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CFYJ Applauds President Obama For Continued Support of Criminal Justice Reform

Posted in Press Releases

WASHINGTON (January 13, 2016) -- The Campaign for Youth Justice, CEO Marcy Mistrett issued the following statement in response to President Obama's State of the Union Address:

"We were pleased to hear that President Obama has made criminal justice reform among his top priorities for his last year in office. We look forward to learning more and we do hope that the President makes juvenile justice a top priority with reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act (JJDPA), the only federal act that exists to protect children who are detained and removed for their families. It articulates the minimum standards for treatment of children that states deem necessary to place in secure detention.

We also appreciate that President Obama shone a light on criminal justice reform by inviting Connecticut Gov. Tom Malloy, as a special guest. Currently, Malloy is pushing to make Connecticut the first state to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 21. This initiative has drawn the attention of the White House, which invited Malloy to attend the State of the Union tonight, and a community of reformers across the political spectrum engaged in reevaluating policies that have given the U.S. the world’s highest incarceration rate.

Also in attendance as a special guest of First Lady Michelle Obama was Sue Ellen Allen, a criminal justice advocate known for her organization Gina’s Team, which supports women in Arizona prisons and upon release, gives them the resources they need and teaches them how give back to the community. She wrote the President to thank him for the launch of a new pilot program that enables incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and to encourage a national dialogue that includes women in prison reform. These are the same issues that we see time and time again with young girls in the adult criminal justice system, we appreciate attention being given to this segment of criminal justice reform efforts.

The Obama's were not the only ones with special guests to help raise the voice on this issue.  U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, Calif.) welcomed juvenile justice advocate Calvin King, a second grade teacher at Christina Seix Academy (CSA) in Trenton, NJ.  Calvin a youth formerly charged as an adult, rebounded from his time involved in the system to give back to the community, in a way that has positively affected hundreds of lives. Along with his work in schools, Calvin is a recipient of the Presidential Service Award for 2000 hours of community service, and also an ambassador to the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.

CFYJ applauds this administration for their commitment to youth justice and criminal justice reform. We look forward to continue working together as partners to make more progress and change to create a system that promotes child well-being by incorporating evidence based practices that keep communities safe and that gives children developmentally appropriate services."

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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