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#JuviePodcast Youth Justice Awareness Month – Marcy Mistrett Interview

Aprill O. Turner Monday, 10 October 2016 Posted in Voices

This post was taken from Juvie Podcast and the full article and podcast can be found here

A summons to Action in spreading Awareness about juvenile justice!

Did you know that in the United States, children who commit crimes, whatevertheir age, start out automatically in the adult criminal justice system, and that most defense attorneys who work with children and youth have no specialist knowledge or training in child and adolescent developmental factors? Did you know that a 12-year-old will be completely cut off from any parental access if they are processed through the adult system?

If you would like to know what really goes on when children and youth come into contact with the American criminal justice system, listen in. You are bound to learn a thing or few that will surprise, and even shock you.

We talk to Marcy Mistrett, CEO at the Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington DC, a national advocacy organization committed to ending the prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration of children and youth in the adult criminal justice system. Every year, in October, CFYJ  promotes Youth Justice Awareness Month. We talk about some of the juvenile justice issues important for public awareness.

Listen here.

NEW POLL: Floridians Share Thoughts on Criminal Justice Reform

Jade Kendrick Thursday, 06 October 2016 Posted in Across the Country

 

A recent survey conducted by the James Madison Institute and the Charles Koch Institute gives deep insight of Floridians’ thoughts on criminal justice reform in their state. The survey results couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Recently, Florida prosecutor, Angela Corey, lost her chance at reelection in the primary. Corey was notorious for pursuing harsh sentences. She is notorious for failing to get a conviction on George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin. She did a number of other injustices during her eight years in office.  Corey charged a 12 year old boy named Cristian Fernandez with first degree murder of his 2 year old brother, David. Cristian, David, and their other brother and sister had been left at home, without supervision, while his mother was at work. That’s when David received a serious head injury and died. Cristian’s mother came home and took Cristian to school. She would wait eight more hours before taking David to the hospital. While the details around how David was injured are still foggy, Corey immediately deemed Cristian the perpetrator. Cristian was held in an adult jail until his conviction where he sentenced to life without parole. Corey would later fight Cristian’s transfer to a juvenile facility. Corey doubled the number of felony cases in Florida where minors were charged as adults. It would be one of Cristian’s lawyers who challenged and defeated Corey.

So what does her losing the election have to do with this survey?

For one, they show a drastic change in attitude with the Florida population. 72% of Floridians believe that it is time to reform the criminal system in Florida and 64% believe that there are too many nonviolent offenders serving time. The opinions show the possibility that kicking out hard prosecutors means that Floridians want different sentencing practices.  62% of Floridians also said they trust judges over prosecutors to decide if a minor should be charged as an adult. That contradicts Angela Corey’s efforts to increase the number of felony cases for minors charged as adults.

The survey is on par with changing laws in Florida. Recently, the state legislature repealed the “10-20 Life” law that required judges to give mandatory sentences to gun involved offenses. Unfortunately, this repeal will not apply to offenders currently incarcerated, even though 63% of Floridians agreed that it should apply to those already in jail. However, this is still a major step for Florida’s criminal justice reform. Another more preventive law Florida has passed a law regarding mental health and Medicare. This plan requires Medicare to offer comprehensive treatment plans for patients diagnosed with a mental illness. Because people with mental illnesses will have better access to treatment, in the long run, the number of mentally ill people with a criminal record will decrease. Still in discussion in the Florida state legislature is the Direct File bill. This bill would limit the power prosecutors have when deciding to charge a juvenile as an adult. Currently, the law states that if a juvenile, no matter the age, commits a certain offense, such as murder or sexual battery, the prosecutor can send them straight to adult court. Under the new bill, state attorneys can only use direct file for juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18. And the prosecutor can only direct file if it involves the 21 offenses listed in the bill. While the first goal of the bill was to make transfers only to be decided by a judge, supporters of the bill had to compromise in order to move it along. The Human Rights Watch found that Florida has more juveniles transferred into the adult court than any other state. The Florida government has been slow to keep up with public opinion. With new legislation being introduced and passed, hopefully criminal justice reform will begin to take effect.

