twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Articles tagged with: CFYJ

New BJS Report: A Closer Look at Youth in Connecticut

Gianna Nitti Monday, 05 March 2018 Posted in 2018, Research & Policy

By Gianna Nitti, Public Interest Communications and State Campaigns Fellow

Recently, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual bulletin of Prisoners for 2016. Trends shown in the report provide hope for the youth population and advocates, with results showing a 58% decline for the number of imprisoned youth between 2009 and 2016 – from 2,279 to 956. Policy changes at the state and federal levels have led to a decline in crime and arrest rates, which positions states to be able to progress with reducing their youth incarceration rates in adult facilities.

Don’t Arm Teachers; Arm Communities with Prevention Supports

Rachel Marshall Monday, 05 March 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachell Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel

One week after a gunman took the lives of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, students across the country stood in solidarity with students from MSD and walked out of their classes to demand action on gun control.

Reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 Posted in 2016, CFYJ Updates, Voices

By Jessica Sandoval and Roger Ghatt

As the Campaign for Youth Justice commemorates 10 years of advocating on behalf of youth, we are also reflective of our tenure at the Campaign.  Ten years ago we started from scratch, with not even an office to call home, but one thing has remained the same: we continue to be guided by urgency.  There are still too many youth transferred to and prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system.  We aspire to continue changing that.  We have made significant progress and are very proud of our contributions to the work; this year we have celebrated our 10 years of impact. It has been wonderful to be able to celebrate of all the reforms we have been a part of over the past 10 years. Now is a good time to acknowledge all of our accomplishments and to consider new strategies for continuing to build a movement that advances nationwide reforms in removing youth from the adult criminal justice system.

Ten Years After the C4YJ Launches, We Are Not Done

Jason Ziedenberg, Research and Policy Director, The Justice Policy Institute Thursday, 03 November 2016 Posted in 2016, Take Action Now

Impact Webslider

By Jason Ziedenberg, Research and Policy Director, The Justice Policy Institute: a think tank that served as the Campaign for Youth Justice’s fiscal sponsor when the project was launched in 2006.  

Last year, I got one of those calls that all of us fear. A friend whose stepson faced transfer to the adult court called me, looking for advice on anything I might know about how a young person might be treated when they were on adult probation. The young person eventually accepted a plea that resulted their being convicted on an adult felony, and avoided being in jail, and placed on probation because of the zealous advocacy of their parents.

For me, that call underlined that as the Campaign for Youth Justice celebrates its ten year anniversary, our collective work to end the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system is by no means finished.

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 2016, 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.


October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 29 September 2016 Posted in 2016, Take Action Now

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is almost here, and this month we are turning Awareness into Action!

YJAM’s goal is to bring attention to a movement that prevents youth from entering the adult criminal justice system. Nearly 200,000 youths a year are tried, convicted, and incarcerated as adults in our country annually. YJAM works to unite people to take a stand together and become the voices for the silenced, incarcerated youths of their communities. For the past 8 years, people nationwide have hosted YJAM events and fundraisers. This October, you can also bring the movement to your community!

Visit our website, www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/yjam to learn more about YJAM and access an event planning guide. Our guide will help you plan anything from a dinner party to a concert and festival. You can also donate and encourage friends to sign up for our weekly YJAM newsletter to receive news on upcoming YJAM walk/5ks, film screenings, and other YJAM events near you (Sign up).

Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@justiceforyouth), Facebook (Campaign for Youth Justice) and Instagram (@justiceforyouth), to stay up to date on the latest juvenile justice news and happenings.

Also please,follow the hashtag #YJAM to see what others are doing for the month and share your own YJAM event and pictures! We hope you are inspired to take action, and together, we can stop the prosecution of juveniles as adults.

Thank you for your continued support. Let’s get ready to YJAM!

The Detriments of Direct File

Brittany Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow Wednesday, 10 February 2016 Posted in 2016, Research & Policy

Brittany Harwell, CFYJ Policy Fellow

Direct File occurs when a state has given the prosecutor power to file charges against a juvenile directly in adult criminal court. When a prosecutor exercises their discretion by choosing to file directly to adult criminal court they effectively override any juvenile or family court jurisdiction over a case. Direct file allows the prosecutor to hold all of the power in determining where to bring charges and what type of sentence a youth may receive if convicted.

Allowing the prosecutor to direct file is problematic because many prosecutors want to go for the most severe punishment and do not fully take into account important considerations for unique to each youth in the same way that a judge who could allow a transfer would consider.This lack of individual consideration is exacerbated by, “…wide variation among the States regarding criteria for direct file treatment, with some emphasizing offense categories, others the age of the juvenile involved, and still others the extent and seriousness of the juvenile’s offending history.” 

A majority of states do not allow their prosecutors direct file capabilities. This does not mean that a youth cannot be transferred to an adult court but rather that a judge considers several factors before allowing a transfer requested by the prosecutor. Youth can also be tried in adult criminal court through mandatory transfer. Mandatory transfer is not the same as direct file, mandatory transfer occurs when certain crimes have been deemed by statute to require a juvenile to be tried in adult court.

Some states that previously had a direct file systems chose to discontinue the practice because, “not only does direct file omit a disinterested arbiter for the child’s best interests, it plunges youngsters — and increasingly those charged with nonviolent crimes — into the much more punitive adult system.
Additionally, it has been found that direct file has had little effect on violent juvenile crime. If these direct file capabilities of the prosecutor fail to affect juvenile crime then why are they needed in the first place?

Currently, 16 states still allow direct file while the rest of the country has moved away from the practice. The states that continue to allow prosecutors to direct file youth into adult court are: CA, MI, DC, FL, LA, GA, PA, MT, NE, OK, VT, WY, VA, AZ, AK, CO. Of the state that currently allow direct transfer both California and Florida lawmakers are considering a move towards a more equitable juvenile justice system by ending direct file. California has made progress towards creating a more just juvenile justice system over the last few years, but moving away from direct file ability will ensure that judges, not prosecutors are making transfer decisions for youth after a consideration of several different factors. In 2014, 393 juveniles were transferred to adult court in California and 1607 juveniles were transferred to adult court in Florida. These numbers include both judicial waiver and prosecutorial direct file but. A recent study from Human Rights Watch found at 98 percent of the juveniles who end up in adult court are there do to “direct file” of a prosecutor.This means that over 1500 children in one year alone would benefit from direct file reform in Florida.

Giving Thanks

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 26 November 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates


As I reflect on the upcoming holidays, I am struck by how much gratitude is shared among juvenile justice reformers.

  • For the young people who courageously and repeatedly share their very personal stories in public—on paper, in the news, through blogs, in tweets, on panels and through imagery and artwork.  Your truth—often raw and trauma filled-- and yet, always hopeful about the possibility that tomorrow might be different.  Grateful that you have courage that most adults would never have nor be expected to share; you are changing the dialogue.
  • For the legislators who say “we are better than this”—and who make bold policy step--whether that is raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 21; calling for the end of solitary confinement for our young people; or committing to end the racial disparities that are so pervasive in our ‘just-us’ systems. Thank you; doing what’s right is often more important than what is possible.
  • To the family members who show up. Again and again. To labor through another legislative session; another promise for bipartisan reform; another year of trying to make children a legislative priority. While their own children sit, behind bars, far away from family support, hugs, and holidays. Grateful that you keep fighting when we know how tired you must be.
  • To the system administrators, and judges, and law enforcement who stand against the tide and remind us that these are OUR children.  For not taking away family visits as punishment; for pushing to close facilities knowing children need to be raised in families and communities; for citing “love” as a policy goal; for a willingness to turn over power; for acknowledging that harm is being done, we give you thanks. 
  • To the philanthropists who take risks, fund innovation, push for documentation and research. Who fund the unpopular and risky; that invest in tomorrow with dollars today. Who use their platforms to call for the closure of youth prisons; or transformative justice; or ending the practice of criminalizing children. We are grateful that you fill gaps; shout loudly; study, educate, and learn.
  • To the advocates—who never rest, who are often unsung heroes, behind the scenes tinkering. Who fight boldly and strategically to make the world better for our children and communities. Who think outside the box, who build from the community up and educate from policymakers down.  Who turn one dollar into fifty; and who achieve the “unbelievable.”  We are grateful for your impatience, unwillingness to compromise for children, for tolling the moral line, and reminding us all that these children are OUR future.

Honored to work among you—in this short year alone, on the one issue of removing youth from the adult criminal justice system you have introduced more than 20 bills, changed 7 state laws, educated hundreds of policymakers, moved the national dialogue, championed 13 bipartisan supporters on a federal bill, changed thousands of youth lives, made a difference. #Gratitude.

