About Youth Justice Action Month
October is Youth Justice Action Month. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) joins our partners to raise awareness and educate the public about the impact of the justice system on children. President Joseph Biden has issued a proclamation making October National Youth Justice Action Month.
"Our young people are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft — the future of our Nation is in their hands. During National Youth Justice Action Month, we recommit to expanding opportunities for all of our Nation's children and building a justice system that allows our youth to thrive."
—President Joseph Biden
Cohosted by OJJDP, the National Juvenile Justice Network, and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the initiative underscores OJJDP’s commitment to youth justice reform by showcasing the Office’s three priorities: treating children as children; serving children at home, with their families, and in their communities; and opening up opportunities for system-involved youth.
The theme is "Justice Is ____." The YJAM theme gives impacted youth, families and allies an opportunity to collectively imagine new possibilities for systems of support, healing and restorative justice—particularly within local communities around the country.
YJAM began in 2008 as Youth Justice Awareness Month, when a grieving mother, Tracy McClard, sought meaningful system reform after her teenage son, Jonathan, died by suicide while locked in solitary confinement in an adult jail. Ms. McClard advocated for an end to the prosecution and incarceration of youth in the adult criminal justice system—OJJDP’s primary, most pressing goal. In 2016, Youth Justice Awareness Month was renamed Youth Justice Action Month to encourage advocates, legislators, and governments to take concrete actions to show their commitment to youth justice.
"YJAM asks us all to recommit to actions that promote youth justice reform—to ensuring that all children get a fair shot at reaching their potential. We must recommit to offering system-involved kids support and services that steer them toward positive change, and we must sustain those supports when youth reenter their communities after incarceration."
—OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan
OJJDP envisions a juvenile justice system that emphasizes reform, support for youth, and opportunities. It begins with keeping children out of adult criminal court. Youth must never be housed in adult jails and prisons, where they are at heightened risk for suffering assault, sexual abuse, and other crimes. Furthermore, adult facilities do not offer youth age-appropriate care, therapy, and educational and vocational training. Time in an adult facility often leaves youth with lasting trauma.
Held on October 26, 2023, this Youth Justice Action Month panel discussion aimed to empower youth and families to raise their voices, share their experiences and how they were impacted by the justice system in an effort to improve it.
Administrator Liz Ryan marks Youth Justice Action Month, a time when advocates come together to raise awareness and inspire action on behalf of young people impacted by the justice system.
In observance of Youth Justice Action Month, OJJDP provides a brief history of YJAM and how the story of Tracy McClard, a mother in Jackson, MO, who lost her 17-year-old son to suicide in an adult facility, sparked nationwide juvenile justice advocacy work, awareness, and reform.
In an exclusive video from October 2022, John Legend, singer and advocate, thanks youth justice advocates from across the country for their efforts during Youth Justice Action Month to raise awareness and educate the public about the impact of the justice system on youth. He also discusses successes in juvenile justice reform and reiterates the need to continue this work.
New Blogs During Youth Justice Action Month
Administrator Liz Ryan's forthcoming blog posts during Youth Justice Action Month will focus on a range of juvenile justice-related topics including, treating children as children; furthering OJJDP's commitment to racial equity and fairness; opening up opportunities for system-involved youth; and serving children at home, with their families and in their communities. Blogs Page
|OJJDP Observes Youth Justice Action Month
| October 3, 2023 - 2023 Youth Justice Action Month Kickoff Webinar - Administrator Ryan and other presenters highlighted Youth Justice Action Month (YJAM), discussed the recently released YJAM toolkit, and provided overviews of Coalition for Juvenile Justice's Emerging Leaders Committee.
Watch the Webinar Recording
|October 12, 2023 - Justice is Ours: Youth Justice Movement Across the Country! - The National Juvenile Justice Network and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice hosted a virtual discussion to hear movement leaders speak about the actions, campaigns and strategies that are advancing justice for youth and their communities.
|October 26, 2023 - YJAM Panel Discussion: Centering Impacted Youth and Families - This panel discussion aimed to empower youth and families to raise their voices on how to improve the juvenile justice system by sharing their experiences and how they were affected. Speakers also recommended ways to effectively communicate and collaborate with policymakers, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant stakeholders. This is an in-person, invite only event.
Data & Resources
- Arrests of Youth Declined Through 2020
- Pbs Data Snapshot: What Young People Say Matters (PbS Reentry Survey)
- Pbs Data Snapshot: What Young People Say Matters (Youth Climate Survey)
- Expunging Juvenile Records: Misconceptions, Collateral Consequences, and Emerging Practices
- Historic Cases in Youth Justice
- In Focus Fact Sheet: Improving Youth Defense
- Juvenile Court Statistics, 2020
- Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2019
- Model Programs Guide: Reentry/Aftercare
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Intersection of Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in Juvenile Justice Processing
- State Strategies To Address The Needs Of Justice-Involved Youth Impacted By Collateral Consequences
- Trends and Characteristics of Delinquency Cases Handled in Juvenile Court, 2020
- Trends in Youth Arrests
- Youth and Family Partnerships
- Youth and the Juvenile Justice System: 2022 National Report
- Youth Reentry and Family Engagement
Toolkit & Partners
Spread the Word
#YJAM2023 | #YJAM | #JusticeIs | #YouthJustice
#OJJDP | #JuvenileJustice