logobyline

twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Blog

Voices of Youth: A discussion on Resilience, Homelessness, and Hope

Thursday, 27 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices

By Brighton Haslett
 
 
13 formerly homeless youth, ages 19 and 20, gathered in downtown Washington on the morning of June 17th to discuss their experiences with homelessness and their successes in the face of adversity at “Voices of Youth: A Discussion on Resilience, Homelessness, and Hope,” presented by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) in conjunction with the Congressional Homelessness Caucus. The discussion opened with introductions, and a question: How did you become homeless? The answers ranged from destructive fire to drug addicted parents, but each story shared a common thread: “it’s not our fault.” Among the difficulties these teens have overcome, and some that they are still struggling with, are siblings left behind, working multiple jobs, taking care of family members, and striving for excellence in the classroom. Impressively, all 13 are currently enrolled in college. Their majors include Civil Engineering, Pre-Med, Business Administration, Biology, Mathematics, English, Psychology, Anthropology, and Social Work. Succeeding in school was not easy, and several of the teens mentioned specific instances when their homelessness and family life interfered with their success. 19 year-old Tia mentioned needing parent’s signature on a report card, or an offer for 10 points extra credit for a parent’s signature on some other document. For her, this was not possible. More troubling, to receive free and reduced price lunches, a student needs a parent’s signature.
 
A lack of parental support was not the only hurdle the teens encountered in high school; many have struggled without money for most of their lives, and still do today. Raven, 20, recalls that in high school, financial aid was not available. While the students are scholarship recipients, this money does not cover all of their expenses, and those who live in dorms still struggle to afford housing during Christmas and summer breaks. In college many of the teens pay their own rent and work full time. Several express that this is overwhelming, and that working often interferes with school work, but must take priority for the teens to maintain housing. Heather pointed out “full time working and full time college is almost impossible.” Because of the struggle to make ends meet, homelessness is not a thing of the past.
 
Despite feeling let down by parents, teachers, and the system itself, the teens want to be successful, and want teens like themselves to receive encouragement. When asked what they wanted people to understand about homelessness, overwhelmingly the response was empathy and encouragement.
 
NAEHCY, among other organizations, works to educate homeless youth. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act is a federal law that ensures education for homeless youth. Through education and the assistance of these and similar organizations, we can reduce the number of homeless youth entering the juvenile justice system and work toward long term successes of the kind that these 13 formerly homeless youth have achieved.

CFYJ Summer Fellow Happy Hour

Monday, 24 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices

 
 

By Thaddaeus Gregory

Last week, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) fellows hosted a networking happy hour at Busboys and Poets on 5th & K. The event was a great success, attracting over forty fellows and interns around the Washington, D.C. area from such organizations as the Peace Alliance, the Vera Institute of Justice, the Public Defender Service, and many more. Interns and fellows hailed from all different parts of the United States, reaching from California, to Minnesota, to New York, to Florida, and embodied a rich and diverse collection of ideas regarding juvenile justice. The networking happy hour, which also featured delicious food and beverages, allowed a venue for the various interns and fellows to meet others that share a passion for juvenile justice, and receive information about upcoming events hosted by CFYJ,  including the New Beginnings trip and the Summer Institute opportunities.

CFYJ will host several other event opportunities throughout the summer. These include the aforementioned New Beginnings trip on June 25th, in which CFYJ will travel to Laurel, MD to tour the new youth correctional facility, and also the weekly Summer Institute opportunities in which CFYJ will host a brown bag luncheon featuring key players in the juvenile justice field.


Meet CFYJ’s 2013 Summer Fellows

Monday, 24 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

 

Meet CFYJ's Summer Fellows, pictured left to right: Haylea Workman,
Brighton Haslett, Thaddaeus Gregory, Eric Welch, and Vanessa Willemssen.
 

The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is pleased to introduce our 2013 Summer Fellows.

Haylea Workman- Appalachian State University

Haylea is currently a student at Appalachian State University (ASU).  Originally from Connelly Springs , NC, she currently has her A.A. in Arts and Political Science. In Spring 2014, she will graduate from ASU with her B.A. in American Politics and Criminology with a minor in Criminal Justice. She has a passion for changing the criminal justice system, specifically working for prison reform. Her career goal is to work with advocacy groups to make a difference in the prison system.

