October is Youth Justice Awareness Month (#YJAM)

Posted by Sue Dee

Oct 4, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Organizers are asking you to take action 

The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is a national initiative dedicated to ending the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth younger than 18 in the adult criminal justice system. 

CFYJ was started in 2004 by a distraught parent whose juvenile son was prosecuted in adult criminal court. The mother became determined to change policies that allow hundreds of thousands of youths to be tried in adult court every year. And she put her money where her heart was. Her actions led to the Campaign for Youth Justice officially opening in July 2005.

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) was inspired by a Missouri mother whose teenage son committed suicide after receiving an adult conviction. He had dreamed of being a doctor and felt that dreamed had died. 

Jonathan McClard was only one of thousands of children thrown into the adult criminal system every year. Because of that, they face obstacles in education, housing and getting jobs.

To keep the memory of her son alive, Tracy McClard organized a 5K race to make people at her state legislature aware of the injustices of treating adolescents like adults.

Her determination and that of others fighting for the cause prompted making October to be declared National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM). Since 2009, youth, families, students and supporters have turned YJAM into a movement to end the prosecution of youth in the adult system.

This year, there is a new twist—turning awareness into action. Some of the events people are being urged to set up are 5K walk-and-run fundraisers, movie screenings, panels and speakers. YJAM offers useful suggestions on how you can stage events that fundraise, educate and motivate. 

Make Youth Justice Action Month matter. Sign up for events, take action and be part of the solution.

If you're interested in having a positive impact on at-risk juveniles, download this white paper to learn about starting an MST team.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform