exposure to violence and abuse is the fact that girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for “status offenses” and often receive more severe punishment than boys. Status offenses are behaviors that would not be considered offenses at the age of majority, such as skipping school, running away, breaking curfew and possession or use of alcohol. Girls who are in the Juvenile Justice system need gender-responsive, trauma-informed services to heal from the violence and toxic stress they have experienced.
 
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has provided direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements and has significantly contributed to the reduction of juvenile crime and delinquency. Of particular importance to girls is support of the “deinstitutionalization of status offenders” or “DSO provision.” The JJDPA also requires states to assess how their juvenile justice programs are serving girls and taking steps to implement gender responsive plans to better serve them. So make a difference today by encouraging Congress to reauthorize the JJDPA at increased funding levels…really, it’s the least we can do.
 
 
Just imagine for a minute how you would feel and what you would do if you learned that your child had been the victim of abuse – wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure they received the support they needed and to advocate for justice?
 
Now imagine that you are the child and you have no where and no one to go to……
 
Take action, make a difference, don’t let girls in the juvenile justice be invisible.
 
Join the conversation, here is how:

Twitter Messages-
  • Support girls in juvenile justice get appropriate svcs, protect youth & promote safe communities http://ow.ly/q1IE8 #YJAM #GirlsJustice   
  • Ensure that girls aren’t unnecessarily locked http://ow.ly/q1IE8 #YJAM #GirlsJustice 
  • Girls Justice Day-Learn about girls in juvenile justice & view Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls Report http://ow.ly/q1RR1

Facebook Messages-

  •  Did you know that that Juvenile Justice Delinquency Act (JJDPA) keeps youth from being locked up for actions that would not be considered offenses at the age of majority, which is a critical protection for girls? This is important for girls because girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses, thus ensuring girls are not unnecessarily locked up and exposed to negative influences and social stigmatization. Sign the petition to support girls at http://ow.ly/q1IE8 
  •  The Juvenile Justice Delinquency Act (JJDPA) also requires states to assess how their juvenile justice programs are serving girls and taking steps to implement gender responsive plans to better serve them, since most girls in the system have experienced severe violence and complex trauma in their lives before becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. Support girls in juvenile justice get appropriate services by signing the petition that tells Congress to take action on the JJDPA at http://ow.ly/q1IE8.

 

CFYJ Presents at the19th National Symposium on Juvenile Services

Roger Ghatt Tuesday, 22 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

Join the Campaign for Youth Justice in celebrating the 19th National Symposium on Juvenile Services “Youth Development in Juvenile Justice: Promising Approaches, Positive Conditions and Safe and Protective Environments.” The event is sponsored by the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) and takes place on October 20-24, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. CFYJ will be hosting “Jail Removal of Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems: A State Trends Update,” a panel session that will discuss the policy reforms that a number of states have undertaken in the last decade, including the removal of youth from the adult criminal justice system and from adult jails and prisons. The panel will take place on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:15-4:45 p.m. The panelists will include CFYJ’s Director of Policy Carmen Daugherty.

 
NPJS is an umbrella organization who strives to advocate for the highest standards in care, management and programming for detained youth. Its mission is to strengthen training and professional development opportunities for practitioners and lead juvenile justice systemic reform efforts. For more information, you can visit their website, here
 
 

10 Years Too Long

Carmen Daugherty Monday, 21 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

 
More than a decade ago, a federal law was created to decrease and prevent prison rape and sexual assault in U.S. jails, prisons, detention centers, and lock ups. Yet, ten years later, youth under 18 are still at the highest risk of sexual victimization in adult detention facilities. With nearly 100,000 youth in adult jails and prisons each year, more must be done to protect youth under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
 
Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) creates awareness for youth in the adult system, and this week, YJAM will focus on raising awareness for the full implementation of PREA. 
 
PREA includes standards for youth under 18 in adult facilities. Unfortunately, the regulations do not call for the complete removal of kids in adult facilities, but Governors should see these regulations as a floor, not a ceiling.  Under PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard, facilities must keep youth under 18 sight and sound separated from adults. Often times, adult facilities use solitary confinement or “segregation” to keep youth safe and away from adult offenders. Sadly, youth placed in solitary or segregation are not any safer since we know that youth in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than their counterparts in juvenile facilities. To account for this, the Youthful Inmate Standard states that the use of isolation should not be used as a means to separate youth from adults.
 