Girls Justice Day! Why Now is the Time to Act for Justice-Involved Girls

Maheen Kaleem, Esq. Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls and Jeree Thomas, Esq. Policy Director with the Campaign for Youth Justice Friday, 30 September 2016

 

Authors: Maheen Kaleem, Esq. Staff Attorney, Rights4Girls and Jeree Thomas, Esq. Policy Director with the Campaign for Youth Justice

 
October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It also marks Youth Justice Action Month.  As we spend this month focusing on the necessity to protect vulnerable women and girls from abuse, we must not forget our girls behind bars.
 
In January of 2016, Latesha Clay was sentenced to nine years in prison for armed robbery.  Latesha is 15 years old. The “victims” in the case were two adult men who had responded to an online ad for sex with a teenager on Backpage.com, a website that traffickers use to sell sex with children.  When two men, at least one of whom had a history of inappropriate involvement with minors, arrived at the hotel to engage in sexual acts with 15 year-old Latesha, two individuals came out of the bathroom and threatened the buyers to give them more money. Latesha was not holding the gun, nor was she aware that the robbery was going to take place.
Under federal law, any individual who solicits a sexual act with a minor in exchange for any material good is guilty of human trafficking, and any child who exchanges sex with an adult for anything of value is a victim. Those who facilitate the sale of teens for sex on websites like Backpage.com are also guilty of human trafficking.  Despite the fact that Latesha is only fifteen, that her adult “boyfriend” convinced her her to post the ad, that she knew nothing of the robbery, and that at least two adult men exchanged money in order to commit acts of sexual abuse against her, she was deemed the perpetrator in this case, and her buyers, the “victims.” What’s worse—Latesha was charged and sentenced as an adult, and must serve her nine year sentence in adult prison.
What We Know About Girls in the Juvenile & Adult Criminal Justice Systems
 
This summer, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) released No Place for Youth: Girls in the Adult Justice System.   The report summarized data and research on girls in the adult criminal justice system and includes a new survey conducted by NIC and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) of members from the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). 
Despite the absence of sufficient data and research on girls in adult facilities, the little information we do have is cause for concern. According to the NIC/ NCCD survey, only 40.9% of correctional administrators responded that that they could safely serve and house youth, while 42.9% marked that they did not agree when asked if they had assessment tools to appropriately identify the specific needs of girls in adult facilities, let alone age and gender-appropriate programming for children in their care. Girls tried and sentenced as adults confront a system that was not designed to meet their developmental, social, mental health, or safety needs. Furthermore, girls in the adult system are denied the opportunities for rehabilitation that the juvenile justice system is expressly designed to provide.
Unfortunately, the neglect of justice-involved girls is not limited to the adult system. Girls in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems are more likely to have experienced past physical and sexual abuse, trauma, and mental health challenges. In fact, the behavior that results in girls is often related to trying to escape, survive, or cope with extensive abuse. These drivers disproportionately result in the detention and commitment of girls of color, LBTQ girls, and girls who are gender non-conforming.  In the most extreme circumstances, girls are actually criminalized because of their victimization.
The pathways that gendered violence creates for girls into the justice system were highlighted a 2015 report by Rights4Girls, The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the Ms. Foundation for Women entitled, The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story. According to the report, across the country, girls in the juvenile justice system had extremely high rates of sexual violence, sexual abuse, and family violence.  In South Carolina, 81% of girls reported experiencing sexual violence, and in Oregon 76% reported sexual abuse.  In Florida, 84% of girls reported being victims of family violence.  The report also emphasized the lack of understanding, data, and appropriate responses to the unique needs of girls.
The Abuse to Prison Pipeline is the result not only of the high prevalence of physical and sexual abuse among girls, particularly marginalized girls, but also our inability to appropriately respond to girls’ behaviors when they are a direct result of the trauma they have endured. A recent report by Francine Sherman, Unintended Consequences: The Collateral Consequences of Mandatory DV Laws, highlights the increase in girls being charged with simple assault for instances of intra-familial violence. Instead of providing families with appropriate interventions, children who are often victims of domestic abuse are instead criminalized.  
Subjecting girls to the Abuse to Prison Pipeline is not the way to help girls grow, mature, and rehabilitate to meet their incredible potential.  Too often, our most traumatized and victimized girls end up behind bars when they should be met with services. In Ohio, Bresha Meadows currently sits in juvenile detention facing a charge for shooting her father in an effort to protect her mother and herself from domestic violence. Imagine if her family had received the appropriate interventions so that Bresha and her mother were safe from the domestic abuse they endured for years.   
In honor of Bresha, Latesha, and the countless girls behind bars around the country, we encourage families, advocates, and those who work in the juvenile or adult criminal justice system to take action on today, Girls Justice Day.  Tweet, write, and/or meet with members of Congress and tell them to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) by voting in favor of H.R. 5963.  The bill passed the House on September 22nd and is now in the Senate.  The reauthorized bill includes important protections for girls including:
  • Incentives for states to create prevention programming for girls at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system
  • Screening girls in the juvenile justice system for child sex trafficking and diverting them towards community-based programming wherever possible
  • Ending the use of unnecessary restraints on pregnant and post-partum girls
  • Encouraging states to limit use of the Valid Court Order exception, which has led to the disproportionate detention of girls who commit non-violent offenses
  • Ensuring that state juvenile justice advisory groups involve individuals with specific expertise in addressing the needs of girls
In addition, encourage your state and local policymakers and system administrators to implement practices and programs that result in better outcomes for girls.   Fund prevention programs that keep girls from being physically or sexually abused.  Divert girls who have been subject to the Abuse to Prison pipeline away from the juvenile and adult justice system whenever possible, and toward more community-based supports.  To the extent possible, girls should be kept in their homes or as close to their homes as possible in settings that provide trauma and gender-responsive programming, education, and therapeutic support.   In those rare cases when girls must be in secure care, girls and all youth under 18, should always be held in juvenile settings and not in the adult system.
Finally, and most importantly, we need to take the time to ask girls in the system what their needs are—they are the experts on their own lives. When they tell us—we need to listen. Only then will we be able to stop the Abuse to Prison Pipeline and ensure that all of our girls have the opportunity to thrive.
 
