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For more than 30 years, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) has worked tirelessly to help ensure that our children can lead safe lives and be prepared for productive futures. As we embark on a new era - both as a country, and as an organization - we remain committed to this goal.
CJJ has established itself a leader in the field and a recognized voice at the federal level. In recent years, we have helped educate our members and the broader community about the dangers of needlessly incarcerating our children for running away from home, skipping school, and engaging in other status offense behaviors. We have created National Standards and a Model Policy Guide to help states as they move towards ending this dangerous practice. We have worked with our partners to help empower youth who were previously involved with the court system, and to highlight the essential role youth engagement plays in juvenile justice reform. We have also served as a leader in the push to reauthorize key federal laws that protect some of our most vulnerable youth, ensuring that our children cannot be placed in the same cell as adult offenders, and requiring states to address racial inequities within their systems.
Most recently, CJJ and our partners brought together young people and law enforcement leaders from across the country to engage in honest and open conversations about ways that communities can forge better relationships. We also helped lead discussions about ways to improve racial equity in Baltimore, Maryland's juvenile justice system.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we are committed to continuing this important work. We believe that every child deserves a brighter tomorrow. It is a vision that started with our founder who created us in 1974. Since those early days when A.L. Carlisle fought for youth justice from her kitchen table, we have grown to a nationwide network of more than 10,000 youth advocates and allies.
We plan to continue to serve as a leader in the field. In the coming months we will release new guidance on how to ensure that contact with the juvenile justice system does not increase a youth’s risk for homelessness. We will also host our Annual Conference from June 14-17, where we will bring together stakeholders from across the country to discuss educational services, as well as mental and physical health services for children in, or at risk of entering, the justice system.
Please support us in these efforts. All donations, both large and small, make a tremendous impact on the services and supports we provide each year. With your help we can continue working to ensure all of our children have safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
Naomi Smoot is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. To reach Naomi, please call 202-467-0864, ext 113, or email [email protected]