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“It’s not enough for you to teach me, I need you to care about me.” (Samaya Jones)
The Ending PUSHOUT Act, introduced by Representative Ayana Pressley and co-sponsored by Representative Ilhan Omar, seeks to address the punitive and exclusionary school discipline policies that disproportionately affect girls of color—often funneling them into the criminal justice system. The bill would: establish $2.5 billion in new federal grants to states and schools committed to restructuring their discipline policies, protect the Civil Rights Data Collection and strengthen the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and establish a Federal Interagency Task Force to End School Pushout. The National Black Women’s Justice Institute, National Women’s Law Center, Girls for Gender Equity, National Crittenton, and several other organizations supported the introduction of the bill at a press conference and briefing on Capitol Hill.
In New York City, over 300 students gathered to protest Beacon High School’s admission policies, which disproportionately favor white students. At Byng High in Oklahoma, Delanie Seals, Avaunt Brown, and Is’Abella Miller refused to accept their school’s dress code policy that penalized them for wearing African headwraps, and succeeded in changing the policy.
Ahead of the 2020 Presidential election, Girls for Gender Equity released a National Agenda for Black Girls, including six national policy priorities that will be introduced to 2020 candidates through a series of digital town halls during the election cycle. The priorities include: passing a Black Girl Bill of Rights, expanding education justice and opportunity, expanding democracy for young people, healing, well-being, and reproductive justice; ending sexual and gender-based violence, and immigrant and racial justice. Building on their Together We Rise report, Alliance for Girls released a Girl’s Policy Agenda, outlining four policy issues: safety on public transportation, increased support for young moms, state funding to meet girls’ needs, and participatory decision-making in government that centers girls’ voices.
In Maryland, three girls who reported being threatened with sexual assault by a group of boys in their elementary school class were told to “stay away” from them. One of the girls was later put on the same bus as the boys, and says she was physically harassed and assaulted on her way home.
A new brief from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center focuses on girls in secure juvenile detention in Florida, with specific attention to girls who pose little or no risk to public safety. According to the brief, “more than 2,800 girls who were eligible for an alternative to arrest were nonetheless arrested in practice.”
Why aren’t respite beds—an alternative to secure detention—consistently used for girls who are charged with domestic violence-related offenses in Florida? According to a brief from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, over half of girls were detained in lieu of respite care because a shelter bed was not available.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Sheila O’Connor explores the moral policing that frames the incarceration of girls and young women through the lens of her grandmother’s incarceration for “incorrigibility” at 15. “If any professionals considered the possibility that the behavior changes may have been the result of trauma, they failed to record it. Instead, the court system focused on minor “status offenses” like truancy and curfew violations.”
Prisons were designed for men and fail to adequately address the differing needs of women, including the distinct reasons they become involved with the criminal justice system. In a piece for the Washington Post, Keri Blaklinger asks what it would look like for women’s prisons to be gender-specific and focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
In Arizona, 18% of young people involved with the juvenile justice system are also involved in the child welfare system. Sandy Santana, executive director of an organization suing the state over problems it sees in its foster care system, calls this “the criminalization of the behavior of children who have been traumatized.”
The number of states not participating in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) more than doubled over last year, as reported in the Chronicle of Social Change. Four of the states have not pulled out of the law, but were deemed “ineligible” by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) because it was determined that they could not sufficiently monitor their compliance.
In Racial Justice at the Core, Youth First Initiative profiles New Jersey and Virginia’s campaigns to close youth prisons through a racial lens. The report makes six recommendations for framing youth justice as a racial justice issue, including: ensuring campaigns are house within organizations that prioritize racial justice as a youth justice issue, prioritizing the need to eliminate racial disparities in all messaging and communications; leveraging relationships with organizations focused on uplifting communities of color, and more.
In Virginia, the state’s risk assessment tool resulted in harsher punishments for people under age 23 and black people. In Louisville, Kentucky the city has yet to determine where 26 young people in secure detention at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center will go when the center closes in four weeks.
The Center for Court Innovation published a new study on restorative approaches to intimate partner violence across the country. Among the findings: programs featured in the study “prioritize survivor agency and safety, focus on active accountability for those who have caused harm, and emphasize voluntary participation. They also strive to engage their communities in efforts to address intimate partner violence.”
A study conducted by Michigan State University finds that one in eight teenagers between the ages of 14 and 19 experienced reproductive coercion—a type of relationship abuse in which individuals are pressured to become pregnant—within the previous three months.
In a report for WBUR, Robin Young and Kalyani Saxena discuss the ways in which domestic abusers are using technology like GPS and phone apps to monitor and intimidate their victims.
