President Signs Proclamation for National Youth Justice Awareness Month
We're excited to announce that President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation observing October as National Youth Justice Awareness Month. In his release, the President calls on americans to "observe this month by getting involved in community efforts to support our youth, and by participating in appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs."
Read the full release.
The chorus of voices calling for criminal and youth justice reform, from all points of the political spectrum, has never been louder. This is a good thing, yet some groups, like youth charged as adults, continue to fall through the cracks. That’s why Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) is more important than ever.
Since its first year back in 2008, YJAM has continued to grow, with more groups holding more events in more places. Also since that time, 30 of states have passed 48 laws reforming the system and reducing the number of kids subjected to the adult criminal justice system.
But while we should celebrate these steps forward, we have to acknowledge that there is MUCH left to do. The way we treat kids in our justice system is directly contradicted by science, and continues to be riddled with racial biases and disparities. Nine states still need to “Raise the Age” because they consider all youth to be criminally responsible at age 17 (or in the case of New York and North Carolina, age 16), no matter how minimal the charge. Fifteen states still empower prosecutors to “Directly File” kids into the adult criminal justice system without any judicial review. 23 states (including Washington, DC) have not set a minimum age of when a child can be prosecuted as an adult. Kids are too often still housed in adult jails and prisons, either with adult prisoners, or isolated in solitary confinement.
Raising awareness is an essential first step to ending these practices, and raising awareness is what YJAM is all about. Throughout this month, Campaign for Youth Justice and other groups and individuals will be highlighting the stories of those directly impacted by, and those with expert knowledge of, this system that unjustly (and counter-productively) treats kids as adults.
Please help us share and amplify these stories; they are the key to opening the hearts and minds of those with the authority to legislate change.
Learn more about how you can get involved.