Haylea enjoys the small town life, trailing through the woods, four-wheeling, and skeet shooting.


Brighton Haslett-  University of North Carolina Law School

Brighton grew up in Raleigh, NC, and attended North Carolina State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2011. She began law school at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 2012. Her interests include criminal and constitutional law, and she recently joined UNC’s Holderness Moot Court as a member of the International Team.

Brighton loves to bake and travel, and she is excited to spend the summer reading for pleasure, a past time long forgotten by many law students.


Thaddaeus Gregory- Carleton College

Thaddaeus was born and raised in Seattle, WA. From a young age, he has had legal aspirations. He is currently a rising junior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he is a member of the baseball team. He studies sociology and anthropology in hopes of going to law school, and plans to go into politics after pursuing a legal career.


Thaddaeus is a pitcher on the Carleton baseball team and also enjoys playing several instruments including; clarinet, saxophone, piano, ukulele, and drums in his free time. Reading is also a passion of Thaddaeus’, and some of his favorite books include: The Art of Fielding, Zeitoun, and A Heartbreaking Work of Incredible Genius. He is very passionate about law and is currently studying for the LSAT.


Eric Welch- Tallahassee Community College
Eric Welch was born and raised in Richmond, CA, a small town in the Bay Area between Oakland and San Francisco.

Eric spent time in a juvenile facility called Byron’s Boys Ranch, where he was able to become rehabilitated, focused, and more responsible. When Eric was released, he realized the vulnerabilities that awaited him in his neighborhood, but when Eric’s best friend,  Sean, was killed, he turned back to the streets.  However, when he turned 22, he began to make better decisions for himself. He got involved with a program called the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), which gave him an opportunity to change his life, and he has never looked back.

Eric was recently accepted to Tallahassee Community College (TCC) for Fall 2013. Eric will spend a semester at TCC, and then he will transfer to Florida A&M University to continue pursuing a career in the juvenile justice field.

Vanessa Willemssen- George Mason University

After taking various undergraduate courses related to community corrections at George Mason University, Vanessa discovered her passion in matters of youth justice and shifting the system towards a more rehabilitative approach. She comes to CFYJ hoping to become an active participant in mobilizing forces to push youth justice forward. She first started working with youth as a high school junior varsity softball coach at Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, VA, understanding first-hand the developmental differences between adolescents and adults. She has volunteered as a mentor for at-risk teenagers in the Washington, D.C. area and currently serves as a part-time online journalist for Solitary Watch, an organization aimed at bringing awareness to matters of solitary confinement in prisons.

Graduating this year with a B.S. in Criminology, Law and Society, she strives to one day have a career in the field of social work with a preferred interest in counseling for previously incarcerated youth.

 
 

Support Family Engagement This Father's Day

Friday, 14 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

On Sunday, we will gather to honor and thank the fathers and other important men who have nurtured us in our lives through their love, support, and patience. We all have such men in our lives - men who work daily to provide and to protect the children and family they love. 
 
Unfortunately, most justice systems in operation today keep fathers, mothers, and family members at arm's length. Family must come first, especially when it comes to children who come into contact with the law. 
 
This is why the Campaign for Youth Justice has written Family Comes First, the first comprehensive analysis of current family engagement and family partnership practices in juvenile justice systems around the country. This manual provides practical tools and resources for practitioners interested in undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice. 
 
This manual fills the gap in research and policy by providing a clear and intentional guide to transforming the justice system by taking a family-driven approach.
 
Please consider making this report a gift to a father or family in need of this resource. 
 
For additional information on how to get your copy of Family Comes First, please visit here.
 
Happy Father's Day from the Campaign for Youth Justice!

Reforming Juvenile Justice: When Science Meets Common Sense

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Research & Policy

By Leah Robertson

On Monday, June 10, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) discussed the findings of their recently released report: Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. The report found that well-designed, community-based programs are more likely than confinement to reduce recidivism and facilitate healthy social and moral development for most young offenders and that even in the most serious cases of personal violence, criminal court sentences should avoid confining adolescents in adult prisons.


Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Administrator Bob Listenbee spoke briefly about the implications of this research as a critical tool for promoting a positive behavioral model for juvenile justice. He emphasized, “I am confident that there is very strong support for juvenile justice reform at the present time” and reinforced his commitment to increasing OJJDP’s role in disseminating information on states with strong reforms and providing technical assistance to states who want to do the same. 

 
Other speakers included researchers, juvenile justice practitioners, doctors and others with expertise in adolescent development and delinquency. The panelists presented the findings of the report, noting six conclusions in particular:
  1. There are important differences between adults and adolescents that are well-studied and scientifically quantifiable. Much adolescent involvement in illegal activity is an extension of the kind of risk-taking that is part of the developmental process, and most adolescents mature out of these activities.
  2. Knowledge about adolescent development can provide a framework for reforming the juvenile justice system to create a system that bolsters, rather than hinders, positive behavioral development.
  3. Current juvenile justice approaches do not utilize the approaches that promote positive behavioral development such as family and parent engagement, pro-social peer interactions, and opportunities for social development.
  4. Juvenile justice’s overreliance on incapacitation denies kids opportunities for normal socialization and disturbs development.
  5. Over the past 15 years, substantial progress toward positive reforms has been made, but the pace has been slow and there is a disturbing lack of empirical data collection in the field.
  6. OJJDP should take the lead to strengthen the requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in particular the valid court order (VCO) exception, disproportionate minority contact and keeping kids separated from adults.

The panelists and audience concurred that this research will be critical in advocating for reform. Practitioners emphasized that this is the research that juvenile justice experts could see, but they did not have the science to back up their observations. With this data however, there is finally a strong body of science to serve as a base for passing legislation that coordinate juvenile justice practices with the specific needs of young people.  They emphasized that reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act would be critical to this effort.

To do your part to ensure that the juvenile justice system is aligned with what science shows is beneficial to children, families and society, sign the petition to fund juvenile justice reform programs.

Progress on the U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

By Liz Ryan

Six months ago this week, the U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence released recommendations after an exhaustive year-long examination on best practices and approaches to reducing childrens' exposure to violence.  Through extensive public hearings, the Task Force heard from directly affected youth and their families about the violence children are exposed to in the justice system.  Among the extensive set of recommendations, the task force report included a chapter on reducing exposure of children to violence in the justice system with a recommendation to abandon policies that prosecute, incarcerate or sentence youth under 18 in adult criminal court. 

According to the Task Force's report, "We should stop treating juvenile offenders as if they were adults, prosecuting them in adult courts, incarcerating them as adults, and sentencing them to harsh punishments that ignore their capacity to grow."  This recommendation impacts an estimated 250,000 youth under the age of 18 who are prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system and the nearly 100,000 youth who are cycled through adult jails and prisons each year.
 
The Task Force's recommendation reflects the policies of all the major professional associations representing juvenile and adult criminal justice system stakeholders that highlight the harm youth are subjected to in the adult criminal justice system. And the recommendation is consistent with the research across the nation undertaken by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighting the ineffectiveness of juvenile transfer laws at providing a deterrent for juvenile delinquency and decreasing recidivism.


The Task Force's recommendation also builds on the latest state law reforms according to an August, 2012 report, "Trends in Juvenile Justice State Legislation 2001 - 2011" released by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), showing that numerous states have undertaken policy reforms in the last decade to remove youth from the adult criminal justice system and from adult jails and prisons.  

Since the report was released, several states have moved forward in 2013 by reducing the prosecution of youth in adult court and removing children from adult jails and prisons.  Illinois’ legislature passed legislation this spring to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to age 18, and Massachusetts’ House has approved similar legislation. Missouri’s legislature has approved “Jonathan’s Law” to give more youth an opportunity at rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult criminal justice system. The Maryland General Assembly has created a task force to examine the issue of automatic transfer, and the Nevada and Indiana legislatures have approved legislation to keep kids out of adult jails and prisons.

As the Attorney General continues to consider the Task Force's report, we look forward to working with the AG to ensure that the recommendation to remove youth from adult criminal court and other recommendations impacting youth in the justice system are fully implemented.

What Can Be Done For Girls in the Juvenile Justice System?

Thursday, 06 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

By Mackenzie Tudor

 

On May 17th, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) and The National Crittenton Foundation participated in a workshop entitled, “What Can Be Done For Girls in the Juvenile Justice System?” at the Association for Junior Leagues International Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., where they discussed system-involved girls and girls at risk of becoming involved in the justice system and what can be done to help. The Junior League has a rich history in juvenile justice advocacy and was actively involved in the 1970s and 80s in the development and subsequent reauthorizations of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

Moderated by Jill Ward, panelists CFYJ CEO Liz Ryan, Crittenton Foundation President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, and Just Kids Partnership Advocate Jabreria Handy, spoke about the issues surrounding the rise in the number of girls in the juvenile justice system and the ways that Junior League Members could get involved.

 

The highlight of the event was Jabreria Handy. At the age of 16, Jabreria was charged as an adult in the criminal justice system for a crime that she did not commit. She spent 11 months in the Baltimore City Detention Center before her case was sent back to the juvenile justice system. She now shares her story to help ensure that no youth will ever have to go through what she experienced. Jabreria’s account of her experience as a youth in the adult criminal system had a powerful impact on the workshop attendees. Jabreria emphasized that programming both in and out of the juvenile justice system is crucial and, unfortunately, is not as available to youth incriminated in the adult system. Providing support to these girls is critical to helping them transition back into the community.

Jabreria’s perspective on what girls need was echoed by Jeannette Pai-Espinosa. The National Crittenton Foundation has conducted research on Adverse Childhood Experiences that included girls in the juvenile justice system. Girls in the juvenile justice system are often victims of abuse, neglect, household dysfunction or substance abuse in the home.  As a result, these girls are more likely to be incarcerated for status offenses, offenses that would not be illegal if the individual was an adult, such as running away from home. Once in the system, girls often fail to receive the services they need, and instead are re-traumatized and derailed from educational achievement.

This discussion clearly resonated with many of the women in attendance. Sparked by Jabreria’s story, there was a clear desire from those in attendance to learn more about how they could help the at-risk girls both in and out of the juvenile justice system.

Liz Ryan identified the following key steps to take to start advocating for girls in your communities:

1. Urge your Governor to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to ensure that girls are not placed in adult jails and prisons.


2. Contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to provide more federal resources to address the needs of girls in the justice system.


3.  Reach out to the Juvenile Justice Specialist in your state to get information on how your state is addressing gender-specific programming in its JJDPA state plan. http://www.ojjdp.gov/statecontacts/ResourceList.asp

4. Engage your community and plan an event around October 23rd, National Girls Justice Day. Contact Leah Robertson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

5. Contact the National Girls institute and request technical assistance to create programming in your community.  http://www.nationalgirlsinstitute.org

For more take action steps go here.

Want to learn more about girls in the juvenile justice system? Take a look at CFYJ’s resource list here.

 

Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard: Lessons from the County and State Level in Oregon

Thursday, 06 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

By Mackenzie Tudor

On Thursday, May 16th, the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center held the first webinar of their “PREA in Action” series on implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard. The Youthful Inmate Standard requires all prisons, jails, lock ups, and detention facilities to provide sight and sound separation between youth and adults while restricting the use of solitary confinement and isolation practices.

In this interactive web conference, Juvenile Custody Services Program Manager Craig Bachman, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Director Scott Taylor, and Oregon Youth Authority Assistant Director Philip Cox discussed the county- and state-level changes that have been made in Oregon to keep young people who are being charged as adults in juvenile facilities.

Oregon's facilities found that the juvenile placement of youth sentenced as adults:

  • Meets the developmental needs of the youth.
  • Offers them age-appropriate education services.
  • Provides staff trained in adolescent development.
  • Allows for cognitive behavioral skill-building program tailored to youth.


Professionals from local and state correctional and juvenile corrections agencies, criminal justice and correctional nongovernmental organizations, and advocates are encouraged to watch this webinar, now archived here.

Learning from Oregon’s success and working towards successful implementation of the Youthful Inmate Standard is critical because:

  • youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility;
  • and to “protect” the youth in adult facilities, some jails and prisons keep youth in solitary isolation for upwards of 23 hours a day, a practice that has been proven to have destructive effects on mental health especially for children and adolescents.


