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Spreading the Word About the Alliance for Youth Justice

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Take Action Now

By Shanta' Gray

This year I made a personal goal to raise the number of members in the Alliance for Youth Justice.

 The Alliance for Youth Justice is a group of families and allies from all across the country that have come together to advocate, share information and guide policy reform efforts to reform the systems of injustice that have abused, neglected and blamed families for society’s failures.  We know that together, families can empower each other and reform systems that seek to destroy our children, families and our communities.

The Alliance for Youth Justice hosts monthly calls among parents, families and allies to share information about youth in the adult system and the reform efforts.  Our monthly call is by phone, the first Thursday of each month.   Families will also have access to the latest news and developments pertaining to best practices within youth justice and updates on other grassroots efforts for reform.

My goal is to have 50 new members join the Alliance for Youth Justice by December 2013. So far, I have 20 new members this year.  Please help me by spreading the word about the Alliance to help me make my goal for this year.

If you know a family member that should be a part of this growing movement, please have them email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CFYJ Kicks off 2013 Summer Institute Series

Monday, 15 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices


By Eric Welch

Annually the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) spearheads its Summer Institute Brown Bag Lunch Series, in which juvenile justice interns in Washington can gather to learn about different aspects of the juvenile justice field.

Last week was the first Summer Institute Brown Bag Luncheon at the new CFYJ office, which was a huge success.   The Campaign had two very knowledgeable experts, Alexandra Staropoli.  Associate Director for Government & Field Relations at Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and Kaitlin Banner, Staff Attorney of the Advancement Project to end the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Over 25 motivated local interns were in attendance and sat around the table with open ears processing the information that was being shared about these organizations and what they do. The presentation was about the National Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Coalition, Gangs, and School Safety Working Group. The Gangs Working Group’s main topic was about the Youth Promise Act;, a bill that ensures that there are funds for gang intervention and youth violence issues. School Safety’s primary focus was on the School-to-prison pipeline; a national trend that forces youth out of school and into the criminal justice system.

The Next Summer Institute event will be with Free Minds Book Club on Write Night on Tuesday July 23rd from 6:oo-8:00pm. Please RSVP here if interested in attending, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Nevada Bill Protects Youth in the Adult System

Carmen Daugherty Monday, 15 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Uncategorised

On June 11th, Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, approved Assembly Bill 202 which protects youth from entering the adult criminal justice system in the state. AB 202 does several things to encourage the safety and rehabilitation of youth in both the juvenile and adult systems. The bill raises the age at which a child will be automatically transferred to 16 for murder or attempted murder. AB 202 also protects youth entering the adult jails by allowing those kids tried as adult to petition the court to be placed in juvenile detention facilities pending their court proceedings. Previously, youth could automatically be housed in adult jails while awaiting trial and research shows us that youth in adult jails are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in the general population and 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in juvenile detention facilities.

Finally, the bill will take a retrospective and prospective look at the practice of prosecuting kids as adults by creating a task force to study certain issues relating to juvenile transfer, including blended sentencing as an option, capacity of juvenile  facilities to house youth charged as adults, and costs analysis of housing those kids. The taskforce-- comprised of youth serving agencies, mental health professionals and child advocates--will work on gathering information and providing analysis through the interim session with recommendations for legislation provided to the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature.

While this is a vast improvement to the Nevada justice system, there is much work to be done to ensure that youth are appropriately charged and rehabilitation is truly an option for all children.

Invest in Youth Justice Day

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update


Today is Invest in Youth Justice Day! Time to tell Senate and House Appropriators to protect juvenile justice funding.

The Senate and the House Appropriations Committees will begin consideration of their respective versions of the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill in the next few weeks. The CJS appropriations bill provides federal funding to support state juvenile justice systems and reforms.

This funding is critical to implementing policies and practices that keep youth out of the justice system and help states decrease the number of youth incarcerated. We must protect it!

Juvenile justice dollars are at risk for FY14 and we must act now to preserve these important funding streams.

Act4JJ is asking all allies to participate in Invest in Youth Justice Day today to promote safe communities and improve outcomes for youth!    

What You Can Do Today:

  1. Sign the petition to protect funding for juvenile justice programs.
  2. Share this action alert with your Facebook and Twitter networks by clicking on the facebook and twitter links below.

Let’s make sure week keep our communities safe for our children tomorrow by investing in them today.

Happy Birthday to the Campaign for Youth Justice!

Monday, 01 July 2013 Posted in 2013, Voices

 
CFYJ's new office space.

Today, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) turns 8! We would like to thank all of the individuals and organizations who have contributed their time, energy and dedication to supporting the campaign's mission to the end the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system. Thanks especially to the Campaign's staff, board, advisory council, spokespersons, donors, funders, fellows, volunteers, supporters and allies throughout the country who have championed juvenile justice reforms to improve the outcomes for youth and their families!

As we celebrate the Campaign's birthday, CFYJ has just relocated to a new office space! We are so thrilled to be in our new home. Come visit us at: 1220 L Street, Suite 605, Washington, DC, 20005.

On this 8th birthday, we are celebrating our collective work to advance the rights and status of young people prosecuted in adult criminal court.  Together with our allies, we will continue to campaign for youth justice, because the consequences aren't minor.



Investing Smarter: Why We Cannot Afford to Shortchange Juvenile Justice

Thursday, 27 June 2013 Posted in 2013, Federal Update

By Leah Robertson

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) provides funds to states that follow a series of federal protections, commonly known as the “core protections,” to address the care and treatment of youth in the justice system.  It is a modest, targeted investment that not only helps children but also saves money.  Unfortunately, funding for this law has drastically declined over the last decade and continues to be threatened by spending cuts.

 

This is why a wide array of organizations have been sending letters three days a week for the last eight weeks as part of a Letter-A-Day campaign to urge Senate and House Appropriations Committees to maintain funding for key JJDPA and and related juvenile justice programs.  More than XX letters have been sent so far, and other organizations will continue to send their letters throughout the summer. The diversity and number of organizations dedicated to advocating for this funding demonstrates just how far these monies go and their importance to so many communities.

What do these critical federal dollars support?  The funding being advocated for helps states  protect children at risk of unnecessary damage by the justice system, and save money by reducing crime and keeping youth from entering the far more costly justice system. The value added by investing in our youth for tomorrow is far greater than the price tag today. Meanwhile, the cost of inaction is high. According to a Vera Institute study of 4/5 of states’, taxpayers gave $39 billion to corrections in FY2010, and that number continues to climb nonsensically every year. By supporting a modest federal investment through programs like those supported by the JJPDA monies, we will save money both now by reducing the cost of corrections and in the future by reducing incarceration rates.

Diverting children with little risk of future delinquent behavior to community-based programs where they can participate with their peers in positive behavioral model is right and makes sense. We commend all of the groups that have taken action and those that will take action in the coming weeks to maintain this funding and invest in a smarter and brighter tomorrow.

If you are affiliated with an organization interested in participating in the Letter-A-Day campaign, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are an individual who would like to get involved, please sign the House and Senate petitions and share these with your family and friends.

We will continue to update you on this critical effort.

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

 

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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!
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