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NFYI Contributes to National Youth Justice Action Month

October 7, 2022

Team —

I wanted to make sure you saw the proclamation I’m forwarding below that was issued by President Joe Biden for National Youth Justice Action Month. In addition to covering details about what the Administration is doing to address issues within the juvenile justice system, this year’s proclamation includes language and ideas developed by NFYI members who are part of our Juvenile Justice Think Tank.

We appreciate that the Administration is doing important work to reduce the number of youth who are incarcerated in our country and are gratified that they are listening to the voices of young people who have experience in both the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

Children who have been in foster care have a disproportionate risk of being incarcerated due to a variety of factors caused by an inequitable and flawed criminal justice system. It’s estimated that a quarter of former foster youth will be involved with the criminal justice system within two years of transitioning out of child welfare.

At NFYI, we have prioritized disrupting this foster-care-to-prison pipeline and the overly harsh punishment of children currently in foster care through policy recommendations, grassroots organizing, and community engagement. One of the projects we undertook last year, a collection of photos called #LostDays accompanied by an open letter that many of you signed, caught the attention of the Biden Administration, leading to a meeting in which our members made some of the recommendations included in the proclamation below.

Their suggestions included:

  • Acknowledgment of racial disparities and racism in the system.
  • Directing funds to mentorship programs, public defenders, mental health services, and nonprofit organizations that provide direct and preventative services.
  • Ensuring youth are provided with legal counsel who are trained to advocate for children because too many are advised to take plea deals without a full understanding of the long-term impact of those decisions.
  • Services to support youth transitioning out of incarceration facilities and re-entering communities.

These recommendations are the result of courage, tenacity, a great deal of research, and many thoughtful conversations — I am so proud of our members and staff who were willing to share their personal experiences and ideas.

Thank you to them, to the hundreds of you who signed our open letter last year, and to the Biden Administration for believing that our children deserve fair shots, safe spaces, and a community that sees their potential.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Louve Yao
Executive Director

———- Forwarded message ———
From: White House Press Office
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2022 5:17 PM
Subject: A Proclamation on National Youth Justice Action Month, 2022

September 30, 2022

NATIONAL YOUTH JUSTICE ACTION MONTH, 2022

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

During National Youth Justice Action Month, we recommit to transforming our juvenile justice system, shifting its focus from punishment to support — from the past to the future. By investing more in all children’s health and well-being, our youth can build a foundation for full lives and our whole country can benefit from their unlimited potential.

Every child in America deserves a fair shot through good schools, safe communities, and equal opportunities. But some 36,000 young Americans remain confined in juvenile residential facilities, too often stuck in unsafe environments, facing adult charges or severe sentences, and living with untreated trauma that keeps them from moving forward. Young people of color and young people with disabilities are disproportionately affected. We are not giving America’s children the second chances they deserve. It is time to rethink our system in order to better reach the young people who need us most with guidance and support to keep them from coming in contact with the criminal justice system in the first place.

My Administration has invested historic amounts in improving our youth justice system, increasing funding for the Department of Justice’s Juvenile Justice Programs, which had seen sharp cuts. We have also invested in schools, mentorship, and job training programs, providing more than $120 billion of American Rescue Plan funding to help schools safely reopen during the pandemic, to hire more teachers and counselors, to launch afterschool and summer tutoring programs that help kids catch up, and to meet changing mental health needs. My Administration more than doubled funding for Full-Service Community Schools that support students and their families outside the classroom with important services like health care and career counseling. We have launched a national partnership to recruit 250,000 Americans to serve as tutors and mentors and called on the Congress to fund new programs that would turn juvenile detention facilities into job-training centers. Once young people come in contact with the justice system, we are working to make sure they are treated fairly — boosting access to lawyers who will fight for them and safely expanding alternatives to incarceration, including intensive job training and mentorship programs. Once they leave the system, we are helping youth to find housing, jobs, and other support. We are also urging States to expunge, seal, or vacate juvenile records where appropriate so more young Americans can move forward and build lives of dignity and opportunity.

This month, I stand with youth justice advocates in urging States and communities across the country to do more to help every child realize their full promise. I will never quit working to strengthen America’s commitment to justice and building a system focused on redemption and rehabilitation, especially for our children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2022 as National Youth Justice Action Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by taking action to support our youth and by participating in appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs in their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

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