Reports in Kentucky, Maine Lead to New Protections for Kids
During the summer of 2017, CCLP was asked by officials in Kentucky and Maine to conduct assessments of conditions of confinement of youth in those states. CCLP, along with a team of experts, visited four juvenile detention facilities throughout the state of Kentucky, generating reports that outlined concerns about educational and mental health services, staffing shortages, and the use of solitary confinement, among other issues. Since CCLP’s assessment, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has increased the availability of mental health facilities, staffed vacant positions, and committed to using CCLP’s findings as a roadmap for reform. As Kentucky’s Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley stated, “These are folks in the field who are respected all across the country and who are not going to cut us a break on anything – that’s what we expected . . . We want them to set the benchmark for us.”
CCLP’s assessment of Maine’s Long Creek facility also led to a number of improvements to the facility, with more on the way. As Maine Department of Corrections Joseph Fitzpatrick stated, “The audit wasn’t forced on us in any way. We actually welcomed it. And the reason we welcomed it is . . . the more voices we have at the table, the more objective looks at our system, that’s how we get better.”
You can read more coverage of CCLP’s work, including the facility assessment reports, by following the links below.
Four Police Agencies Sought for New Law Enforcement Leadership For Equity Initiative
Today, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) begins a nationwide search for four local law enforcement agencies to partner in the Law Enforcement Leadership for Equity Initiative, a new effort to enhance equity and address racial and ethnic disparities in arrest for youth of color.
The project is funded by a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.
“Law enforcement agencies are the gatekeepers of the juvenile justice system,” said Tiana Davis, CCLP’s Policy Director for Equity and Justice. “We are thrilled to have an opportunity to work with law enforcement professionals who are committed to creating a fair and equitable justice system.”
Efforts will help law enforcement agencies to improve fairness of juvenile arrest policies, combat implicit bias, and eliminate unnecessary arrests for youth of color, without jeopardizing public safety. The Initiative will build upon CCLP’s successful prior work with law enforcement agencies throughout the country, such as the Gainesville, Florida Police Department (GPD).
According to retired GPD Captain William T. Halvosa, who currently serves as the agency’s DMC coordinator, “Law enforcement needs courageous leaders who understand their role in combatting racial and ethnic disparities. They need to begin developing innovative and strategic partnerships that challenge outdated approaches that hurt poor and minority families and instead embrace programs that focus on prevention and effective intervention.”
CCLP will select four local law enforcement agencies for participation. Each agency will receive intensive technical support for data analysis, policy implementation, and training. Each agency will also receive up to $10,000 to fund improvements that will enhance equity for youth of color and improve law enforcement partnerships with the communities of color they serve.
About the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. The Center for Children’s Law and Policy is a public interest law and policy organization focused on reform of juvenile justice and other systems that affect troubled and at-risk children, and protection of the rights of children in those systems. CCLP is one of the leading national organizations working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice. For more information, visit www.cclp.org.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
CCLP’s Stop Solitary for Kids Campaign Featured in International Human Rights Report
In March 2016, the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law released a new publication entitled Protecting Children Against Torture in Detention: Global Solutions for a Global Problem. The report contains a chapter written by CCLP staff members Mark Soler, Jenny Lutz, and Jason Szanyi on the harms of solitary confinement and CCLP’s campaign to end the practice in the U.S. and abroad. You can download the full report here, and you can read CCLP’s contribution beginning on page 165.
Last Thursday, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, the Weinstein Company, and Spike TV held a joint press conference in New York City to announce a new six-part documentary series on the life of Kalief Browder. Time: The Kalief Browder Story will air in January, focusing on the injustices faced by Kalief after being arrested in the Bronx at the age of 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack. Kalief was incarcerated on Rikers Island for three years and spent over 1,000 days in solitary confinement before charges against him were dropped. Kalief took his own life two years later.
At the press conference, Jay Z spoke specifically about the harms of solitary for young people. “I think it’s very clear that solitary confinement, for a 16-year-old, is wrong to every single person in here,” the Brooklyn rapper said. “It’s inhumane.” Jay Z also praised Venida Browder, Kalief’s mother, for being an agent of change. Ms. Browder is a member of the Stop Solitary for Kids campaign Advisory Board, something that Jay Z identified as a part of Kalief’s legacy. “You can already see [Kalief’s legacy] touching so much change,” Jay Z said. “From the solitary confinement program that Ms. Browder is on the board of, to Obama ending the solitary confinement of minors.”
In her remarks at the event, Ms. Browder emphasized the urgency of the movement and the work of the Stop Solitary for Kids campaign. “I’m very thankful that this series is aligning itself with the work of [Stop Solitary for Kids],” Ms. Browder said. “It’s unfortunately too late for my son, Kalief, but it will definitely benefit other youth so they won’t have to endure what my son did.”
Many news outlets covered the press conference and the work of the Stop Solitary for Kids campaign, including Rolling Stone, the Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, Fader, Newsday, Vibe, Essence, Yahoo News, Variety, and Billboard. “We are grateful for Venida Browder’s commitment to ending the solitary confinement of young people in this country,” said Stop Solitary for Kids Campaign Manager Jenny Lutz. “We expect that this new partnership with Jay Z, the Weinstein Company, and Spike TV will help to amplify calls to stop this damaging practice.”
For more information about the Stop Solitary for Kids campaign, visit StopSolitaryForKids.org or contact Jenny Lutz at 202.637.0377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) submitted recommendations to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) aimed at strengthening the agency’s approach to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system. CCLP and BI prepared the joint recommendations in response to OJJDP’s call for public comment on proposed revisions to regulations for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). OJJDP published the proposed regulations on August 8, 2016 and is accepting public comments until October 7.
The JJDPA, the most important federal statute affecting the youth justice system, provides funding to states in exchange for compliance with certain requirements. One of the JJDPA’s core requirements is that states must develop plans to “study” and “address” racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.
However, the requirement has had limited impact. “The federal requirement is vague, and progress in the states has been uneven. OJJDP needs to develop a dynamic vision for change in this area and provide states and local communities with more effective guidance, training, and assistance,” said Mark Soler, CCLP’s Executive Director. “These regulations can be an important vehicle for reform.”
The JJDPA has not been reauthorized by Congress since 2002, and the regulations have not been updated since 1996. Staff at the CCLP and BI are urging OJJDP to act now to refine the regulations to reflect best practices and strategies that have led to measurable improvements for youth of color.
“With guidance and intentionality, reducing racial and ethnic disparities is possible,” said James Bell, BI’s Executive Director. “Reductions in racial and ethnic disparities require three things: intentional and willful focus from local governments; a clear process of using data to drive policy change; and authentic engagement of communities of color that have been most harmed by the justice system.”
You can view the joint recommendations from CCLP and the BI by following this link. For questions about the recommendations, please contact Laura John Ridolfi, BI Policy Director, at 415-321-4100 x108 or email@example.com and Tiana Davis, CCLP’s Policy Director for Equity and Justice at 202-637-0377 x103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On September 22, 2016, CCLP Executive Director Mark Soler testified before a Maryland task force evaluating search and restraint practices within the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. At the task force hearing, Maryland DJS Director Sam Abed urged the task force to adopt new limits on strip searches of youth in the agency’s facilities, consistent with CCLP’s recommendations. Read more in this article from the Baltimore Sun.