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Publication Staff Communications Director Shadi Rahimi Communications Assistant Lauren Jones CJNY Program Director Technical Assistance Manager Regional Program Manager Regional Program Manager

Tshaka Barrows Malachi Garza Katina Castillo Tracy Benson

Executive Assistant Ophelia Williams Administrative Assistant Andria Blackmon

Cover Art courtesy of The National Library of Congress and Flickr.com’s Creative Commons. All art is licensed under Fair Use and Public Domain laws of the United States


Community Justice Network for Youth

Some things have changed, but one thing will always remain:

Our Mission To Stop The Rail To Jail!

We believe in fairness and best life outcomes for all youth. Historically, the juvenile justice system was established to provide youth in trouble with the law rehabilitation and nurturing. But in a short period of time, the face of juvenile justice became that of youth of color – and its focus shifted to punishment and confinement, along with the massive expansion of prison-like juvenile institutions. Today, in every state, youth of color are overrepresented at every stage of the juvenile justice system, especially in detention, even though they don’t commit more crimes than their White counterparts. For youths charged with violent offenses, the incarceration rate for African American youth is nine times the rate for White youth, and the incarceration rate for Latino youth is five times the rate for White youth.

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he Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) is a program of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI), a leading national organization in the field of juvenile justice detention reform and disparities reduction.   The Burns Institute is named for the late W. Haywood Burns, a civil rights lawyer who was a beacon of light for those who believe the battle for human rights and justice can be won through activism, humility and dedication.   The idea for the CJNY network was conceived in the late nineties, a time of massive shifts in policies and initiatives regarding youth in trouble with the law. CJNY was formed by several community-based organizations, who represented a crosssection of communities of color and specializations, working with youth in underserved communities.   We primarily function as a support network for organizers and practitioners who engage youth involved in juvenile justice systems and/or in need of support and services. Today, CJNY is comprised of more than 140 community-based programs in 23 states. CJNY is made up of grassroots organizers, serviceproviders and advocates who are unified in their aim to reduce the disproportionate sentencing and warehousing of children of color within the U.S., and to promote effective, culturally appropriate community-based interventions.   The core activities of CJNY are: technical assistance services, system accountability specialization, peer-to-peer exchanges, and regional/national conferences.   Technical assistance is offered to CJNY members in areas including: organizational development, educational and skills curriculums, fundraising, community organizing, advocacy and service provision. Peer exchanges provide avenues for communication and training between member organizations.   System accountability focuses on strategic planning and implementation of localized community organizing, which uses data to reduce the secure confinement of youth of color. Regional and national conferences are CJNY regional or network-wide reunions that feature trainings for and by CJNY member groups.

Why focus on disparities?

On any given day, African American youth are five times more likely than White youth to be sent to juvenile hall rather being released or offered an alternative to detention. Latino youth are twice as likely than White youth to be sent to juvenile hall, and Native American youth are three times more likely.

Four staff members provide leadership to the CJNY Network... Malachi Garza Technical Assistance Manager mgarza@burnsinstitute.org (415) 321-4100 x 110

Since 1985, the population of youth of color in public detention centers has grown to 2/3 of the detention population, even though they still only make up 1/3 of the total U.S. youth population.

Katina Castillo Regional Manager kcastillo@burnsinstitute.org (415) 321-4100 x116

Tshaka Barrows Program Director tbarrows@burnsinstitute.org (415) 321-4100 x106

Tracy Benson Regional Manager tbenson@burnsinstitute.org (415) 321-4100 x115

Overall, 1 in 3 African American men and 1 in 6 Latino men – versus 1 in 17 White men – are expected to go to prison in their lifetimes.


How To... Tell Congress to Reauthorize the Juvenile Justice &

Delinquency Prevention Act

Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) Status offenses only apply to minors and can be defined as actions that would not be considered offenses at the age of an adult – such as skipping school, running away, breaking curfew and possession or use of alcohol. Under the JJDPA, status offenders may not be held in secure detention or confinement. There are, however, several exceptions to this rule, including allowing some status offenders to be detained for up to 24 hours. The DSO provision seeks to ensure that status offenders who have not committed a criminal offense are not held in secure juvenile facilities for extended periods of time or in secure adult facilities for any length of time. These children, instead, should receive community-based services, such as day treatment or residential home treatment, counseling, mentoring, family support and alternative education.

