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POLICY REFORMS ON YOUTH JUSTICE: SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS, STRATEGIES AND TACTICS LIZ RYAN CAMPAIGN FOR YOUTH JUSTICE.

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Presentation on theme: "POLICY REFORMS ON YOUTH JUSTICE: SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS, STRATEGIES AND TACTICS LIZ RYAN CAMPAIGN FOR YOUTH JUSTICE."— Presentation transcript:

1 POLICY REFORMS ON YOUTH JUSTICE: SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS, STRATEGIES AND TACTICS LIZ RYAN CAMPAIGN FOR YOUTH JUSTICE

2 OVERVIEW U.S. leads the world in incarceration, including incarceration of youth (under 18). Every year an estimated 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced and incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system. Most of these youth are not in adult court for serious, violent crimes.

3 OVERVIEW Youth who are charged as adults can be held pre-trial in adult jails where they are at risk of assault, abuse and death. An estimated 7,500 youth in adult jails on any day. Youth sentenced as adults can be placed in adult prisons. An estimated 2,700 youth in adult prisons on any day. ACLU/HRW estimate 100,000 youth in adult jails and prisons annually in the U.S.

4 OVERVIEW Leading professional associations of juvenile and criminal justice stakeholders oppose these policies. Federal protections dont apply to this population. Most youth are not seen by a judge or have a hearing before they are sent to adult court.

5 OVERVIEW Youth of color are disproportionately impacted. Girls affected, but little information is collected/known. The consequences of prosecuting youth in adult court are serious, long-term, life-threatening and in some cases deadly.

6 OVERVIEW Research shows that these laws do not promote public safety: Youth more likely to re-offend. Limited data on the scope: Only 13 states collect data on youth in adult court. No cost benefit to this approach: Taxpayers will pay more for this policy in the long-term in criminal justice costs.

7 OVERVIEW The U.S. in an outlier among nations: U.S. has not adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which says that children who are detained should be separated from adults and should not be subjected to torture or other inhumane forms of punishment. U.S. imposes prison sentences for children who have not been convicted of the most serious offenses (in violation of Article 40 of the CRC). U.S. does not ensure access to services to meet childrens needs while in custody (in violation of Article 37 of the CRC).

8 OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE Research shows this approach does not work: U.S. Department of Justice Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Brookings Institution

9 OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE Polling shows that the public: Rejects the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons Favors rehabilitation and treatment approaches such as counseling, education, treatment, restitution and community service Favors involving the youths families in treatment, keeping youth close to home and ensuring youth are connected with their families Favors individualized determinations on a case-by-case basis by juvenile court judges in the juvenile justice system than automatic prosecuting in adult criminal court Supports requiring the juvenile justice system to reduce racial and ethnic disparities

10 OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE During past 6 years, 20+ states enacted 30+ pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal court and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons Trend 1: Remove youth from adult jails, prisons Trend 2: Raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction Trend 3: Change transfer laws to keep more youth in juvenile court Trend 4: Rethink sentencing laws for youth

11 TREND 1 Remove youth from adult jails, prisons ColoradoOregon MaineIdaho VirginiaMinnesota PennsylvaniaTexas Ohio States considering changes in 2013: Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Indiana PREA implementation may add to this list

12 TREND 2 Raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction Connecticut (all 16 & 17 year olds) Illinois (17 year olds charged with misdemeanors) Mississippi (17 year olds with exceptions for serious offenses) States considering in 2013: New York, North Carolina, Missouri, Massachusetts, Illinois (17 year olds charged with felonies), Wisconsin

13 TREND 3 Change transfer laws to keep more youth in juvenile court ArizonaVirginia ColoradoWashington ConnecticutIndiana DelawareNevada IllinoisUtah States considering in 2013: Maryland, Nevada, Missouri, Ohio

14 TREND 4 Rethink sentencing laws for youth Colorado Georgia Texas Washington California

15 CAMPAIGNS National Campaign Core Functions: National Clearinghouse Connector Technical Assistance to State-Based Campaigns Peer to Peer Support to Organizers Media Outreach & Communications Support Research Creation & Promotion Policy Development, Agenda Setting Coalition Building Family & Youth Engagement Spokespersons Training & Individual Story Collection

16 CAMPAIGNS State-based campaigns Core functions: Organizing Direct Action Policy Advocacy Research Media & Communications Coalition Building

17 STRATEGIES Set a bold goal: Reduce prosecution of youth in adult court, end placement of youth in adult jails and prisons Create policy platform Engage constituencies to endorse policy platform Directly affected youth and families involved Advocacy Steps: Goal, Targets, Strategies, Resources, Tactics, Funding (Midwest Academy Model)

18 TACTICS Visibility of campaign: Use of a brand, many constituents and unusual allies, essential to provide political cover Media coverage: Use strategically, regular & on-going crucial Direct actions: Vigils, Rallies, Advocacy Day, Hearings, Art events, Social media presence Spokespersons: Directly affected youth and their familes

19 LESSONS LEARNED Barriers to Success: (1) Lead advocate/group issues Not a priority Priority only if get a grant No full time organizer Lack of political savvy and/or advocacy skills Lawyers trying to be organizers Organization vs. campaign priorities at odds Conflict with advocates accepting government funds

20 LESSONS LEARNED Barriers to Success (2) Coalition Issues Competition / conflict with funder-led initiatives Too many groups wanting to take lead Competing priorities within the coalition Lack of a strong, diverse coalition Rely too much on system insiders

21 LESSONS LEARNED Barriers to Success (3) Agenda Compromising at the start and/or too early in the process Creating an agenda under big tent Lack of consensus on the agenda among key players Conflicting agenda with other groups

22 LESSONS LEARNED Barriers to Success (4) Opposition Ballot initiative states where it is very costly to overturn Organized opposition eg law enforcement, prosecutors Apathy, lack of priority by policymakers

23 LESSONS LEARNED Barriers to Success (5) Strategy Activity without strategy Fear of upsetting relationships with policymakers No strong legislative champions No follow through to watchdog after bill passes

24 LESSONS LEARNED Successful Strategies Goal: SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic, Targeted) Timeframe: 1-2 yrs short-term; 3-5 yrs long-term Directly affected youth and families involved Campaign is an independent vehicle, separate identity

25 LESSONS LEARNED Successful Strategies Governance structure: Clear, fair, timely and transparent decision-making; Consensus decision-making Dedicated resources: Staff, office, communications, activities Core functions: Organizing, Coalition building, Direct action, External communications, outreach, tools (lists, database, social media, action alerts, phone banking), policy & research, advocacy, legislative advocacy

26 LESSONS LEARNED Successful Strategies Articulated strategy on paper Shared philosophy & approach Evaluation: continuous, ability to retool Documentation Celebration

27 WRAP UP Contact: Liz Ryan Campaign for Youth Justice


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