Home News Center Virtual Forum 2020 - Agenda

Virtual Forum 2020 - Agenda

July 10, 2020
Alyson Clements


2020 has been a year of pandemics, of uprisings, of tackling racism head on and planting seeds of transformation. To that end, we at NJJN aimed to cultivate content highlighting our members' work across the country to deconstruct the systems that harm young people and offer a new vision for youth justice that leads with equity and humanity. We encourage you to watch, learn, and engage with the below content to learn innovative strategies and actions you can take to build a brighter future for our nation’s youth.

Check out these conversations with experts across the country:

1. Defund Police, Invest in Youth

Hear from advocates in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, and St. Louis about efforts to end police brutality against Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth as well as policy proposals to defund police, reinvesting dollars in youth and their communities.

Moderator: Alyson Clements, NJJN


Watch the recording here.

Additional resources on policing:

2.  Youth Voices on Mental Health and the Youth Justice System

Youth Leaders from the New Jersey Youth Caucus and from North Carolina share their insights into how the mental health system funnels young people into the youth justice system acting as an extension of our nation’s criminal justice system. In addition, they will share how this reality demands reforms that center youth and families prioritizing care over punishment and actions to take to help youth thrive.

Moderator: Kathy Wright of New Jersey’s Parent Caucus


Watch the recording here.

Pursuing Race Equity During a Pandemic

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw states take action to decarcerate youth facilities. At the same time, health data shows that African American communities are being hit hardest by the virus. These glaring disparities demand an equity lens to policy making, requiring intentional work to ensure kids of color are not left behind to bear the brunt of both the system and virus.  Below are some resources that highlight our members efforts to reduce system disparities:

NEW Webinar: Covid-19 Case Studies from New Jersey and Massachusetts 

Hear from advocates in New Jersey and Massachusetts on how their work has shifted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, including actions taken to push their states to increase the release of youth of color and legislation to increase testing for all youth in facilities and policies pursued to ensure data is disaggregated by race. Watch the recording here.


Additional tools to advocate for reducing disparties in the system:

  • Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, explains why advocates should focus on releasing Black youth from secure detention. While admissions to detention remain low, Black youth in detention are more likely to be stuck there than their white peers, despite the risks of COVID-19. Balis recaps survey data from 33 states that indicate that one of every three youth in detention on June 1, 2020 would not have been there if systems kept up the pace of releases achieved in late March. Watch the 15-minute video. Read the blog.
  • In response to the above findings, YouthFirst! called out youth justice systems for the disparities in youth releases, demanding states do more.   For more on actions states can take, check out their report HERE.
  • NJJN in partnership with its National Partners, have developed webinars and guidance materials for states working to improve outcomes for youth in the wake of the pandemic. Check out the full page of recordings and resources HERE.

4. A Look at the Federal Landscape of Youth Justice

There has been a lot of movement at the federal level on issues that impact youth. Listen to national experts discuss a number of these issues, including: when does your state need to remove youth from adult jails and implement other new JJDPA requirements? How does the JJDPA intersect with disability rights, housing, child welfare? How is federal legislation addressing the impact of COVID-19 on youth, particularly those involved in the justice system? What is happening with federal policing bills? Where are we in the funding process? 

Moderator: Melissa Cortez Goemann, NJJN


  •  L. Dara Baldwin, Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR
  •  Marcy Mistrett, Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ)
  •  Naomi Evans, Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ)
Watch the recording here.

Also check out NJJN’s latest Federal Policy Priorities here.

5. Arrive and Thrive: Mental maintenance for sustaining compassion resilience

Taking care of our mental health is extremely important during these times as we struggle with the impacts of covid-19 on our communities and how to effectively seize this moment to make reforms.  This webinar is packed with practical tools to disconnect from the desk and recharge in any room!  Give yourself permission to do something good for you... and enjoy this mindful moment.

Speaker:  Consuela Chapman LCSW, LCAS, CCS is the founder of Choices In Wellness and The Daily Calm Podcast.  She has a group practice in Raleigh NC where she specializes in self-care, self-esteem, and life transitions.

