The Youth First Initiative has released a new report “Breaking Down the Walls” highlighting the achievements of youth, families, and advocates in six states to help advance a new vision of youth justice. The report serves as a playbook for activists working to end the juvenile justice systems’ reliance on incarceration throughout the nation.
To accelerate the efforts to end harmful and inequitable youth incarceration, and to build on the work of the youth, families, and advocates who have fought successfully to close youth prisons, the Youth First Initiative looked at successful campaigns in six states, gathering lessons learned and strategies for success. “Breaking Down the Walls” features these multi-year strategies and campaigns:
- California’s campaign to end abuse facility conditions, close youth prisons
- New York’s No More Youth Jails & Empty Beds, Wasted Dollars campaigns
- Louisiana’s Close Talulah Now! campaign
- Texas’ legislative campaign to reduce youth incarceration
- DC’s campaign to close Oak Hill
- Singing the Blues for Mississippi’s imprisoned children
The strategies shared throughout this report are based on public documents as well as hours of conversations with youth, family members, and other advocates who generously gave their time to explain what they thought made their campaigns successful, as well as what they would do differently knowing what they do now.
The Youth First Initiative would like to acknowledge all the people who contributed to this effort. Sheila Bedi is the primary researcher and writer of this report with support from Sue Burrell, Carmen Daugherty, Mishi Faruqee, Will Harrell, Grace Bauer-Lubow, Lisa Pilnik, Liz Ryan, Marc Schindler, David Utter, and Jill Ward. The Youth First Initiative thanks: Lisa Pilnik, Editor; Sarah Baker, Copy Editor; Andy Stepanian, Designer; and Gladys Carrion, Tommy Croft, Tawanda Davis, Laura Talkington-Denies, Chino Hardin, Andre Holder, Derrick Johnson, Michael McIntosh, LaNita Mitchell, Amoretta Morris, Arja Nelson, Jonathan Stith, Jason Wang, and Ana Yanez-Correa.