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A Day of Empathy to Kick Off Juvenile Justice Month of Faith & Healing

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 Posted in Campaigns

By Jeree Thomas, Policy Director

March 1st is the National Day of Empathy.  It is a perfect start to the Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing.  The National Day of Empathy, created by the non-profit Dream Corp, is a call to action for those impacted by the prison industrial complex and issues within in the criminal justice system to meet with legislators on why criminal justice reform is so important to America’s future. 

The Power of Love

Monday, 13 February 2017 Posted in Campaigns

By Marcy Mistrett, CEO

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, and as the Executive Director of a national organization that ends the prosecution of youth in adult court, I am urging us all to embrace ‘the Power of Love’.

Since its inception, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), has insisted that impacted youth and families need to be equal partners at the reform table.  Why, You might ask?  First, because we know that those closest to the problem are best informed on ways to FIX the problem.  But beyond that, youth and family advocacy is critical because when drafting reforms, families always remind us of the potential of their child(ren) to learn from their mistakes and make amends, especially if they feel supported and loved.  It is this humanity that insists on urgency, resists compromise, and pushes for hope and possibility. Without families and youth at the table—reforms would not go nearly far enough.

New Year, More Possibilities

Brian Evans Monday, 23 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director

Last year was a pretty good one, at least for reforms and restrictions on the practice of transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system. Two states (Louisiana and South Carolina) Raised the Age of adult criminal court jurisdiction to 18, and two other states (California and Vermont) took away the power of prosecutors to “Direct File” children into the adult system. In addition, Washington DC and Arizona passed laws to keep kids out of adult jails, and Indiana enacted a law that will allow some youth charged as adults to return to the juvenile justice system.

State v. Aalim: Ending Mandatory Transfer of Youth to the Adult Court in Ohio

Monday, 09 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns, Voices

By Jeree Thomas, CFYJ Policy Director

Right before the holidays, on December 22, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided State v. Aalim and wrote an opinion that is a gift of true due process for Ohio’s youth at risk of mandatory transfer to the adult criminal justice system. 

In State v. Aalim, the Ohio Supreme Court held that the state’s mandatory transfer statute which requires the transfer of youth to the adult system when they are a certain age and have committed a certain offense “violates juveniles’ right to due process as guaranteed by Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution.”  Aalim argued and the Court agreed that due process requires that every youth receive an opportunity to demonstrate capacity to change, that youth is a mitigating, not aggravating factor, that the mandatory statute’s irrefutable presumption to transfer is fundamentally unfair, and that youth have a right to have their individual characteristics considered at every stage in a proceeding, not just sentencing.  As a result, the mandatory transfer statute does not provide due process, and is therefore unconstitutional. 

Looking Back

Brian Evans Thursday, 05 January 2017 Posted in Campaigns

A Look Back At 2016

2016 was in many ways – let’s face it – a wretched year. But for the work to protect youth from the horrors of the adult criminal justice system, 2016 was actually a pretty good year.

The states of South Carolina and Louisiana passed laws to raise the age of adult court jurisdiction to 18. The states of Vermont and California both ended the practice of allowing prosecutors, without judicial review, to “direct file” juveniles into adult court.

A new law in Indiana will allow some youth charged as adults to transfer back into the juvenile system, and a new law in Arizona will keep some kids charged as adults out of adult jails while they await their trials.  And Washington, D.C., included removing youth from adult jails in its Comprehensive Youth Justice Amendment Act of 2016.

California Voters End “Direct File”

Brian Evans, CFYJ State Campaign Director Wednesday, 09 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Brian Evans, State Campaign Director

Yesterday, outside the glare of the extremely contentious national election, California voters chose to end prosecutorial “direct file” by endorsing Prop 57. This result shows that the power of people to come together and do what is right for kids and communities is as strong as ever.

Prop 57 ends the “direct file” of juveniles, which is likely to keep many young people out of the adult system altogether. It also featured much discussed provisions for rehabilitation and early release of adults convicted of non-violent crimes. The vote was not close, with about 64% choosing to support the proposition.

Thank You for #YJAM 2016!

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 Posted in Campaigns

YJAM Thank You 11


As another Youth Justice Awareness Action Month draws to a close, there are at least two very important things left to do:


First: VOTE!
Organizing events, webinars, and online chats is vital for raising awareness and building support for positive changes to the way we approach youth justice, but on November 8, we can put that awareness into action. Folks in California can vote #YesOnProp57, and end the power of prosecutors to direct file kids into the adult court. In other states, voters can choose who prosecutes and/or judges our youth in courts of law, as well as legislators to pass and Governors to sign laws that reform flawed youth justice practices.


Second: Tell your Senator to vote to update the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
The JJDPA has been providing support for our country’s youth for over 40 years, and the new version (which has already passed in the U.S. House), will do even more to set standards and protections for youth in state juvenile justice programs. Tuesday, Nov 15. Call Sen McConnell 202-224-2541 and Sen Reid 202-224-3542 and ask them to pass JJDPA this Congress!


Let’s close #YJAM 2016 with a bang, by taking action in these two very important ways!

Guest Column: Empowering the Unheard

Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth Monday, 31 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Rahim Buford, Organizer for the Child Defense Fund, The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

I spend my days working to reform our justice system and volunteering in prisons and juvenile detention centers because my experience is similar to that of many youth who enter of justice system.

When I was 18, I was sentenced to life in prison, plus 20 years after I was convicted of felony murder. Despite the horror of that situation, my story neither begins nor ends with it.

 

Guest Column: Redeemed Juveniles Like Me Are Not the Exceptions

Xavier McElrath Bay, Youth Justice Advocate, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth Thursday, 20 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Xavier McElrath Bay, Youth Justice Advocate, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth

Today is special for me for several reasons.

For starters, I will have the honor of spending much of the day in a symposium at San Quentin State Prison in California. I especially look forward to sharing time with the members of KID C.A.T. (Creating Awareness Together), a group of individuals who were sentenced to life without parole when they were children. After years of incarceration, they created their own support group with a mission to organize acts of community service and goodwill.

During my first two visits to San Quentin earlier this year, I learned about the group’s past activities, which have included conducting food and hygiene product drives for the homeless, fundraising to sponsor youth involvement in community programs, raising awareness and money for cancer research, and folding hundreds of origami hearts for kids at Oakland’s Children’s Hospital. All these activities took place behind the walls of San Quentin and were facilitated by people once considered to be heartless, remorseless monsters as a result of the now-disproven “superpredator theory.”

 

Guest Column: Youth Justice Awareness Month: Transforming Awareness into Action

Jody Kent Lavy, Executive Director, The Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth Thursday, 20 October 2016 Posted in Campaigns

By Jody Kent Lavy, Executive Director of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month — as proclaimed by President Obama — and we are celebrating and honoring all of the hard work of community leaders, advocates, coalition builders, legislative champions, judicial officials, defenders, and directly impacted individuals who seek to ensure that our country holds children accountable in age-appropriate ways that account for their experiences with trauma and their capacity to grow and change.

Our partners at the Campaign for Youth Justice started Youth Justice Awareness Month in 2008 to draw attention to the need to end the prosecution of youth in the adult criminal justice system. As awareness has grown, so have opportunities to create change, so the founders have decided to focus this year and in the future on transforming awareness into action. We are thrilled to join them in their efforts.

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