 
 
 

Guest Column: Violence at Spring Creek: It's not the kids, it's the culture

Rebecca T. Wallace and Elizabeth Logemann Guest columnists Friday, 30 September 2016

By: Rebecca T. Wallace and Elizabeth Logemann Guest columnists 

 

Originally posted in the Colorado Springs Gazette

In a recent Gazette article, it was reported that Spring Creek Correctional Facility is again erupting with assaults and riots, leaving youths and staff frightfully unsafe. After more than two years of hearing these kinds of reports from Spring Creek, it has become increasingly clear that the facility is plagued by an unforgiving and punitive culture that breeds violence and chaos. Staff now attribute the source of the violence to restrictions on their use of solitary confinement and other punitive measures. That should send off alarm bells. When staff charged with rehabilitating at-risk youths lament that they can't do their job unless they can lock children in torturous and widely discredited solitary confinement, we know there is a serious culture problem at the facility.

Psychological and rehabilitative experts from around the country are unanimous in their finding that solitary confinement hurts children and is wholly counterproductive to rehabilitation. What's more, it has been proved that evidence-based, nationally accepted best practices - which rely on building one-on-one relationships rather than isolation and restraint - work to reduce recidivism while keeping children and staff safe from violence.

Look to Missouri, which has adopted an approach to youth corrections that is founded on the idea that children are a work in progress and that all youths are redeemable and changeable. After shutting down its large and notoriously violent juvenile detention facility in Boonville in 1983, Missouri began to build small group homes and adopted a rehabilitative model where staff are strongly discouraged from using seclusion and restraint to manage even violent youths. Youths are instead immersed in an intensive, therapeutic treatment program led by development specialists rather than correctional guards and are provided a wide range of vocational and academic opportunities. Facility staff keep children safe primarily through relationship building and compassionate de-escalation, rather than through solitary confinement and restraint. The results are astounding. Compared with youth correctional staff in other states, Missouri staff are 14 times less likely to be assaulted. Compared with their peers in other states, Missouri in-custody youths are 4.5 times less likely to be assaulted, 17 times less likely to be placed in mechanical restraints and 228 times less likely to be placed in isolation. Recidivism rates are some of the lowest in the country, and high school graduation rates are on par with Missouri children who are out of custody.

