Building the Next Generation of Juvenile Justice Leaders: CJJ and OJJDP’s 2014 Youth Summit

Facebook Twitter More...

By Christine Milo

On August 7-8, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) will welcome 130 youth advocates from around the nation to Washington, DC for the 2014 Juvenile Justice Youth Summit. CJJ is co-hosting this year’s Summit with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The theme, “Building the Next Generation of Juvenile Justice Leaders,” focuses on giving young people the tools to make a difference in juvenile justice reform. 

Youth involvement in juvenile justice reform is essential because young people are most directly impacted by the juvenile justice system. Young leaders bring a unique perspective, passion and creativity and their participation in reform efforts gives them the chance to make a difference in their own communities.

The Youth Summit will kick off with a welcome from by OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, Jr. and CJJ Executive Director Marie Williams. Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director at the Youth Law Center will deliver a keynote address about her path from foster care and juvenile justice system involvement to leading one of the country’s foremost child advocacy organizations. 

Tshaka Barrows, Deputy Director of the Burns Institute will present an exciting workshop titled “Justice for All: Juvenile Justice 101.” Participants will explore the pathways of the juvenile justice system and learn more about the difference between juvenile and criminal courts and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Following “JJ 101,” representatives from State Advisory Groups around the country will share strategies for youth engagement and empowerment in their SAGs.

Thursday afternoon will feature a film screening of the PBS documentary, “15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story.” The film follows Kenneth Young’s journey “after being sentenced, at 15, to four consecutive life sentences for a string of armed robberies.” This film is from the PBS award winning series, Point of View, which reveals, “a justice system with thousands of young people serving sentences intended only for society’s most dangerous criminals.” After the film there will be a short post-screening discussion with Xavier McElrath-Bey and other staff from the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, along with Sara Kruzan and Eric Alexander of Incarcerated Children's Advocacy Network (ICAN).

Thursday’s final session, “Take Action: Using Your Own Voice for Change,” will explain how youth can work for social change. The session will cover how to get started, raise awareness, and develop organizing skills. 

Watch CJJ members talk about youth engagement in 
juvenile justice reform at the 2013 Annual Conference!

The final day will showcase a viewing session of video clips CJJ and Act4JJ have collected from families, youth, and juvenile justice professionals impacted by the JJDPA. The clips are part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the original passing of the JJDPA. 

Friday morning will feature a panel of youth advocates, moderated OJJDP Administrator Listenbee. Panelists include James Anderson of the Anti–Recidivism Coalition, Jim St. Germain of Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow, Coloradas Mangas of the Center for Native American Youth, and Starcia Ague of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Panelists will share their hopes for juvenile justice reform and, in some cases, their own experiences in the juvenile justice system.  

Friday afternoon’s workshop, “Tools for Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline”, will focus on how to develop an organizing strategy and build a leadership base around juvenile justice reform. Participants will then have the unique opportunity to “speed network” with experienced professionals in juvenile justice and related fields. Finally, the Summit will close with a keynote address from Dr. Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, on how to create lasting change in the juvenile justice system.

CJJ and OJJDP are excited to welcome so many enthusiastic youth advocates at the 2014 Juvenile Justice Youth Summit, and look forward to continuing to partner with youth to prevent delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system for those who do come in contact with it. We hope the youth leave this summit well-informed, motivated, and inspired by each other and the leadership of our youth across the country.

Christine Milo is a student at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, California.  She currently serves as the Policy and Government Relations Intern at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.