Alabama Youth Justice Alliance

Obstacles Facing Alabama Youth

AYJA encourages Alabamians to focus their energy and efforts to assist youth in achieving a bright future through organizing efforts and policy reform.  Below are just a few of the obstacles facing Alabama’s youth and corresponding resources for advocates to conquer these obstacles.

Community Mobilization

Many would-be advocates do not step-up to work on behalf of children and youth due to lack of direction and/or resources.  Below are several organizing tools that provide advocates with a roadmap for conquering obstacles facing Alabama’s youth.

Unlocking Your Community’s Hidden Strengths:  A Guidebook to Community Assett-Mapping

Campaign for Youth Justice:  Campaign Tools

School-to-Prison Pipeline

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to policies and practices common in our nation’s schools that work to funnel youth – particularly youth of color – from school into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.  Pipeline policies and practices include zero-tolerance discipline, school-based arrests, disciplinary alternative schools, and secured detention.  Below are resources on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Southern Poverty Law Center

American Civil Liberties Union

Dignity in Schools

Youth Tried As Adults

 Each year, an estimated 250,000 youth are tried, sentenced, and incarcerated in the United States where they are more likely to be sexually and physically assaulted, and commit suicide than youth held in juvenile facilities.  As many as one-half of youth held in adult jails will be sent back to the juvenile justice system or not be convicted all.  Nonetheless, most will spend at least one month in an adult jail and one in five of these youth will spend over six months in an adult jail – most having been accused of nonviolent offenses.  Below are resources on youth tried as adults.

Delinquency Cases Waived to Criminal Court, 2009, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Campaign for Youth Justice

Fair Sentencing for Youth

Incarcerated Youth

A 2007 study found that roughly 60,500 youth were confined in a correctional facility or other residential program on the order of a juvenile delinquency court.  Forty-percent of these youth are of color and are held in secure long-term facilities.  Heavy reliance on youth incarceration does not reduce the chances of confined youth reoffending and is expensive.  Moreover, incarcerated youth are often exposed to violence and are subjected to abuse.  Below are resources on incarcreated youth.

Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2009, Office Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – Showing a 20% decline in juvenile court cases.

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Models for Change, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation