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2018 Press Releases

CFYJ Issues New Policy Brief on Youth Transfer and the Importance of Individualized Factor Review

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

CONTACT:
Aprill O. Turner
Communications and Media Relations Director
Campaign for Youth Justice
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(202) 558-3580

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2018) – This week the Campaign for Youth Justice issued a new policy brief, "Youth Transfer: The Importance of Individualized Factor Review". The brief examines the harm and collateral consequences that take place when young offenders have their cases transferred to the adult court, as well as the fact that youth have unique needs that require a specialized justice system equipped to handle those needs.

The brief examines individual and systematic factors considered as critical when judges and prosecutors are determining whether to prosecute a youth as an adult. Some of those factors include: age, maturity, mental health status, presence of an intellectual/emotional/physical disability, substance abuse history, exposure to trauma, family and/or community supports available, access to rehabilitative programming, and exhaustion of rehabilitative juvenile programs.

The brief also notes public safety concerns as to why youth should not be transferred to adult court. Ninety-five percent of incarcerated youth will return to their communities before their 25th birthday; therefore, the experience and rehabilitative services they receive in their youth and young adulthood are critical to public safety.

"Prosecutors and judges have incredible power and discretion to shape the course of a young person’s life and promote the safety of their community," said Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director and author of the brief. "It is critical that they utilize this power and discretion in conjunction with evidence-based practices and individualized consideration of rehabilitation."

CFYJ also includes policy recommendations for prosecutors and judges to prioritize and weigh equally individual factors related to what each youth needs in order to grow into a productive and contributing member of their community.

CFYJ also recommends increased transparency, and that prosecutors should document the individual and systematic factors in every case. When possible, they should recruit research assistance in providing an independent evaluation and data analysis related to outcomes for youth transferred under the criteria.  

For more the full policy brief please visit: http://cfyj.org/research/cfyj-reports

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The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Congratulations to Missouri on Raising The Age

Posted in 2018 Press Releases , Press Releases

New Legislation Will Improve Public Safety, Save Taxpayer Dollars, and Result in Better Outcomes for Vulnerable Young People

WASHINGTON (May 11, 2018) - The Missouri General Assembly has voted to increase the age for automatically trying youth as adults from 17 to 18, and the legislation will now be headed to Governor Greitens for his signature, paving the way for criminal cases against youth who are under the age of 18 to begin in the juvenile court system.

Currently in Missouri, children are automatically charged, jailed, and imprisoned as adults the day they turn 17, even for the most minor offenses. Missouri is one of just five states that try 17-year-olds in adult courts. Before a young person can vote, serve on juries, join the military, or buy a lottery ticket — he or she can be arrested, tried and imprisoned as an adult in the state.

A similar proposal was approved by the House last year, but never made it through the Senate.

Missouri’s juvenile justice system has long been recognized nationally as a model program, and effectively provides alternatives to incarceration that maximize positive outcomes for youth. Under current law, 17 year olds who commit a crime enter the adult justice system even if their offenses are non-violent or misdemeanors, as is the case for the large majority of 17 year olds. These youth would be better served in Missouri’s well-respected juvenile system in the short and long term.

“This legislation has been in the works for a long time, we are so happy to finally see Missouri Raise The Age!" said Marcy Mistrett, CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice."The measure will keep more young people out of the dangerous adult criminal justice system. It will also lead to better outcomes for public safety, as children who retain access to the educational and rehabilitative programs of the juvenile justice system are known to have significantly lower rates of recidivism than those who are tried and punished as adults."

The Campaign for Youth Justice thanks the Missouri Raise The Age Coalition who organized the efforts to ensure Missouri's youth will have the chance for a bright future. CFYJ would like to especially thank,Tracy McClard the founder of Families and Friends Organized to Reform Juvenile Justice (FORJ-MO).Tracy has lead the fight pushing tirelessly for passage of this legislation in remembrance of her son, Jonathan McClard, who committed suicide in an adult facility at the age of 17, fearing he would be sentenced to a long prison term with adults.

"I'm greatly relieved that this population of Missouri’s youth are finally going to be protected from the adult criminal justice system whose leadership galvanized advocates efforts to Raise the Age. “It' been a long road.  Thank you Senator Wallingford for fighting alongside me for almost a decade.”