These results show unequivocally that when children are treated with compassion, while given individualized attention and opportunities for meaningful growth, detention facilities become safer. Pleas from the Spring Creek staff to return to punitive measures, like increased solitary confinement and more restraints, demonstrate with clarity that the facility is on the wrong path. And it is no wonder. While leadership within the Division of Youth Corrections has long said it is committed to implementing nationally accepted best practices and curbing solitary confinement and restraint, it has seen four directors in the past two years - the most recent of whom departed in the wake of the latest Spring Creek scandal. Spring Creek has also seen at least three different facility directors during that same time period. Without consistent, committed leadership at the top, we cannot expect to see meaningful cultural change among line staff.

Finally, although you would not know it from staff accounts, the source of limitations on Spring Creek staff's ability to use solitary confinement is state law that has been in place since 1999. That law prohibits solitary confinement of youths except during an ongoing emergency. In 2014, our child advocacy coalition discovered that staff were placing children in isolation for days, weeks and even months at a time to punish them, in direct violation of the law. This was occurring at precisely the same time Spring Creek staff were complaining of rampant violence in the facility. Clearly, then, it is not the use or nonuse of solitary confinement that is driving the violence.

After more than two years of complaints and assaults, we must acknowledge the true root cause - a persistent punitive culture that must change.

-

Rebecca T. Wallace is ACLU of Colorado staff attorney and policy counsel, and Elizabeth Logemann is Colorado Juvenile Defender Center (CJDC) supervising attorney.

 

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Marcy Mistrett Thursday, 29 September 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is almost here, and this month we are turning Awareness into Action!

YJAM’s goal is to bring attention to a movement that prevents youth from entering the adult criminal justice system. Nearly 200,000 youths a year are tried, convicted, and incarcerated as adults in our country annually. YJAM works to unite people to take a stand together and become the voices for the silenced, incarcerated youths of their communities. For the past 8 years, people nationwide have hosted YJAM events and fundraisers. This October, you can also bring the movement to your community!

Visit our website, www.campaignforyouthjustice.org/yjam to learn more about YJAM and access an event planning guide. Our guide will help you plan anything from a dinner party to a concert and festival. You can also donate and encourage friends to sign up for our weekly YJAM newsletter to receive news on upcoming YJAM walk/5ks, film screenings, and other YJAM events near you (Sign up).

Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@justiceforyouth), Facebook (Campaign for Youth Justice) and Instagram (@justiceforyouth), to stay up to date on the latest juvenile justice news and happenings.

Also please,follow the hashtag #YJAM to see what others are doing for the month and share your own YJAM event and pictures! We hope you are inspired to take action, and together, we can stop the prosecution of juveniles as adults.

Thank you for your continued support. Let’s get ready to YJAM!

Take Action to Protect Youth in Adult Facilities Using Our PREA Action Kit

Jeree Thomas Wednesday, 28 September 2016

PREA Week:

October 10 - 14, 2016

#ImplementPREA #EndPrisonRape #NoExcuses

CFYJ PREA orange 01

 

How can you help?

We need you to encourage your Governor to certify your state’s compliance with PREA by October 15th.   If your Governor can not certify, he or she should release a statement of what it will take for the state to certify compliance with PREA during the next audit cycle. In addition to working to eliminate sexual assault in prisons, PREA has a Youthful Inmate Standard to protect youth under 18 in adult facilities.

Take Action: Contact your Governor Today! Use our sample tweets to encourage your governor to certify PREA compliance on October 15th.

Sample Tweets

@GovernorX The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to end sexual abuse behind bars. Act now to #EndPrisonRape

@GovernorX Youth are 36x more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility #ImplementPREA

@GovernorX 65% of Youth reported being victimized more than once in adult facilities #ImplementPREA

@Governor X Jails & prisons are not equipped on their own to protect youth from the dangers of adult facilities. #ImplementPREA 

 

@GovernorX PREA incentivizes states to detect, prevent & respond to sexual abuse in jails and prisons #ImplementPREA

 

@GovernorX No More Excuses! To protect youth from dangers of adult facilities we must #ImplementPREA TODAY! #youthjustice

