Juvenile Justice Coalition

Organizing Youth, Building Power

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.”

Sign Our Change.org petition

Joe Biden promised to invest $100 million to close and repurpose youth prisons while on the campaign trail. We need Congress to appropriate the funds to make this a reality. Sign our petition now urging Congress to invest $100 million to close and repurpose youth prisons.

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. 

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ACLU of Ohio, Children’s Law Center, and Juvenile Justice Coalition Condemn Lack of Transparency Around Teen’s Death in Ohio Facility (2/16/21)

COLUMBUS – Following the death of a teenager in Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility (CJCF) in August 2020 and continued calls for transparency, ACLU of Ohio, Children’s Law Center, and Juvenile Justice Coalition released the following statement: “It has been almost six months since a young person died alone in a locked cell at the Circleville … Continue reading

Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition Policy Issue Brief: Youth Incarceration (12/30/20)

Juvenile incarceration is a high-cost policy with a low return on investment. Each year, Ohio spends an average of $185,303 per year to incarcerate one child–money that can and should be invested more effectively. Incarceration inflicts bodily harm on youth, is rife with racial disparities, restricts opportunities for youth to become well-educated and financially stable, and does not improve recidivism rates. Upstream investment in Ohio’s children will prevent their involvement in the juvenile justice system. In the meantime, the state should shift spending away from youth confinement and towards local and community alternatives with robust data collection that ensures programs treat the root causes of issues in children’s lives. Read More…

Statement on Passing of SB 256, ending Life Without Parole for youth in Ohio (12/18/20)

Following the Ohio Legislature’s vote to pass Senate Bill 256 in the House,
eliminating the ability to sentence juveniles to life without parole, Kenza Kamal, Policy Director at the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio (JJC), released the following statement:
We applaud the Ohio Legislature for voting to end the cruel practice of sentencing juveniles to life without parole with an overwhelming majority. JJC has advocated to end these harsh sentences for years, and we’re proud to have joined the activists, organizations, and families and young people harmed by the juvenile criminal system who supported the passage of S.B. 256. The passing of this bill is long overdue, and we await Governor DeWine’s signature to enact the law and modify the sentence of any young people currently incarcerated with life without parole.Read More…

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