Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of youth of color have been transported on the "Rail to Jail" from schools, homes and streets into juvenile lock-ups for the same minor misconduct that White youth are offered alternatives to detention with a focus on rehabilitation, mentoring and the opportunity for change.
CJNY helps to facilitate, support and expand local, state, regional and national community-based providers. We promote the availability of culturally-appropriate community-based interventions in order to help Stop the Rail to Jail and the "school-to-prison pipeline" that results in students with emotional troubles, educational disabilities or mental health needs being thrust into a system of lawyers, courts, judges and detention facilities where their life outcomes significantly diminish.
Studies show that incarcerated youth have higher recidivism rates than youth supervised in alternative settings and that youth with a history of detention are less likely to graduate from high school; are more likely to be unemployed as an adult; and are more likely to be arrested and imprisoned as an adult.
The majority of youth held in detention are awaiting trial for non-violent offenses, or are being held for violating probation or failing to appear in court. More than 2/3 of detained youth are charged with property offenses, public order offenses, or status offenses (i.e. running away or breaking curfew). Racial and ethnic disproportionality is particularly acute within this sub-set.
CJNY exists as a national vehicle for organizations creating real solutions to replace the failing justice model as seen in large penal institutions, high recidivism rates and poor re-entry services and outcomes. CJNY aims to reduce disproportionate strict-sentencing and the warehousing of children of color across the country.
To resolve these problems, CJNY focuses its activities on these areas: Identify and recruit new members; Provide peer-to-peer technical assistance to member organizations; Conduct regional meetings annually; Publish newsletters annually; Maintain a website; Provide information to the network about important issues, breaking news, campaign victories, organizational accomplishments, financial opportunities and other resources; Help facilitate the creation of racial disparities taskforces.
CJNY supports and trains community groups seeking systemic reforms through community activism, involvement and lobbying to ensure fairness and best life outcomes for all youth in the juvenile justice system.
The Inequities We Work to Change…because all youth deserve the opportunity for change.
• In 2003, 38% of the U.S. youth population (ages 10-17) was made up of youth of color. Yet youth of color made up 65% of the secure detention population.
• An African American boy is 9 times more likely to be detained for the same drug offense as a White boy. An African American boy has a 1 in 3 chance of being sent to prison.
• African American youth are five times more likely to become securely detained than White youth. For violent offenses, the incarceration rate for African American youth is nine times the rate for Whites, and for Latino youth is five times the rate for Whites.
• White youth represent 73% of youth adjudicated delinquent for drug offenses, but represent only 58% of total youth sent away from their homes to residential placement. African Americans represent 25% of the youth adjudicated delinquent for drug offenses, but are 40% of the youth sent away from their families to residential placement.