Below is an excerpt from a blog dedicated to the Raise the Age Campaign written by Susan Stamler who manages the National Campaign to Reform State Juvenile Justice Systems

“Raise the Age New York, a public relations campaign designed to increase attention on the age of criminal responsibility, is spearheaded by Children’s Defense Fund – NY and Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, with support from BerlinRosen, a New York public relations firm. Campaign activities are supported by a steering committee including CDFNY, CCC, Center for Community Alternatives, Correctional Association, Families Together, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies,  NAACP, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, Westchester Children’s Association, and Youth Represent.  Over 60 organizations have endorsed the campaign including national and local advocates, youth, parents, law enforcement, legal representative groups, faith leaders, unions, and pediatric and adolescent health experts.

This campaign seeks to increase public awareness about the need for a comprehensive approach to raising the age of criminal responsibility in NYS.  Raise the Age New York  suggests that the legal process respond to all children as children and that services and placement options better meet the rehabilitative needs of all children and youth. In the campaign’s view comprehensive reform would address not only 16 and 17 year olds currently charged as adults in NY State, but also 13 and 15 year olds some of whom are also charged as adults, and finally, children as young as 7 who are charged as JDs.

The campaign has held launch events in New York City, Nassau County and Syracuse and is scheduling additional events across the state in the weeks to come.   Go to http://raisetheageny.com/ for more information on how to get involved in this state campaign and to learn about the campaign’s latest activities.”

50 Years After the Dream: Why Are We Filling Our Jails With Kids Of Color?

Fifty years after the March on Washington, President Obama stood on the National Mall and listed out some of the unfinished business of the civil rights movement. High up on the list: not letting our criminal justice system become “simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.”… Contrary to public perceptions, the worst racial disparities for African American children exist not in the South, but in the Midwest and Northeast.  To read more of this interesting article written by a juvenile justice policy strategist at the ACLU click here

Judge Names Community Facilitator Nicholas Turner To Aid In Stop-And-Frisk Reforms

Judge Shira Scheindlin has named Nicholas Turner, president of the VERA Institute of Justice, as the facilitator for reforms of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices. He will gather feedback on the stops from affected citizens. The court-appointed monitor who’s supposed to oversee reforms of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices now officially has a sidekick. Judge Shira Scheindlin on Wednesday named Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice, as the facilitator who will help the monitor, Peter Zimroth, develop reforms. To read more click here

Bill Thompson Calls For Reforms Of Juvenile Justice Practices

With a week to go in the Democratic primary, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson was joined by southeast Queens clergy and community leaders Tuesday morning when he laid out a platform involving the criminal justice system for young, non-violent offenders. Here is a quote from the press conference:  “The rules of our criminal justice system are failing young people and families, especially in our communities of color. We’re here today to call to an end of the prosecution of non-violent 16- and 17-year-olds as adults,” he explained. “Let me say this plainly: We’re not talking about individuals who use gun violence or commit violent felonies. We’re talking about non-violent misdemeanors, misdemeanors committed by teens who fail to fully see the consequences of their actions.” To read more click here

OP-ED: Is a Perfect Storm Heading Your Way?

There are synonymous meanings to the phrase “perfect storm,” but the one that describes the current state of the war on zero tolerance school policies is “a phenomenon that happens to occur in such confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.” The war started many years ago when researchers began studying the effects of school suspensions and arrests, revealing the risk of kids dropping out of school, committing crimes, and inevitably landing in prison. To read more of this op-ed written by Chief Judge Steven Teske of the Juvenile Court of Clayton County and connections between the School to prison pipeline and Raise the Age click here

OP-ED: New Hope – Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth

We may not all become astronauts, actresses or the next NBA all-star, but the beliefs we have in ourselves during childhood are often reflections of the paths we take into adulthood. For this reason it is important for the health of a society to nurture, respect and enrich its youth.  Currently in the United States, there is overwhelming statistical evidence that demonstrates this support is not being provided, especially for high-risk, justice-involved youth who have experienced trauma and/or have mental health disorders. This disparity has been fueled by the lack of affordable health care, which has limited this population from receiving treatment and other health care services upon release from correctional facilities. The recent enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will soon change this disadvantage. The ACA, often referred to as Obamacare, will pave the way for justice-involved youth to have access to high-quality reentry and aftercare services.  To read more click here

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