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2018

The Senate Can Decide: Are Children a Part of Thanksgiving?

By Sarah Bryer and Marcy Mistrett Tuesday, 20 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

This week as families gather to break bread, give thanks, and count their blessings—there are 45,000 children locked in secure facilities across this country who will be absent from their families’ tables. 4000 of them will be in adult jails; at least one as young as the tender age of ten.

The Results Are In: Did The Country #VoteYouthJustice?

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel Monday, 12 November 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Rachel Marshall, CFYJ Federal Policy Counsel

The 2018 midterm elections have come to an end, and, while the outcomes of some races remain unknown, it is safe to say that the outcome for young people across the country was overwhelmingly positive. While most of the country was glued to the results in competitive U.S. House and Senate races, it was the state and local elections that that will make a huge difference in the lives of young people.

Starting with the top state executive, twenty states will welcome new governors in 2019. One of those new governors includes Tony Evers in Wisconsin. Governor-Elect Evers will be tasked with overseeing the closure of two juvenile prisons. Early in 2018, current Governor Scott Walker announced a plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections and treatment system, and in March, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires that two juvenile facilities, Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, to close by January 2021. Both facilities have been subject to investigations and lawsuits over allegations of excessive use of force, abuse, and neglect. Governor-Elect Evers campaigned on criminal justice reform, and his Lieutenant Governor-Elect, Mandela Barnes, showed a strong commitment to juvenile justice reform during his time in the Wisconsin General Assembly. While it is not often the case that a new governor will see through the projects of the past administration, this shift is likely to greatly benefit youth in the justice system (and hopefully pave the way for Wisconsin to FINALLY join 46 other states in raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18).

Our Unheard Voices: Youth On the Margins

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts Wednesday, 17 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Cheryl Bonacci, Sabra Williams: Co-founders Creative Acts

With more than three decades between us working with young people in the criminal justice system, we knew exactly where we wanted to go to raise the volume on young voices. Especially with the 2017 California law ensuring the voting rights of people incarcerated in juvenile and adult jail facilities…we went directly to the juvenile halls and probation camps of Los Angeles County.

In Defense of Childhood: A Call to Action to Defend Immigrants Who Aren’t Citizens Yet, Especially Children

Kent Mendoza, Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson Tuesday, 09 October 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

 In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. This is the third blog in our series. 

By Kent Mendoza, Policy Coordinator for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition & CFYJ Spokesperson

I was brought to this country at age six.   I still remember the hardships my mom had to endure, coming to this country by herself, while living in Los Angeles searching a job that could support my siblings and I.  It was very hard for her to raise me by herself while still trying to settle down in a foreign place.  Her below living wage income meant that from the day I began my journey in this country, I was exposed to the harsh realities of living in a community where drugs, gangs, and violence were rampant.  This environment, which was a mixture of hard working families and disinvestment in community supports for young people, became my “normal.”

YJAM: Ten Years of Raising Awareness & Taking Action for Youth

Roy Austin Friday, 28 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates, Take Action Now, Voices

By Marcy Mistrtett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and Roy Austin, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis and former Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity (U.S. Domestic Policy Council)

Today is the first day of October, and the launch of the tenth anniversary of Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM). YJAM began with one mother whose 17-year-old son tragically took his life in an adult prison in Missouri. Since then, this month marks a time when communities across the country take action against inhumane and harsh treatment of children in the justice system.  In 2015 and 2016, the Campaign for Youth Justice worked with the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council on proclamations issued in honor of YJAM and the progress made on behalf of young people who come in contact with the justice system.  In the 2016 proclamation, President Obama called on all of us to “affirm our commitment to helping children of every background become successful engaged citizens.”

Latinx Injustice

Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. Tuesday, 18 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Campaign for Youth Justice is supporting a series on the impact of federal and state youth justice policies and practices and their disparate impact on Latinx families. 

Our first blog is written by Dr. Francisco A. Villarruel, Ph.D. at Michigan State University and CFYJ Board member.

For over two decades, advocates, community based practitioners, families, and researchers have challenged the Department of Justice to consider modifying data on the number of Latinx youth that spend part of their adolescence with juvenile justice systems. While some might consider this an inconsequential and unimportant issue, the failure to better understand the diversity of Latinx youth has serious implications. One assumption, for example, is that immigrant youth (those born outside of the U.S. or those that come early in their lives) are more likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system. Yet, there is no reliable way to substantiate or refute this claim. Research shows that immigrant adults are less likely to violate public laws – why do we assume this would be any different for children? Do we know whether generational status impacts involvement with juvenile justice systems? Evidence suggests yes, but most of the work to date has focused on only those that have recently immigrated with those that have not. 

Youth Justice Action Month is October – Less Than a Month Away!

Brian Evans Wednesday, 12 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country, CFYJ Updates

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM) is October – less than a month away!

Whether you are just starting to organize, or are already planning something, please Sign up today so we can work with you to make YJAM as impactful as possible!

Kavanaugh Hearings: Justice Kennedy Was a Voice of Reason on Youth Justice, Now What?

Brian Evans Wednesday, 05 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaigns Director

One of the legacies of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s tenure at the U.S. Supreme Court will be his central role in recognizing that, for the purposes of criminal justice, “children are different” and should be treated differently than adults

Basing his arguments on an emerging consensus in adolescent neuroscience and development, a consensus that continues to strengthen, Kennedy was a decisive voice in decisions that protected children from the harshest punishments applied to adults.

Is it Enough? The Implementation of PREA’s Youthful Inmate Standard

Jeree Thomas Tuesday, 04 September 2018 Posted in 2018, Federal Update

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

This September marks the 15th Anniversary of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), 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. 

Bills A1233 and SJR18 Provide Hope for New Jersey Juvenile Defendants Serving Lengthy Sentences

Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright Tuesday, 28 August 2018 Posted in 2018, Across the Country

By Larissa Truchan, Armando Garcia, Katherine Wright, New Jersey Parents' Caucus

In 2012, the Supreme Court established in the landmark Miller v. Alabama decision that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Mandatory sentences to life without parole, the court argued, prevent the judge from considering the “mitigating effects of youth,” which were acknowledged in the Court’s earlier rulings of Roper v. Simmons (2005) and Graham v. Florida (2010). As a result, Miller established that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles, and judges must consider youth-related mitigating factors, including children’s individual characteristics and life circumstances, during sentencing.

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