twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Across the Country

INDEPENDENCE DAY: Free from what?

Friday, 01 July 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

By Marcy Mistrett

As we approach our country’s 240th birthday, I am reminded of our forefathers’ preamble to the Declaration of Independence : “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While history has uncovered the blatant shortcomings of this dictate, the rights to one’s liberty, or freedom, seem particularly important to highlight on the eve of Independence Day. With nearly 95,000 children incarcerated in adult jails and prisons each year, the vast majority of whom being children of color, we have a responsibility to question this concept of liberty in the shadow of our carceral state.

Liberty, defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views” has a long history of grotesque unequal application in our country: it certainly wasn’t a protected right for slaves, women, or children, nor was it promised to numerous other special populations--immigrants, the disabled, LGBT communities, Indigenous peoples to name a few--at the birth of our country.  Yet, as many scholars have noted, as unique populations have gained access to liberty through the Courts, other structures of oppression have emerged to stifle their ultimate achievement of freedom.  Perhaps the most well-known, yet egregious, obstruction of liberty is incarceration.

For our children who sleep in adult jails and prisons, the deprivation of liberty extends far beyond the restrictions on their movement.  Despite being treated as adults in the criminal courts, children under 18 who are prosecuted as adults are hypocritically denied the freedoms granted by adulthood (voting, serving in the military, living independent of their parents, completing compulsory education, getting married, etc.). This inconsistency begs the question, Is incarceration itself the punishment, or are we sanctioning further punishment once children are incarcerated? Sadly, the answer lies in the latter. 

Our country has become so reliant on punishing law-breakers, that we have decided that the deprivation of liberty is simply not enough.  Instead, we subject these young children to extensive punishment—to long periods of solitary confinement, repeated exposure to violence, sexual assault, and physical abuse involving pepper spray, Tasers, or prolonged shackling, and sexual assault, all on top of decades and decades of incarceration.  We prohibit them from visiting with their families if they face a long time in prison; they go to the bottom of the waitlist for school, vocational training, and mental health treatment—services that are considered necessary for those “returning back to society.”  And then, when this punishment isn’t enough, we also punish them economically: before they are legally allowed to establish credit, we set about eroding their finances.  We charge them fines; when they can’t pay, they accrue penalties. We charge them for their healthcare, for phone privileges, and for  buying a bag of Cheetos.  And then we ask, “Is this enough punishment? Have we deprived them of enough of their liberties?”

And still, the answer is NO.  For the vast majority of youth who come home after a period of adult incarceration (95% will be released by the time they are 25), they continue to face “oppressive restrictions” to their liberty.  As we cite in our collateral consequences report, children who return home from a period of adult incarceration retain that conviction for the rest of their lives.  This can (and does) prevent them from furthering their education, securing housing, finding a job, serving in the military, voting, and thousands of other activities that define the “liberty” of adulthood. Furthermore, as conditions of their release, they are often told that they can’t congregate on certain community blocks, or interact with certain people (including members of their family). They are restricted from using alcohol, and are under surveillance for anywhere from one to five years, or, in some cases, for the rest of their lives. We have heard others refer to this as “perpetual punishment,” but it can also aptly be referred to as “loss of liberty.”

And, because we have found it acceptable to treat not only adults this way, but also children who are younger than 18, we have effectively undone a core tenant of our country’s founding principles.

Marcy Mistrett is CEO of the Campaign For Youth Justice, a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system

Oregon Considers “Age and Sophistication” of Youth before Treating As Adults

Monday, 20 June 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

In May, the Oregon Supreme Court made an exemplary decision when they reversed a 2015 ruling made by the state’s Court of Appeals in the State v. J.C.N.-V. case. In State v. J.C.N.-V., the appeals court upheld the initial decision to transfer a 13 year old, J.C.N.-V, who was charged with aggravated murder, from juvenile court to circuit court for criminal prosecution. State law in Oregon permits the juvenile court to waive its jurisdiction and hand over cases to the jurisdiction of the circuit court if it finds the youth to be of “sufficient sophistication and maturity to appreciate the nature and quality of the conduct involved.” This happened to J.C.N.-V., whose case was originally transferred to the circuit court for criminal prosecution, and whose transfer was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Enter Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel at Juvenile Law Center, and Angela Sherbo, J.C.N.-V.’s attorney from Youth, Rights, and Justice. They successfully argued a reversal of the transfer in the state’s Supreme Court, which responded with an avowal that the “sophistication and maturity” of a child is too simplistic a measure for determining whether a transfer from juvenile court to circuit court is warranted. The Court urged the legislature to use a more nuanced approach in dictating the guidelines for any potential transfers.

