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Resources Compiled Regarding COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations

May 29, 2020
National Juvenile Justice Network



As the United States grapples with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the National Juvenile Justice Network shares its deep concern about the health and safety of youth who are in custody or under supervision by state justice systems across the country. At a time when families are coming together to protect themselves and their loved ones, we are calling on states to put the safety of our children first.  This means ending all new admissions to dangerous detention facilities, immediately releasing kids in detention where we know diseases spread quickly, and considering release of all youth in confinement. As we have seen in other congregate care facilities, viruses and diseases spread quickly, endangering everyone’s lives. We all have to do our part in such critical times. State justice systems must do their part to prevent further spread of this virus by serving youth and their families from home, where they belong in the midst of this crisis.

Below, we have compiled resources for NJJN members and other youth justice advocates to provide some guidance in working with local governments to protect youth in the system.
 

Tracker
 

  • New Tip Sheet from NJJN: “Tracking COVID-19 Protections for Justice Involved Youth.”  A compiled list of sites tracking jurisdiction responses to COVID-19 and justice-involved youth.

  • COVID-19 resource page by Children’s Defense Fund

Calls and Webinars

  • *NEW*: Coalition for Juvenile Justice and NJJN held a call: "COVID-19: Supporting Crossover Youth” on May 11, 2020. Watch the recording here.

  • "The Heightened Dangers of Confinement" held on Monday, April 27 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Hosted by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and NJJN. View call recording and slide deck.


  • CJJA and the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS) held a webinar "Making Education Work in Secure Settings During COVID-19" on  Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT. Register here.
  • A Conversation with Family Advocates about COVID-19 and Youth Justice. Held on April 23, 2020
; hosted by Vera Institute. Register HERE.
  • "Discussing Reentry Planning During A Pandemic," Held on April 10, 2020. Hosted by Coalition for Juvenile Justice and NJJN.

  • "Take Action Now: Advocacy Strategies for Protecting Incarcerated Youth from COVID-19" Held on Tuesday, April 7. Hosted by Youth First. NJJN co-sponsor. Watch HERE
  • Covid-19 Latinx Justice, a newly formed coalition, is providing information, resources, and community for Spanish speaking people throughout the US through a series of webinars beginning this Thursday, March 26 at 12pm PT / 2pm CT / 3pm ET.

  • "Minimizing Impacts on Youth in the Justice System." Held on March 17 @3 PM EST. Jointly hosted by NJJN and the Coalition of Juvenile Justice.

  • On March 13th, the Center for Popular Democracy, Faith in Action, The Justice Collaborative, and the National Council for Incarcerated Women and Girls hosted an Emergency Call: COVID-19 and the Criminal Legal System.  On the call, expert panelists discussed best practices and potential policies for mitigating the harm of coronavirus spread on those impacted by criminal legal and immigration systems, particularly incarcerated and detained people.  Watch HERE
  • On March 19th, the Vera Institute of Justice recorded a conversation with New York Times magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon; the President of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services (COCHS), Dr. Homer Venters; Vera Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Leah Pope; and Vera’s VP and Research Director, Jim Parsons,  on how to ensure fair treatment during the COVID-19 epidemic for people living behind bars.
  • The National Network for Justice will host a webinar presentation and discussion about the response to the Coronavirus in jails, prisons and detention facilities on Friday, March 20 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. EDT. Register here. The increase of Coronavirus cases being confirmed around the country has led activists to question the response of local and federal governments for jail, prison and detention facility populations. Join NNJ for a discussion about what activists are doing on a national level and how activists can develop strategies to ensure the safety of prisoners.

  • Law Enforcement Action Partnerships invites you to a webinar on how law enforcement and public officials can improve public safety by significantly reducing our incarcerated population in response to the coronavirus. The webinar will be held Thursday, March 19th at 2pm ET/11am PT. See below for access instructions. As we prepare for the imminent spread of COVID-19, prisons and jails are at high risk of becoming incubators for the spread of the virus. One key to improving public safety in this pandemic is significantly reducing incarceration. Sheriff Manfre will discuss concrete steps that law enforcement and public officials can take, from holding fewer people pretrial to stopping incarceration for technical probation and parole violations and low-level offenses, speeding up imminent release dates, and arranging compassionate release for the elderly and medically frail. Public safety depends on urgent collaboration between criminal justice professionals and service providers to strengthen our position against the arrival of coronavirus.   Access Instructions:  For video: visit https://zoom.us/j/859614729 | For audio only: Call 408 638 0968 and enter Meeting ID: 859 614 729

  • CJJA and CJJR Presents: Navigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Juvenile Justice Policy and Practice. Register for the webinar on Tuesday April 14, 2020 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM EDT here.

  • Video Conference on Advocacy Strategies for Protecting Incarcerated Youth from Covid19 on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT. Register here.

Templates for Action Calls & Letters

Letters & Responses from States

  • NJJN member, Juvenile Justice Initiative, urged the immediate adoption of two basic international human rights protections for all children and young adults in conflict with the law – end detention of children under the age of 14 and end incarceration for low level property and technical violations.The release is posted on www.jjustice.org along with news coverage from the press release.

  • On April 15, Juvenile Justice Initiative sent a letter to the Illinois Supreme Court expressing concerns over children in detention, especially in light of the suspension of speedy trial rules.

