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Virtual NJJN Forum 2021

Virtual NJJN Forum - 2021
Building a Collective Vision for Justice
Wednesday, July 21 12:00 p.m. - 5 p.m. ET


What to Expect From This Year's Virtual Forum:

Let’s be frank, the pandemic has changed the way we live and work.  So, it comes as no surprise that Forum too has changed.  We can’t wait for the day we are all together again as a Network, but until then, we hope the virtual Forum will be a welcoming space to reflect, dream, and scheme with fellow advocates.  

Historically, Forum has comprised three action filled days focused on networking, anti-racism, and youth justice policy.  But zoom fatigue is real.  So we are hosting our Forum over a series of events and months. 

Part 1: Dreaming and Scheming
July 19, 20, 21

July 19: Virtual Advocacy Day Training
Receive training as we prepare to to advocate for current federal youth justice legislation H.R. 2834, H.R. 2908, and H.R. 2858. REGISTER

July 20: Virtual Advocacy Day
  • Virtual Hill Visits - RSVP to info@njjn.org to find out how to pre-schedule virtual Hill visits
  • Listening Sessions
Listening Session 1: Locking Up Child Sex Crime Victims: How Our Criminal Legal System Fails Our Most Vulnerable Youth
A presentation by Yasmin Vafa of Rights4Girls on the sex-abuse-to-prison pipeline will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Sara Kruzan, Alexis Martin, Patrice Smith, and David Garlock who were all given lengthy prison sentences for offenses committed against those who had sexually abused, raped, or trafficked them as children. REGISTER

Listening Session 2: Treat Kids Like Kids: Why Congress Must Prioritize Criminal Justice Reform for Children. GUEST SPEAKER: Congresswoman Karen Bass
A presentation by Michael Mendoza of ARC and Eric Alexander of the CFSY will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Jarret Harper, Abd'Allah Latiff, Preston Shipp, Jerome Dixon, Bobby Garcia, and Oscar Canales, focused on the bipartisan effort underway in Congress to establish age-appropriate protections for youth who are arrested H.R. 2834 (Cárdenas, D-CA), align the federal government with human rights standards by establishing a minimum age for juvenile court jurisdiction and heightened procedural safeguards that limit the prosecution of children in adult court H.R. 2908 (Bass, D-CA), and eliminate life and de facto life without parole sentences for children H.R. 2858 (Westerman, R-AR). REGISTER

July 21: Networking Day

Full Agenda:

12:00 PM: Welcome

  • Music & "Chat" 
  • Welcome by NJJN Executive Director 
  • Peformance: “I Am Justice” piece performed by Amina Whittaker from Opportunity Youth United’s Philadelphia Community Action Team

12:10 - 1:20 PM: Vision of Justice 

  • Introduction & set-up by NJJN Executive Director 
  • Performing Statistics’ “The Vision We Dream Of “ from the No Kids in Prison Virtual Experience.
  • Breakout: Participants will break into teams and use Jamboard (plus your creative skills!) to create a vision board for what a just system for young people should look like.

1:20 - 1:30 PM: Back Together & "Gallery Walk" 

  • Groups show off and discuss their vision board for justice.

1:30 - 1:40 PM: Break

1:40 - 1:45 PM: Art Performance 

  • “When I am a Puppet” by Dayana Lee Teaching Artist of Teens with Purpose

1:45 - 3 PM: Roadmap to Anti-Racism: 

  • Introduction & set-up by NJJN Executive Director
  • Breakout: Breaking into new teams participants will discuss actions we can take today to build anti-racist organizations. Using Jamboard to capture ideas, teams will create roadmaps addressing the following areas: staff diversity, leadership of youth and communities most impacted, processes for pursuing equitable policies, and organizational culture. 

3 PM: Whole Group Session - Strategies for Self-Care 

3:30 - 3:40 PM: Break

3:30- 4:45 PM Concurrent Breakouts with Q&A

Concurrent Breakouts

Session 1: Reimaging Justice in LA: A Case Study 
This panel will focus on the Youth Development and Diversion (YDD) initiative in Los Angeles County. Attendees will learn about the history of integrated advocacy and organizing to reach a collective vision for youth justice and well-being in Los Angeles. Panelists will discuss how diversion works, the successes of this model, and the obstacles and impending challenges that reenvisioning youth justice faces in L.A.Moderated by Leah Gasser-Ordaz, Youth Justice Fellow at the UCLA’s Criminal Justice ProgramPanelists: 

