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Articles tagged with: DC Lawyers for Youth

Encouraging Young Leaders to Fight for Juvenile Justice Reform

Friday, 24 July 2015 Posted in 2015, CFYJ Updates

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By Samantha Goodman, CFYJ Fellow
As part of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice's 2015 Youth Summit, CFYJ Policy Director Carmen Daugherty, along with DC Lawyers for Youth Executive Director Daniel Okonkwo and Free Minds Senior Poet Ambassador Gary Durant, presented on Keeping Young People Out of Adult Courts, Prisons, and Jails. The presentation was part of an annual two-day summit for emerging leaders in the field of juvenile justice hosted by CJJ and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Following Hill visits, where the attendees (aged 16-25) met with members of Congress and/or their staff to discuss and share stories on the need for youth justice reform, Daugherty challenged participants to consider how reform movements get started. Together, Daugherty, Okonkwo, and Durant helped the young leaders understand the difficulties and best ways to build a campaign or movement. Participants reflected on engaging unlikely allies, unifying one goal, and mustering commitment to the cause.
Keeping in line with the theme of the summit, Daugherty explained the problems with trying and incarcerating youth as adults. She presented state-by-state efforts and statistics, inviting the attendees to get involved in programs in their communities.
"There are no best practices for how to house kids in adult facilities because kids don't belong there," Daugherty said to the young leaders.
Okonkow outlined the DC Judge Our Youth Campaign and Durant shared his personal experience as a juvenile in the system as well as a poem he wrote when first involved with Free Minds.
For more information on how you can get involved in our efforts for juvenile justice reform, call the Campaign for Youth Justice at (202) 558- 3580. 

Washington Lawyers’ Committee Report: D.C. Youth Facing Deplorable Conditions in Adult Jail

Tuesday, 07 July 2015 Posted in 2015, Take Action Now

By: Nicholas Bookout, CFYJ Fellow 
On June 11th, 2015, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs released a report entitled, “D.C. Prisoners: Conditions of Confinement in the District of Columbia.” This report discusses the dreadful conditions faced by those housed in D.C. jail facilities, including vermin and pest infestations, heightened suicide rates, a crumbling physical infrastructure replete with leakages and mold, and an understaffed and undertrained correctional staff. 
While the reported conditions are dehumanizing and unacceptable for any individual, imagine being a child in such a facility. Unfortunately, at the time of this report, this was the reality being lived by 25 of D.C.’s youth under the age of 18. D.C. law permits youth under 18 to be housed in the D.C. jail, both for pretrial and post-conviction detention. To learn more about D.C. youth in the adult system, check out this 2014 report by DC Lawyers for Youth and the Campaign for Youth Justice.  
In addition to simply living in this deplorable environment, these youth face additional problems associated with being children in an adult facility. For example, in an effort to keep youth separated from adults in the D.C. jail, there is the excessive use of solitary confinement, in some instances a full two months of 23 hours a day in solitary confinement with only one hour of recreation. 
At a point in their lives when family involvement is critical, youth are limited to video visitation, unable to spend time with family members in person. Life for a juvenile in a D.C. adult facility is not limited to physical and emotional depravity, however. Per this report, education programming is vastly limited, and youth are therefore denied the mental stimulation their developing brains desperately need. Additionally, research shows us that youth who are transferred from the juvenile court system to the adult criminal system are approximately 34% more likely than youth retained in the juvenile court system to be re-arrested for violent or other crime.
The Washington Lawyers’ Committee makes strong recommendations to improve conditions of confinement for D.C. inmates, including:
  • Closing the Central Detention Facility and the Correctional Treatment Facility and construct a new, safer, more effective facility
  • Expanding the Secure Residential Treatment Program
  • Correcting deficiencies in suicide prevention and youth confinement
  • Conducting a review of training of correctional officers tasked with specialized functions related to mental health or the juvenile unit
  • Revising current policies restricting “Good Time Credits”--a program which reduces sentences for successfully completing academic, vocational, and rehabilitation programs
  • Returning management of the Correctional Treatment Facility to District control
The recommendations are the product of a study that brought together legal, civil rights and criminal justice experts, as well as senior federal and District of Columbia judges.  With the assistance of the DC JOY campaign, DC Council should embrace these recommendations and take action to remove youth from the D.C. Jail.   

CFYJ is Bringing Reform to the District of Columbia!

Thursday, 05 June 2014 Posted in 2014, Across the Country, Campaigns

In May 2014, Campaign for Youth Justice, working in partnership with DC Lawyers for Youth (DCLY), published a report titled, Capital City Correction: Reforming DC's Use of Adult Incarceration Against Youth.  The report explains how youth enter the adult system in DC, summarizes data on the number of youth tried as adults each year, and provides policy recommendations that would restore balance to the District's process for trying youth as adults.

NEW REPORT - Capital City Correction: Reforming DC’s Use of Adult Incarceration Against Youth

Monday, 19 May 2014 Posted in 2014, Research & Policy

In 2012, youth in the District of Columbia spent more than 10,000 days - the equivalent of 27 years - in adult jail under a statute that enables federal prosecutors to send DC youth accused of certain crimes to adult court without judicial review, according to a new report released today by DC Lawyers for Youth and the Campaign for Youth Justice. The report cites the inadequate facilities, high risk of victimization, use of solitary confinement, long-term consequences of adult felony convictions, and failure to deter future crime as reasons to reform DC's approach to the prosecution of youth as adults by promoting the rehabilitation of young offenders and improving public safety.

The 'Sweet Taste of Justice' was a Huge Success!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 Posted in 2013, Campaigns

The "Sweet Taste of Justice" event, hosted last week by the Campaign for Youth Justice, was a great success!  It was a night of celebration of the successes of the campaign and its allies' successes in working towards its mission of ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth in the adult criminal justice system, as well as a surprise award presentation to CFYJ President & Founder, Liz Ryan.