A couple weeks after this decision, District Attorney of Oregon’s Multnomah County, Rod Underhill, announced that his office will no longer automatically prosecute teens ages 15 to 17 in circuit court for certain Measure 11crimes. Unlike the defendant in State v J.C.N.-V., children charged with Measure 11 crimes do not have the benefit of a hearing before a juvenile court judge; instead they are automatically prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system.  Furthermore, if convicted, they serve the same mandatory sentences that would apply to adults; however, they can begin serving their sentence in a youth prison until they are age 25.

District Attorney Underhill has agreed that if certain considerations are met, his office will be willing to start some Measure 11 cases in juvenile court.  Examples of these considerations include: Whether the teen has no past criminal record, whether he or she didn’t seriously hurt anyone, or whether he or she wants to get treatment or turn his or her life around.  Cases that will now originate in juvenile court would then be bound by the ruling in J.C.N.-V, and judges would have to consider the “sophistication and maturity” of the child before determining whether or not to transfer the child to the adult system.

While the Campaign for Youth Justice advocates that all children’s cases should originate in juvenile court, these are still steps in the right direction, and nice examples of the ways that litigation and practice interface forpositive reforms.  All these efforts combined will hopefully set an example for other states to come around on this issue.

June is Children’s Awareness Month

Monday, 20 June 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

By Anne-Lise Vray, Juvenile Justice Fellow

June is Children’s Awareness Month. One would typically think of a child as a 10 year-old in the prime of his/her life, happily going to school, swinging on the playground with friends, helping parents around the house, growing and learning more every day. Unfortunately, for many American children this is not the reality. In 22 states and the District of Columbia, children as young as 7 can be prosecuted as adults. In fact, fourteen states have no minimum age for trying children as adults. Some states set the minimum age at 10, 12, or 13, which is still way too young.  As the U.S. Supreme Court has found 5 times in the past decade, children are not the same as adults, and Courts need to ensure they are considering the age, maturity, and brain development before issuing adult punishments.  

Children’s Awareness Month is a great occasion to remember these too often forgotten children, and to act on their behalves in order to end the harmful practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth as adults. Instead we should invest in age appropriate approaches that work and tend to the underlying trauma that so many of these youth are exposed to before they ever come in contact with the law. This failed policy of treating children like adults is contradicted by neuroscience leads to poor outcomes for public safety, since youth prosecuted as adults are 34% more likely to recidivate than those handled by the juvenile justice system.

All children deserve to be children, and provided the opportunity to correct bad decisions and afforded second chances.

Happy Father's Day!

Monday, 13 June 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

This month like every year, the Campaign for Youth Justice celebrates Father’s Day, a time to recognize the amazing dads, grandfathers, and other men who have served as role models to so many children.

Dads can play many roles in children’s lives—they can help provide for their well-being, coach them through difficult times, advocate for them when they need extra support, celebrate their accomplishments, and provide the structure and stability that is needed if children fall off track. They even play and roughhouse on demand! In short, dads make a big difference in the lives of children.

This month we’re asking you to make a contribution in honor of fathers everywhere.

A few years ago, CFYJ CEO Marcy Mistrett met two fathers who, back when they were still in high school, were arrested for carjacking. Dwayne Betts, and his friend, Marcus Bullock, just fifteen and sixteen at the time, were tried and sentenced as adults and spent a significant part of their young adulthood incarcerated in adult facilities. Now, years later, both are married and dedicated fathers to their children.

