Home News Center Youth Justice Action Month: #YJAM2022 Recap

Youth Justice Action Month: #YJAM2022 Recap

November 3, 2022
Courtney M. McSwain

Since 2008, youth justice advocates have come together in October for Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM), to share knowledge and concrete actions to transform our youth legal systems so they can be truly just. Jointly hosted by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) and the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), #YJAM2022’s theme was: “Justice Is____.”

We can only create a true vision of justice, equity and opportunity when we hear directly from those who are most impacted by the systems we are fighting to change. That means centering directly impacted youth voices in any transformations we advocate for. Our theme, “Justice Is____.” gives impacted youth, families and allies an opportunity to collectively imagine new possibilities for systems of support, healing and restorative justice.

Throughout October, NJJN and our members put youth visions of justice first by elevating their voices through a series of events, publications and social media activations. Check out the highlights below, and ways you can stay engaged and continue the momentum all year long.

2022 Proclamations:

2022 Highlights:

Youth Policy Agendas:

During YJAM 2022, NJJN and our YJAM partner CJJ convened youth advocates with direct experience with legal systems to create their own youth justice action agenda. NJJN’s Redesigning Justice: Our Youth Action Agenda and CJJ’s Recommendations to the Administration 2022 Created by the Emerging Leaders Committee: Coalition for Juvenile Justice were released this October. 

Both policy agendas were presented to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during an in-person and live-streamed meeting on October 27, 2022. During the meeting, youth advocates delivered policy recommendations in areas such as: 

  • Ensuring every young person has access to mentors, particularly credible messengers, prior to coming into contact with the legal system

  • Deeply expanding access to community-centered mental health resources, including school and community-based mental health centers

  • Reducing police/youth interactions, including ending policing in schools

  • Creating supportive youth reentry plans that restorative care, housing, educational and employment support for youth re-entering their communities from locked facilities 

  • Ending treatment of youth as adults by the legal system, including universally raising the age a young person can be charged as an adult to 21

  • Creating a pipeline for success for young people, particularly ensuring youth in conflict with the law have access to post-secondary educational financial aid, healthy and affordable housing, and eliminating barriers to employment for youth leaving correctional facilities. 

Download and read both policy agendas for the full list of recommendations for federal, state and local decision makers. 

>>Redesigning Justice: Our Youth Action Agenda, National Juvenile Justice Network (October 2022)

>>Recommendations to the Administration 2022 Created by the Emerging Leaders Committee: Coalition for Juvenile Justice (October 2022)

Amplifying Youth Voices:

Youth advocates took center stage during YJAM 2022. NJJN’s Young Justice Leaders and CJJ’s Emerging Leaders spoke during multiple events with policy makers, athletes and influencers about the importance of youth justice transformation. Youth advocates spoke during: 

  • YJAM 2022 Kickoff Webinar: Creating Brighter Futures for Our Nation’s Youth, hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NJJN and CJJ.

  • Player’s Coalition and Café Momentum Virtual Dinner for Youth Justice Action Month. Moderated by Players Coalition education expert Trimaine Davis, the virtual dinner created meaningful and actionable conversations between youth advocates from NJJN, CJJ and Momentum Ambassadors from Café Momentum. The conversation amongst youth and athletes aimed to inform prominent change-makers in supporting youth justice transformation. 

  • Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NJJN’s youth advocates met with the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an independent organization in the executive branch of the Federal Government that coordinates federal programs related to delinquency, unaccompanied juveniles, and missing and exploited children.  Youth advocates discussed their vision for youth justice with directors of youth impacting agencies throughout the federal government, such as the Department of Education, AmeriCorps, the Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies 

  • What Justice Means to Youth: A Vision for the Future. NJJN Young Justice Leaders Emerging Leaders from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice presented their youth action agendas to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The in-person event was streamed live and attended by over 200 people, who listened as young leaders from across the country with expertise and lived experience in the youth justice system discussed their recommendations to transform the youth justice system.