Under the JJDPA, youth may not be detained in adult jails and lock-ups except for limited times before or after a court hearing (6 hours), in rural areas (24 hours plus weekends and holidays), or in unsafe travel conditions. This provision does not apply to children who are tried or convicted in adult criminal court, and is designed to protect children from psychological abuse, physical assault and isolation. Children housed in adult jails and lock-ups have been found to be eight times more likely to commit suicide, two times more likely to be assaulted by staff, and 50 percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon than children housed in juvenile facilities.

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Adult Jail and Lock-up Removal

“Sight and Sound” Separation When children are placed in an adult jail or lock-up, as in exceptions listed above, “sight and sound” contact with adults is prohibited under the JJDPA. This provision seeks to prevent children from threats, intimidation or other forms of psychological abuse and physical assault. Under “sight and sound,” children cannot be housed next to adult cells, share dining halls, recreation areas or any other common spaces with adults, or be placed in any circumstance that could expose them to threats or abuse from adult offenders.

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Under the JJDPA, states are required to assess and address the disproportionate contact of youth of color at key contact points in the juvenile justice system – from arrest to detention to confinement. Studies indicate that youth of color receive tougher sentences and are more likely to be incarcerated than white youth for the same offenses. With youth of color comprising one-third of the youth population but two-thirds of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system, this provision requires states and local jurisdictions to address the reasons for such disproportionate minority contact.

S.678 strengthens the JJDPA. Write your Senators and ask them to pass the bill. The House hasn’t introduced a bill yet - write your Representative and ask them to introduce a similar bill. To get more information go to Act4jj.org. To download a pre-written letter go to www.burnsinstitute.org and click the RESOURCES tab.

From the Center for Urban Pedagogy

Reprinted with permission from the Center for Urban Pedagogy. The Center for Urban Pedagogy is an organization based in New York that pairs professional artisits with community-based advocates and researchers to create Making Policy Public, a quarterly series of foldout posters that make complex policy issues accessible and appealing. Learn more at.anothercupdevelopment.org/


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Request Alternative Sentencing In our continuous fight to Stop the Rail to Jail we are including a sample letter for you to use as a model to write your own when requesting alternative sentencing for children. You may be used to requesting letters from probation officers, case managers and program managers – but you know your child best. By writing a letter for probation or case/program managers to approve before signing, you can not only expedite the process, but you will probably write a more effective letter than any system stakeholder could about your child. Use the one below as a model, but keep in mind that no one will lie for your child. Asking them to talk about great attendance when it is not true is not the best approach. Make a realistic list of positive things to highlight before you start writing the letter. On the other hand, if you’re going to ask these representatives to write a letter for you, ask them what they’re going to say before telling them who will receive it. If what they have to say is negative, tell them you will ask for a letter from someone else.

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Dear Honorable Judge Smith: I am writing this letter on behalf of {insert your child’s name here}. {Your child} has been a client at {insert program name here} for the past (years, months, weeks}. This is intended to be a character reference for {your child} and to advocate for them to fulfill the remainder of their sentence in an alternative to incarceration/detention. {Your child} came to our agency voluntarily. Since he/she has been with us he/she has made all appointments on time, and when he/she could not attend called to notify me. He/she has also joined {insert any academic clubs, volunteer organizations, churches, etc} and is well liked by other participants. {Your child} has taken the initiative to work toward getting their life back together. They are trying to find a place to live. He/she is currently in money management classes, has successfully completed a life skills course, and signed his/herself up on the San Francisco Housing Authority waiting list. He/she is also taking training classes in office management so that he/she may find a stable job to pay for an apartment. We have discussed the possibility of {your child} going back to jail to fulfill the rest of their sentence and believe that provided all of their progress, house arrest {or whatever you are asking for} is a better option so that they can continue to take classes, find a job and secure housing. These are the first steps toward {your child} establishing a healthy lifestyle. We have no plans to close {your child’s} file, but do plan to assist him/her with finding a job after she graduates. Please feel free to call me regarding this letter or {your child}’s participation in the program. Sincerely,