While incarcerated, Dwayne completed high school and began reading and writing poetry and is now a nationally renowned poet and author, a recent graduate of Yale Law School, an advocate for those facing parole and returning home, and member of the CFYJ Board of Directors. Marcus, also a married father of two, is a successful entrepreneur, having started several businesses since he has been home. He is the CEO of Perspectives Premier Contractors (PPC), where he regularly employs other returning citizens, and a technology entrepreneur – he created Flikshop, a mobile app that allows those in prison to connect with their families. Marcus also developed the Flikshop School of Business, classes that he brings to incarcerated youth to help them develop the life skills needed for reentry, he also was recently appointed by the DC Mayor to serve on the board of returning citizens. Both dads are featured at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer to generate support for their re-entry work.

Dwayne and Marcus are not only committed fathers, but serve as mentors to hundreds of others who are returning home and trying to get their lives back on track—a transition that is riddled with challenges. As CFYJ writes in our recently released report, Collateral Consequences, incarcerating youth as adults very often results in long-term mental health issues, lowered employment opportunities, restrictions to further education, and thousands of other barriers to re-socialization.

By supporting CFYJ, you’re supporting spokespeople like Dwayne and Marcus to help mitigate these consequences and keep youth out of the adult criminal justice system altogether.

We often get asked what type of financial support is the most helpful for a nonprofit organization. With so much uncertainty in nonprofit fundraising, a recurring monthly contribution of $50, $25 or even $10 a month (as little as $120 a year!) would help give CFYJ more stable funding from month to month as we seek to invest in people like Dwayne and Marcus who are working to turn the system around.

Your monthly contribution is a perfect way to help sustain our important work – just like so many dads have sustained us throughout our lives.

Please join us as we thank all the fathers and others that support our young people through good times and bad. 

“Raise the Age”, “Direct File”, and More: States Pursuing Youth Justice Reforms in 2016

Brain Evans Wednesday, 11 May 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Coordinator

As the year 2016 moves towards its half-way point, one trend has been unmistakable: states are moving to keep more youth out of the adult criminal justice system. And it’s not a regional but a national phenomenon. Led by South Carolina, which is poised to “Raise the Age” of adult court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 – bills have passed both chambers and only minor reconciling of bill language remains – states are adopting a variety of policies designed to treat youth as youth.

Michigan and Louisiana have both seen “Raise the Age” bills pass in one of their legislative chambers – Michigan in the House, Louisiana in the Senate – and in both cases the prospect of the bills ultimately becoming law this year is good. In New York and Louisiana, the governors have vocally backed the “Raise the Age” efforts. In fact, eight of the 9 remaining states that have ages of criminal court jurisdiction lower than 18 have introduced legislation to “Raise the Age” over the past 2 legislative sessions.

But current reform efforts aren’t limited to “Raise the Age”. In Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Missouri, proposed reforms go beyond “Raise the Age” to include larger efforts to change the ways youth are treated by the criminal justice system.  

In Alabama and Missouri, proposals to remove pre-trial youth from adult jails have made serious progress. Alabama’s bill passed in the Senate but fell short of the finish line when their session ended on May 6, while Missouri’s bill looks very likely to become law. Similar legislation has been proposed in Washington, D.C., as part of an omnibus youth justice package.

Indiana has passed a law allowing some youth sent to adult court to access to a “reverse transfer” process that could send them back into the juvenile system, and in Vermont the power of prosecutors to “Direct File” youth into adult court has been drastically curtailed.

In Florida, where such prosecutorial discretion is used more than in any other state, a bill to curb “Direct File” passed unanimously out of two Senate committees before running out of time at the end of that state’s short 60-day session. Another attempt to reform the use of “Direct File” by prosecutors is underway in California, where a governor-supported ballot initiative on the issue may go before voters in November.

While there are still too many mechanisms for transferring youth into the adult system, it is clear that the states have come to recognize how harmful and counter-productive such transfers are. The results of this year will be better justice for more youth, with powerful positive momentum and strong prospects for even greater gains in the coming years.

2016: Recognizing that Kids are Different, Anniversaries of Kent, Miranda, and JDB

Friday, 22 April 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

By Brittan Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow

The juvenile court was founded in Chicago in 1899 on the ideas that children were different than adults, should not be subject to adult prisons, and rehabilitation should be the main focus of juvenile detention. Over the years, the court has oscillated between treating children as completely different than adults where their trials require no standard procedural protections, or giving children the same floor of procedural protections as adults but then not allowing for their adolescent traits to inform the circumstances of their hearings or culpability.

Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court decided a case concerning a 15 year old Morris Kent.  In Kent v. United States the court addressed the fear that, “the child receives the worst of both worlds: that he gets neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children."  The court went out of its way to include information about the differences between a child and adult in court. Kent’s case held procedural protections were required when a child is being transferred into the adult system.

Kent has had a lasting legal legacy; several cases expanding or further defining the rights of youth are rooted in the holding from Kent. Following the year after Kent, In re Gault built on Kent’s due process protection of waiver by stating that due process encompasses procedural protections for juveniles in delinquency proceedings including right to notice, confrontation of witnesses, right to counsel, and the right against self-incrimination.  A few years later Kent’s due process reasoning was used in support of finding that jeopardy attaches with a juvenile court conviction for purposes of the double jeopardy prohibition, meaning that children cannot be tried and convicted in both juvenile and adult court for the same charge (Breed v. Jones, USC).  Kent’s reasoning has helped youth in certain jurisdictions assert rights to rehabilitative treatment (Pena v. New York State Div. For Youth), full investigations to support court’s findings (Virgin Islands ex rel. N.G.), and access to all proceedings for a child’s guardian ad litem (Inge v. Slayton,  4th cir.).

Decided the same year, Miranda v. Arizona gave individuals questioned by the police the right to be informed of their rights. The Miranda warnings are known by most people because of their use in TV and movies. Subsequently police went on to give individuals Miranda warnings but there were no specialized warnings for children. The warning was assumed to be age neutral and an adequate procedure to ensure that an individual’s Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination was upheld.

Five years ago in the case of J.D.B  v North Carolina the court finally addressed the relationship between Miranda warnings and children, Justice Sotomayor announcing that,

“It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave. Seeing no reason for police officers or courts to blind themselves to that commonsense reality, we hold that] a child's age properly informs the Miranda custody analysis.”

More and more the Court is considering the effects of age on the application of criminal procedure and juvenile interaction with the criminal justice system. In Kent, the Court touched on the difference between youth and adults in its ruling but the development of brain science and what is known about how differently the adolescent brain works has had a huge impact on Supreme Court treating children differently. Because adolescent brains are different than adults, what actions are appropriate to ensure their constitutional rights are upheld should be different than adults.

While we look back to see how far the court has come in its understanding of juvenile rights, we shouldn’t forget to look forward also and continue to push for juvenile rights. In every state there are still laws that allow for youth to be tried in adult courts. The Supreme Court has established that children are not adults. Not only is treating children both as people who need to be taken care of and people who are mature enough to make life altering confusing, it also does not allow for a system in which we can determine what states should do to protect youths’ constitutional rights.

Promising Findings of Louisiana Raise the Age Study

Brittany Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow Friday, 18 March 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country, Research & Policy

Raise the Age Logo 2

On February 1st the Louisiana legislature released a report supporting the need for, and impact of, raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. This report was commissioned by the legislature through Resolution No. 73 in 2015 and completed by The Institute for Public Health and Justice  at the Louisiana State University’s Health Science Center. The ultimate recommendation of this comprehensive report is that Louisiana should raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17 year old offenders. Louisiana remains one of nine states that fails to recognize that youth under 17 year olds should not be prosecuted automatically in the adult criminal justice system.
The three big findings that the report made are:
1) 17 year olds are developmentally different than adults and should be treated as such;
2) the Louisiana juvenile justice system has the capacity to manage and rehabilitate added 17 year old youth;
3) other state have found that raise the age impact has had substantially less of an impact on their systems than was predicted and Louisiana should be the same and may even have substantial fiscal savings

It further recommends that a five year comprehensive plan be developed to address a variety of issues specific to youth such as transition, community based interventions, services while in detention, and other ways to ensure that youth are rehabilitated and do not recidivate.