Governor Twitter Handles
 

AL – Robert Bentley @GovernorBentley

AK – Bill Walker @AkGovBillWalker

AZ – Doug Ducey @dougducey

AR – Asa Hutchinson @AsaHutchinson

CA – Jerry Brown @JerryBrownGov

CO – John Hickenlooper @GovofCO

CT – Dannel Malloy @GovMalloyOffice

DE – Jack Markell @GovernorMarkell

DC – Muriel Bowser @MayorBowser

FL – Rick Scott @FLGovScott

GA – Nathan Deal @GovernorDeal

HI – David Ige @GovHawaii

ID – Butch Otter @ButchOtter

IL – Bruce Rauner  @GovRauner

IN – Mike Pence @GovPenceIN

IA – Terry Branstad @TerryBranstad

KS – Sam Brownback @govsambrownback

KY – Matt Bevin @GovMatBevin

LA – John Bel Edwards @LouisianaGov

ME – Paul LePage @Governor_LePage

MD – Larry Hogan @LarryHogan

MA – Charlie Baker @MassGovernor

MI – Rick Snyder @onetoughnerd

MN – Mark Dayton @GovMarkDayton

MS – Phil Bryant @PhilBryantMS

MO – Jay Nixon @GovJayNixon

MT – Steve Bullock @GovernorBullock

NE – Pete Ricketts @GovRicketts

NV – Brian Sandoval @GovSandoval

NH – Maggie Hassan @GovernorHassan

NJ – Chris Christie @GovChristie

NM – Susana Martinez @Gov_Martinez

NY – Andrew Cuomo @NYGovCuomo

NC – Pat McCrory  @PatMcCroryNC

ND– Jack Dalrymple   @NDGovDalrymple

OH – John Kasich @JohnKasich

OK – Mary Fallin  @GovMaryFallin

OR – Kate Brown @OregonGovBrown

PA – Tom Wolf @GovernorTomWolf

RI – Gina Raimondo  @GinaRaimondo

SC – Nikki Haley @nikkihaley

SD – Dennis Daugaard  @SDGovDaugaard

TN – Bill Haslam @BillHaslam

TX – Greg Abbott @GovAbbott

UT – Gary Herbert @GovHerbert

VT – Peter Shumlin  @GovPeterShumlin

VA – Terry McAuliffe @GovernorVA

WA – Jay Inslee @GovInslee

WV – Earl Ray Tomblin @GovTomblin

WI – Scott Walker @GovWalker

WY – Matt Mead   @GovMattMead

 

Take Action: Sign on here to the Campaign’s Petition to the National Sheriff’s Association to support the removal of youth from adult jails and lockups.

Take Action: Share your experience

In order to understand first hand and support recommendations for change, we need to hear about the experiences of those affected by the current system. If you or a member of your family has been impacted by juvenile and criminal justice policies, please tell us your story using our online toolkits, which can be accessed at http://campaignforyouthjustice.org/take-action/share-your-story-testimonials.These toolkits contain everything you need to effectively tell your story, including consent forms, writing tips and topics to address, and example stories

The Campaign for Youth Justice is also deeply committed to cultivating spokespersons to tell the world why children should not be treated the same as adults in the criminal justice system. If you are interested in learning more about CFYJ or interested in joining our Spokesperson Bureau you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (202) 558-3580.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready for Girls Justice Day on October 4, 2016!

Jeree Thomas Wednesday, 28 September 2016

 

Girls Justice Day Action Kit

October 4, 2016
During National Youth Justice Action Month in October, the Campaign for Youth Justice wants to highlight the strength, resilience, and needs of girls who have had contact with the juvenile or adult justice systems.  For more information on the experiences that push girls into the system and what you can do to take action on behalf of girls, check out the tool kit below.

Reports:
The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls Story
OJJDP Policy Guidance: Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls
No Place for Youth: Girls in the Adult Justice System

Organizations:
Rights4Girls
The National Crittenton Foundation
National Resource Center for Justice Involved Women

OJJDP National Girls Initiative

Take Action: Share Information about Girls Justice Day with friends & family on social media!

 Sample Facebook Post:
National Institute of Corrections Report: 6 things the justice system can do to support justice-involved girls:
  1. Minimize harm to girls in the system
  2. Provide appropriate programming and services
  3. Use gender- and age-appropriate classification tools and risk and needs assessments
  4. Create opportunities for Relationship Building with Peers, Family Members, and Community Supports and Resources
  5. Provide Off Ramps Out of the System
  6. Listen to Girls
Learn more about supporting justice-involved girls! #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/1KKVhcv

Too many girls are behind bars because of the #AbusetoPrisonPipeline. Learn more about supporting justice-involved girls and what Girls Justice Day is all about! http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

Tell Your Senator to Vote in Favor of the Reauthorized Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bill: H.R. 5963.  H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity & Preventing Delinquency Act because it will provide greatly needed supports for justice-involved girls, such as:

  • Incentivizing states to create prevention programming for girls at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system;
  • Screening girls in the juvenile justice system for child sex trafficking and diverting them towards community-based programming wherever possible;
  • Ending the use of unnecessary restraints on pregnant and post-partum girls;
  • Encouraging states to limit the use of the Valid Court Order exception, which has led to the disproportionate detention of girls who commit non-violent offenses.

