|Thankful for Your Hard Work
There’s a lot to be thankful for this week. The Youth First team is thankful for the hard work and dedication we’ve seen this year from youth justice advocates in Wisconsin, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, California, and all across the country. Your hard work is creating a more just and compassionate system that provides the care and support young people need.
This Thanksgiving, we are also thinking of all the young people who are unable to be with their families and loved ones because they are locked away in harmful and outdated youth prisons. We continue to work everyday to bring our kids home.
Taking a Stand in Wisconsin
Jeffrey Roman of Youth Justice Milwaukee speaks at the press conference with community leaders to call for the closure of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake.
Last week, advocates with Youth Justice Milwaukee held a press conference with local lawmakers, faith leaders and formerly incarcerated young people. They called for the closure of their broken youth prisons, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, and demanded that local judges and leaders stop sending young people from Milwaukee County to a facility under federal investigation for abuse and four hours from their homes and community.
We are proud of the hard work that all of the advocates put in and want to thank the speakers, Jeffrey Roman, co-founder of Youth Justice Milwaukee, Klaranda, a young woman who was incarcerated in Copper Lake and bravely called for its closure, Sean Wilson, Youth Justice Milwaukee coalition member, State Senator Lena Taylor, Pastor Walter Lanier, and Dr. Ramel Smith, a child psychologist. The press conference was a success and you can see more on the conference in these stories:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Youth advocates push to close Wisconsin youth prisons, call for judges to stop sending teens to Lincoln Hills
WUWM: Milwaukee Leaders Want State to Shutter Lincoln Hills And Copper Lake
Showing The Community’s Strength in Virginia
Last night, RISE for Youth, Youth First’s campaign partner in Virginia, demonstrated the community’s power in Chesapeake, Virginia. For months, RISE for Youth has been working to stop the state from building a new youth prison in Chesapeake. The facility proposed would be too large and too far away from the communities where many vulnerable young people are from. RISE for Youth has been leading the opposition to the youth prison proposal, with town halls, visioning sessions, and community engagement. One homeowner even penned this opinion piece detailing how RISE for Youth’s work helped change his mind about the proposed prison.
RISE’s organizing work paid off: last night, the City Council cancelled its planned vote on the proposal. RISE for Youth hosted a press conference ahead of the meeting, and explained why the Council should reject the proposal. Thanks to RISE’s organizing, the City Manager withdrew the application for the youth prison. RISE for Youth’s activism and leadership truly made a difference in this conversation.
Looking Ahead to December
We’ve seen amazing work to change youth justice, and we are excited for what December holds. Thank you all for never faltering in the fight for justice!
The Youth First Team