We know that most juvenile justice systems across the country are better equipped to provide developmentally appropriate programs and services for youth. Additionally, youth in juvenile facilities receive true rehabilitative services that lower the chances of recidivism and provide a real opportunity to reenter their communities successfully.
 
Right now, states are auditing their detention facilities—jails, prisons, lock ups--to see if each is in compliance with PREA. Governors must certify whether their state meets basic requirements spelled out by PREA to keep inmates safe from sexual assault. This week, we are calling on you to tell your Governors to fully implement the Youthful Inmate Standard of PREA and tell the oversight agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, to have a stronger voice to protect children held in adult facilities.

We can not let another 10 years go by without states removing children from adult jails and prisons. Take action today. Let the U.S. Attorney General know that kids need to be removed from adult jails and prisons. 

 
 
Join us this week in continuing the conversation on youth justice issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter using: 
 
#ImplementPREA   #YJAM   #youthjustice

Advocates Gather to Discuss the History and Importance of Landmark JJDPA Legislation

Friday, 18 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

 

By Jill Ward

Yesterday, advocates from the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition and related ACT4JJ Campaigngathered to learn more about the history of the landmark federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and why it is still important today.

Mark Soler
The day opened with Mark Soler from the Center for Children’s Law and Policy talking about the estimated 500,000 children that were being held in adult jails across the country in the early 1970s.  A majority of these children were either status offenders who were being picked up for non-criminal offenses like truancy, breaking curfew, and running away from home, or youth detained for very minor, non-violent offenses. 

Take the story of a 15-year-old girl who was held in an upstairs cell in a county jail who hanged herself; or the story of a 17-year-old boy who was held in adult prison for not paying $73 in traffic tickets and was beaten over a 14-hour period and finally murdered by others in the cell; or the story of a 13-year-old boy in Maine who was detained for stealing a dirt bike and was raped in the same cell..  And the list went on.

Understanding that this needed to change, in 1974, as part of the JJDPA, Congress prohibited placing these youth in secure facilities and also called for young people in the juvenile system to have “sight and sound” separation from adults in the criminal justice system.  These protections reflected increasing tragedies involving young people being held in adult jails and with adult inmates. In 1980, Congress added a further protection calling for youth in the juvenile justice system to be removed entirely from adult jails and lock-ups with very limited exceptions.

While judges in many states are effectively and proactively addressing the needs of these youth without resorting to detention, too many young people are still unnecessarily finding their way into the juvenile justice system.

 

Liz Ryan, Marc Schindler, and Jill Ward   
Through a reauthorization of the JJDPA, Congress can strengthen the core protections by eliminating the Valid Court Order (VCO) exception, that has allowed status offenders to continue to be locked up for their second and subsequent offenses, to keep all status offenders out of jails and other secure facilities and direct them toward community-based alternatives.  A reauthorization can also further strengthen the sight and sound and removal protections to ensure that no young person under age 18 is held in adult facilities or has contact with adult inmates. 

We also heard from former Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Administrator, John Wilson, who talked about how the agency evolved and worked to implement the JJDPA.  Attendees heard about the strong partnership between Congress and the Administration that existed in the 1970s and into the 1980s to enact the law and work on subsequent reauthorizations. 

Over lunch Bobby Vassar, former House Judiciary Committee Counsel, talked about attempts in the 1990s to amend the law to further criminalize youth and roll back JJDPA core protections for children and how those efforts were defeated.
The day ended with a discussion about the important role of the NJJDP Coalition and advocates across the country to continue to educate the public and key policymakers about how the law has helped protect children involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems and supported state efforts to prevent youth crime and reduce recidivism.  What was clear from the day is that the JJDPA remains a critical tool to incentivize states to keep system-involved youth safe and help them more appropriately meet the needs of youth in crisis.

Currently, the JJDPA is more than 5 years overdue for reauthorization and funding levels continue to decline.  We can’t afford to turn the clock back on the advances made by the JJDPA.  Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is the perfect time to let your federal leaders know that the JJDPA matters and deserves their support.

Please visit the JJDPA Matters Action Center to contact your Senators and Representative and let them know the JJDPA matters to you!

To learn more about the JJDPA and the campaign to reauthorize and fund the law go to:  http://www.act4jj.org/

 

 

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This Week's #Playground2Prison Snapshot Contest Winner...

Friday, 18 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

It’s Friday, which means one thing – it’s time to pick this week’s winner of the #Playground2Prison snapshot contest! Every week, during Youth Justice Awareness Month, the winner of the snapshot contest will receive a YJAM goody bag including great YJAM swag: a Childhood Interrupted DVD, YJAM bracelet, Playground to Prison infographic poster, and a YJAM tote.