L. Jones Case manager {phone number, extension or email}

Winning! It’s not just for Charlie Sheen, we do it too

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he New Orleans City Council has approved plans to rebuild Orleans Parish Prison – a decision that is a huge victory for the community of New Orleans. The old facility was left devastated since Hurricane Katrina and the City has been slow to rebuild. After transferring youth to bungalows and surrounding facilities, parents of detained youth have complained about the conditions of confinement for years. The City Council approved plans to rebuild the facility last month to a capacity of 1,438 beds, a huge drop from the previous facility that held 3,500 beds. Advocates like CJNY member group Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana rejoiced at the news. “We really want to rebuild New Orleans as a model juvenile justice system,” said JJPL Director Dana Kaplan, who was part of the effort to organize New Orleans into a unified voice to speak against Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s plan to build a new facility with a capacity of 5,800 beds. JJPL partnered with other organizations six months ago to build a coordinated campaign to make the voices of the people of New Orleans heard by the City Council. The groups included Voices of Formerly Incarcerated Persons (V.O.T.E.), the Congress of Day Laborers, a project of New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition. These groups worked with Mayor Mitch Landrieu to form a working group that analyzed data and best practices in order to achieve this victory. Part of their campaign included running a full-page ad in the local paper the Times-Picayune asking for donations of $22.39, to put toward the cost of the ad. That amount of $22.39 is what it costs per day to house a New Orleans youth in a locked down facility. “We were just asking people how else they would like to see their $22.39 spent,” Kaplan said. Close to 300 names are printed in the Times-Picayune ad. “There was this huge outpour of support from the New Orleans community. We got support from local musicians, a retired judge and people from all over the New Orleans community. I think the city council was even surprised at the level of organizing,” Kaplan said. The mayor’s working group made a recommendation, based on data and best practices, that the new facility should not be larger than 1,500 beds. After reviewing the working group’s recommendation, the New Orleans City Council made the recommendation an ordinance. The next day, Sheriff Gusman published a statement voicing his objections to the city council’s new ordinance, also printed in the Times-Picayune. The city council unanimously disagreed with Gusman’s statement, as their decision to approve the Mayor’s working group recommendation came the very next day. Another result of the city council’s decision – New Orleans is no longer the incarceration capitol of the world.

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How To...

The ad as it ran in the Times-Picuyne


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os Angeles is not a town known for walk-ability. It’s a large metropolis of more than 4,752 square miles of land, from San Fernando to the shoreline, comprised of communities strung together by a tangled mess of freeways. Even still, approximately 50 youth from the Youth Justice Coalition walked 50 miles through L.A., over the course of four days, to demand the “Rail to Jail” come to a screeching halt. Community members joined the walk as it passed through different neighborhoods to march with the original 50. “It was my first time doing anything like this, it was great,” said Jade, a 17-year-old student at YJC’s Free LA high school. “I marched for my uncle and a few friends that got locked up for not doing anything.” One of the main goals of the march was to draw attention to the effects of the zero tolerance policies enforced at many public schools in Los Angeles and across the nation. Zero tolerance policies punish students who bring alcohol, drugs or weapons to school. Sounds good in theory, but in practice these policies allow for police presence on campus, intimidation of students, and excessive punishment of students for petty misdeeds. We hear stories often that highlight the ills of zero tolerance policies. One example is the 13-year-old boy in Florida arrested for intentionally farting in class. Or the 10-year-old boy in Atlanta arrested and fingerprinted for bringing a toy gun to school. The boy faced charges including weapon possession on school property, terrorist acts and threats. Police allege the boy threatened other students with the toy gun. But the alleged commotion was so minor that the school bus driver never caught on and never confiscated the toy gun. Later the police stormed his house. Stories like these are perfect examples of how school districts across the nation criminalize students. Zero tolerance policies sound good in theory, perhaps even protective. But teacher and student interactions cannot always be pleasant. Students don’t always like teachers, and vice-versa. In practice, the effects of zero-tolerance are a quick path from the classroom to the police station or juvenile hall.

School administrators are in a position of extreme power. Unfortunately some use that power to impose harsh rule over students with complex personalities. What they fail to see is that when students are arrested and detained their initial contact with the system only leads them further into the system. Jane Wilson of Stanford University writes in Reducing Juvenile Recidivism in the United States that youth placed in detention facilities are 4.5 times more likely to recidivate than those placed in alternate programs. Zero tolerance policies maintain the school-to-prison pipeline by unnecessarily locking up “problem” students. It seems like many schools abuse the naïveté of youth and use one misstep to turn them into modern day slaves. All these reasons are why the Youth Justice Coalition started Free LA High School in 2007. Free LA High students are students who were pushed out of their traditional schools and have taken initiative to continue their education despite being previously told they could not. “I went to a couple different schools, first was Crenshaw. There I fell into the wrong crowd, it was basically my fault. I was being a follower and not a leader, my grades starting falling and there weren’t any teachers that really cared to help me. My mom took me out before it got any worse and they kicked me out. Then I went to home school which was a little better for me but then I got tired of being at home all the time with my mom over my shoulder and that’s when we found the YJC,” said Jade. Free LA relies on a combination of federal funding, grants and fundraising efforts to pay the salaries of two teachers, staff and books, among all other things needed to run a school. Classes at Free LA High are like those of any other school. There’s history, math, English and science; but the curriculum doesn’t stop there. In addition to the core general education classes, students at Free LA also learn how to survey their