Sample Tweets

Keep girls safe and out of the adult justice system! #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/2dzsFLJ

Keep girls safe! Girls do not belong in adult facilities.  #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/2dzsFLJ

Girls should never be subject to the #AbuseToPrisonPipeline   #GirlsJusticeDay  http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

Adult facilities are no place for girls #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/2dzsFLJ

Bresha Meadows is a victim of the #AbuseToPrisonPipeline. Girls deserve protection, not jail. #GirlsJusticeDay  http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

Latesha Clay is a victim of #childsextrafficking. She deserves services not jail. #NoSuchThing #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

Pregnant girls behind bars should never be shackled. #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/2cTh0TV

Gynnya McMillen was one of too many girls arrested for behavior link to abuse within the home #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/2dzrewR

We must take action on behalf of the thousands of girls subjected to the #AbuseToPrisonPipeline #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

In our fight to end mass incarceration, we can’t forget #girlsbehindbars #GirlsJusticeDay http://bit.ly/1KKVhcv 

Take Action: Tell Your Senator to Vote in Favor of the Reauthorized Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bill: H.R. 5963.

  1. Find contact information for your U.S. Senator here: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
  2. Email or call your Senator and tell him or her to support H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity & Preventing Delinquency Act because it will provide greatly needed supports for justice-involved girls, such as:
    1. Incentivizing states to create prevention programming for girls at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system;
    2. Screening girls in the juvenile justice system for child sex trafficking and diverting them towards community-based programming wherever possible;
    3. Ending the use of unnecessary restraints on pregnant and post-partum girls;
    4. Encouraging states to limit the use of the Valid Court Order exception, which has led to the disproportionate detention of girls who commit non-violent offenses.

Take Action:  Tell your Governor to prioritize the needs of girls in your state.

 

Sample Tweets:

@GovernorX keep girls safe and out of the adult justice system! #GirlsJusticeDay2016  http://bit.ly/2dzsFLJ

 

@GovernorX Girls should never be subject to the #AbusetoPrisonPipeline. Prioritize girls in your policies.   http://bit.ly/1fp0qfM

