Thursday, July 25, 2013

Turning Statistics into Reform

By Zerline Hughes

In our field of research, advocacy and technical assistance, it’s every organization’s goal to truly impact policymakers to make a move, enact change, spread the gospel, so to speak, so that our statistics and recommendations turn into action, reform.

In February, thanks to partnerships with organizations like Campaign for Youth Justice, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Tow Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative, our report, “
Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Improved Outcomes for Youth,” which received widespread media attention will be highlighted during Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) Capitol Hillbriefing Tuesday, July 30, 2013.

The great news is that not only Connecticut’s great work over the last two decades will be highlighted. Two additional states, Ohio and Texas, have made strides and experts will share their successes, best practices that other states should adopt. The briefing comes on the heels of a report released this week disclosing a drop in youth crime entitled, “America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013,” authored by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, of which the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a participating agency.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day is Subject to Interpretation

By Walter Fortson
Photo credit:
Each year, Americans across the nation celebrate Independence Day; commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence by our forefathers, solidifying our freedom from Great Britain.  With American pastimes of fireworks, sporting events, picnics and parades, every year our citizens don the streets with their children, wearing light-up necklaces and bracelets, showing patriotism to our dear country.
As for me, and millions of others, the concept of Independence Day doesn’t quite resonate; at least not in terms of patriotism. July 4, 1776 was not a celebration for those serving life sentences on southern plantations, and 237 years later, the same demographic struggles with American systems that occlude freedom.

African-American males are the most incarcerated demographic in the nation –and on the planet. From 2008 to 2010, I, too, was a part of that population. Vividly, I recall the feelings and emotions that came with being stripped of my freedom, sanctity, and integrity throughout that period in my life. For those two years, I was property of the state of New Jersey. “810161D” became my identity.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Together: The Currency in Social Change Networks

Originally posted on the Youth Transition Funders Group Blog, Connected by 25 on Monday July 1, 2013
By Guest Blogger Chris Sturgis
I was delighted to hear that Marc Schindler has been named the new Executive Director
at the Justice Policy Institute. He is one of the peeps in my network – someone that I believe, in whatever position he is in, will bring creativity, leadership, and an unswerving commitment to doing what is best for vulnerable youth. Marc’s career has included stops at the Youth Law Center, working with Vinnie Schiraldi at District of Columbia Dept of Youth Rehabilitation Services and Venture Philanthropy Partners.  With expertise in government, philanthropy, and advocacy, Marc is positioned incredibly well as the head of JPI.

In reflecting on his career, I started to reflect on the power of networks. Certainly, the Youth Transition Funders Group is designed around social network theory with hubs that allow both specialization into education, foster care, and juvenile justice, as well as into strengthening weaker links around cross-cutting issues such as employment, mental health, and school-to-prison pipeline.   A formally structured network is important, but there is more to it than that, isn’t there? I’m thinking about this for the first time, so bear with me. I think there are two things that make a network powerful for social change:

1) The WIIF (what’s in it for me) or the reason people are in networks
2) The currency or the expectations for what one puts in and gets out of the network