community, conduct research, take “street university” class where they learn culturally relevant lessons and participate in “warrior circles,” a safe space to talk about whatever challenges they are facing. Even the general education classes are taught from a social justice perspective. They use terms that are relevant to their largely Black and Latino population, and they analyze all sides of the story when history is concerned. There are many schools in Los Angeles, but Free LA High in Inglewood is the only school of its kind. It enrolls youth ages eight to 24-years-old who are pushed out of traditional schools, labeled misfits, or otherwise cast aside. Priority admission is given to students who have been incarcerated or have been gang involved, because these are the students who are at a higher risk of being pushed out. The Free LA High School is an accredited program and branch of John Muir Charter School, which is technically part of Los Angeles Unified School District. Students who complete their studies earn a GED in addition to the unconventional education they attain. “ I want to go to Stetson University in Florida and major pre-vet,” says Jade. YJC is a youth-led organization that empowers lost youth through education, direct organizing and advocacy.

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Walk like an Egyptian


Photo courtesy of The City School

Take Action If you are in Massachusetts and would like to express your support for Youth Jobs contact:

Youth from The City School in Boston use the collaborative approach by Lauren Jones

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hen Massachusetts was voting on the future of two youth job programs in March, two young ladies rallied outside state offices to let their voices be heard Aja,18 and Nicole, 15, also spoke to some of the legislators voting on the budget for the YouthWorks and School to Career programs, which fund youth jobs in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. “Some of them didn’t want to come out and talk to us, but we urged them to attend our caucus meeting,” Nicole said. As one half of a team of youth leaders, Aja and Nicole are both youth staff members of the The City School, a Dorchester based non-profit that has become a center for youth leadership development. Their work includes organizing their peers, encouraging others to check out what The City School has to offer, giving workshops on varying topics including violence, education, the school to prison pipeline, and the Youth Jobs Campaign. Working at The City School is what led Aja and Nicole to the Youth Jobs Coalition, which connected them with other youth also working on the same issue. The coalition is made up of The City School, Teen Empowerment, Dorchester Youth Force and the Massachusetts Community Action Network. All are Boston-based youth groups that focus on different issues and areas of the city, but all promote preventing youth violence. “Last year I went to a few meetings with adults and I saw it was something that I’m actually interested in and is an important issue,” said Aja, who has been accepted to Regis College. At stake for Boston’s youth are 10,000 potential jobs and $12 million between the two programs. There are currently 7,500 youth jobs in Boston, down from 10,000 in 2010. The unemployment rate for youth 18-years-old and under in Dorchester is 50 percent, the highest in the last 10 years. Seth Kirshenbaum, co-executive director of The City School, points out that many places that would traditionally hire youth, like Circuit City and Borders, are going out of business, which may contribute to higher unemployment.

“We want year-round, long-term employment for our youth and youth power. They should be involved in every step of the decision making process,” Kirshenbaum said. The Youth Jobs Campaign asks for $8 million for YouthWorks and $4 million for School to Career. Gov. Deval Patrick agreed to work for those amounts at the state level. The house slashed those amounts to $6 million for YouthWorks and $2 million for School to Career, according to Kirshenbaum. The Senate is at work now and will vote later this month. “We hope they’ll approve $8 and $4 [million]. If it does not pass and we only get $6 and $2 million it will mean 1,600 jobs lost from YouthWorks and approximately 2,000 lost opportunities from School to Career...this directly translates to more arrests, fights and other violence. Which is something you hate to say, but it’s a reality. The more people there are out in the streets the more opportunity for trouble,” said Kirshenbaum. School to Career allows teens to explore college and vocational options while in school. YouthWorks allows teens to look for actual employment, and provides the employers funds to pay teen employee wages. The Boston Public School District does not offer any incentives for teens to get jobs. And its students cannot receive academic credit through workstudy programs that exist in states like California. Students who work do so from their own personal initiative, according to Aja and Nicole. Programs like YouthWorks and School to Career serve statewide goals in a roundabout way. The City School and other organizations in the coalition are reducing the occurrence of youth violence by giving children who might not have extracurricular activities or the best home situations, something to excel at and be proud of: a job. “I’ve really grown to love what I do. No matter how old you are, you can give back to your community. It doesn’t matter if you’re really young you can still give back,” Aja said. “I’m meeting new people, getting knowledge from them and learning life lessons. Also as a young person I’m able to support myself.” She continued: “This work means a lot to me because I’m helping teens get jobs. It helps me financially while I’m