  • NJJN member, Youth Justice Coalition has drafted a letter calling for L.A. to take steps to protect youth from 

  • NJJN member, Citizens for Juvenile Justice released a letter calling for the state of Massachusetts to protect youth in custody.
     - CJJ also has a webpage on COVID-19 resources

  • NJJN member, Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights sent the following letter to local officials.

  • NJJN Member Children’s Defense Fund New York is calling on New York to release as many young people from confinement as possible. Read their proposal.

  • NJJN Member, Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) sent letters to Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida officials demanding they ensure the health and safety of people in jails,  prisons and immigrant detention centers in the Deep South and release those people most at risk of suffering serious complications or death.
     - The letter to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves can be read here.
     - The letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards can be read here.
     - The letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis can be read
    here.

  • Restore Justice in Virginia, Virginia Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth and the Humanization Project released COVID-19 Executive Order Request

  • Elected lawyers in Virginia wrote an open letter to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, calling for the safe release of incarcerated youth who pose no safety risk to the community and a halt to as many new admissions as possible at youth detention centers and youth prisons. The letter was written in partnership with NJJN Member Rise For Youth,  Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.

  • Michigan Center for Youth Justice (MCYJ) issued a letter re: COVID-19 and Youth in Confinement.

  • NJJN co-signed a letter to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to take immediate action to address COVID-19 in the juvenile justice system and adopt measures to protect youth as part of the Youth First and the national campaign.

  • On April 8, 2020 NJJN joined North Carolina Civil Rights Groups ACLU of North Carolina, Disability Rights North Carolina, Emancipate NC and Forward Justice to file an emergency lawsuit to demand North Carolina Governor and state officials protect incarcerated people from COVID-19. Read the press release.

  • NJJN Member Voices for Georgia's Children held a virtual town hall from the leaders of the state's child-serving agencies to discuss COVID-19 responses for children and familes, including Department of Juvenile Justice. View videos with leader responses HERE (videos labeled "GA Call" are part of the vitual town hall).
     - Voices for Georgia's Children also created a comprehensive COVID-19 resource pagewith responses and policy recommendations for the state's child-serving agencies. 
  • New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced full COVID-19 testing in JJC facilities for staff and incarcerated youth.   For COVID-19 updates click here.

National Advocacy Response

  • A Humane Outbreak Response was released and signed on to by NJJN national partner The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.

  • Human Impact Partners released Taking Action for Health, Justice, and Belonging in the Age of COVID-19.

  • Fair and Just Prosecution released a letter signed by 400 Former US Attorneys, DOJ Leaders and Attorneys, and Judges Urge President Trump to Release Vulnerable Individuals from Federal Custody to Avoid Deadly Outbreak of COVID-19.

  • Human Rights Watch released a press release advocating for supervised release and other non-custodial alternatives for detained individuals who are at high risk of serious effects from COVID-19: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/12/us-covid-19-threatens-people-behind-bars.

  • The ACLU and Human Rights Watch released a letter to ICE regarding prevention and management of COVID-19 at the Adelanto Processing Center in California, where some detainees have met the criteria for testing. Adelanto, in the past, has demonstrated failure to provide adequate medical care.

  • The ACLU released a blog post about the vulnerability of the incarcerated to the coronavirus and recommendations for improving medical treatment conditions.

  • The ACLU released a report, “Flattening the Curve: Why Reducing Jail Populations is Key to Beating COVID-19,” which details how keeping people out of jails saves lives inside the jails and in the community.

  • The Sentencing Project issued a call for early release: COVID-19 Precaution: End Unnecessary Incarceration

  • The National Partnership for Juvenile Services released a newsletter with resources for addressing COVID-19. 

  • NACDL released a webpage of coronavirus resources for the criminal justice community that includes motions, court opinions, organizational statements, and joint advocacy letters.

  • The Justice Collaborative released a new poll showing bipartisan support for releasing children from juvenile detention amid COVID-19 pandemic.

  • NJDC released statement on COVID-19 and the juvenile legal system’s responsibility to act.
     - NJDC also released the resource document, Guidance to Juvenile Courts on Conducting Remote Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • The Juvenile Law Center released a statement signed by 100 organizations, including NJJN, calling on states and local decision-makers nationwide  to suspend the harmful practice of imposing fees and fines on youth in the juvenile system and their families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has a webpage of COVID-19 resources and updates

  • The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) has a blog with information on COVID-19.

  • The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released a statement calling for the release of prisoners with disabilities vulnerable to COVID-19 and a statement calling for children not to remain incarcerated simply because they have a disability.

  • COVID-19 Response Must Include Youth and Adults Impacted by the Criminal Justice System.” Blog by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
  • Youth First is compiling COVID-19 youth justice advocacy resources here.
  • The National Network for Youth released a fact sheet to educate policymakers and advocate for dedicated funding for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommends incarceration of youth as last resort. Read the policy statement here. Also read the guidance in a separate article here.
  • Human Impact Partners has created a COVID-19 resource page to challenge common questions and pushback to decarceration with a public health lens.
  • Thirteen Democratic senators, led by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote a letter asking the Justice Department for details on what precautions are being taken against the coronavirus in juvenile detention centers. Read here.

International Advocacy Response

  • UNICEF calls for a release of children in detention due to high risk of contracting COVID-19. Read here.

Racial Justice


Recommendations and Steps Facilities Can Take

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