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2020 Press Releases

A Message From CFYJ CEO Marcy Mistrett

Dear Friends, 

We hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. We know for many of the families we serve and advocate with, these are particularly trying times, as their loved ones remain incarcerated and at elevated threat of contracting Coronavirus. Our hearts are with you, and we remain committed to getting as many young people home during this crisis as possible; and protecting those who won’t be released with appropriate care, access to families, and medical attention when needed.

It is a difficult time to reach out and share about CFYJ’s future, but a critically important time to be transparent with information. Over the past several months, in partnership with our board, funders, partners and friends in the field, CFYJ has been analyzing what our next steps are; and in January, the Board of Directors decided that CFYJ will wind down our operations in December, 2020. While we share this news with mixed feelings emotionally, we are confident that much of our work will shift and continue to be carried out on the state level.

Our efforts have been a WIN for the field, and for tens of thousands of young people (who are under the age of 18) and their families across the country, who are no longer automatically prosecuted, sentenced or incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system. None of this would have been possible without the incredible partnerships with all of you over the past 15 years. 

Some of the achievements we are celebrating include:

  • A 70% drop in youth prosecuted as adults!  When we opened, 250,000 children a year were prosecuted as adults, by 2015 (the most recent national data available), that number had fallen to 76,000 and doesn’t include data from 6 states who have since raised the age of criminal responsibility; 

  • Dramatically fewer youth in adult facilities.  There were 10,000 children every night sleeping in adult jails and prisons in 2000—there are now (2017, most recent national data) less than 4,500—and CFYJ’s efforts at the federal level, including enactment of the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act and the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s Youthful Inmate Standard, can help states get to ZERO;  

  • 40 states and DC (more than 80% of the country) have changed over 100 laws to make it harder to send children to adult court;

  • 22 states have made it more difficult to treat children as if they were adults by narrowing or ending their automatic  transfer laws [by returning discretion to judges, eliminating the youngest youth from eligibility, and eliminating pathways to the adult system];

  • And as a field, we have permanently closed the door to the adult system for more than 100,000 children every year by RAISING THE AGE of criminal responsibility to 18 in 11 states. A number we expect to grow exponentially by 2021 when data becomes available from the 4 states that implemented reforms in 2019.

The work to keep children out of the adult criminal justice system will continue, but it will look different. The national campaign will wind down, but robust action will continue on a state by state basis. CFYJ is committed to:   

  • Working as a project of The Sentencing Project in 2021, to help state campaigns close to a win move through another legislative session.  These key state campaigns include: GA, IN, MD, TX, and PA;

  • Encouraging the funding community investing in racial justice issues locally to also embrace as a priority ending the practice of charging, sentencing and incarcerating youth in the adult system. Youth of color, particularly African American youth, continue to bear the burden of these harmful policies. We are calling on funders to invest in the 8 states that still transfer more than 200 youth a year (AL, AZ, FL, MD, IN,NE, OH, and PA), or the 3 that have yet to raise the age to 18 (GA, TX, WI). 

  • Focusing federal dollars and technical support to ensure that youth in the following 7 states are removed from adult jails pre-trial, as all these states currently presume youth placement in adult jails: AL, CT, FL, ID, IN, KS, MS.

The Campaign is grateful to the families and impacted youth, state allies and advocates, system stakeholders, federal and state legislators across the aisle, researchers, and funders who have joined this movement.  Together we did it!

We invite you to save the date for Oct. 9, 2020. Details will be forthcoming for a special event to celebrate all that we have been able to achieve together.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if I can help answer any questions.

We thank you again for your continued support of the Campaign of Youth Justice.

In Solidarity,

Marcy Mistrett
CEO
The Campaign For Youth Justice

Advocates and Stakeholders Applaud House Lawmakers for Including Provisions in the HEROES Act that Protect Some of our Most Vulnerable Youth

Posted in 2020 Press Releases

A4JJ

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 13, 2020

Contact:
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill O. Turner
Phone: (202) 779-2810
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

Washington, D.C. (May 13, 2020) National youth justice advocates and stakeholders applaud House lawmakers for including provisions to protect some of our most vulnerable youth - those involved in the youth justice system - in the HEROES Act, and call on legislators to support and pass provisions of H. 6800, particularly those related to youth justice.

Tuesday’s stimulus bill, which is meant to help address America’s needs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, includes a number of juvenile justice specific provisions. Specifically, the legislation provides $75 million for rapid response grants through Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. These funds will help support a variety of services, including testing of young people and staff in facilities, continued access to education and community supports for youth returning home, at a time when positive tests in secure settings continues to rise to an unsettling degree.

“These funds are critically important to support our young people and their families. They will help ensure that young people and facility staff do not become victim to the virus, and will provide resources to help states ensure that youth returning home get the supports they need to be successful during this challenging time,” said Naomi Smoot Evans, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Co-Chair of the Act4JJ Coalition.

The bill also encourages courts to refrain from detaining young people whenever possible. Nationally, nearly 40 percent of young people who are held in detention facilities are there for status offenses, technical violations, and public order or drug offenses.

“While in secure settings, our young people face potential life threatening exposure at the hands of Covid-19. We know that children who come in contact with the law have heightened rates of underlying health issues such as asthma, auto-immune deficiencies, and other conditions that leave them vulnerable to Covid-19 exposure.  The best place for most of them to be is at home or placed safely in their community with appropriate supports,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Co-Chair of the Act 4 JJ Campaign.

The bill also provides other protections to young people and their families, ensuring priority in grant funding for states that halt the use of fines and fees in their court systems. Such fees have long been burdensome for vulnerable families, but are especially so in the current moment, where unemployment figures have reached 14.7 percent nationally, with numbers even higher among African American communities (16.7 percent) and Hispanic communities (18.9 percent), both of which are also disproportionately impacted by both the juvenile justice system and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In this moment, the last thing our young people and their families need is to have to make the decision between food on the table, or paying fines to participate in a mandated program,” said Smoot Evans. “This package ensures funding for community supports, and ensures that they don’t have to bore on the backs of our youth and their families.”

FY 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act Expected to Be Signed into Law

Posted in 2020 Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 20, 2019

Contact:
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill  O. 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.

FY 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act Expected to Be Signed into Law

 Fiscal Year 2020 brings another funding increase to juvenile justice programs, just one day before the anniversary of the reauthorization of the JJDPA.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Donald Trump is expected to sign into law H.R. 1865, the $1.4 trillion FY 2020 omnibus appropriations bill. The bill includes small increases in spending for key provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), marking the third consecutive year of increases in funding levels. The bill was signed just one day before the one-year anniversary of the historic reauthorization of this critical Act.

The omnibus provides $63 million for Title II of the Act, up from $60 million in FY 2019. 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 $42 million for Title V of the Act, which is one of the only federal programs specifically designed to prevent delinquency at the local level. This marks a drastic increase from FY 2019, when Title V programs only received $27.5 million in funding. 

In addition to the increase in funding levels for Title V, this is also the first year since FY 2016 that Congress has not completely earmarked all of the funding provided under Title V. The reauthorization of the law significantly expanded the types of delinquency prevention programs that qualify for funding under Title V, allowing for a broader, more holistic approach to addressing the needs of youth who have been in contact with the justice system and preventing delinquency. However, earmarking the funding limits how those dollars can be used. This year, $14.5 million of the overall $42 million will remain open for states and localities to use on the more than twenty categories of programming defined under the Incentive Grants for Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (Youth PROMISE grants).

While this year’s funding bill does represent yet another year of increases for funding of juvenile justice programs, the omnibus does fall short of the funding amounts provided for in the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, which reauthorized the JJDPA for the first time in sixteen years. The bill authorizes a total of $176 million every year for fiscal years 2019-2023 for the Department of Justice to operate programs under the Act. 

“While we hoped to see the JJDPA funded at authorizing levels for the first full year of the reauthorized Act, we are glad to see the continuing upward trend of investment in juvenile justice programs. Increased investment in these programs is critical to ensuring our kids and communities are safe," says Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel for the Campaign for Youth Justice and Co-chair of the Act4JJ Campaign.  

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to ensure these important programs are fully funded. 

For more information go to www.ACT4JJ.org

###

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.

National Advocates Call On Congress and the Administration to Pass an Additional Stimulus Bill that Addresses Needs of Children and Young People Who are Currently Trapped in Overcrowded Jails and Detention Centers

Posted in 2020 Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 26, 2020
 
Contact:
Campaign for Youth Justice
Aprill  O. 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 Evans
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. (March 26, 2020) National youth justice advocates and stakeholders were disheartened today to see that some of our most vulnerable youth are once again being overlooked by the federal government. 
 
Today’s stimulus legislation, which is meant to help address America’s needs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, does little to help young people who are in secure custody or for those who are at risk of coming into contact with the justice system. 
 
We call on Congress and the Administration to pass an additional stimulus bill that addresses the needs of children and young people who are currently trapped in overcrowded jails and detention centers where social distancing simply is not possible. We owe it to our children to ensure that they have access to basic necessities: communication with their family through free phone calls or teleconferencing; access to remote-based educational opportunities; and access to life saving medical care and testing. States and localites also need access to preventive care for the majority of youth who are served in the community. 
 
These services are costly and we were pleased to see $100 million in additional juvenile justice funding including in the House’s version of the bill. 
 