AL – Robert Bentley @GovernorBentley

AK – Bill Walker @AkGovBillWalker

AZ – Doug Ducey @dougducey

AR – Asa Hutchinson @AsaHutchinson

CA – Jerry Brown @JerryBrownGov

CO – John Hickenlooper @GovofCO

CT – Dannel Malloy @GovMalloyOffice

DE – Jack Markell @GovernorMarkell

DC – Muriel Bowser @MayorBowser

FL – Rick Scott @FLGovScott

GA – Nathan Deal @GovernorDeal

HI – David Ige @GovHawaii

ID – Butch Otter @ButchOtter

IL – Bruce Rauner  @GovRauner

IN – Mike Pence @GovPenceIN

IA – Terry Branstad @TerryBranstad

KS – Sam Brownback @govsambrownback

KY – Matt Bevin @GovMatBevin

LA – John Bel Edwards @LouisianaGov

ME – Paul LePage @Governor_LePage

MD – Larry Hogan @LarryHogan

MA – Charlie Baker @MassGovernor

MI – Rick Snyder @onetoughnerd

MN – Mark Dayton @GovMarkDayton

MS – Phil Bryant @PhilBryantMS

MO – Jay Nixon @GovJayNixon

MT – Steve Bullock @GovernorBullock

NE – Pete Ricketts @GovRicketts

NV – Brian Sandoval @GovSandoval

NH – Maggie Hassan @GovernorHassan

NJ – Chris Christie @GovChristie

NM – Susana Martinez @Gov_Martinez

NY – Andrew Cuomo @NYGovCuomo

NC – Pat McCrory  @PatMcCroryNC

ND– Jack Dalrymple   @NDGovDalrymple

OH – John Kasich @JohnKasich

OK – Mary Fallin  @GovMaryFallin

OR – Kate Brown @OregonGovBrown

PA – Tom Wolf @GovernorTomWolf

RI – Gina Raimondo  @GinaRaimondo

SC – Nikki Haley @nikkihaley

SD – Dennis Daugaard  @SDGovDaugaard

TN – Bill Haslam @BillHaslam

TX – Greg Abbott @GovAbbott

UT – Gary Herbert @GovHerbert

VT – Peter Shumlin  @GovPeterShumlin

VA – Terry McAuliffe @GovernorVA

WA – Jay Inslee @GovInslee

WV – Earl Ray Tomblin @GovTomblin

WI – Scott Walker @GovWalker

WY – Matt Mead   @GovMattMead

 

Register, Vote, and Reform

Emily Sands & Brian Evans Monday, 26 September 2016 Posted in Take Action Now

Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count! Today is National Voter Registration Day, and it is vital to ensure you are able to cast your ballot on Election Day. One of the best ways to fight for youth justice is to vote for those who have the power to create legislative policy change. The children that are impacted by this legislation have to rely on the voting power of those who are of legal voting age.  You can be their advocate during this election!

The statistics on voter registration and participation are grim. The census bureau reported that in the 2012 presidential election only 65% of all citizens were registered to vote and only about 57% actually voted. The numbers for local and state elections are even lower. It is important not to get caught in this apathetic voting trap. Your vote will help choose representatives who understand the importance of creating a justice system that protects children.  

The power of voting isn’t only relevant at the national level. It is equally as significant to vote for your local representatives. Whether you are voting for judges, prosecutors, or state legislators, each vote can act as a step toward reform.  Your local representatives are going to have the greatest impact on possible policy changes, and your prosecutors and judges will have a tremendous impact on how youth are treated in practice.

Those you elect will be making vital decisions that could drastically improve the lives of kids most susceptible to being abandoned to the adult justice system. Policies such as raising the age for being tried as an adult, eliminating solitary confinement for juveniles, and creating alternatives to the traditional juvenile system are just a few of the ways we can construct a safer justice system for youth. We can no longer wait to address these issues when the risks for children in the system are so high. Don’t leave it to someone else to confront these challenges. You can play a powerful role in the campaign by casting your ballot and allowing your voice to be heard.

So don’t wait! Be part of the efforts to change the system and register to vote today!  

The American Correctional Association’s Policy Could Help Bring Adult Facilities One Step Closer to PREA Compliance

Jeree Thomas Tuesday, 13 September 2016 Posted in Federal Update

In late August, the American Correctional Association (ACA) announced its newly adopted policy on the use of restrictive housing in adult jails and prisons. In addition to the policy, they announced a set of expected practices or standards that are in the final stages of field testing.

Restrictive housing, also known and experienced by youth and adults across the country as segregation, isolation, and solitary confinement, is dangerous and often inhumane.  Youth and adults placed in restrictive housing are separated from the general population, held in their rooms for 22-hours a day with limited programming, and many times limited human contact.  According to the ACA policy statement, the goal of the policy is to encourage correctional facilities to use the practice in a “justly, humanely and… constitutionally correct manner…”  Specifically, the ACA calls for the creation of policies and procedures that “[f]orbid solitary confinement that results in isolation… [and] [p]rohibit agencies from confining offenders under the age of 18 in extended restrictive housing.” 

This policy on restrictive housing aligns with one of the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s (PREA) Youthful Inmate Standard.

The Youthful Inmate Standard requires agencies to make their best effort to avoid using isolation on youth in adult facilities in order to comply with requirements to house and keep youth and adults separate in adult facilities.[1] The policy also reflects the Department of Justice’s report and recommendations released in January 2016 to limit the use of restrictive house.[2]

On October 15th, Governors across the country will provide the Department of Justice with certification of compliance with PREA or an assurance that they will spend five percent of their funding to come into compliance with PREA.  The ACA’s new policy statement should be used to encourage those Governors who are not in compliance with the Youthful Inmate Standard to makes sure their state correctional policies, procedures, and practices protect youth in adult jails and prison from solitary confinement and extended restrictive housing.  It is critical that Governors hear from communities about the importance of complying with PREA, and particularly the Youthful Inmate Standard which protects one of the most vulnerable populations in adult facilities.  Call, email, write a letter, or tweet your Governor today and during PREA Action Week, October 10th-14th. 