Once it is fully implemented, raising the age will improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars, treat families fairly, and get better outcomes for vulnerable young people.

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About the Campaign for Youth Justice:

The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Congress Unanimously Passes Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Federal Juvenile Justice Law

In final days of the 115th Congress, lawmakers reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act, updating key provisions that strengthen protections for justice- involved youth and improve public safety.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 13, 2018

Contact:
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill Turner
Phone: (202) 821-1604 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Coalition for Juvenile Justice
Naomi Smoot
Phone: (202) 467-0864 ext.113 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, 16 years after the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA) was last reauthorized, the House and Senate have passed H.R. 6964, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, which strengthens and updates the federal law that has been protecting justice-involved youth for nearly 45 years.  

“We are grateful for the commitment to children and tireless persistence of the JJDPA’s lead cosponsors, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN), and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), for getting this critical law reauthorized. We also want to recognize the leadership of Dr. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, for getting this bill across the finish line. When the Act is signed into law, it will ensure critical and long-awaited improvements to help states protect children and youth in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, while effectively addressing high-risk and delinquent behavior and improving community safety,” said Naomi Smoot, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and co-chair for the Act4JJ Coalition, which advocates for the reauthorization of this law.

The JJDPA was first signed into law by President Gerald Ford on September 7, 1974 and was last reauthorized in 2002. The law remains the only federal statute that sets out national standards for the custody and care of youth in the juvenile justice system and provides direction and support for state juvenile justice system improvements. Under the newly passed legislation, the core protections will be strengthened, and critical, research-based improvements will be made that reaffirm a national commitment to the rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile justice system.  

“Today we celebrate a hard-fought victory for children,” said Marcy Mistrett, Co-chair of the Act4JJ Coalition and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “The JJDPA has played a critical role in reducing youth incarceration, which is at its lowest rate in four decades. With the improvements made by the legislation, states can continue to invest in strategies that support children in their homes and communities.”

The final bill passed by Congress strengthens national standards by reducing the placement of youth in adult jails pre-trial and providing more structure to the law’s requirement to decrease racial and ethnic disparities, a critical provision ensuring that children, regardless of their race or ethnicity will be treated fairly and equitably by our legal system. The bill also promotes the use of alternatives to incarceration; supports the implementation of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices; calls for the elimination of dangerous practices in confinement, including eliminating the use of restraints on pregnant girls; improves conditions and educational services for incarcerated youth; focuses on the particular needs of special youth populations, such as trafficked youth and Tribal youth; increases local control in delinquency prevention programming; and increases accountability. The legislation also includes a two-year reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The Act4JJ Coalition and our allies remain committed to seeing a longer term reauthorization of RHYA in the 116th Congress, including much-needed programmatic updates. Nearly 62 percent of youth experiencing homelessness have been arrested and 44 percent have been detained.

This critical legislation was not passed through the work of one member alone, but by the continued partnership and collaboration of members from across party lines. The Act4JJ Coalition would also like to thank the 33 cosponsors for helping to secure this win for young people. The full list of cosponsors is included below this release.

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org

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About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare, and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.


JJDPA Cosponsors: Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. David Roe (R-TN), Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).

FY 2018 Omnibus Bill Signed into Law

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

CONTACT:
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill O. Turner
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(202) 821-1604 

Coalition for Juvenile Justice
Naomi Smoot
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(202) 467-0864 ext. 113

The legislation provides a slight increase for funding of juvenile justice programs.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 1625, the $1.3 trillion FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill. The bill includes small increases in spending for the key provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The omnibus provides $60 million for Title II of the Act, up from $55 million in FY 2017. Title II supports innovative state efforts to adhere to standards that reduce the risk of harm to court-involved youth, ensure fair treatment of minority youth, improve the way systems address delinquent behavior, and ensure citizen involvement and expertise through the State Advisory Groups. The omnibus also provides $27.5 million for Title V of the Act, which is one of the only federal programs specifically designed to prevent delinquency at the local level. Title V funding is up from $17.5 million the previous year; however, that increase is partially due to new line items in the bill, including $8 million to fund an opioid-affected youth initiative.

