WASHINGTON (SEPTEMBER 30, 2016) – During the month of October, thousands of people are participating in National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) activities throughout the country. National Youth Justice Awareness Month was created nine years ago by a Missouri parent, Tracy McClard, whose 16-year-old son was tried and prosecuted as an adult, and ultimately took his own life while incarcerated in an adult prison (Read her testimonial here).
This year YJAM is turning awareness into action. This year’s theme is ‘Youth Justice ACTION Month’.
“We lead this national movement to draw awareness to the issues that youth and their families face while in the adult justice system, because it is often overlooked,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “We are very happy that President Obama has helped shine a national light on this issue. Every year, an estimated 200,000 youth are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults. Prosecuting youth in the adult criminal justice system goes against what research and brain science has proven: that youth are different from adults. Yet, youth sentenced as adults receive an adult criminal record, are denied employment and housing opportunities, and can be barred from receiving student financial aid.”
Last year, President Barack Obama officially declared October, "National Youth Justice Awareness Month", raising the profile and priority of this awareness month. The President pointed to the fact that two states still prosecute all 16-year-olds as adults regardless of their crime, and said, "Involvement in the justice system -- even as a minor, and even if it does not result in a finding of guilt, delinquency, or conviction -- can significantly impede a person's ability to pursue a higher education, obtain a loan, find employment, or secure quality housing." Since the President’s proclamation, two states, Louisiana and South Carolina, raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.
Nearly 40 events across the country will range from service days, 5K walks/runs, film screenings, art shows, poetry slams and conferences. Local non-profits, volunteers and family members directly affected by the social injustice of having the youth in their lives charged, prosecuted and sentenced in the adult criminal justice system have organized the events.
The Campaign for Youth Justice sponsors and provides technical assistance, including financial support and informational materials, to the YJAM events.
About the Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national organization dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
For more information about Y-JAM http://www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/yjam/
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