learning something and I see the changes I’m making. I don’t consider this a job, this is something I’m doing to help the community and that’s the pay off, not necessarily the paycheck.” In May, the Youth Jobs Coalition staged another rally with Boston’s Mayor, Thomas Menino, who spoke at the last rally. Aja and Nicole were there. “We go in knowing who is with us and who’s not. Sometimes they just very politely let you know that they don’t support you. But we have our tactics. Number one is kill them with kindness,” Nicole said. Together, they called on corporations and companies in the private sector to contribute more youth jobs in the state of Massachusetts. Aja is a student at City on a Hill Charter School. She was recently accepted to Regis College and will major in psychology. Nicole is a student at The Boston Arts Academy. Her dream college is Brown University, where she would like to be a premed major minoring in pre-law.

Sen. Bruce E. Tarr, Rep. Michael Rodrigues, Rep. Bradley Jones, Sen. Thomas McGee, Rep. Daniel Bosley or Gov. Deval L. Patrick through www.Mass.gov

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Member Spotlight


Tardy to the Party

The Community Strategy Center ‘s Truancy Ticket victory comes better late than never

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- Not conduct sweeps during the first hour of class - Reduce unnecessary court involvement for students traveling to school - Reinforce the requirement that police must ask students if they have a legitimate excuse before issuing a ticket - Direct police to help students get back to school rather than ticketing which may result in fines to students It took ten years but the Community Rights Campaign, a program of The Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, is right on time with its most recent victory for a substantial reduction in the ticketing of tardy students. In 2001 the Community Rights Campaign was organizing for another cause, free bus passes for students, but kept hearing stories of hundreds of high school students getting expensive tickets for being late to school. According to the Community Rights Campaign website, curfew fines can cost up to $240 and require students to miss additional time from school in court and their parents to miss time from work. Last year 13,118 tickets were issued to students – none of them were White. According to data released by LAPD and Los Angeles School Police, more than 47,000 tickets were issued between 2004 and 2009. 88% of those went to Black and Latino students, who only make up 74% of Los Angeles’ student population. After catching wind of this trend (? This just sounds a lil repetitive), the Community Rights Campaign interviewed over 1,000 students through surveys. The survey asked about their experiences with zero tolerance policies and ticketing interactions with police. The results of the survey made it very clear that ticketing is one way many students are introduced to the criminal justice system. In 2008, the Community Rights Campaign began requesting police records and data to support a ban on the tickets. Data is an important tool in moving people on any subject. The Los Angeles

Police Department and Los Angeles School Police initially refused their request. In 2009, the Community Rights Campaign garnered the attention of some media. They were featured in La Opinion, Los Angeles’ largest Spanish language daily newspaper and ColorLines Magazine. They then teamed up with the ACLU, public counsel, and recruited activist lawyer Zoe Rawson to assist many students and families with fighting truancy tickets and with the records requests from cops and city officials. After a training at Central High and Mar Vista High, the Community Rights Campaign collected over 200 police incident forms. They won their first victory when they convinced LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan and Council member Tom LaBonge to withdraw their motions to expand the truancy law. They also unified with City Councilmember Cardenas who vehemently opposed the tardy/truancy law. “The best place for students to get help is in the school and their community, not the courtroom. These new LAPD procedures are an important step to ensure that students can begin feeling welcomed in their own school and not have to worry about facing down police sweeps, tickets or handcuffs, for the mere act of coming late to school; young people in need, need supportive services not suppression,” said Manuel Criollo, lead organizer of the Community Rights Campaign, in a press release. Next the Community Rights Campaign organized taking action at Manual Arts and Roosevelt High, which was subjected to

“Police are to shift their focus to making sure students get to school rather than ticketing them,” said Criollo. “Its teachers, parents and students who will ultimately change the culture of a school.” With tens of thousands of truancy tickets clogging Los Angeles’ juvenile court system, Judge Nash expressed desire to form a special task force of the LA County Education Coordinating Council to explore ticketing alternatives. Just recently, LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger made it clear that LAPD feels ticketing youth is both ineffectual and builds resentment of police in youth of color. Currently the Community Rights Campaign is working to secure a similar directive with Los Angeles School Police. The campaign says they would like to see ticketing eliminated from school campuses across the county. Criollo hopes to move the L.A. city council to find a more permanent solution to this issue, like an amendment to the law.