“Federal juvenile justice programs have long been underfunded and additional money is essential to helping ensure that states can provide basic services and emergency responses to protect our young people during these trying times,” said Naomi Smoot Evans, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Co-Chair of the Act4JJ Coalition. 
 
We continue to urge courts and communities to let young people come home. We were pleased to see provisions in the CARES Act that would enable courts to hold most hearings remotely, with the exception of contested transfer hearings and adjudications. This will ensure that young people do not have to remain in detention unnecessarily and that their Due Process rights are not impinged as a result of this crisis. 
 
We are concerned, however, that detention hearings are included on the list of proceedings that can take place remotely. This allows for protection and safe social distancing for all parties involved in the case, except for the young person. We need to protect our young people as well.
 
“We are happy that many states aren’t waiting for the federal government to act on behalf of children, and are developing emergency plans, increasing frequency of calls to families, and are beginning to work on getting children home,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Co-Chair of the Act 4 JJ Campaign, “but the federal government has an essential role in assisting states to keep children and staff safe, including those in secure settings; this needs to be a top priority in April.” 

New Report Underscores Laws and Practices that Treat Youth as Adults Fail to Make Communities Safer

Posted in 2020 Press Releases

Report Finds That Ending the Adultification of Youth by the Justice System is an Urgent and Necessary Component of Any Reforms in Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2020-- In recent weeks protests have erupted across the country calling for a defunding of law enforcement agencies in favor of diverting funding to jobs programs, health initiatives and other services supporting communities of color. This must include the legal system ending the practice of treating children as if they are adults.

A new report released today by the Justice Policy Institute and The Campaign for Youth Justice explores how the harsh sentencing of youth as adults in criminal justice continues to be a problem across the nation. Despite the reforms of the last 20 years, youth that still frequently face harsh punishment and transfer into the adult system are disproportionately youth of color. The report finds that ending the adultification of youth by the justice system is an urgent and necessary component of any future reforms in law enforcement.

“The Child, Not the Charge” report, outlines that while there has been a significant decline in the overall treatment of youth as if they were adults, racial disparities in the waiver of youth to the adult system has worsened in many jurisdictions, due, in large part, to the fact that too many jurisdictions still rely solely on confinement and transfer to the adult system for youth who engage in violence.

While the transfer of youth into the adult system is not limited to charges against another person, reforms over the past 15 years have largely excluded youth who are engaged in violence. This is despite the fact that the research clearly shows youth are better served in the community regardless of their underlying conduct. The harms of confinement and transfer of children into the adult system actually drive higher rates of recidivism. Moreover, it exacerbates racial disparity as youth of color are more likely to be transferred into the adult system for violent behavior, despite similar rates of engagement in violent behavior by youth regardless of race or ethnicity.

”There is no evidence that sending children to the adult criminal justice system deters future crime,” said Marc Schindler, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. “In fact, all of the evidence shows that children are at great risk of harm in the adult system and that children fare much better when they are treated in a developmentally appropriate manner with rehabilitative supports. The adult criminal justice system is not designed or equipped to work with children, and so all children regardless of the offense should be kept in the juvenile justice system.”

The juvenile justice system has undergone dramatic changes over the last two decades. The era of “super predators” and punitive policies and practices that increasingly treated children like adults has been supplanted by falling crime rates and a focus on diversion and community-based interventions that are more effective at addressing underlying needs of youth while also protecting public safety. This same practice must apply to children who currently face charges in the adult criminal justice system.

The report makes the following policy recommendations:

● Eliminate transfer mechanisms for all youth, regardless of the committing offense.
● Use community-based programming as a first choice, and any type of age appropriate confinement as a last resort.
● Increase investments in approaches that address the needs of individual and community level victimization and increase prevention and intervention by establishing public health partnerships to reduce violence.
● Use risk and needs assessment tools in decision making around placement and length of stay.
● Increase age-appropriate resources for youth who are subjected to secure confinement.

“This research demonstrates that treating children as if they are adults and holding them accountable to adult punishments is wrong and in desperate need of reform,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice. “Our recommendations aim to improve safety outcomes for everyone. No crime committed by a child should result in adult court transfers. Rather, the juvenile justice system should serve all youth during their developmental years, ideally into their mid-twenties.”

It is time that policy makers follow the research and substantially reduce the number of youth placed in secure confinement or the adult system for acts of violence. States should be employing evidence-based, race-neutral and validated risk and need instruments to identify appropriate interventions that address the cause of the behavior in the least restrictive setting that is safe. This approach is supported by many victims of crime who recognize that simply incarcerating youth or transferring youth to the adult system fails to protect public safety and can contribute to future victimization.

About the Justice Policy Institute:
The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system by promoting fair and effective policies. For additional information visit, www.justicepolicy.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. For additional information visit, www.cfyj.org.

 

 

Press Releases Archive