logobyline

twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Campaigns

The Power of Love

Monday, 13 February 2017 Posted in Campaigns

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, and as the Executive Director of a national organization that ends the prosecution of youth in adult court, I am urging us all to embrace ‘the Power of Love’.

Since its inception, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), has insisted that impacted youth and families need to be equal partners at the reform table.  Why, You might ask?  First, because we know that those closest to the problem are best informed on ways to FIX the problem.  But beyond that, youth and family advocacy is critical because when drafting reforms, families always remind us of the potential of their child(ren) to learn from their mistakes and make amends, especially if they feel supported and loved.  It is this humanity that insists on urgency, resists compromise, and pushes for hope and possibility. Without families and youth at the table—reforms would not go nearly far enough.

New Year, More Possibilities

Brian Evans Monday, 23 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director

Last year was a pretty good one, at least for reforms and restrictions on the practice of transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system. Two states (Louisiana and South Carolina) Raised the Age of adult criminal court jurisdiction to 18, and two other states (California and Vermont) took away the power of prosecutors to “Direct File” children into the adult system. In addition, Washington DC and Arizona passed laws to keep kids out of adult jails, and Indiana enacted a law that will allow some youth charged as adults to return to the juvenile justice system.

State v. Aalim: Ending Mandatory Transfer of Youth to the Adult Court in Ohio

Monday, 09 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns, Voices

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

Right before the holidays, on December 22, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided State v. Aalim and wrote an opinion that is a gift of true due process for Ohio’s youth at risk of mandatory transfer to the adult criminal justice system. 

In State v. Aalim, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the state’s mandatory transfer statute which requires the transfer of youth to the adult system when they are a certain age and have committed a certain offense “violates juveniles’ right to due process as guaranteed by Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution.”  Aalim argued and the Court agreed that due process requires that every youth receive an opportunity to demonstrate capacity to change, that youth is a mitigating, not aggravating factor, that the mandatory statute’s irrefutable presumption to transfer is fundamentally unfair, and that youth have a right to have their individual characteristics considered at every stage in a proceeding, not just sentencing.  As a result, the mandatory transfer statute does not provide due process, and is therefore unconstitutional. 

Looking Back

Brian Evans Thursday, 05 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns

A Look Back At 2016

2016 was in many ways – let’s face it – a wretched year. But for the work to protect youth from the horrors of the adult criminal justice system, 2016 was actually a pretty good year.

The states of South Carolina and Louisiana passed laws to raise the age of adult court jurisdiction to 18. The states of Vermont and California both ended the practice of allowing prosecutors, without judicial review, to “direct file” juveniles into adult court.

A new law in Indiana will allow some youth charged as adults to transfer back into the juvenile system, and a new law in Arizona will keep some kids charged as adults out of adult jails while they await their trials.  And Washington, D.C., included removing youth from adult jails in its Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016.

California Voters End “Direct File”

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director Wednesday, 09 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, State Campaign Director

Yesterday, outside the glare of the extremely contentious national election, California voters chose to end prosecutorial “direct file” by endorsing Prop 57. This result shows that the power of people to come together and do what is right for kids and communities is as strong as ever.

Prop 57 ends the “direct file” of juveniles, which is likely to keep many young people out of the adult system altogether. It also featured much discussed provisions for rehabilitation and early release of adults convicted of non-violent crimes. The vote was not close, with about 64% choosing to support the proposition.

Thank You for #YJAM 2016!

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

YJAM Thank You 11


As another Youth Justice Awareness Action Month draws to a close, there are at least two very important things left to do:


First: VOTE!
Organizing events, webinars, and online chats is vital for raising awareness and building support for positive changes to the way we approach youth justice, but on November 8, we can put that awareness into action. Folks in California can vote #YesOnProp57, and end the power of prosecutors to direct file kids into the adult court. In other states, voters can choose who prosecutes and/or judges our youth in courts of law, as well as legislators to pass and Governors to sign laws that reform flawed youth justice practices.


Second: Tell your Senator to vote to update the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
The JJDPA has been providing support for our country’s youth for over 40 years, and the new version (which has already passed in the U.S. House), will do even more to set standards and protections for youth in state juvenile justice programs. Tuesday, Nov 15. Call Sen McConnell 202-224-2541 and Sen Reid 202-224-3542 and ask them to pass JJDPA this Congress!


Let’s close #YJAM 2016 with a bang, by taking action in these two very important ways!