Education & Awareness:

YJAM 2022 featured a month-long social media campaign based on this year’s theme “Justice Is___.” Throughout the month, youth justice advocates shared their visions of justice, using the hashtags #YJAM2022, #YJAM and #JusticeIs. YJAM also featured dedicated social media actions, including  Dignity in Schools Week of Action Against School Pushout, NJJN’s Police-Free Schools Day and Rights4Girls’ Girls Justice Day.



 #PoliceFreeSchools + #SacredSafety


 YJAM Around the Country:

  • CLASP hosted its A New Deal for Youth (ND4Y) Changemakers for a ND4Y Week of Action,  October 6 - October 9 

  • The Just Write Community Project hosted a writing circle to write to incarcerated youth and young adults, including art, an open mic and healing circle.

  • Justice For Families hosted a Youth Justice Awareness Day with local resources, music, art, food and love! 

  • The Gault Center hosted a webinar on The Future of Children’s Lawyering: Supporting the Next Generation of Children’s Lawyers. The webinar discussed ways to strengthen the children’s law field and support the next generation of children’s lawyers.

  • The New Jersey Youth Justice Initiative hosted a night of Raising Awareness of Youth in Adult Prisons at its office in St. Elizabeth, NJ with raffles, outreach events and free t-shirts.

  • Progeny in Kansas City hosted a youth reimagining session with youth ages 16-24 around what they want their community to look like. The event, “The 40 Million Dollar Investment: Where is it and where does it need to be?” featured food, drinks, music and youth resources will be there! 

  • Juvenile Justice Coalition in Ohio held the, “unHEARD Voices Youth Panel” at the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Columbus, Ohio. The panel focused on police interactions followed by youth-led guide roundtable discussions designed to put attendees (including law enforcement officers) in the place/perspective of local youth. 

  • Michigan Children's Law Center hosted, “Word On The Street: Communicating with our Youth” with youth and parents who have or previously had a juvenile justice case in Wayne County. The discussion centered on what restorative justice is and the best practices to assist the legal community with connecting with young people and clients.

  • Michigan Center for Youth Justice hosted the webinar, “Beyond Fines and Fees” to discuss the impacts of juvenile justice system fines and fees on youth and families. State and national leaders discussed work toward debt free justice. 

  • Austin Liberation Youth Movement and the Texas Center for Justice and Equity hosted, “Texas's Youth Prison Crisis, Explained,” a webinar detailing the current crisis in the Texas youth justice system with Texas Tribune criminal justice reporter Jolie McCullough.

  • The Columbia University Justice Lab hosted, “Taking on Transformation: Community Support for Youth and Families” about transforming youth justice systems by supporting young people in their communities. The panel focused on why strong community-based supports and opportunities serve as the foundation for helping young people to thrive in their own homes and communities. 

  • Youth Justice Wisconsin hosted, “From Planning to Policy: The Milwaukee County Credible Messenger Program” exploring Milwaukee County’s investment in the Credible Messenger program from start to current state. 

  • American Youth Policy Forum held, “Capitol Hill Forum: Credible Messengers as a Youth Policy Solution,” to highlight credible messengers as a youth policy solution featuring Dr. Bernadette Sanchez, a leading researcher on mentoring, will share with attendees how important a credible messenger can be to the well-being of young people.

  • The Louisiana Center for Children's Rights hosted a film Screening: “Katrina Babies” at the New Orleans African American Museum in conjunction with the Youth Justice Advocates' YJAM Community Celebration. The screening also included a youth-led panel discussion on the direct links between the government's response to Katrina and the development of young people 13-18 years.

  • The Travis Hill School in New Orleans, LA hosted The 6th Annual Youth Justice Action Month Arts and Advocacy Night Featuring the work of Travis Hill Students. The mission of the Travis Hill student support team is transformation for students, families, and communities. 

Got questions about YJAM? Email info@njjn.org.

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