Watch the webinar now.

Register for the second webinar in the “PREA in Action” series, “Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard Part II: Spotlight on Indiana and Pennsylvania” on June 25th at 3pm - here.

 

 

Jonathan’s Law Unanimously Clears Legislative Hurdle in Missouri

Friday, 24 May 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

By Tracy McClard

The Missouri legislative session ended in victory for Senate Bill 36 - Jonathan’s Law - which was truly agreed upon and finally passed on the evening of Thursday, May 16, after garnering unanimous votes in the House and Senate.  Jonathan’s Law was named after Missouri youth, 17 year- old Jonathan McClard, who after being accepted into Missouri’s highly touted Dual Jurisdiction Program by the Missouri Department  of Youth Services (DYS), was denied entry by the judge and given a 30 year maximum prison sentence instead.  Seven weeks later and 3 days after his 17th birthday, after losing all hope, Jonathan gave up his life.

The Missouri Dual Jurisdiction Program, created in 1996,  by then DYS state director Mark Steward, is one of a kind in the nation and has received accolades from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Harvard University.  It was created specifically for youth who are tried as adults in Missouri.  The youth within the program are housed in a youth-oriented, home-like facility.  Rehabilitation is the goal and youth can remain within the program until their 21st birthday.  Youth receive services for education, mental health/counseling, drug treatment, victim empathy, and restitution with an emphasis on family involvement.  Youth who complete the program have extremely low recidivism rates compared to youth who are placed in the Missouri Dept. of Corrections.  The latest research places the program at an 83% success rate.

Jonathan’s Law opens the dual jurisdiction program up to more certified youth across the state in a couple of ways. First it addresses the issue of awareness and accountability of the courts by requiring   judges to consider dual jurisdiction as a sentencing option for certified youth and issue findings if they go against the DYS recommendation to accept a youth into the program.  Second, it allows the courts an additional six months to complete the eligibility process for the dual jurisdiction program.  Currently the process has to be complete by the youths 17th birthday, Jonathan’s Law extends the process to 17 years and 6 months.  In Jonathan’s case, if the judge had to issue findings, and if his case could have extended an additional 6 months, it most likely would have saved his life. 

The fact that Jonathan's Law passed the senate judiciary committee with a unanimous vote speaks to the great desire to bring our children out of the adult system and once again treat our youth as children and not adults.

 

2013 Public Information Officer Learning Collaborative a Huge Success

Aprill O. Turner Tuesday, 21 May 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

 

  
2013 PIOLC Participants
 

Earlier this month, Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR), the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), the Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC), and the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF), hosted the 2013 Public Information Officer Learning Collaborative (PIOLC).  The PIOLC is a professional development opportunity for juvenile justice and child welfare public information officers.  The conference is in its fourth year, and 27 public information officers from across the country were in attendance, all committed to working on children and youth related issues.

CJJR has been supporting juvenile justice and child welfare reform efforts through leadership development in various capacities since its inception. The Learning Collaborative allowed the PIOs who work in juvenile justice and child welfare field to learn from one another and from experts in the communication field.

Sessions were led by Shay Bilchik (CJJR), Kathy Bonk (CMMC), and Aprill Turner (CFYJ). Some of the workshop topics were: What it means to be a PIO in a Cutting Edge World, Communicating Reform, Social Media, Polling and Effective Messaging, Reactive/Proactive Strategies Supporting Reform, and a Roundtable Discussion with Journalists.

 “They are very few opportunities and resources available for career development in my current position, so it was extremely valuable to get an  opportunity to learn from and collaborate with such a talented and diverse group of professionals, “ said Jess Harvat, Communications Coordinator for the Colorado Department Of Human Services.

The curriculum for the collaborative also included techniques to deal with crisis situations and ways for PIOs to implement strategies to engage their peers in other child and youth-serving agencies in order to better communicate about their reform efforts and utilize more consistent and comprehensive strategies in reaching their constituencies.

The PIOs who attend the collaborative have undoubtedly formed a cadre of mutually supportive communication specialists in the children, youth and family-serving field that will strengthen their overall work and promote support for reform efforts nationwide.

<<  32 33 34 35 36 [3738 39 40 41  >>