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Across the Country

Our Unheard Voices: Youth On the Margins

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts Wednesday, 17 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts

With more than three decades between us working with young people in the criminal justice system, we knew exactly where we wanted to go to raise the volume on young voices. Especially with the 2017 California law ensuring the voting rights of people incarcerated in juvenile and adult jail facilities…we went directly to the juvenile halls and probation camps of Los Angeles County.

In Defense of Childhood: A Call to Action to Defend Immigrants Who Aren’t Citizens Yet, Especially Children

Kent Mendoza, Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson Tuesday, 09 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

 In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. This is the third blog in our series. 

By Kent Mendoza, Policy Coordinator for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson

I was brought to this country at age six.   I still remember the hardships my mom had to endure, coming to this country by herself, while living in Los Angeles searching a job that could support my siblings and I.  It was very hard for her to raise me by herself while still trying to settle down in a foreign place.  Her below living wage income meant that from the day I began my journey in this country, I was exposed to the harsh realities of living in a community where drugs, gangs, and violence were rampant.  This environment, which was a mixture of hard working families and disinvestment in community supports for young people, became my “normal.”

YJAM: Ten Years of Raising Awareness & Taking Action for Youth

Roy Austin Friday, 28 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates, Take Action Now, Voices

By Marcy Mistrtett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Roy Austin, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis and former Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity (U.S. Domestic Policy Council)

Today is the first day of October, and the launch of the tenth anniversary of Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM). YJAM began with one mother whose 17-year-old son tragically took his life in an adult prison in Missouri. Since then, this month marks a time when communities across the country take action against inhumane and harsh treatment of children in the justice system.  In 2015 and 2016, the Campaign for Youth Justice worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council on proclamations issued in honor of YJAM and the progress made on behalf of young people who come in contact with the justice system.  In the 2016 proclamation, President Obama called on all of us to “affirm our commitment to helping children of every background become successful engaged citizens.”

Latinx Injustice

Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. Tuesday, 18 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. 

Our first blog is written by Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. at Michigan State University and CFYJ Board member.

For over two decades, advocates, community based practitioners, families, and researchers have challenged the Department of Justice to consider modifying data on the number of Latinx youth that spend part of their adolescence with juvenile justice systems. While some might consider this an inconsequential and unimportant issue, the failure to better understand the diversity of Latinx youth has serious implications. One assumption, for example, is that immigrant youth (those born outside of the U.S. or those that come early in their lives) are more likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system. Yet, there is no reliable way to substantiate or refute this claim. Research shows that immigrant adults are less likely to violate public laws – why do we assume this would be any different for children? Do we know whether generational status impacts involvement with juvenile justice systems? Evidence suggests yes, but most of the work to date has focused on only those that have recently immigrated with those that have not. 

Youth Justice Action Month is October – Less Than a Month Away!

Brian Evans Wednesday, 12 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) is October – less than a month away!

Whether you are just starting to organize, or are already planning something, please Sign up today so we can work with you to make YJAM as impactful as possible!

Kavanaugh Hearings: Justice Kennedy Was a Voice of Reason on Youth Justice, Now What?

Brian Evans Wednesday, 05 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

One of the legacies of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s tenure at the U.S. Supreme Court will be his central role in recognizing that, for the purposes of criminal justice, “children are different” and should be treated differently than adults

Basing his arguments on an emerging consensus in adolescent neuroscience and development, a consensus that continues to strengthen, Kennedy was a decisive voice in decisions that protected children from the harshest punishments applied to adults.

Class is Back in Session: It's Time To Rethink the Number of School Resource Officers in our Schools

Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 04 September 2018 Posted in Across the Country

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

The end of summer has arrived.  Children across the country will officially be back in school this week.  Families have been busy getting ready—new shoes, uniforms, school supplies and bus passes. Children anticipate meeting a new teacher, seeing friends they missed over the summer, and routine schedules.

However, in far too many places, school leaders are struggling with inadequate budgets and public pressure to keep schools safe.  Too often, these responses rely on increasing the presence of law enforcement officers, or in some cases, allowing teachers and administrators to carry weapons in school. Despite there being too many multi-victim school shootings in the U.S., schools remain amongst the safest places for children to be.

Bills A1233 and SJR18 Provide Hope for New Jersey Juvenile Defendants Serving Lengthy Sentences

Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright Tuesday, 28 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright, New Jersey Parents' Caucus

In 2012, the Supreme Court established in the landmark Miller v. Alabama decision that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Mandatory sentences to life without parole, the court argued, prevent the judge from considering the “mitigating effects of youth,” which were acknowledged in the Court’s earlier rulings of Roper v. Simmons (2005) and Graham v. Florida (2010). As a result, Miller established that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles, and judges must consider youth-related mitigating factors, including children’s individual characteristics and life circumstances, during sentencing.

Committed to the Fight for Justice: CFYJ’s Journey to Montgomery and Selma

Rachel Kenderdine Monday, 13 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Kenderdine, CFYJ Operations and Development Manager

This is the second of a two part series.

During CFYJ’s recent trip to Alabama, we made the drive to Selma, where on March 7, 1965, voting rights activists, peacefully attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, were stopped and beaten by police just across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The horrific incident became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The activists were forced to turn back and flee for their lives, but national outrage sparked by the injustice of Bloody Sunday allowed civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and now-Representative John Lewis (D-GA), to complete the march two weeks later with federal protections granted by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March--and the leadership of activists like Dr. King and John Lewis--also gave President Johnson the push he needed work with Congress to pass and sign federal legislation to protect the voting rights of African Americans. Though guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, African Americans across the South were prevented from registering to vote by local laws enforcing literacy tests or other means to keep blacks from accessing their voting rights.

Committed to the Fight for Justice: CFYJ’s Journey to Montgomery and Selma

Rachel Kenderdine Tuesday, 07 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Kenderdine, CFYJ Operations and Development Manager

This is the first of a two part series.

When the Equal Justice Initiative’s new Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in April, CFYJ staff knew it was imperative to make a trip to Montgomery, Ala. to visit these powerful landmarks. One of our significant goals for 2018 has been to make our commitment to racial equity and justice explicit to our partners and the public; to reinforce our commitment to what racial equity really looks like--and the actions and steps we can take to decrease racial disparities and keep fighting for change. We know that youth of color still disproportionately experience police violence and the adult criminal justice system, as over 70 percent of youth in the adult criminal justice system are youth of color. As a campaign, it is our job to make change in the broken systems that still disempower and disenfranchise our youth--and this trip helped us to see why it is important to remain committed to the fight for justice, even when the current political climate makes this feel impossible.

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