6:00pm – 7:30pm
485 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Wednesday, May 17th
4850 W Fond Du Lac Ave
We hope you can join us for an event “A New Vision for Youth Justice” where we will be imagining a world without youth incarceration!
When: Friday, April 28th from 9-11am
Where: The Public Welfare Foundation, 1200 U Street, NW, Washington, DC
The event will feature:
Coffee & continental breakfast will be served starting at 9:00 am. The event will start promptly at 9:30 am.
All participants will receive a copy of the new report, Breaking Down the Walls: Lessons Learned from Successful State Campaigns to Close Youth Prisons.
To register go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-new-vision-for-youth-justice-tickets-33215088223?ref=estwenivtefor001
Today in Milwaukee, a coalition of community organizations, youth advocates and family members of youth involved in the juvenile justice system officially launched Youth Justice Milwaukee (YJM), a broad-based alliance leading the fight to close Wisconsin’s dangerous and outdated youth prisons. YJM hopes to replace the prisons with community-based, family-centered, restorative programs that are proven to work better and cost taxpayers less money.
Overwhelming evidence shows that youth prisons are harmful, ineffective and excessively expensive. New poll data today confirms that a vast majority of Milwaukeeans agree: 65 percent of adults in Milwaukee County, of all political stripes, support shifting the focus of the juvenile justice system from incarceration to prevention and rehabilitation. YJM’s coalition of advocates will fight to translate this public support into expanded alternative treatment options in Milwaukee County that give youth the opportunity to repair harm to victims and communities, such as intensive rehabilitation, education, job training, and community service.
“Our current system relies too heavily on locking up our youth, which seriously damages their chances at recovery and future success,” said Youth Justice Milwaukee’s Sharlen Moore. “Far too often, young people leave Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake worse off than when they came in. There are better approaches, and we are dedicated to making alternatives available here in Milwaukee County and across the state so our young people, families, and communities have the chance to recover and thrive.”
Youth in prison are routinely subjected to maltreatment which can exacerbate trauma, limit learning and lead to future recidivism. The rampant abuses at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Cooper Lake School for Girls have been widely documented, as they remain under investigation by the FBI. In recent months, allegations of sexual assault, use of pepper spray, strangulation and suffocation of youth, as well as destruction of public records, have renewed calls for the closure of these outdated, inhumane facilities. Earlier this year, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center sued state officials on behalf of four teenagers, for cruel and unusual punishment at these facilities.
“There is mounting evidence that our youth justice system must be reformed,” added Youth Justice Milwaukee’s Jeff Roman. “However, the proposal to build a new youth prison in Milwaukee County is a huge step backward because it doubles down on a failed system and would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. That’s why we’re committed to community-based solutions that work better while saving money.”
The new poll confirms widespread public support for alternative approaches that keep youth out of prison, finding that:
Prior to their official launch, YJM also released a list of recommendations for transforming Milwaukee’s broken juvenile justice system which can be found here.
Youth Justice Milwaukee is a broad-based campaign advocating for community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up children in Wisconsin’s youth prisons. Youth Justice Milwaukee represents a coalition of persons who were incarcerated as youth, families of youth who are or were incarcerated, service providers, and local and national youth justice advocates.
In March, Connecticut policymakers focused on plans for closing the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS), including a March 16 Juvenile Justice Oversight and Planning Committee (JJPOC) meeting where it was reported that legislators would seek to close CJTS earlier than previously planned. JJPOC members heard from Shaena Fazal, YAP’s Policy Director, who presented testimony on how Connecticut could create a continuum of care, including community-based alternatives to incarceration, for youth in the community as an alternative to CJTS. Her testimony included highlights from the recently released report by the National Collaboration for Youth that she authored, Beyond Bars. Data presented at the JJPOC meeting can be found here: JJPOC031617
Additionally, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on March 20th on legislation to that would halt admissions to CJTS by July 1, 2017. In testimony presented by Abby Anderson, Executive Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance (CTJJA), she stated, “While we realize that Governor Malloy has already pledged to close Connecticut Juvenile Training School, having the legislature officially mandate that closure is crucial. All branches of government need to work together to achieve this goal.” Testimony was provided by a number of organizations, including Youth First.
For additional information on advocacy efforts to close CJTS and redirect resources to community based alternatives to incarceration, visit the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance’s website here.
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:
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.