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Los Angeles School Police

- Require a proactive quarterly monitoring process for the first year to review tickets and the ticketing process and to assess whether the policy is being implemented - Make clear that truancy task forces, also known as truancy sweeps, should not be conducted arbitrarily and without a legitimate substantiated reason.

- Lauren Jones Ljones@burnsinstitute.org

The Center for NuLeadership founders Dr. Divine Pryor and Eddie Ellis

Member Spotlight

LAPD “tardy sweeps” every month. The campaign worked with teacher Jorge Lopez to conduct petition drives and hold rallies at Roosevelt. Around this time the Los Angeles School Police Department finally released its first set of ticketing records. After numerous requests, the Los Angeles Police Department also released loads of raw data. The data revealed that the majority of tickets were given to Black and Latino students. CNN then interviewed Criollo at the Community Rights Campaign about school policing gone wild when a young Latina was arrested for writing a note on her desk. All of this culminated in May of 2010 when LASPD agreed to stop the ticketing. The Community Rights Campaign secured a verbal directive from school police chief, Mike Bowman to end enforcement of the tardy/truancy law in and around school grounds. Revisions to the LAPD procedures were adopted April 1 and if fully implemented they will:


The Learning Curve.. ball A review of Youth Rights Media’s Pushed

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fudging their numbers when reporting who is still in school in order to still receive funding. In the film we hear from students who have been pushed out, parents, teachers administrators, the director of New Haven’s high schools advocates, and state Representative Jason Bartlett. All have a different perspective on what exactly the term pushout means and, interestingly enough, the maximum age children are allowed to remain in public school. The director of New Haven’s high schools, Dr. Charles Williams, says on camera “it’s a right until they’re 16.” The screen immediately cuts to Erin Schaffer, an advocate at New Haven Legal Assistance who cites the law saying children have the right to remain in public school until the age of 21. Characters in the film say there are many reasons for the district wanting to push underachievers out. A member of the Connecticut Department of Education, Jack Hasegawa, says its expensive to coach students who need more services. The district saves money by sending them to adult education. He also points out that once a child gets to adult education they are no longer entitled to the same rights and services they receive in public school. Services like after-school activities, participation sports, a school nurse, special education or tutoring. All this translates to more kids out in the street, when they should be in school. We all know what a child alone in the world leads to. Pushed sheds light on some staggering statistics as well. The high school dropout rate in the U.S. has not changed in 30 years. And, dropouts are 8 times more likely to be in jail than a high school graduate. Can you spell school-to-prison pipeline? Youth Rights Media is a community-based youth program with an unusual frame for keeping Connecticut youth off the streets. They are a group of media makers who use video production as a tool to organize and empower youth to affect change in their communities. Pushed is available for purchase at youthrightsmedia.org as well as their other documentaries.

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hat do you think when you hear the word dropout? Are you familiar with the term “pushout?” That’s what one teen asked a teacher in New Haven, Connecticut. Perhaps many people are not, but we’re willing to bet you know at least one. A pushout is a student that is led to believe they may not graduate. A school administrator, teacher or someone else will often try to guide this child into adult education or encourage them to withdraw from school by telling the student that these are both better options than flunking. Pushed, a documentary film produced by youth at the New Haven non-profit Youth Rights Media, sheds light on the practice of pushing students out. The documentary focuses on this practice still used by Connecticut school systems to push underachieving students out of public school and into the adult education program. The documentary points out, this practice makes those students ‘invisible’ to the system. Pushouts are counted differently than dropouts. They are not counted as graduates, nor are they counted as dropouts or students who are expelled. They are no longer enrolled in public school but are not considered dropouts because they are still enrolled in adult school, thus making the student invisible. As the documentary shows, it’s very hard to hold anyone accountable for an invisible student. Pushed alleges that by using this method to count, Connecticut’s school systems are


Midwest Region

Southern Region

Action for Children North Carolina   NC Associated Marine Institutes, Inc. (also in (SC, LA. GA, PA, TX, VA, IL)   SC Be Present Inc   GA Destiny Academy   GA Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children   LA Gulf Coast Teaching and Family Services, Inc   LA Highlander Research and Education Center   TN Juvenile and Education Training/American Resource Technicians   LA Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana   LA La Plazita Institute   NM MECCA-Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts   TX Methodist Home for Children       LA National Latino Children’s Institute   TX New Orleans Parents Organizing Network         LA Njeri Camara Ministries        LA Oasis Center   TN PB & J Family Services                      NM PODER-People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources   TX Power U Center for Social Change           FL Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide   GA SHAPE Self Help for African People through Education Community Center  TX Southern Echo MS Southwest Key (also in (TX, CA, GA, NY, WI, LA) TX Spirit House NC Tejano Center for Community Concerns TX Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth TX The Hive NC The Throwaway Kids Network/Hope4 The Hood FL Tunica Teens in Action-Concerned Citizens FABTC, Inc MS We Count! FL