Guest Column: Empowering the Unheard

Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth Monday, 31 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

I spend my days working to reform our justice system and volunteering in prisons and juvenile detention centers because my experience is similar to that of many youth who enter of justice system.

When I was 18, I was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years after I was convicted of felony murder. Despite the horror of that situation, my story neither begins nor ends with it.

 

Guest Column: Redeemed Juveniles Like Me Are Not the Exceptions

Xavier McElrath Bay, Youth Justice Advocate, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth Thursday, 20 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Xavier McElrath Bay, Youth Justice Advocate, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth

Today is special for me for several reasons.

For starters, I will have the honor of spending much of the day in a symposium at San Quentin State Prison in California. I especially look forward to sharing time with the members of KID C.A.T. (Creating Awareness Together), a group of individuals who were sentenced to life without parole when they were children. After years of incarceration, they created their own support group with a mission to organize acts of community service and goodwill.

During my first two visits to San Quentin earlier this year, I learned about the group’s past activities, which have included conducting food and hygiene product drives for the homeless, fundraising to sponsor youth involvement in community programs, raising awareness and money for cancer research, and folding hundreds of origami hearts for kids at Oakland’s Children’s Hospital. All these activities took place behind the walls of San Quentin and were facilitated by people once considered to be heartless, remorseless monsters as a result of the now-disproven “superpredator theory.”

 

Guest Column: Youth Justice Awareness Month: Transforming Awareness into Action

Jody Kent Lavy, Executive Director, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth Thursday, 20 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Jody Kent Lavy, Executive Director of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month — as proclaimed by President Obama — and we are celebrating and honoring all of the hard work of community leaders, advocates, coalition builders, legislative champions, judicial officials, defenders, and directly impacted individuals who seek to ensure that our country holds children accountable in age-appropriate ways that account for their experiences with trauma and their capacity to grow and change.

Our partners at the Campaign for Youth Justice started Youth Justice Awareness Month in 2008 to draw attention to the need to end the prosecution of youth in the adult criminal justice system. As awareness has grown, so have opportunities to create change, so the founders have decided to focus this year and in the future on transforming awareness into action. We are thrilled to join them in their efforts.

#Implement PREA Week of Action: A Conclusion

Friday, 22 April 2016 Posted in Campaigns, Voices

By Maheen Kaleem, Equal Justice Works Fellow/Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls

In 2001, the United States officially recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This recognition was the result of decades of activism on the part of advocates who worked tirelessly to end the silence that shrouds sexual violence. They have made incredible strides by educating the public about the inherently shaming nature of sexual violence, the importance of consent, and the knowledge that sexual violence plagues every community in our country. Throughout the U.S., 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives, and 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college.

While much of our advocacy has focused on adult women, we know that girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence: one in four American girls will experience sexual violence by the age of 18, and nearly half of all female rape survivors report being first victimized before the age of 18. And yet our discussions, even among advocates, often leave out our most vulnerable and marginalized girls- girls who are subjected to the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline.

In 2015, Rights4Girls, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation published a report entitled, The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story.  This report outlines how experiencing childhood sexual violence as a girl can actually create pathways into the juvenile justice system. Girls in the juvenile justice system report experiencing childhood sexual abuse at alarmingly high rates—rates as high as 80%. 

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of delinquency in girls. Put simply, girls in the juvenile justice system often find themselves there as a result of being sexually victimized as children. Among the most common offenses for which girls are arrested are running away, substance abuse, and prostitution. But oftentimes, girls are running away from abusive home environments or foster care placements. When they abuse substances, it is a coping strategy. And in many states, when girls fall victim to human traffickers who profit off of their sexual abuse, the girls themselves are arrested for prostitution.    

Research demonstrates that girls are sometimes arrested “for their own protection.” But detaining girls leaves them vulnerable to more sexual victimization. Once inside juvenile facilities, girls are disproportionately vulnerable to experiencing sexual violence: girls are ten to fifteen percent of the population in state and local facilities, and twenty-six percent of the victims of sexual victimization in juvenile facilities.

Both the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) include important protections to ensure that children do not become unnecessarily involved in the delinquency system, and that once involved, they are protected from additional sexual violence. In order to protect girls, we must ensure that that the JJDPA is reauthorized, and that PREA is effectively implemented.

But legislation can only be one piece of our efforts. If we are to realize a world where all girls are safe from sexual violence, then we must always remember our most vulnerable, our marginalized girls who all too often fall through the cracks.

[12 3  >>