Federal investments play an essential role in state juvenile justice efforts to protect youth and promote safe communities.  For more than 40 years, the JJDPA has provided critical federal funding to states to comply with a set of core requirements designed to protect children from the dangers of adult jails and lockups; keep status offenders out of locked custody; and address racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Overall federal support of key juvenile justice programs has declined by more than 50 percent since FY 2002.  To that end, we were so pleased to see an increase funding for the JJDPA over FY17 levels. 

"We are glad to see an increased investment from the federal government in these critical programs that help keep our kids and communities safe. States rely on this money to ensure that children receive the services they need to lead safe and productive lives. Without serious investments in the JJDPA, we put our children, our communities, and the programs that serve them at serious risk," says Naomi Smoot, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Co-chair of the Act4JJ Campaign. 

While we are happy to see an increase in funding, the omnibus does fall short of the funding amounts provided for in H.R. 1809 and S. 860, which reauthorize the JJDPA. The bill authorizes $1.1 billion over the 2019-2023 period for the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to operate programs to reduce juvenile justice delinquency, assist runaway, homeless, and trafficked youth, and improves public safety outcomes.

As the focus turns to the FY 2019 appropriations process, we stand ready to work with Congress to help secure increased funding levels as provided by the reauthorization bills. Any less would move even further away from the targeted federal involvement that has historically provided critical national leadership to states in preventing youth from entering the justice system. 

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org

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About Act 4 Juvenile Justice - Act 4 Juvenile Justice (ACT4JJ) is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), which represents over 80 national organizations who work on youth development and juvenile justice issues. ACT4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.

 

 

Is it Enough? Youth Who Remain in Adult Facilities Are Still At Risk After the Implementation of PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (October 15, 2018) - For Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) released its report, “Is it Enough: Implementation of PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard” in recognition of the 15th Anniversary of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  PREA is a federal law enacted to address the problem of sexual assault and rape in U.S. detention centers, jails, lock ups, and prisons.  Regulations for the law specifically address one of the most vulnerable populations in adult jails and prisons, youth under age 18.

PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard was developed to create a minimum standard that protects youth in adult facilities from being raped or sexually assaulted by requiring that youth are held in housing where they are sight and sound separated from adults.  The standard also requires supervision when youth are outside of housing units with incarcerated adults. The challenges associated with keeping youth sight and sound separated under the standard has helped contribute to a growing number of state legislatures passing bills to create a presumption or a requirement that youth under 18 are held in juvenile placements even when they are prosecuted as adults.  

However, for the youth who remain in adult facilities, there are ongoing limitations associated with implementation of the law.  In light of the 15th Anniversary of PREA, CFYJ reviewed over 800 audits of adult correctional facilities, with a focus on the first complete audit cycle, to identify how the facilities are complying with the Youthful Inmate Standard. The key findings of that review, include the following:

  • Most states do not collect or publish PREA audits for local jails, which is where most youth tried as adults are likely to be held.  
  • Only 81 adult facilities with publicly available PREA audits previously held, currently hold, or have the capacity to hold youth in the future.  Of the 81, only 6 exceeded the PREA Youthful Inmate Standard, and those facilities were all prisons.
  • Out of the audits reviewed, the two facilities that did not meet the Youthful Inmate Standard were two jails in Texas where 17-year-olds are still automatically treated as adults in the criminal justice system.
  • The adult facilities that exceeded the Youthful Inmate Standard most often held youth under 18 in separate units or separate buildings from adults.  

After examining the PREA audits, CFYJ found that generally even facilities that exceeded the Youthful Inmate Standard were providing basic necessities that could be better provided in a juvenile facility where youth would have greater access to educational and vocational programs.   

Compliance with the Youthful Inmate Standard is costly for many states, especially as states struggle to retain qualified correctional officers to staff these facilities.  As a result, a growing number of states and localities are finding alternatives to adult facilities for youth. The number of youth in adult jails on any given night has declined by over 50 percent from 2000 to 2016 according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  

“While PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard was a step in the right direction, when it comes to providing youth what they need to develop into productive adults, it’s not nearly enough", said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice.  "For many young people who remain in adult jails, compliance with the standard has resulted in prolonged solitary confinement, and continued threats to their physical safety. To ensure safety and rehabilitation, youth should not be held in places that were not designed or programmed with them in mind.”

CFYJ finds, until areas of the law and regulations are strengthened, the vulnerable populations the law seeks to protect, particularly youth, will continue to experience elevated risks of abuse.

