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Voices

Is 2018 the Year of Women in Politics?

Jill Ward Tuesday, 29 May 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Jill Ward, Senior Advocacy Consultant, Youth First Initiative

“We're half the people; we should be half the Congress.” - Jeannette Rankin of Montana, first woman to hold federal office in the United States

That was the vision of the first woman elected to Congress in 1916, four years before the 19th amendment secured (white) women’s right to vote and another 45 years before African American men and women were able to exercise their right to vote.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Uplifting the Narratives of Incarcerated Youth

Rachel Marshall Tuesday, 24 April 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Rachel Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel

As someone who works on juvenile justice reform, it comes as no surprise that the sexual assault of incarcerated youth, particularly youth in adult jails and prisons, runs rampant. A quick scan of news stories yields alarming results. Recently, sexual abuse scandals in juvenile facilities in Texas and Wisconsin have been making both national and local headlines. And who can forget the eye-opening report from the Huffington Post in 2016, Cruel and All Too Unusual, that revealed the horrific abuse faced by youth in adult facilities in Michigan. Then there are the stories dating back five to ten years ago, like the ProPublica story headline that reads, “Sexual abuse on the rise at U.S. juvenile detention facilities” from 2013 (3 years later they published another piece titled “Why Are Rates of Sexual Abuse in Juvenile Detention Facilities on the Rise?”).

Justice for All

Rachel Marshall Thursday, 12 April 2018 Posted in Voices

By Rachell Marshall, Federal Policy Counsel

From the federal level to state legislatures across the country, criminal justice reform measures are a hot topic of conversation and proposed legislation. What is often lost in those conversations are the views and voices of victims. As an organization that fights to end the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of children in the adult system, we are all too aware that children are often times victims of crime and exposed to trauma before they ever get arrested. One young man who was 15 when he began an 8-year sentence in an adult prison for a carjacking said, “It never occurred to me to carry a gun, or use it against someone until someone stuck a gun in my face.” We know that children who come in contact with the justice system have higher rates of exposure to trauma and violence than children who aren’t in contact with the system. We also know that some victims experience trauma not only after a crime has been committed, but also after their experience with the justice system. Further, we know that in many cases, crimes of violence are perpetrated against family members or members of our community--so limiting our response to victims to a carceral one only often does more harm than good. It’s time to take a new, holistic approach to restoring justice and healing in our communities, one that yields outcomes that reduce future offending, not just punishment.

Youth Art Month: Empowering Youth Advocacy Through Creativity

Patience Fordham and Presley Mettler Friday, 23 March 2018 Posted in Voices

By Patience Fordham and Presley Mettler, Carolina Youth Action Project

Creatives across the country are celebrating Youth Art Month during the month of March, and whether it’s visual, written, performed, or experienced, art has served as a critical tool for empowerment and advocacy among individuals and families impacted by incarceration. The Carolina Youth Action Project is just one of many great organizations across the country helping youth channel their creativity into action for issues close to them—like youth justice. We’re excited to share written pieces from two young people involved with the Carolina Youth Action Project who responded to the question: “What’s something you wish people knew or understood about prisons?”

The Prosecution of Black Youth as Adults

Jeree Thomas Thursday, 01 February 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Jeree Thomas, Policy Director

During Black History Month, we remember the esteemed black heroes and heroines of American culture.  Those who saved our future through the Underground Railroad and those who gave their lives to take us to the mountaintop, but we must also remember the youth who represent just how far our country must go to reach its ideals.

The Women's March is Back: Time to Take Our Power to the Polls

Aprill O. Turner Friday, 19 January 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Aprill O. Turner, Communications Director

On Jan. 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Trump, the Women's March on Washington descended on the nation's capital to protest a new administration many Americans feared threatened their rights and contradicted their basic values.

MLK’s Dream – Half a Century Later, Bending Our Democracy Towards Justice

Marcy Mistrett Friday, 12 January 2018 Posted in 2018, Voices

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

Fifty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was tragically taken in Memphis, TN.  As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and commit ourselves to engage, give back, and continue the fight for racial and social justice, I am saddened by how much of Dr. King’s dream has gone deferred, especially with regards to our children.  In our criminal justice system, Dr. Kings dream is literally locked down, and has been since his death.  Yet, there are glimmers of hope for reforms that can be expanded upon by ensuring questions about the way we treat children are part of the political platform in 2018 mid-year elections.

September is #SuicidePrevention Month

Thursday, 21 September 2017 Posted in 2017, Voices

By Aprill Turner, Communications & Media Director

September is national suicide prevention month. Throughout the month, individuals and organizations alike will be drawing attention to the problem of suicide and advocating the prevention of this terrible tragedy. Suicide is a national health problem that is also one of the leading causes of preventable death in our nation. As we reflect on this month and what we can do help with prevention, we must remember a very vulnerable population-- young people in adult jails and prisons.

Guest Column: Don’t Give Up on Latinx Youth

Thursday, 14 September 2017 Posted in 2017, Voices

By Jesse De La Cruz, CFYJ Spokesperson

September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

It also marks a dark time in our Nation’s history, where the federal government and Congress are increasingly calling for the closure of US borders; and targeting immigrant youth and families for deportation under the guise of “public safety.” This week, the US House of Representatives will vote on HR 3697, “The Criminal Alien Gang Removal Act”. If passed, the bill will create new vague and overly broad grounds of removability based on a sweeping new definition of "criminal gang," triggering racial profiling and putting the United States in violation of its international obligations to protect asylum seekers. This follows on the heels of the administration’s repeal of DACA in the next 6 months, a decision that will impact 800,000 young people and their families who have lived in this country since they were young children.

Headed Back to School… In the Justice System

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 Posted in 2017, Voices

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO 

With the conclusion of Labor Day Weekend, summer is officially “over”—and hundreds of thousands of children return to school this week.  Across the Internet, we see families readying themselves for the year—buying school supplies, new shoes, and happily attending ‘meet your teacher days.’  Discussions on standardized tests, teachers unions, shortages in school budgets, and achievement gaps begin to fill social conversations.

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