Alternatives Youth and Family Services IL Am I My Brother’s Keeper/ Revival Tabernacle Ministries IL Arab American Action Network IL BUILD (Broad Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) IL Campaign Against Violence WI Chicago Area Project IL Chicago Council on Urban Affairs IL Children’s Defense Fund DC Children’s Home Association of Illinois IL Community Conferencing Center IL Community Justice for Youth Institute IL Community Panels for Youth IL Community Renewal Society IL Community TV Network IL CONTROL-Elementz-Hip Hop Youth Arts Center OH Detroit Summer MI Families & Friends Organizing for Reform of JJ MO First Defense Legal Aid IL Freedom Inc. WI Girl Talk IL Kaleidoscope IL Kuumba Lynx IL Multicultural Youth Project IL National Parents Caucus IL OMNI Youth Services IL One Hood PA Parents Who Care Coalition SD Revival Tabernacle Ministries, Mission Control IL Sankofa Safe Child Initiative of Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health IL Southwest Youth Collaborative IL Teen Build Up/Wexford Ridge Neighborhood Center WI The House of Refuge- Youth Ministry WI Urban Underground WI Westside Association for Community Action IL YO! The Movement MN Youth As Resources/Chicago Area Project IL Youth Struggling for Survival IL

CJNY’s strength is the powerful work of our members. Any omissions are unintentional. If your organization is not listed please contact us so we can be on our game! Contact Malachi Garza at mgarza@burnsinstitute.org or (415) 321-4100 x110.

Eastern Region Alternative Rehabilitation Communities PA Boston-area Youth Organizing Project MA Bronx PRYDE/Bronx Defenders NY Campaign for Youth Justice DC Center for Community Alternatives NY Children’s Defense Fund NY Correctional Association NY DRUM - Desis Rising Up and Moving NY East Baltimore Youth and Family Services MD Ella J. Baker House MA Esperanza/Hope NY Exodus Transitional Community NY Facilitating Leadership in Youth DC Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth VA Fearless Leading By Youth DC Forest Hills Community House NY Friends of the Island Academy NY Girls Education and Mentoring Services NY Girls Inc of NYC NY Justice for DC Youth DC Justice for Families NY Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition MD National Juenile Justice Network DC No Doubt, Inc NY Peace-a-holics DC Philly Student Union PA Providence Youth Student Movement RI Public Housing Youth Coalition NY RAHFA, INC NJ Reflect and Strengthen MA Roca Inc MA The City School MA Institute for Juvenile Reform & Advocacy NY Urban Leadership Institute MD Urban Youth Alliance/Bronx Connect NY Vera Institute for Justice/Youth Justice Program NY Voices of Youth NY Voices Unbroken NY Youth Rights Media CT

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Members

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“N” the Classroom CA Ali International Inc. CA All of Us or None of Us CA Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership CA Barrios Unidos CA Bayview Hunters Point Foundation/Youth Services CA Brothers Against Guns CA Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare CA Catholic Charities of the East Bay CA Center for Community Learning and Development CA Center for Young Women’s Development CA Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice CA CH2A and Associates OR Children’s Defense Fund CA Colorado Progressive Coalition CO Community Restoration Services CA Community Wellness Partnership CA Community Works West CA Deported Diaspora CA Each One Reach One CA East Bay Asian Youth Center CA El Centro del Pueblo CA Ella Baker Center for Human Rights/Books Not Bars CA Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth CA Homies Unidos CA Korean Youth Community Center (KYCC) CA La Causa/Public Allies CA La Vida Sana CA Leadership Excellence CA Legal Services for Prisoners with Children/All of Us or None CA Milestone Adolescent Services WA Office of Restorative Justice/Archdiocese of Los Angeles CA One Fam CA Oregon Social Learning Center OR Pacific News Network/Beat Within CA Partnership for Safety and Justice OR Pat Brown Institute CA Pico Youth and Family Center CA RYSE Center CA San Francisco Youth Commission CA School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) CA Seattle Young People’s Project WA Self Enhancement Incorporated OR Skrappy’s/Tuscon Youth Center AZ South Bay Community Services CA St. Mary’s Home for Boys OR Standing Against Global Exploitation CA United Playaz CA The Beat Within CA The Mentoring Center CA Upright Treatment Center CA Wild for Human Rights CA Youth Alive CA Youth Community Restoration Project CA Youth Justice Coalition CA Youth Leadership Institute CA Youth Making a Change/Coleman Advocates for Youth CA