View the report here.

About the Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is 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. CFYJ was initiated in 2004 by a parent whose son was transferred to the adult criminal court for prosecution. For additional information, please visit, www.cfyj.org.

Members of Congress to Receive Hand Delivered Valentines This Week Urging Them to "Show The Love" and Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

CONTACT:
Aprill O. Turner
Communications and Media Relations Director
Campaign for Youth Justice
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(202) 558-3580

WASHINGTON (February 13, 2018) – Today and tomorrow, the Campaign for Youth Justice and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice will join the Act 4 JJ Coalition  to deliver valentines to every member of Congress urging them to show the love and reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The Happy Valentine's Day message includes chocolate and a reminder to members to continue this important investment in children and families.

New Brief: The Color of Youth Transferred to the Adult Criminal Justice System: Policy and Practice Recommendations

Posted in 2018 Press Releases , 2017 Press Releases

Campaign for Youth Justice, National Association of Social Workers urge reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 24, 2018) -- Juvenile arrest rates have fallen sharply in recent years, but black youth are disproportionately sent to adult court by judges at some of the highest percentages seen in 30 years, according to a joint report from the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

The new report, The Color of Youth Transferred to the Adult Criminal Justice System: Policy and Practice Recommendations, discusses how the egregious practice of prosecuting and incarcerating black youth as adults, which is rooted in our nation’s past and ongoing racism, has had a devastating impact on black youth and the black community. Black children sent to adult jails and prisons are more likely to die by suicide, suffer from mental illness, and recidivate once they return to their communities than their peers in the juvenile justice system.

“Research has proven that adults courts and jails are no place for children -- the brain development of youth is markedly different from adults and they are more prone to risk taking and not thinking through the consequences of their actions,” said NASW Social Justice and Human Rights Manager Mel Wilson. “Youth involved in the justice system  are also more likely to have mental health needs and have suffered from trauma so they need rehabilitation and treatment services that are not provided in most adult jails. .”

"This brief dives into the historical context of racial terror inflicted on black communities that has shaped the foundation of systemic policies, practices, and procedures that compound disproportionality," said CFYJ Policy Director Jeree Thomas. "This is a symptom of chronic and systemic racism beyond the confines of the justice system itself, but we believe that intentional advocacy and transformative thinking by social workers, attorneys, youth advocates, and system leaders can begin to redress this issue in states across the country."

CFYJ and NASW looked at the rate of black youth who were sent to adult courts in Oregon, Florida and Missouri, three states that report their adult court transfer rates disaggregated by race.

In Oregon, while black youth are 2.3 percent of the state’s population, they are 15.8 percent of youth transferred to adult court in 2017.Similarly, in  Florida, although black youth make up just 21 percent of the youth population, they accounted for 67.7 percent of youth transferred to adult court in 2016.

Missouri is one of the first states to urge judges to consider racial disparities before transferring youth to adult courts. Still in 2016, black youth made up 14.8 percent of the youth population age 10 to 17, but 72 percent of youth that judges referred to adult courts, even though they accounted for  40 percent of youth charged with felony offenses.

CFYJ and NASW encourage advocates and social workers across the country to take action and mobilize against the adultification of black youth in the criminal justice system. These actions include:

  • Getting local officials such as county government and city council members to recognize the importance of keeping all youth, and especially youth of color, out of the adult criminal justice system.
  • Advocating for prosecutors to adopt transparent procedures around the decision to transfer youth to adult courts.
  • Passing legislation that would require a look at the racial impact of bills that increase the number of youth who are prosecuted, sentenced and incarcerated as adults.
  • Requiring more social workers be part of the defense team of juveniles because social workers can propose treatment and sentencing options that keep youth out of adult courts and jails.
  • Researching and developing community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth who are sent to adult courts.

“The reason why black youth are sent to adult courts and jails at higher rates are based on generations of institutionalized racism in the United States,” Wilson said. “Federal, state and local officials must aggressively collect data and review their policies and practices to ensure they are not disproportionately harming black youth and black communities.”

"We are seeing that Black males of any age receive more  punitive outcomes compared to other groups. For example, in Florida, there is recent research that indicates that black male youth are more likely to receive a jail or prison sentence rather than community-based alternatives, and more likely to receive a longer jail and prison sentence than their peers," said Thomas. "This research highlights the need to continue to address the root causes of disproportionate minority contact and racial and ethnic disparities for youth transferred to the adult system."