  • Laura Calderon, Lead Case Manager with Alma Family Services.  Alma Family Services was established in 1975 in East Los Angeles by parents to provide, along with other purposes, a comprehensive range of multilingual community based services for families including those with special needs. 
  • Ezekiel Nishiyama, Los Angeles Youth UpRising Coalition Member.  Los Angeles Youth Uprising (LAYUP) was formed in early 2016, as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Urban Peace Institute and Youth Justice Coalition began meeting in response to the resignation of Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers in 2016. The organizations recognized this as an opportunity to push for systemic change at the highest departmental level, with the hopes of moving LA County away from a system that punishes and incarcerates young people to a model that is committed to healing, restorative/transformative justice and youth development. 
  • Terry Robinson, Los Angeles County Office of Youth Diversion and Development within the Office of Diversion and Reentry. This division is focused on advancing youth development infrastructure and implementing an evidence-informed model of pre-booking youth diversion that empowers community-based organizations as the providers of individualized care coordination in lieu of arrest with the goal of equitably reducing young people’s involvement with the justice system.  In partnership W. Haywood Burns Institute, the division is currently exploring the feasibility of transitioning Los Angeles County’s youth justice system out of the Probation Department and designing a transformed model. For more information about the Youth Justice Work Group’s efforts and recommendations, visit https://lacyouthjustice.org.
  • Noelia Sanchez, Intern with UCLA Law’s Knowledge is Power project. Sanchez is an 18-year-old freshman at UC Merced majoring in computer science and engineering. She loves being involved in criminal justice system reform to help others and engages in community education work with teenagers. She is currently an intern with UCLA Law’s Knowledge is Power project, where she is helping to create a phone app that will educate youth and children about their rights and what they can do if they are jailed. 

Session 2: Mental HealthPanelists  discuss the intersection of mental health and the youth legal system focusing on how we can prevent Black and Brown youth from entering the youth legal system. Presenters discuss the stigma that surrounds mental health and culturally relevant ways to debunk this; culturally relevant interventions for youth who have experienced trauma; how our schools can help youth; and how parents and caregivers can work with schools and other government agencies to get children the help they need in their local communities prior to their involvement in the legal system.Moderated by Alani Rouse, psychology student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an NJJN youth leader and recipient of NJJN’s 2019 Youth Justice Leader Award. Panelists:

  • Arcelia Cornidez runs Health and Hope for Youth, a youth task force working on mental health with AZ member Children's Action Alliance. Health and Hope  works with youth aged 10-24 to reduce stigma and has task forces on community building and sustainability as well as education and training in the community and  schools, a youth task force, and does legislative advocacy. 
  • Dr. Tierra T. Ellis is a psychologist, YJLI alum, and Founder, and Executive Director of Psyches of Color. She specializes in working with adolescents and young adults, individuals who have encountered traumatic experiences, and culturally relevant interventions. Her goal is to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline with her approach of radical healing for Black and Latinx youth.
  • Kathy Wright is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Parents Caucus, an NJJN member, founder of the New Jersey Youth Justice Initiative and a YJLI alum. Kathy has worked on mental health issues for years and will discuss teaching parents and caregivers to advocate for their children with schools and other government agencies, through the Professional Parent Advocacy Training, a program that her organization developed with the support of OJJDP.

Session 3: NJJN Toolkit: Ethical Use of Youth Stories ProjectAdvocacy organizations often ask young people to tell their stories of interaction with the legal system or other youth-impacting systems such as child welfare, immigration or education. Hearing directly from young people about their experiences creates compelling storytelling and persuasive arguments for policy change. However, in doing so, advocacy organizations have a responsibility to center youth and family stories in ethical ways that are sensitive, culturally competent and empowering for the young people sharing their stories.

To help organizations engage ethically in youth storytelling, including empowering young people to decide when, how and where their stories get told, the National Juvenile Justice Network and its member organization Citizens for Juvenile Justice have partnered with youth across the country to develop a toolkit that provides guidance for advocacy organizations and youth engaged in personal storytelling as a form of activism. Join us for a preview of the toolkit as members of the project’s Review Committee discuss the importance of the ethical use of youth stories. Moderated by Krupali Kumar, Austin Liberation Youth MovementPanelists: 

  • Alani Rouse, NJJN Membership Advisory Committee & Student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Nicky Ishaak, Student at the University of Texas at Dallas
  • Tenille Bonilla, Justice Advisor at the Connecticut Justice Alliance

4:50 PM:  Closing and Debrief

Coming Soon!

October Forum Part 2: Youth Justice Action Month
ACT to End Racism: Pursuing Policies that Advance Equity

Registration Forthcoming

Every October is Youth Justice Action Month.  This year we are using the month to focus on actions we can take to create a more just and equitable system for Black and Brown youth.  Each week we will host a workshop on topics such as Ending the Superpredator Myth, Closing Youth Prisons, Ending the Warehousing of Youth in For-Profit Facilities, and Police Free Schools.  While education is key, the goal here is to compel people to ACT! so each workshop will be accompanied by a concrete action you can take to create change.  And of course, we will be highlighting member organizations and jurisdictions leading the way, because real change is possible and just within reach.