Watch the recording here.

Check out recent work from NJJN members across the country:

1.  #JusticeForCornelius and the End of For-Profit Facilities

Michigan Center for Youth Justice has been actively seeking justice for Cornelius Fredericks, a 16 year old boy who died after being restrained for throwing a sandwich at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Watch the recording here to learn more about their campaign to hold Sequel, a for-profit company that provides child welfare and youth justice services, accountable and put an end to for-profit residential facilities in Michigan.

Resources on #JusticeForCornelius in Michigan:

Additional materials and state actions:

2. Invest in Me CT! A Campaign Launch from Connecticut

NJJN member, The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Association,’s Justice Advisor’s recently launched their Invest in Me CT campaign calling for more funding for community based support.  Check out their campaign launch video HERE.

3. Transformative Justice: What The US has to Learn from the World - Illinois

NJJN member, Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois, has long been a leader on the international stage advocating for the United States to adhere to the UN’s Convention on Rights of the Child.  See how the United State’s youth justice compares to others across the globe, and see highlights of tours to other countries’ youth justice systems.

a. UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty
b. Chicago and Cook County resolutions calling for all government agencies affiliated with youth justice to review and compare their policies to the UN Global Study on Rights of Child and Children Deprived of liberty.
c. Video footage from exploratory trip to Germany:

d. Norway takeaways 

4. Brave New Films: Youth Activism in Action! Highlights from Virginia and Illinois

See how youth are changing the world! From justice reform to gun reform to voting, youth are leading the way.  Be sure to check out YJLI Alum Valerie Slater, NJJN member RISE for Youth, and NJJN member Communities United highlighted in the Brave New Films video clips on youth activism.

5Dissecting Racism as a Tool for Juvenile Justice Reform

Listen to Youth Justice Leadership Alumni Garien Gatewood of Illinois Justice Project and Kathy Wright of New Jersey Parents Caucus discuss steps we can take to dismantle racism and thereby transform the justice system as we know it in this fireside chat.

6. No Youth Charged as Adults

As the Campaign for Youth Justice wraps up it’s work, check out their progress over the years to ensure no child is charged as an adult.  While much progress has been made, as always new challenges remain.  As kids of color are overcharged and often pushed deeper into the system, we must partner with those directly impacted to ensure the integrity of reforms.

7. Dismantling the Pipeline

Daughter's Beyond Incarceration and YJLI Alum from NJJN Member SPLC of LA, Cheyenne Blackburn talk about the founding of the organization, why the organization is important and a specific advocacy effort in LA that shows unity and collaboration amongst grassroots and grasstops organizations working towards a common goal. Daughter’s Beyond Incarceration (DBI) is a youth organization for girls of incarcerated parents. The organization was founded by Dominique Johnson and Bree Anderson, who are both daughters of incarcerated parents. In this recording DBI members.  Watch the recording here.

These NJJN Member Sessions were live on July 10. Sign in to the member area page to learn more.

Let’s Talk about Race

Join your colleagues from around the network as we breakout to discuss what steps organizations are taking to become anti-racist, what changes that has required, and what resources are needed to continue the transformation. 

A Conversation with The Public Welfare Foundation’s Candice Jones

Candice Jones of the Public Welfare Foundation and NJJN Executive Director Ricky Watson will discuss the momentum for transformational justice, concrete steps for investing in communities, and how an intergenerational youth led movement can lead us forward.

Leading with Race: A Path to Equity

Learn about recent economic and justice research findings that detail how disparities have remained despite wide scale reforms, requiring a new approach that leads with race. Experts will discuss how to reorient policies to lead with race and begin to build systems oriented to equity.

Moderator: Jorren Biggs, NJJN Young Justice Leader North Carolina


  • Montgomery County (MD) Councilmember Will Jawando, who formerly worked with My Brother’s Keeper in the Obama Administration, will discuss findings from the longitudinal study the Status of Race Today.
  • Danielle Lipow, senior associate, the Annie E. Casey Foundation will discuss their report “Leading with Race.”

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