The challenges of this crisis-packed year have at times been overwhelming, but it is important to remember that all the emergencies of 2020 have significantly impacted youth justice.
There have been campaigns to free children from juvenile or adult detention facilities where the risk of contracting COVID is disproportionately high, campaigns to free our schools from the harmful presence of police officers whose actions widen the school-to-prison pipeline, and campaigns to confront racist violence in our bloated and over-funded police departments – violence that is often directed at our children.
The usual campaigns to reduce or end the practice of prosecuting and incarcerating children as adults have also continued this year; these campaigns have proven to be inextricably intertwined with urgent efforts to decarcerate children and protect them from law enforcement abuses; as always they do most harm to black and brown children.
This October, Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) provides an opportunity to highlight all these campaigns, energize them, connect them, and grow our movement for youth justice.
As you may already have heard, the Campaign for Youth Justice will be closing down its operations at the end of this year. We initiated a national YJAM in 2008, and it has grown every year. We want it to continue growing beyond 2020, but that will depend on YOU!
For this last YJAM in which CFYJ will play a role, we believe a major theme for YJAM 2020 should again be #VoteYouthJustice. The elections on November 3 will have a profound impact nationally, while statewide and local elections will determine the direction youth justice takes.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masking, social distancing, and prohibitions on large gatherings are likely to still be the rule in October, but that does not mean there should not be a large number of virtual or online YJAM events this year. You can also push for youth justice resolutions at the local or state government level. And, of course, register people to vote.
CFYJ will not be able to provide the kind of support for YJAM events we have in past years, but we still want to hear from you, and support your efforts in every way we can. Please let us know what you are planning this October for YJAM!