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Youth Justice Action Month

October 2023
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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.

Youth Justice Action Month Panel Discussion: Centering Impacted Youth and Families

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. 

YJAM Is All About Listening to Youth and Heeding What They Say

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.

Youth Justice Action Month: Why We Act

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.

Youth Justice Action Month: A Message from John Legend

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 

2023 Youth Justice Action Month - Banner

Upcoming Events

 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. 
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Data & Resources

Toolkit & Partners

Youth Justice Action Month Toolkit

The online toolkit features resources to promote Youth Justice Action Month. 

Access the Toolkit


Justice Is...

 Spread the Word

#YJAM2023 | #YJAM | #JusticeIs | #YouthJustice
#OJJDP | #JuvenileJustice


Date Created: September 25, 2023