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Across the Country

Women’s Equality Day: Commemorating Progress While Fighting to Fulfill the Promise of Equality for ALL Women

Thursday, 17 August 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Anne-Lise Vray, Communications Associate

On August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, in “commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America won their right to vote, as an opportunity to continue to work for equal rights for ALL citizens.” While this is a day to celebrate and women have made many strides, we still have room for improvement to achieve equality for all. The treatment of  incarcerated girls and women in the criminal justice system is certainly one of those areas.  

International Youth Day 2017: Celebrating the Contribution of Youth to Transformation, Social Justice, and Peace

Friday, 11 August 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Jeree Thomas, Policy Director, and Tim Klipp, Juvenile Justice Fellow

August 12, 2017 is International Youth Day. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the day by resolution in December 1999. The adoption of the day occurred nearly a decade after the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among the rights outlined in the Convention are the right of children to stay connected to their parents when they are separated by State action, the right of children to express their views and to be heard in judicial and administrative proceedings, and the right to liberty in the criminal justice and juvenile justice context. Under Article 37 of the Convention, the use of “arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time...”   The United States has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is why International Youth Day is an important time to lift up the rights, voices, and needs of youth.

“Unalienable Rights”

Friday, 30 June 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Brian Evans, State Campaign Director

This July 4, we celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This Declaration did more than just begin the process of extricating 13 colonies from British rule. It asserted that “all men” had “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, establishing extremely lofty aspirations for the emerging United States of America.

These aspirations have not been met.

Showing Support For Our Most Vulnerable Youth During National Youth Violence Prevention Week

Thursday, 06 April 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Catherine Armstrong, Juvenile Justice Fellow

April 3-7 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week. This important week of advocacy is led by Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), a founding partner of the National Youth Violence Prevention Week Campaign. This year, the campaign is specifically focusing on the role we can all play in promoting safer communities that will help ensure fewer youth become engaged in violent behavior.

Remembering Youth in Adult Jails & Prisons during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Thursday, 30 March 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By William Tipton, CFYJ Policy & Research Fellow and Terri Poore, MSW, Policy Director at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) and the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) are partnering to highlight those vulnerable youth living in adult jails and prisons across the country as well as those laws and policies that can protect and support incarcerated youth if properly implemented.

Kent v. United States: Fifty-One Years of Due Process for Youth Waived to Adult Court

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Catie Armstrong, Juvenile Justice Fellow

March 21, 2017 marks the fifty-first anniversary of Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966).  In Kent, 16 year-old Morris Kent was arrested in Washington D.C. for various charges.  Kent was placed in police custody for 24 hours, and while in custody he was questioned repeatedly about the alleged offenses.  He eventually admitted to some of the offenses.  Kent’s mother hired an attorney to handle his case, and together they prepared to enter the juvenile court system.  But what happened next would unexpectedly define a generation of due process rights for youth waived to the adult criminal justice system.

International Women's Day: Standing in Solidarity with Justice-Involved Women

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Anne-Lise Vray, Communications Associate

Today, we wear red to stand in solidarity with our young justice-involved women. March 8 marks the 2017 edition of International Women’s Day, yet another occasion to remember that girls and women in the U.S. and across the world continue to face grave disparities and dangers in many – if not all - areas of society. When it comes to the justice system, girls are among the most vulnerable groups. They are the prime victims of the sexual abuse to prison pipeline, a term used to describe the pathways of gendered violence that lead girls into the juvenile justice system. And the numbers are terrifying. Reported rates of sexual abuse are more than four times higher for girls in the system than for boys. Rights 4 Girls cites that 1000 American children are arrested each year for prostitution and that 73 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system have histories of sexual and physical abuse, while 80 percent meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Additionally, girls are twice as likely as boys to report five or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), traumatic or stressful periods during childhood that may impair the brain’s ability to function (ACES, i.e emotional, physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect, household substance abuse etc). ACES may cause children to mistrust adults, have difficulties learning and/or making friends; all of which make young people vulnerable, including over-representation in youth-serving systems such as child welfare, juvenile justice and/or mental health systems.

The Justice System Continues to Fail Black Boys

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 Posted in Across the Country

By Aprill O. Turner, CFYJ Communications Director

As we begin another Black History Month, it is time to celebrate the contributions and history of African Americans in this country.  Along with the celebration of progress, it’s also a time to reflect on areas for improvement. How young Black boys are treated in the criminal justice system is one of those areas.

We are in a national crisis. Across the country our justice system is marked by disparate racial outcomes at every stage of the process — especially for those who are most vulnerable, young Black boys. The racial and ethnic disparities that exist in our criminal and juvenile justice systems do not measure up to the standard of treating everyone equitably.

International Human Rights Day: Let's give our youth the human rights they deserve.

Friday, 09 December 2016 Posted in Across the Country

By Anne-Lise Vray, Communications Associate

Human Rights are defined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status.” Such rights are protected by the law, including international treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the US has signed in 1995 but failed to ratify since then.

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.

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