Marcy Mistrett
Campaign for Youth Justice


Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems

Council of State Governments Justice Center Tuesday, 24 November 2015 Posted in 2015, Research & Policy

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has just released Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Young Adults in the Juvenile and Adult Criminal Justice Systems, an issue brief designed to help state and local officials better support young adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Research has shown that young adults ages 18 to 24 stand out as a distinct developmental group with heightened impulsive behavior, risk taking, and poor decision making; and many young adults are disconnected from school and work. These factors increase the odds that a young adult might come into contact with the justice system. Of course, the majority of young adults are not involved in any criminal activity, and those young adults who have committed a crime most often have committed a minor offense. Still, young adults drive a disproportionately large share of criminal justice activity and therefore should be an important focus of juvenile and adult justice systems alike. 

This issue brief describes young adults’ distinct needs and summaries the limited research available on what works to address these needs. In addition, recommendations are provided for steps that policymakers, juvenile and adult criminal justice agency leaders, researchers, and the field can take to improve outcomes for these young people. For more information about the brief or the CSG Justice Center’s work on young adults, please contact Emily Morgan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA's Youthful Inmate Standard

Thursday, 19 November 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

NEW REPORT: Overwhelming Majority of States Allow Youth to be Housed in Adult Prisons


CFYJ released a new report today, Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard. This report explores how states house youth under 18 in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement. Furthermore, this report highlights national trends in juvenile arrests, crimes, and incarceration of children in the adult system.

The United States’ extraordinary use of adult correctional facilities to house youth presents numerous concerns, including serious, long-term costs to the youth offender and to society at large. Science and research conducted over the last 20 years confirm what common sense tells us: kids are different. Adolescent development and adolescent brain research have prompted leaders across the country to start looking at our juvenile justice system through a developmentally appropriate lens.1 Such a perspective equally applies to the treatment of youth who would be eligible for adult prison sentences. In light of the decline of youth arrests and youth crime, coupled with the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) the housing status of the 1200 youth under 18 years of age in the adult prison must be investigated. Each state has its own unique prison system, so in order to determine the housing status of youth we gathered information on each state’s statutes, policies, and practices for housing the shrinking — and at times — invisible, population of youth in adult prisons across the country.

Despite the strong language provided in the Prison Rape Elimination Act, state laws vary widely as to the regulations and parameters for housing youth in adult prisons. In fact, some states have no regulations or parameters governing the treatment of youth sentenced as adults at all. While some states have fully removed youth from their prison systems — Hawaii, West Virginia, Maine, California, and Washington — the overwhelming majority of states allow youth to be housed in adult prisons. In fact 37 states housed youth under 18 years of age in their state prisons in 2012. The PREA requirements have become the emerging standard of care for the housing of youth in adult facilities, yet the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities, often times with no special housing protections. Once youth are sentenced in adult court to an adult prison term, few jurisdictions have enacted safeguards to protect their physical, mental and emotional health. Additionally, programs and behavioral responses in adult facilities rarely are adjusted to meet the needs of adolescent populations.

Link To Full Report
Link To Executive Summary

Also please help us spewad the word on social media:


-        CFYJ’s latest report explores how states house youth in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ launches a new report: “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard” http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Despite PREA regulations, the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities, highlights CFYJ’s new report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        According to CFYJ’s latest report, the number of youth incarcerated in the adult prison system has decreased 70% since 2000 http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s new report finds that youth of color are placed in adult facilities at much higher rates than their white peers http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Youth housed in adult prisons face higher risks for sexual abuse, physical force or threat of force, says CFYJ’s latest report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s new report once again exposes the consequences of sending youth to adult prison: recidivism, abuse and suicide http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Florida is the state with the highest population of juveniles in prison, according to CFYJ’s latest report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        Youth in adult prisons recidivate 34% more often than youth in the juvenile system, reminds CFYJ’s new report http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s latest report once again shows that youth in the adult system commit suicide at greater rates http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF


-        CFYJ just released a brand new report, “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard”, which explores how states house youth under 18 in prisons in the new age of PREA compliance and enforcement. The report highlights that despite the official implementation of PREA, the majority of states still permit the housing of youth in adult facilities and/or refuse to comply. Youth housed in adult prison face greater risk of physical abuse and suicide than youth in juvenile facilities. http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

-        CFYJ’s latest report, “Zero Tolerance: How States Comply with PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard”, once again shows the disastrous consequences of incarcerating youth in adult facilities. Youth in adult prisons recidivate 34% more often than youth in the juvenile system. Youth of color are the first targets of this system and are much more likely to be placed in adult facilities than their white peers. http://bit.ly/1MX7BHF

[12 3 4 5  >>