October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month – a time when the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Campaign for Youth Justice and our allies host community events that expose the devastating consequences of children being sent to adult courts, jails and prisons.
Even though the research is clear that children in the adult system are more likely to reoffend than if they are held in the juvenile justice system, thousands of children are sent into the adult system every year in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. We must stop this destructive practice. Steps also must be taken to ensure children in the juvenile justice system have every opportunity to get their lives back on track.
National Youth Justice Awareness Month began as a single event in 2008. It has become a movement with events in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The SPLC will host or support events in the four states where it has offices:
- Wednesday, Oct.16: The SPLC will partner with the NAACP at UAB and other student organizations to host a free screening of the documentary Juvies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After the screening, there will be a discussion led by SPLC Staff Attorney Ebony Howard and Rickey Ward, an advocate and formerly incarcerated youth.
- Saturday, Oct. 19: The SPLC will partner with the Tampa Interfaith Coalition for Juvenile Justice to host a community forum in Tampa, Fla., addressing children tried as adults.
- Saturday, Oct. 26: The SPLC will partner with the Children’s Defense Fund and other local nonprofits to host a youth art and poetry slam at Tougaloo College. The SPLC also will partner with Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children to host a 5k walk/run. (Registration begins at 8 a.m., race begins at 9:30 a.m. 6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA)
For more information on National Youth Justice Awareness Month, visit www.campaignforyouthjustice.org.