The report notes that the state of Louisiana has not reviewed the age of juvenile jurisdiction in more than 100 years. Due to the growth of the law, social science, and brain science it is important for Louisiana to raise the age to ensure that its juvenile justice system is not stuck in the past. “Louisiana’s successful juvenile justice reforms, and an overall decline in juvenile crime reflective of national trends, have opened up system capacity for raising the age that may not have previously existed.”
The report highlights current brain science on adolescents and specifically how 17 year olds are unable to consistently reason and make responsible decisions. Due to this increased awareness of how adolescent brains work, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have recognized that treating 17 year olds the same as adults is not appropriate. The data shows that 17 year olds are capable of change when rehabilitated and generally stop reoffending. Most delinquent behavior does not follow the youth into adulthood.

The effects of the adult system on youths are troubling because rates of juvenile recidivism rise when placed in adult facilities. Additionally, youth are subject to a variety of harms both physical and psychological when they are subject to adult courts and facilities. To address the issue of placing 17 year olds in adult facilities the report examined the capacity of existing juvenile facilities. The report found that on any given day only facilities are only 56% filled, “…it can be estimated that 258 beds could be available on any given day in Louisiana’s juvenile detention facilities.” The addition of 17 year olds would not cause the current facilities to be overburdened.
The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR) has been a vital advocate for Raise the Age Reform and helping shepherd a bill into law. Raise the Age Louisiana Act, SB 324 will ensure that 17 year olds are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts. LCCR has reported that, “polling by LSU shows that 66% of Louisianans – a majority of both parties – believe that 17-year-olds should be included in the juvenile justice system.” On March 15, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has announced that he supports SB 324 and raising the age. Widespread support from Louisianans will ensure that legislators know that their constituencies want what is best both for communities and for adolescents, to raise the age.

For more information on how to get involved in Louisiana's reform efforts, follow us on Facebook and check out the links below:


Full Text of SB 324


March is Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing

Monday, 29 February 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

March marks the annual Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing. This month brings together congregations of all faiths, schools and universities in prayer, service and action. The goal is to offer young offenders hope and alternatives to a lifetime as a hardened criminal by raising awareness and creating engagement with issues pertaining to juvenile justice.

How to Get Involved:

Place a bulletin in your faith organization’s newsletter.

  • Throughout the month of March discuss juvenile justice in your weekly faith service.
  • Post a flyer in your place of worship.
  • Host a candle light vigil in your faith community in remembrance of youth in the justice system.
  • Host a discussion after a faith service in your community about juvenile justice issues. Such topics could be sentencing laws, sending children into the adult court system, willful defiance or the classification process in the prison system that sends youthful offenders to higher level prisons than adults for the same crime.
  • Support neighborhood groups that work to create cooperative relationships between neighbors, faith communities, and law enforcement to create a safe and secure community.
  • Support or volunteer with programs that promote victim ministry in your place of worship.
  • Support or volunteer with the ministry at your local detention center.
  • Provide spiritual, material, or emotional assistance to those reentering society, both youth and adult. Schools and places of worship are encouraged to invite formerly incarcerated youth to share their experiences and insights about the juvenile justice system.

The events through the month will initiate a dialogue between offenders, victims and the community regarding the causes of crime and will suggest structures needed to prevent youth from becoming engaged in the cycle of violence. Find out how you can participate here

For talking points for Juvenile Justice Faith Week, visit here

For more information or to schedule a speaker please contact Javier Stauring at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Momentum for Youth Justice in 2016

Thursday, 11 February 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country, Campaigns, Take Action Now

By Anne-Lise Vray, Juvenile Justice Fellow

The year 2016 has started off very well for youth justice issues, as actions and movements throughout the country have raised hopes of a positive evolution towards reforming and ending the adultification of youth. On the national level, the most important step at the beginning of this year was taken by President Obama, who used his executive authority to end the use of solitary confinement for youth in the federal prison system. Almost at the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that its Miller v. Alabama decision, which found that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment, was retroactive.

At the state level too, great movement is underway, from California where Governor Brown officially showed his support for a sentencing reform referendum that would include ending direct file, to Wisconsin where a report recommending raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction has just been released. Legislation in Wisconsin to do just that is pending. Earlier this month, another report, authorized by the Louisiana legislature, analyzed the benefits of raising the age in Louisiana and advocated strongly in favor of doing so. Louisiana’s legislative session starts in mid-March.