CJNY MEMBERS

Western Region


LAST WORD

Lesson Learned A Cautionary Tale

The night of my arrest I was downtown having fun with my two friends I was arrested with. I admit we were drinking, smoking and getting at females but it’s not a crime to have fun is it? Anyway, at the end of the night which was about 12 or 1 we decided it was time to go back home. No buses were running at the time so we had to walk to Fillmore from downtown. On our way I deposited 100 dollars in the bank so I wouldn’t lose my money because I was a little tipsy. After that we continue walking home and that’s when we saw this white dude standing in a bar doorway mugging us. I thought he was gay or something so we just walked right by him without paying any attention to him. Finally we get across the street from my house and that’s when the police rolled up on us and claimed we robbed two people at gun point and the victims was coming in another car to see if he could identify us. The victims came in another squad car and that’s when I saw that one of the victims was the guy that was standing in the bar doorway from earlier. He said it was us that robbed him. Wow!!!! I couldn’t believe it I felt anger run laps through my body as soon as I heard it. And to top it off when we got to the station and they let the victims look at us again to make sure they had the right people the white guy said I was the one who put the gun to his head. Wow!!!! Let me remind you that they found us with no gun, none of their property, and we didn’t fit the description of clothing the victims said we were wearing. Again I felt my anger boiling up inside of me like water in a hot pot. We were going to jail for something we didn’t even do. I felt like I should have robbed his ass since we were going down for it anyway. Just kidding, I was mad though. When I first got there I was thinking damn I’m really here, 850 Bryant wow. That was a place I thought I would never visit. It’s just dirty in there and you get treated like you aren’t human. You have to ask to do this and beg to do that I mean its like being 10 years old all over. The other inmates were cool to me up in there. Though we had nothing else in common, we had the same goal. To get our freedom, feel me? I met people in there about to do 15 to 20 years in prison and I could feel their pain because at the time I was facing 12 years flat if I lost my trial. So much stuff was going through my mind all I could do was write, read and write some more. In jail you see a lot of mistreatment going on and it makes you sad and mad at the same time when you witness it or it happens to you. I saw a fight break out and the deputy on duty sat there and let them beat the shit out each other and then him and the other deputies beat the two inmates up after. I saw a deputy knock an inmate’s 3 front teeth out for disrupting the class. I saw people in need of medical attention never be seen by a doctor. I mean, a number of things that goes down in there that just ain’t right. All I could do was stay out of trouble and hope it didn’t find me.

Court was just depressing every time I went. First, they have you in a small room with 20 other inmates and out of them 20 it was always one or two that didn’t take a shower. Second, you be sitting there not knowing the outcome of your fate. Third, you never know if your lawyer is working with the DA or not. The hardest part though was coming back from court knowing you’re going back to life in a cell. I won’t lie, I ain’t no sucka but many nights I cried because I always had one question, WHY ME? Why am I in jail for something I didn’t do? It frustrated me so much I started punching walls. Also another hard thing about being in there was that my co-defendants wanted to take a deal for 6 months in jail and 3 months felony probation. I wasn’t taking no deals because guilty people take deals. So I had to keep in line and keep telling them we taking this to trial. Probation is a trap to get you in the system where they can trap you your whole life. After a lot of talks though they came to a decision to stop being scared and go the whole 12 rounds with the system. The fight lasted long but we came out with the victory in the end just as I predicted. I just thank god that my family kept me up and inspired me not to bow down when time to fight. To keep it real, I didn’t even know I was getting released the day I was. I remember sitting and thinking about what I was going to do when I got back to my pod and my co-defendants lawyer coming in and saying she had good news. I was hella excited and to keep it real I wanted to tell the judge, the DA and whoever else thought I was guilty to go F*** themselves, I’m going home. When I got out my cousins were waiting for me outside with a video camera and videotaped my release, it was unforgettable. Now that I’m out I am currently looking for a job and every way possible to not end up a victim of the system. I first thought my experience was a setback but now I think everything happens for a reason. I take my experience as a lesson learned and another page of my life turned. Now I can share my experience with others that have or are in the situation I was in. And if you are reading this just remember to fight for your freedom if you’re innocent. Don’t be another victim of the system. -π

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By Antoine Johnson


w w w. c j ny. o rg


CJNY Magazine's Education Issue  

The 2011 issue of CJNY's magazine. The Education Issue.

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