We received some great snapshots from the University of Maryland's Hillel YJAM event. This week's contestants made signs indicating what youth justice means to them.

This week’s winner is Shana Frankel!


We want to congratulate Shana on her awesome snapshot demonstrating her support for ending #Playground2Prison and on receiving YJAM swag.

There are are only 2 more chances to win your own YJAM swag this year! Submit photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget to include #Playground2Prison so that your snapshot will be considered for the winning photo of the week.

For more information about Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM), please visit our website: www.cfyj.org and join the conversation online: #YJAM #youthjustice

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System: Federal Support Still Needed

Wednesday, 16 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

 
As part of National Youth Justice Awareness Month, we are highlighting the federal Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act’s(JJDPA) core requirement, “Disproportionate Minority Contact” for its’ role in supporting state and local efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. 
 
The JJDPA, established in 1974 to provide federal standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system, was updated twenty years ago with the “Disproportionate Minority Confinement” (DMC) provision requiring states to address the disproportionate confinement of youth of color at key points in the juvenile justice system.
 
In the most recent JJDPA reauthorization ten years ago, the term confinement was changed to contact emphasizing the racial and ethnic disparities faced by youth of color at all points in the juvenile justice system. “DMC is a critical issue in the juvenile justice system because it is an issue of basic fairness,” says national expert Mark Soler, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy.
 
The DMC provision was added to the law because of the huge disparities in the treatment of youth of color in the juvenile justice system. For example, African-American youth make up only 17% of the nation’s total youth population,  but African-American youth constitute 30% of the youth arrested nationwide and 62% of all youth in the adult criminal justice system.  Latino and Native American youth experience similar unfairness within the juvenile justice system. Latino children, the fastest-growing segment of the American population, represent 23% of all children under the 18.  At the same time, Latino youth are 40% more likely than white youth to be admitted to adult prison. Finally, Native American youth receive harsher sentences, with a 50% higher likelihood than white youth to receive out-of-home placement or to be placed in the adult system.
 
“Having an over-representation of young people of color in confinement means that those young people’s life outcomes are seriously diminished,” says one of the nation’s leaders on efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities, James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the Haywood Burns Institute. “And that is why we as a society should care mightily about this.”
 
These facts are often undermined by a false impression that youth of color commit more crime than white youth.  That is simply not true.  Results from self-report surveys indicate that white youth are in fact significantly more likely than youth of color to use drugs and alcohol, sell drugs, and engage in minor theft.  Although white youth admit high drug use, African-American youth are twice as likely to be arrested and detained and as a group account for 87% of all youth tried in adult court for drug offenses.
 
The JJDPA’s DMC provision has ensured funding to every state to reduce these stark racial and ethnic disparities.  There are promising efforts in a number of states.  Take a look at the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) efforts and the Models for Change (MfC) initiative.
 
However, the recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division three-year investigation into the operations of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee underscores the need to redouble efforts nationally to do much much more, not less, to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. 
 
The federal investigation found extensive racial disparities in the treatment of African-American children: African-American youth are twice as likely as white youth to be recommended for transfer to adult court.  Of the 390 transfers to adult court in 2010 in Tennessee, approximately one half were from Shelby County, and all but two of the total children transferred were African-American.
 
As we all take National Youth Justice Awareness Month to highlight key youth justice issues, such as reducing racial and ethnic disparities, we encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the JJDPA Matters Action Center and let your national leaders know  you support the JJDPA and related juvenile justice funding.  Let them know that federal policies and programs can be part of the solution for youth in your community. Let them know that the JJDPA matters to you.
 
Join us this week in continuing the conversation on youth justice issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter using: #JJDPAmatters #YJAM #JUSTinvest #youthjustice

Trending Now: Youth Justice Reform

Carmen Daugherty Monday, 14 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country

Twitter users are familiar with Worldwide Trends--popular hashtags of the moment. Fashion aficionados know what’s trending for each season.  Trend analysis usually predicts what will happen in the future with consideration of the past. How do advocates, families, and youth make “youth justice” a trend? 

On October 10th, CFYJ will release State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System which examines the accomplishments of states that enacted laws to keep kids out of the adult criminal justice system.  The trend is towards more humane and appropriate treatment of kids in the criminal justice system, yet there is still much work to be done in order to have a justice system that recognizes that kids are different and deserve a chance at rehabilitation over severe sanctions.

Why Federal Dollars Matter

Sunday, 13 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country

 
In celebration of Youth Justice Awareness Month, you have been hearing a lot about successful state efforts to keep kids out of the adult criminal justice system.   You’ve heard personal stories from the field like the one from Tracy McClard, the mom that started it all advocating for reform in Missouri.  You saw the State Trends report from Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) that highlights positive developments in states like Colorado, Connecticut and Mississippi. 
 
But states are not the only arena for reform.  For nearly four decades, the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has been supporting state efforts to build effective justice systems that keep youth out of adult jails and prisons, provide appropriate support for system-involved youth, and invest in strategies to prevent crime and reduce recidivism. 
 
Last month, on the 39th anniversary of the passage of this landmark law, I wrote about why JJDPA matters to the state efforts going on around the country and to the thousands of young people who come in contact with our justice system.  Strong federal policy, like the JJDPA, sets a standard for how system-involved youth should be treated and brings to bear resources to help states achieve that standard.  This helps create a more favorable climate for reform that advocates across the country can leverage. 
 
Whether you are a seasoned state advocate or a young person just starting out, you can use the JJDPA as the basis for advancing policies on the ground.  Whether you want to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and keep more youth out of adult facilities, reduce racial disparities, or resource alternatives to the more costly and detrimental practices of detention and incarceration, support for these policies are reflected in the JJDPA.
 
What happens at the national level can and does influence what happens in states and communities across the country.  That’s why CFYJ along with other national and state coalition partners in the ACT4JJ Campaign continue to press Congress to reauthorize and adequately fund this important law. 


You can help.  As we all take the month of October to recognize the many advances in states across the country, we encourage you to take a few minutes to check out the JJDPA Matters Action Center and let your national leaders know  you support the JJDPA and related juvenile justice funding.  Let them know that federal policies and programs can be part of the solution for youth in your community. Let them know that the JJDPA matters to you.

Join us this week in continuing the conversation on youth justice issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter using: 

 

#JJDPAmatters #YJAM #JUSTinvest #youthjustice

 

This Week's #Playground2Prison Snapshot Contest Winner...

Friday, 11 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now


It’s Friday, which means one thing – it’s time to pick this week’s winner of the #Playground2Prison snapshot contest! Every week, during Youth Justice Awareness Month, the winner of the snapshot contest will receive a YJAM goody bag including great YJAM swag: a Childhood Interrupted DVD, YJAM bracelet, Playground to Prison infographic poster, and a YJAM tote.
 

We received some great snapshots from this year’s first YJAM event at a happy hour fundraiser in DC. Guests posed with posters created by the Campaign for Youth Justice’s fellows and made signs indicating why they believe we need youth justice reform.
 

                                                This week’s winner is Marcus Bullock!

 
 

We want to congratulate Marcus on his awesome snapshot demonstrating his support for ending #Playground2Prison and on receiving YJAM swag.
 

There are still 3 more chances to win your own YJAM swag this year! Submit photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget to include #Playground2Prison so that your snapshot will be considered for the winning photo of the week.
 

For more information about Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM), please visit our website: www.cfyj.org  and join the conversation online: #YJAM #youthjustice

CFYJ Releases New Report - State Trends: Legislative Victories 2011-2013

Thursday, 10 October 2013 Posted in 2013, Across the Country

 

By Carmen Daugherty

 
 
State Trends documents the achievements of the past eight years in which twenty three states enacted forty pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal courts and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. October is the perfect month to highlight these state victories by releasing our newest publication during Youth Justice Awareness Month.
 
State Trends documents the continuation of four trends in justice reform efforts across the country.  In the last eight years the following progress was made:

  • Trend 1: Eleven states (Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Ohio) have passed laws limiting states’ authority to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
  • Trend 2: Four states (Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, and Massachusetts) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
  • Trend 3: Twelve states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Maryland and Nevada) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
  • Trend 4: Eight states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults, allow for post-sentence review for youth facing juvenile life without parole or other sentencing reform for youth sentenced as adults.
The state victories reported are a testament to families, advocates, and youth demanding more from their policy makers, and policy makers demanding more accountability from the state courts and agencies responsible for handling youth justice issues. The last five years demonstrate what is possible when facts and data drive reform rather than eye catching headlines about youth crime. Kids are different and our state policy makers are finally recognizing this, and in turn enacting laws and policies that reflect this.
 
There is still so much more that can be done so please check out local YJAM events in your state by clicking here.
 
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