For additional information and this full report, please visit here.

About the National Association of Social Workers:
Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 120,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies. For additional information, please visit, https://www.socialworkers.org/.

About the Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is 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. CFYJ was initiated in 2004 by a parent whose son was transferred to the adult criminal court for prosecution. For additional information, please visit, www.cfyj.org.

New Report Examines Why Iowa Had Over 12,000 Adult Court Convictions of Youth Under 18 in 2017

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

IOWA CITY, IA (November 28, 2018) -  According to a new report released by the Campaign for Youth Justice in partnership with the University of Iowa, College of Law Community Empowerment Law Project, if Iowa’s laws do not change, thousands of youth under 18 will continue to receive adult court convictions mostly for simple misdemeanors.  

In 2018, the Campaign for Youth Justice partnered with the Community Engagement Law Project and LaTasha DeLoach, who currently serves as the co-chair of the Iowa Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System Subcommittee to research the state’s treatment of youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.  The student researchers found some unexpected results including:

12,326 adult court convictions of youth between the ages of 15 and 17 in Iowa according to data obtained from the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning.  An overwhelming majority of the convictions were for simple misdemeanor offenses that are automatically excluded from juvenile court.

16 and 17-year-old youth are also automatically excluded from juvenile court for more serious offenses,  but an overwhelming majority of those youth are deemed safe enough to be served by the juvenile justice system or in the community on adult probation.

No one is collecting and reporting transparent data on the number of youth in Iowa’s jails and the services that they receive while incarcerated.  

Racial disproportionality is significant among those youth transferred to adult court. While black youth are 6% of the at-risk population (youth between 10 and 17-years-old) they were 34% of the youth transferred by juvenile court judges.

According to Jeree Thomas, Policy Director at the Campaign for Youth Justice,  Iowa has an opportunity to do better by it’s youth. “We know nationally that youth who go into the adult system are at least 34% more likely to recidivate than their peers.  We also know that holding youth in adult jails and prisons is dangerous, ineffective, and has a negative impact on public safety in the long run. Small tweaks to Iowa’s law could positively impact thousands of youth”  

The report recommends four legislative changes to address the high number of youth convictions in adult court.

Collect, analyze and publish data on all youth in adult courts, jails, and prisons.  Include information on their age, gender, race, county, offense, sentence, length of stay in jail, and the services they receive while in adult facilities.

Limit the types of offenses that may result in transfer from “any public offense” to specific offenses involving public safety concerns.  

End the statutory exclusion of youth from juvenile court.  Allow juvenile court judges to decide whether a youth should be transferred to adult court.  

End the pre-trial detention of youth under 18 in adult jails.  

Rachel Antonuccio, an Iowa City Public Defender, has seen the impact of these laws on her clients. “When we automatically treat children as adults we potentially expose them to devastating trauma even before they are convicted of anything. We need to look at each child as an individual and we need to treat them as the youth that they are.  We shouldn’t be putting them in adult jails and prisons.”

Earlier this month, one of the report’s researchers and co-authors, Andrea Mallarino, coordinated an event at Iowa’s College of Law to highlight this issue for her peers and the broader community. “I don’t think the broader community knows how many kids are getting adult convictions and being sent to adult jails.  When they find out there is generally a feeling that we can do better for Iowa’s kids. I hope our legislators feel the same.”

View report here.

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About the Campaign for Youth Justice:
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is 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. CFYJ was initiated in 2004 by a parent whose son was transferred to the adult criminal court for prosecution. 

About The Community Empowerment Law Project at the University of Iowa, College of Law:
The CELP, through the representation of nonprofit organizations and other entities, works to strengthen communities, create economic opportunity, and advance social justice in the State of Iowa. We aim to help clients and communities amplify their voices, increase their impact, build strategic alliances, and to engage lawyers as collaborative partners and fellow problem-solvers. The CELP undertakes matters ranging from entity formation and strategic planning to coalition building and the design of advocacy plans. For more information please visit: https://celp.org.uiowa.edu/

New Report, Getting to Zero: A 50 State Study of Strategies to Remove Youth From Adult Jails, pinpoints exactly where youth are held in jails and why

WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2018) -- With adult jails housing an increasing number of state prisoners, and the population within juvenile detention facilities shrinking, now is the time to reassess the way youth prosecuted as adults are incarcerated in America. 

