Ohio Sentencing Project (7/23/21)

Columbus, OH – New data from The Sentencing Project shows that striking racial disparities persist in Ohio’s youth incarceration system. Black youth are over five times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated in Ohio. 

Ohio’s youth incarceration system has a long history of disproportionately impacting Black and brown youth, despite young people of all backgrounds engaging in risky behavior at the same rates. Black and brown youth are subjected to more punitive treatment, locked up away from their families and communities at a higher rate than their white counterparts. Although the data shows a slight decrease in the disparity for Black youth versus white youth since 2015, the rate remains egregious. This data comes as earlier this year, a poll was released showing 74 percent of Ohioans support requiring states to address racial inequities in the youth justice system. (Read more…)

Budget statement (7/2/21)

Following Governor DeWine’s signing of the Ohio state budget, Kenza Kamal, Policy Director at the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio (JJC) released the following statement:

“We’re grateful for some of the vital investments in children and families that were protected in this budget. But Ohioans, particularly Black, brown, and working class, are still suffering, and this budget continues to invest in the harmful practice of youth incarceration while neglecting the social services that would prevent children from being involved with the justice system to begin with.

Spending over $180 million on youth prisons does not make our communities safer. We are safest when our children are educated and housed, when they are not poisoned by lead and do not die in childbirth. These are some of the issues this budget could have tackled. Instead, our leaders cut taxes for the wealthiest Ohioans, costing our state $2 billion that should have been used to repair the communities who were abandoned to the worst of the pandemic. We will continue to push Ohio to divest from youth incarceration and re-invest into our communities to ensure every young person has the opportunity to thrive.”

Ohio To Palestine Solidarity Statement (5/18/21)

Today, after the recent escalation of the Israeli state’s campaign of colonial and apartheid violence and slaughter, the Palestinian people have called for a general strike and uprising. Those of us in freedom struggles in Ohio, on occupied lands ourselves, answer their call for international support and stand with their fight for self-determination. Read more…

JJC Statement on the murder of Ma’Khia Bryant (4/21/21)

“We are disgusted by the murder of yet another Columbus child at the hands of the Columbus Police Department (CPD). Once again, another Columbus family and the community as a whole, are faced with the trauma of losing a child at the hands of CPD. We tell children to call the police whenever they need help, as Ma’Khia Bryant did, but we’re painfully reminded that this help does not extend to all children; for Black and Brown children it could mean a death sentence. Happening while the country was waiting for the verdict of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, our relief that Chauvin was held accountable was immediately overshadowed by an egregious miscarriage of justice in the murder of Ma’Khia.

Our community cannot allow another loss of life at the hands of the police. There is no reforming an institution that aims first to shoot, and asks questions later. We continue to call for divestment of all funds from the Columbus Police Department and an investment of those funds into community-based supports — programs that actually support our communities and young people rather than traumatizes and murders them. We demand the Columbus Police Department immediately fire the officers responsible and hold them accountable for the murder they committed. We stand with Ma’Khia’s family, friends and community in grieving the loss of her life. We will continue fighting in her name — and in the names of all those we’ve lost too soon to police violence — so that every child can live in a world free from the terror of the police.”

Vast Majority of Ohioans Favor Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration (3/10/21)

New Poll Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for Rehabilitation Programs Over Placing Young People Behind Bars

Columbus, OH – Today, Youth First Initiative and Juvenile Justice Coalition released a new poll showing a vast majority of Ohioans favor investing in community-based alternatives to youth incarceration. The poll found 81% support for a youth justice system focused on prevention and rehabilitation rather than punishment.

After a year of uprisings for Black lives led significantly by young people, reforming the youth justice system to focus on rehabilitation over punishment continues to have overwhelming support across the country. Across identities, the majority of Americans believe that youth would be best served by community-based supports such as intensive rehabilitation, education, job training and community services, not taken away from their communities and support systems and incarcerated. These beliefs were echoed by Ohioans and support the findings of a new Policy Matters Ohio report which provided a roadmap on how to reduce youth incarceration by fully funding community-based alternatives. 

Continue reading Vast Majority of Ohioans Favor Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration (3/10/21)