Mission: Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ) advocates for a fair and effective juvenile justice system in Massachusetts, designed to promote the healthy development of children and youth so they can grow up to live as responsible and productive adults in our communities.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Relevance?
CfJJ’s is committed to systemic reforms that drive young people – particularly youth of color, foster children, LGBTQ youth, and children with special educational and behavioral needs. We pursue reforms through four key strategies:
- Research: We examine and analyze Massachusetts-specific data on the key issues driving young people into the justice system and juxtapose the findings to the best-available evidence on better alternatives to intervening with young people. Our qualitative research engages justice-involved youth and their parents to identify community needs and visioning for alternatives to the justice system.
- Public Education: We share the findings and recommendations of our research through formal forums as well as through presentations to key stakeholder groups, from grassroots groups to formal service provider networks.
- Advocacy: We engage in advocacy with elected and appointed government officials, law enforcement stakeholders, educators and child welfare agencies and other key decision makers to promote best practices and policies to improve outcomes of children.
- Coalition building: A key component of our advocacy is to identify key allies, professionals and organizations working with young people, youth organizers, and other groups working directly with young people and their parents to set our coalition’s statewide youth justice policy priorities and to empower them to advocate on their own behalf through engagement in advocacy activities and offering advocacy trainings to grassroots members or their staff.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Impact?
CfJJ’s strategic goals are directed at reducing the number or youth entering the juvenile justice system unnecessarily, with a particular focus on reducing racial and ethnic disparities that plague our justice system. We are able to measure the impact of our through our influence on passed legislation and policy reforms that we have actively pursued with the above mentioned stakeholders. Since 2003, the number of children detained (pre-trial or for violations of probation) decreased by 75% and over the past ten years, there was a 64% reduction in the number of children sentence to incarceration; (2) we successfully raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction and have since kept over 10,000 kids out of unsafe adult courts and jails; (3) ended the Massachusetts practice of sentencing children to die in prison; and (4) most recently, were instrumental in passing comprehensive juvenile justice reform legislation that will result in preventing more children from entering the juvenile justice system and ensuring children who do enter the justice system are treated in developmentally appropriate ways.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Sustainability?
CfJJ’s Board of Directors affirmed its responsibility for ensuring the financial health of the organization in its most recent 4 year strategic plan, as goal five of the plan states “strengthen our organization so that it continues to be effective sustainably funded, well-regarded and positioned for more growth and broader impact in the future.” To this end, the board provides oversight to ensure that financial policies and procedures are aligned with “generally accepted accounting procedures”. Additionally, the board has developed an annual development plan which provides a framework for a diverse fundraising strategy designed to ensure long term growth. CfJJ is funded through a healthy diversity of foundation grants, corporate event sponsorship, individual donations, and organizational membership.
EXCELLENCE IN MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Excellence in Management and Operations?
CfJJ’s commitment to racial and ethnic equity in the justice system is reflected in a commitment to building an organization striving for a diversity of our staff and board, and while actively and successfully engaging in recruitment, we are continuously identifying areas where need to do better. Most recently, our board added LGBTQ communities and individuals with foster care histories among our priority characteristics to better represent the communities for whom we advocate. Organizationally, our Nominating and Governance board committee has over the years developed policies to comply with ethical and legal standard, including anti-harassment, whistleblower, conflict of interest and ethics policies. Our Executive Director and human resource staff work diligently to make sure that all staff are provided with compensation and supervision at an appropriate level. Additionally, staff are presented with a variety of professional development opportunities on an ongoing basis.
HOW DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION ENGAGE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS / EMERGING LEADERS?
CfJJ engage young professionals through board, volunteering, and programmatic activities. Our board members are the most engaged volunteers, and represent individuals with a range of experiences. Most recently our board has expanded to better engage young professionals and is in the process of recruiting several more young professionals. It is our plan to develop a board mentorship process to on-board new members to better engage them in a meaningful and inclusive way. Programmatically, the coalition engages allied organizations in the statewide advocacy work and most organizations assign young professionals in their staff as representatives of the organization, who are engaged in the decision making of the coalition. Finally, we have limited volunteer opportunities for young professionals who have been valuable to supporting our organization through engagement in our event host committee or through providing pro bono professional assistance based on their skill set.