Archive for August, 2011

October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month. To learn more about it and find out how you can get involved check out Campagin for Youth Justice. CYJ is a geat advocacy group that works nationally yet on a grassroots level at bringing justice to incarcerated kids.

More and more I see in my contact with people at conferences and various book events that the only way we can get the laws changed so that children are treated as children in the criminal justice system  and not as “street thugs” or adult criminals is by educating ourselves and other people about the truth and reality of minors in jails. So many people don’t realize at what a young age kids can be locked up in adult facilities.

October seems a good month to start getting the word out.

Check out these great videos from the New York Center for Juvenile Justice about raising the age at which a minor can be tried as an adult in New York State. It is now at an appalling  16 years old. For some designated crimes children as young as 13 can be tried in adult court in New York. Those ages certainly give you pause.

This is how the Center puts their mission:

“Through advocacy, education, and implementation, the Center is spearheading an effort to transform the way children under 18 years of age are judged and treated in New York courts, including consideration of a fair and reasonable standard (age) of criminal responsibility. The center has developed and intends to implement strategies that will require children under 18 tried in New York’s courts to be judged as children.”

This summer a group of law students interned at the Center in New York City where they explored the topic thoroughly. One of the end products–along with some heavy duty legal policy explorations–was to make videos that conveyed the  absurdity of  laws that allow teenagers to be tried and sentenced as adults but won’t  allow those same teens to see certain movies without their parents’ permission, for example. These videos show how much can be put across in under 60 seconds.