Storm Coleman testifies in front of West Virginia’s Select Committee on Children and Families.
To people who criticize welfare and disability recipients in West Virginia, 16-year-old Storm Coleman suggests a visualization exercise: “Picture yourself in my mom’s shoes.”
“Imagine that you’re overweight, or you’re in pain all day, you can’t walk around, and you have three kids to provide for, and no job will hire you either because you’re disabled or ’cause you’re overqualified—’cause my mom is really smart.”
Fewer kids are being referred to King County courts each year – and most of these disappearing defendants are white.
Last year 2,298 white juveniles were referred to the courts compared to 5,107 in 2002. That’s a 55 percent decrease. Black youth saw a 21 percent drop in referrals over the same period.
An analysis of the juvenile prosecutions shows that black kids are more likely to be referred to the courts, more likely to be formally charged, less likely to have their cases diverted, and more likely to be sentenced to secure detention or tried as adults.
Youth leaders from Logan, WV addressed the Senate Select Committee on Child Poverty on July 23, 2013. Scroll to the 31:35 mark to see Kristiana Drummer (11th grade) talk about juvenile justice reform, Jimetta Early (12th grade) talk about early childhood development, and Ciara Campbell (12th grade) talk about the need for sex education classes in order to prevent teen pregnancy. After they spoke, Senator Unger and Senator Stollings praised them for their leadership.
The Community Justice Program and partners will conduct a Freedom School in the King County Juvenile Justice Center and Washington State Juvenile facilities annually. Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) will also engage in a community organizing campaign linking racial disparities in education to the current over-incarceration of youth of color in King County, Washington.
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