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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.

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
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(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.

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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