The last seven years have seen a 70% increase in child sexual abuse cases treated in emergency rooms, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Although the study also acknowledges an increase in girls who are sexually trafficked, researchers say it is unlikely that is accounts for the entire increase. “This is a very common pediatric problem that we see, especially for girls,” says Dr. James E. Crawford-Jakubiak.
Although Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a White House task force on missing and murdered indigenous women, Rebecca Nagle writes that Senate Republicans are advocating for changes to the Violence Against Women Act that would make it harder for tribes to prosecute non-Native abusers. While Nagle writes that the Senate version of VAWA is unlikely to pass, she says that “advocates worry that the Senate Republican version of Vawa signals the safety of Native women could become a partisan battle.”
Housing and Nutrition Assistance
The first of three proposals aimed at cutting food stamp eligibility was approved by the Agriculture Department despite public protest. Approximately 700,000 people will lose their federal food-stamp benefits under the newly approved federal requirements, which go into effect on April 1, 2020. The other two rules—which would result in the loss of automatic eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals for nearly one million children and cut $4.5 billion from program over five years—have also been met with largely negative public comments.
New research from the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness highlights the intersections of homelessness, health, and nutrition. According to data from the 2016-17 school year, 1.36 million students in the United States were homeless and were five times more likely to go hungry than their housed peers. The newly published ICPH research includes infographics and state counts on homelessness and food insecurity.
Unlike the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development defines homelessness very literally—excluding individuals and families who couch surf, stay in motels, or with others—barring access to services and a continuum of care. A federal bill to broaden the HUD definition would support homeless youth, “living in precarious situations” who are not chronically homeless.
“If we’re only fighting to codify Roe—and not to address the racist, classist disparities that have failed to make the full spectrum of reproductive health-care a reality for so many—then we’re leaving people behind.” (Destiny Lopez)
The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, along with a coalition of 72 organizations, submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case June Medical v. Gee. According to NWLC, the case challenges a Louisiana law that would result in the closure of abortion clinics in the state, making the procedure inaccessible for many.
The Senate confirmed the lifetime appointment of Sarah Pitlyk to the federal judiciary. Nominated by Trump, Pitlyk is known for her strong opposition to abortion, surrogacy, and in-vitro fertilization. She will serve as a federal judge in Missouri.
- The Credible Messenger Justice Center is accepting proposals to present at their 4th annual conference. Deadline to apply is December 16.
- Grantmakers for Girls of Color is hiring an Executive Director/Co-Executive Directors. Deadline to apply is December 20.
- Briefing on PUSHOUT Act, featuring testimony from young
- Charlotte Nebres is the first black girl to play the part of Marie in the New York City Ballet’s rendition of the Nutcracker
- Nia Clarke: “Adoption is a Trans Issue”
- “Our misdirected philanthropy is costing us beyond measure.” Vanessa Daniel writes on the need to adequately fund women of color, who are overrepresented in successful social change and underrepresented in funding.
- On Trans Day of Remembrance, the Trans Day of Resilience art project mourns those lost while “celebrating how…communities remain resilient.”
- Judge Steven Teske: “Eliminate plea bargaining in juvenile court.”
- Women of color and low-income mothers are the most likely to experience postpartum depression, but the least likely to receive treatment.
- A new Oklahoma law downgrading minor crimes sees 500 prisoners released in one day—a first step in reducing the state’s incarceration rates, among the highest in the country.
- A report undermining research about the adolescent brain is being used by Arizona prosecutors to argue against leniency for young people who commit crimes
- In New York, the police department illegally maintained a database of fingerprints of youth under age 16 who were charged with crimes in juvenile court
- For young mother, Stormy Poe, sobriety and motherhood are complicated by contested jail fees
- Elizabeth Brico: How Child Services Punishes Mothers with Substance Use Disorder—and their Children
- Young parents who are able to juggle work and school have higher incomes by age 30
- Samantha Howell: “…utilizing trauma-informed care in the juvenile justice system, while necessary, is not sufficient — prevention should be the goal, with trauma-informed services implemented in all child-involved systems.”
- Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Justice for All – Schott Foundation (Pittsburgh PA, December 14)
- National Summit on Youth Homelessness – National Network for Youth (Washington DC, March 2-3, 2020)
- Unleashing the Power of Positive Transformation: The Promise of Trusted Relationships – Credible Messenger Justice Center (New York NY, June 9, 2020)
“Racism hides itself behind our progressive facade.”
Source: Sadie Lee, Beacon High Sophomore
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