An overwhelming amount of research shows that the adult criminal justice system is ill-equipped to meet the needs of youth, from trial to incarceration and re-entry. Beyond what brain science reveals about adolescent development, the adult criminal justice system does not reduce recidivism and often leaves youth at risk of abuse.

  • Youth in adult jails are at extreme risk of suicide. Every year since 2010, an average of three children have died in adult jails; two out of three by suicide. Youth under the age of 17 in adult jails have a mortality rate nearly twice that of young adults (18-24-year-olds) in adult jails, 9 times higher than youth in the general population, and 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in juvenile detention facility.
  • Many jails are holding youth in solitary confinement. More than half (54%) of jails housing girls, and almost a third (31%) of jails housing boys reported housing only a single youth at the time. 
  • Youth in adult jails are at extreme risk of sexual abuse by jail staff and other inmates, even during brief detention stays: 15% of sexual abuse victims in jails report having been abused by another inmate within the first 24 hours of their arrival at the jail. In fact, sexual abuse by staff in jails is the highest for the youngest inmates (3.3%).  Some populations of youth are particularly vulnerable - girls have higher rates of sexual abuse compared to boys (4.4% compared to 1.6%); white youth have higher rates of abuse than black and Latino youth (6.6% versus 1.1%); and youth who are sexual minorities (e.g., LGBT youth) have higher rates of abuse than heterosexual youth (6.3% versus 1.7%).

A new report, "Getting to Zero: A 50 State Study of Strategies to Remove Youth from Adult Jails," analyzes national data sets and state laws to provide concrete policy change recommendations to remove youth from adult jails across the country.

Although the number of youth in adult jails has declined over 50 percent since a recent peak in 2010, between 32,000 and 60,000 youth are estimated to enter adult jails every year. 

Getting to Zero provides the first-ever analysis of three nationwide datasets - the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Census of Jails and Annual Survey of Jails, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Census of Juvenile Residential Placements – to examine how youth currently housed in adult jails can be safely housed in juvenile facilities. Second, it summarizes the major legal developments applicable to youth housed in adult jails. Third, it provides specific examples from jurisdictions across the country which have made substantial progress toward removing youth from adult jails.

Neelum Arya, study author explains, “For the first time we have data to show exactly where youth are incarcerated in adult jails in America, the legal analysis to explain why it happens, and examples of what policymakers can do to remove youth from jails altogether.” 

According to the report, each of the 50 States and Washington D.C. has at least one of six types of transfer laws, and one of three types of jail laws, leading to nearly 1,000 possible explanations of the legal basis for why youth end up incarcerated in adult jails.  Yet the analysis of the 2013 Census of Jails data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that almost 90 percent of youth housed in adult jails were held in just fifteen states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. 

The majority of children appear to be incarcerated in adult jails due to: age of juvenile court jurisdiction laws which require all 17-year-olds to be prosecuted in the adult system, colloquially known as “raise the age”; automatic transfer laws which require youth under certain circumstances to be prosecuted as adults; and state jail laws which require youth prosecuted as adults be held in adult facilities pre-trial. 

Where youth are not held in adult jails is equally telling. Although most state statutes allow youth to be held in adult jails, in practice, juvenile facilities are being used to house youth who otherwise would be incarcerated with adults in many states. Three of the most populous states in the country, California, Illinois, and Ohio, all have state jail laws which allow youth to be housed in adult jails under certain circumstances, but none of these states have large numbers of youth in jails. This is true even for Los Angeles and Cook County, two jurisdictions with significant gang and gun violence.

The report also provides an overview of positive changes that have taken place and identifies specific strategies states can use to remove youth from adult jails. Since 2009, 20 States and the District of Columbia have passed laws which have started to limit the admissions to, or remove youth from, adult jails.  

