The groundbreaking J4F report, Families Unlocking Futures, uncovers crucial flaws in the system that burden, alienate, and exclude families from the treatment of system-involved youth. The Family Bill of Rights aims to correct these flaws and includes five principal rights. J4F is working to move the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to issue guidelines that reflect the Family Bill of Rights. Please sign onto to our letter to the director:
Dear Director Listenbee,
I am writing to call upon the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to issue guidelines on the treatment of families of system-involved youth that reflect the Family Bill of Rights, a set of recommendations, based on the research of over one-thousand families of system-involved youth (summarized in the report Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice). In summary, the five principle rights include: 1) Right to Notification 2) Right to Participation 3) Right to Peer Support 4) Right to Contact and 5) Right to Influence Juvenile Justice Policy.
OJJDP guidelines would help ensure families have the opportunity to be effective advocates for their children and have greater opportunity to stay in contact with their loved ones when they are detained or incarcerated.
Your track record as a public defender and champion of youth rights inspires me to believe that you will act with urgency to address the treatment of families of system-involved youth and other issues raised in Families Unlocking Futures.
Please find a summary of the Family Bill of Rights below.
Sign as an individual
Sign as an organization
1) *Right to Notification*—families have a right to be notified anytime significant decisions are being made about their loved ones or questions are being asked that could result in their child’s suspension, expulsion, arrest or prosecution.
2) *Right to Participation*—families have a right to participate and give input in these critical hearings and decision making points. Given this right, school disciplinary and juvenile justice processes shall be conducted using language and terminology families can understand.
3) *Right to Peer Support*—families have a right to the support of a peer who can support and assist families as they navigate too often hostile and exclusionary school disciplinary and juvenile justice systems. A peer is someone who has been through school disciplinary or juvenile justice processes with their own loved ones.
4) *Right to Contact*—families have a right to see and otherwise be in contact with their loved ones. Thus, youth facilities shall be within 90 miles of the home, phone call costs shall not be exorbitant and provisions shall be made to support family visitation. Families shall not face fees and fines that further increase the cost of having a loved one in the system.
5) *Right to Influence Juvenile Justice Policy*—families shall be consulted and listened to when determining youth justice policy and practice. Local, state and national governments shall work to incorporate family’s meaningful participation in determining the direction of policy and practice.