If we want our youth to reenter communities as law-abiding citizens we must at the very least treat them like human beings and show them what it means to be law-abiding.  Tell your Governor to show youth what it means to be law-abiding by ensuring your state is in full compliance with PREA. 
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[1] Youthful Inmate, National PREA Resource Center, (Last Updated Feb. 7, 2013)  http://www.prearesourcecenter.org/faq/youthful-inmates

[2] Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing, U.S. Department of Justice (Jan. 2016) https://www.justice.gov/dag/file/815551/download

It’s Back to School Week For Most Kids

Marcy Mistrett Wednesday, 07 September 2016 Posted in Across the Country

Youth Locked Up As Adults Remain Where Punishment Reigns Over Childhood

 

As I scan social media this week, I’m met with many “milestone” pictures of children on their way back to another year of school.  There are many common threads among these photos,—new shoes, new uniforms, new hairstyles, new smiles with missing teeth, new teachers to learn from and new friends to meet, new books to read and new school buildings to navigate.  But to a tee—all the pictures signify the start of something new and exciting-with parents who tenderly comment on how hard it is to watch their children grow up so fast.

Interspersed among these delightful “back to school” pictures, a quieter and unhappier thread is also unspun.  It’s the stories of children who won’t be returning to school this week; those who have been locked up as adults and housed in facilities where rehabilitation and their future aren’t a priority; where punishment reigns over childhood. It’s the story of Miriam Abdullah in Arizona, who died of suicide in an adult jail shortly after her 18th birthday-she had been there since she was 16-and in isolation since March.  It’s the headline that Brendan Dassey’s case was reversed, after ten years of incarceration and being locked up in an adult facility since he was 16.  It’s the finding from an appellate court in Wisconsin that upholds the decision to try the two young girls (age 12 at arrest) as adults who acted on auditory hallucinations of a fictional character, Slenderman, telling them to harm their friend. 

Juvenile justice systems were created to rehabilitate children, which means their staff are trained to work specifically with youth.  It is a system, that when run well, balances public safety with rehabilitation—an approach that is supported by the vast majority of people across the country.  It means that children under the care of the juvenile justice system have access to education and recreation while incarcerated; that family engagement is considered part of treatment; that mental health and substance abuse treatment is provided to those youth who need it.  That the system sees their role as temporary, and understands the real work of changing lives takes place in the context of home and community.

This is not so in the criminal justice system, that was created to punish adults for breaking the law.  Youth who are transferred to criminal court do not fare well.  Beyond their exposure to violence and vulnerability to sexual and physical assault or lengthy isolation, children in adult facilities lack access to even basic education.   In the rare case that education is offered (11% of jails offer education opportunities) in the months or years that youth are pending trial, it is often only GED preparation; while if they were held in a juvenile facility, they could continue earning high school credits.  For those who managed to finish high school before their arrests, they could use PELL Grants to take a college class if detained in a youth facility—outside of a small handful of pilot programs, this opportunity would not be provided to youth in the adult system.  Despite the fact that research has shown that access to education is a key factor in reducing recidivism, youth who sit in adult jails and prisons receive no such benefit.  

In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which includes new provisions to strengthen correctional education for youth in juvenile facilities and eligible adult correctional institutions.    Under ESSA, State Education Agencies will receive federal funding if they submit a complete state plan with procedures to evaluate the educational needs of youth in these facilities, better coordinate the transfer of student records and credits, improve reentry planning, and help youth re-enroll back into school or an alternative program upon release.  Unlike juvenile facilities, adult correctional facilities are a lot less likely to meet ESSA eligibility requirements, because far fewer adult facilities provide at least 15 hours of educational programs to youth. 

So, as we start another school year, I ask state governors and legislatures to review their transfer and certification laws in order to serve youth in the juvenile justice system where they are guaranteed greater access to appropriate services.  I also ask citizens to contact their State Education Agency and their State Board of Education, and demand a strong education plan and sound procedures for incarcerated youth under Title I Part D of ESSA.    Research shows that keeping justice-involved youth engaged in their academics reduces recidivism and results in better reentry outcomes. Not only will action on this issues keep your communities safer, but you will provide a second chance to a young person.  In the famous words of the UNCF, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

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