Facts about Juvenile Injustice

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The Freechild Project believes that the United States is suffering an epidemic of injustice that relies on the steady increase in the numbers of young people of color and low income young people in prison.  This epidemic is perpetuated by systemic racism, and facilitated by the prison-industrial complex.  A growing community of young activists are working to change this formula.


Only 6 countries known to have executed juvenile offenders in the last… For more facts, click here>

Point to Ponder

“Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.” – Rachel Jackson, of Books Not Bars.


Included here are organizations, websites, and publications that share important information about juvenile injustice, identified by youth researchers at Freechild.


Books Not Bars

The goal is to expose and end the over-incarceration of youth.  As one force among many, BNB is working to build a bottom-up movement that will transform the entire criminal justice system.

Voices of Incarcerated Youth

This past month, Sound Portrait Productions, Friends of Island Academy and WNYC presented Youth Portraits about five youth who served on Rikers Island and are now dedicated to turning their lives around.

No More Youth Jails

A group of youth, students, parents, community members, former prisoners, prisoners’ families and community activists are working to stop New York City from building 200 more cellblocks to lock up youth, mostly youth of color from African-American, Latino/Latina and Asian communities.  The campaign is urging Mayor Bloomberg to cancel the proposed $64.6 million in the capitol budget to build 200 beds, close the notorious Spofford juvenile facility in the Bronx, and reallocate these funds towards schools and community-based programs such as after-school programs and alternatives to incarceration.

Schools Not Jails

A network of youth organizers whose reach extends far beyond jails, but whose message shoots right to the hear to the matter: young peoples need more opportunities, more rights, and for their lives to be seen as valuable. Build more schools.

No More Prisons

“Its not just a book or album – its a movement.”  The home of much activist work, with links to hundreds of great resources.

Rethinking Schools on the Criminalization of Youth

Haywood Burns Institute
The Burns Institute, a project of the Youth Law Center led by James Bell, offers site-based services, including on-the-ground technical assistance on best practices for reducing the over-representation of young people of color in the system.

Building Blocks for Youth Network

The Building Blocks for Youth initiative provides juvenile justice advocacy assistance and materials to constituency groups promoting juvenile justice reform, with a particular emphasis on addressing racial disparities in the justice system.  The initiative provides materials such as talking points on current juvenile justice issues for use with the media, a media advocacy tool kit on juvenile justice, and hosts conference call briefings on juvenile justice issues. If you represent a national, state or local organization involved in promoting juvenile justice reform and are interested in participating in the Building Blocks for Youth Network, fill out the participation form on the initiative’swebsite.

Juvenile Justice Center of the American Bar Association

Publications & Video

The Beat Within

The Beat Within is a publication of the writings and art from Juvenile Halls and beyond.

Voices From Within, Youth Speak Out: Youth in Care in Ontario.By Kim Snow and Judy Finlay.  The Office of Child and Family Service Advocacy, with support from the Laidlaw Foundation and the Children’s Aid Foundation worked with a number of young people to interview youth in care in Ontario; including child welfare, young offender and mental health program / service recipients. This report expresses the views and experiences of the youth interviewed, and offers a number of recommendations.

Corrections: Private Prisons are Back

CORRECTIONS is a documentary, the story of justice turned to profit, where the war on crime has found new investment from venture capital and in for-profit prisons. This is the story of the private prison.

Through the Eyes of the Judged

These are the autobiographical stories of 8 young men locked up in Washington State prisons.  They admit the crime and take full responsibility – but the book portrays all the reasons why in a very convincing way.

Juvenile Injustice: Proposition 21

Ain’t no power like the power of the youth ’cause the power of the youth don’t stop!” The chant rose up among the crowd along Market Street in San Francisco this week as youth activists mourned California’s voters’ choice to pass Proposition 21.

Kids and Guns: How Politicians, the Experts, and the Media Fabricate Fear of Youth

“Kids and guns” are not the problem, but a diversion by a complacent, established America that propagates demographic myths about age and race, culture-war trivialities, and sensational scapegoating to avoid facing its own violence.

Race and incarceration in the United States

In this briefing, human rights watch presents new figures documenting racial disparities state-by-state in the incarceration of African Americans and Latinos throughout America.

Innovations and lessons learned from the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has produced a series which includes 12 publications on juvenile detention reform.

Ex-delinquents seek rethink of jail; Youth-offenders-turned-activists fight city hall over juvenile jail expansions

Several youth activists were featured in this recent article by Alexandra Marks, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor in their efforts to reduce juvenile detention. “I think it has the potential to become the next real civil rights movement in this country,” says Bart Lubow, senior associate of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives.

Building Blocks for Youth

A summary of key studies on juvenile detention available online.

Children Behind Bars – Juvenile Crime Link to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Prison Activist Resource Center’s High School Curriculum on the Criminalization of Youth

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