Additionally, a lot of legislative action is already happening across the country, with the potential of improving the lives of thousands of kids. This week should be crucial for the future of key bills dealing with juvenile justice issues, starting on Wednesday in Missouri with a Senate Committee hearing on SB 618 and SB 684, two bills that would keep more kids out of adult facilities.

In Florida, a second hearing on SB 314 was held today, February 11th. This bill would modify the direct file statutes to decrease the number of offenses in which a child can be direct filed in criminal court and create a reverse waiver mechanism. The bill was approved unanimously by the Committee today, after passing unanimously out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee late last year. Today also, the conservative James Madison Institute released a report analyzing the long-term costs of the bill, and recommending that it be supported.

Additionally today, another hearing took place in Maryland on SB 243, a bill which would repeal laws that allow the automatic transfer of kids into the adult system. Finally, Michigan’s House Committee on Criminal Justice is expected to vote on a raise the age reform any day now.

Show your support, take action and be part of this movement of change. Together, we can create a better future for our children and a safer, fairer society.

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere

Marcy Mistrett Sunday, 17 January 2016 Posted in 2016, Across the Country

image1 6

By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO

The anniversary of Rev Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday presents us with a call of action to get involved in local, state and federal campaigns to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system.

The injustices presented by youth being treated as adults in the criminal justice system are plentiful and continually positions the United States as an outlier in preserving the human rights of children. Several of the most egregious injustices include:
  • Treating children as though they are mini adults:  Research has proven that childrens’ brains handle decision-making, impulsivity, and causal relationships differently from adults.  Furthermore, they show great capacity to change. Not taking these differences into account is a gross injustice to our children.
  • Failing to provide children with appropriate protections at their arrest and during trial.  Children who are charged as adults are not afforded the protections of having their parents or guardians present during police interrogation.  Research has demonstrated that youth are much more likely to sign confessions, admit guilt, and feed law enforcement the answers that “they want” in order to go home. Despite having the greatest influence and support for their children, parents are often times left out of the equation which rehabilitation is considered.    
  • Treating children differently based on their race and ethnicity.  Children of color are much more likely to be prosecuted, sentenced and incarcerated as adults than their white counterparts.   These disparities are gross and unacceptable (African American youth are 9 times more likely to be sentenced to adult prison than white children for the same crimes; latino youth are 4 times more likely; and Tribal youth are nearly twice as likely).
  • Incarcerating children in adult facilities.  Children charged and sentenced as adults are housed in adult facilities.  They have very little access to developmentally appropriate education, mental health, substance abuse, or vocational services.  Rather, children are often held in solitary confinement to “protect” them from the adult population, isolating them 20-22 hours/day.
  • Punishing children the rest of their lives for poor decisions made in their childhood.  We know that a critical aspect of adolescence is learning to make good decisions; and having the opportunity to right the wrongs we make.  Children who are sentenced as adults carry their conviction the rest of their lives. 

For the past decade, the Campaign for Youth Justice has partnered with states, advocates, and impacted youth and families to challenge these practices.  We have seen the impact that unified voices can have in challenging injustices.  In fact, in the past ten years, 30 states have changed nearly 50 laws making it more difficult to prosecute, sentence and incarcerate children in the adult criminal justice system.

As we enter the 2016 legislative session, we encourage you to get involved in the local, state or federal campaigns that challenge this practice.  Legislation has already been introduced in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and South Carolina.  We expect several other states to introduce legislation in upcoming weeks to decrease the number of youth entering the adult criminal justice system.  We can only change these laws if communities are willing to stand for justice, and we need your help.

There are many ways to take a stand against injustice:

  • Sign on to your local campaign’s listserve to stay abreast of progress;
  • Call or tweet policymakers to show your support for reform;
  • Leverage your networks to learn more about this issue—host a discussion in your home, or community center, or house of faith to share with others the injustices being harbored against our youth;
  • Raise your voice in support—offer to write op eds or letters to the editor to call on policymakers to do what is right for children.

Justice is a fight well worth fighting for.  In the great words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  We hope to gain your support during this legislative session. For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

<<  1 2 [34 5 6 7  >>