  • The single most significant strategy in the effort to remove youth from adult jails is “Raise the Age” legislation. More than half (54%) of the youth incarcerated in adult jails can be removed as part of the implementation of this legislation in nine states.  Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Missouri, and South Carolina are in the process of implementation.  Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin still need to pass this type of law.
  • The second most important strategy in the effort to remove youth from adult jails are efforts to change the state transfer law through modifying statutory exclusion laws which automatically exclude a youth from the juvenile justice system. If six states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Pennsylvania – were to change their transfer laws and jail laws to prohibit youth from being held in adult jails at arrest, the population of youth in adult jails could be reduced by an additional 26%.
  • Every State which currently allows youth to be housed in adult jails should consider updating their jail law to ensure youth are only housed in adult jails in the rarest of instances. There are several states – notably Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin – where the text of the state jail law requires that youth must be held in an adult jail under certain circumstances. If these 5 states were to change course and go from requiring to prohibiting housing youth in adult jails, the number of youth incarcerated in adult jails would drop by 21%.
  • In addition to state-level reforms, city and county officials should pass specific ordinances and develop internal county policies to include presumptions that youth tried as adults are detained in juvenile facilities. Although large urban jails holding large numbers of youth dominate the conversations about youth in adult jails, most counties and jails hold few youth at a time which the report shows could be accommodated in other juvenile facilities.  If counties which held less than 9 youth at a time found other placements for these youth, the number of youth incarcerated in adult jails would drop by 33%. 

The report provides recommendations for policymakers at the federal, state, and local level; jailors and juvenile detention administrators; prosecutors and public defenders; and advocates all have a role to play to assist in Getting to Zero.

For additional information please visit: GettingToZero.us
The Overview of the Report is available here
The Full Report is available here
Table of Jails Housing Youth, Census of Jails in 2013 available here
Table of Jails Housing Youth, Annual Survey of Jails in 2015 available here

Statement on the Trump Administration's “Zero Tolerance” Policy and Family Detention

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (June 22, 2018) – Today, the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) released a statement calling for an immediate end to the Trump administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” and incarcerating immigrant youth and families.

“Unfortunately, these policies carry forward a long and ugly history in the United States of treating people of color inhumanely,” says Sarah Breyer, NJJDPC Steering Committee Member and President and Executive Director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “This is not the first time that we have separated children of color from their families and institutionalized them 'for their own good' and when they pose no public safety threat. It's past time that we stopped these practices.”

“Detention is not the answer for children and families, especially as a response to those families who come to the U.S. seeking refuge. We have known for years that incarceration exacerbates trauma and stress, and that it has no positive benefits. Children and families belong in the community where they can receive supports and resume normal daily activities,” says Marcy Mistrett, NJJDPC Steering Committee Member and Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign for Youth Justice.

For the full statement, please see below and for additional information on NJJDPC, go to www.promotesafecommunities.org.

Turner to Receive Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund Forty Under 40 Award

Posted in 2018 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2018) – The Campaign for Youth Justice's (CFYJ), Aprill Turner was recently announced as a recipient of Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund Forty Under 40 Award.

The Forty Under 40 Prince George’s County Award recognizes talented county residents in Prince George’s, MD, who are all under the age of 40 at the time of recognition. The Awards are sponsored by the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to build social capital and invest in new approaches to solving a broad range of challenges in the county.

Turner is currently the communications director at CFYJ where she leads media strategy to elevate the issue of prosecuting youth in adult criminal court, ensuring that the voices of those affected by the issue are front and center in the national media and in key media outlets across the country. She oversees CFYJ's National Spokespersons Bureau, in which spokespeople share their perspectives through blogs, video, social media and in news outlets. CFYJ spokespeople have been featured in national and international media outlets, have presented at national and statewide conferences, and testified before state and federal policymakers.

Prior to coming to CFYJ, Aprill worked on Capitol Hill in several media capacities, including Press Advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Deputy Press Secretary to Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Communications Director to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York. Additionally, she has lead media strategy for several local, congressional and senatorial campaigns. She has also taught public relations and journalism at Morgan State University and Loyola University in Baltimore, MD.

The awardees were chosen in the categories of Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Fitness, Public Service and Science. They include native Prince Georgians and those new to the county who have made an immediate impact. Turner is being recognized for Public Service.

"As a resident of Prince George's County, I am totally blown away to receive such a prestigious honor. My 39 fellow honorees are extraordinary people who are improving lives and strengthening our communities. I’m proud to be working alongside leaders who are smart, driven, and innovative that are making a difference in our county, state, and our nation," said Turner. 

Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony on June 6.

The Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

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