Other Group

Youth First Initiative

Website:

www.youthfirstinitiative.org

Project of:

New Venture Fund

Formation:

2015

Youth First Initiative is a national campaign to end juvenile incarceration. The organization seeks to build a “critical mass of states” that would force an eventual national shift away from youth incarceration. [1] The organization was launched in January 2015 in 15 states. [2]

The organization is a project of the New Venture Fund, funding and fiscal sponsorship organization for left-progressive lobbying projects based in Washington, D.C. and managed by the left-leaning consulting firm Arabella Advisors. [3]

Advocacy

Youth First Initiative favors alternatives to youth incarceration such as investments in community-based services for youth. It engages in state and local campaigns in 15 jurisdictions, and national coordination among those movements. The organization contends that states “cannot fix” youth prisons, and these prisons must be abolished. [4]

The organization further claims youth incarceration “disproportionately impacts youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and low-income youth.” [5]

In March 2020, the organization sent letters to governors, juvenile justice system administrators, and other state and local officials stating that juvenile justice centers were not safe for youth curing the COVID-19 pandemic. [6]

Leadership

Liz Ryan is the president and CEO of the Youth First Initiative. She was the founder of the

Campaign for Youth Justice. Before that, she worked for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Youth Law Center, and the Children’s Defense Fund. She was also a Capitol Hill staffer. [7]

Mishi Faruqee is the national field director. She previously worked for the national ACLU and before that worked for the Washington State ACLU. She also worked on juvenile justice issues for the Correctional Association of New York. She was the first director of the Women in Prison Project and later was the director of the Juvenile Justice Project and the director of youth justice programs at the Children’s Defense Fund-NY. [8]

Carmen Daugherty is the policy director, and advocates in state legislatures for juvenile justice issues. Daugherty previously was the policy director for Campaign for Youth Justice, was deputy director and staff attorney for Advocates for Justice and Education. In 2008, Carmen was appointed to the D.C. Mayor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. She also co-chairs the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Criminal Justice Committee. [9]

Hernan Carvente Martinez is the national youth partnership strategist for the Youth First Initiative. He previously served as a program analyst for the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice. Martinez served on state-appointed boards including the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and the Citizens Policy and Complaint Review Council. He was also the national youth chairman for the National Youth Committee of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and an advisor for the National Academies of Science and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. [10]

References

  1. “Our Mission.” Youth First Initiative.” Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-mission ^
  2. Gately, Gary. “New Campaign Seeks to Sharply Reduce Youth Incarceration.” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. January 22, 2015. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://jjie.org/2015/01/22/new-campaign-seeks-to-sharply-reduce-youth-incarceration/ ^
  3. “Youth First Initiative- General Support 2017.” Open Philanthropy. December 2017. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/criminal-justice-reform/youth-first-initiative-general-support-2017 ^
  4. “Our Mission.” Youth First Initiative.” Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-mission ^
  5. “Our Mission.” Youth First Initiative.” Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-mission ^
  6. Press Release. “Youth Justice Advocates in 35+ States Demand Governors and System Leaders Release Incarcerated Youth Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.” Youth First Initiative. March 19, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/youth-justice-advocates-in-22-states-demand-governors-and-system-leaders-release-incarcerated-youth-amid-covid-19-pandemic?fbclid=IwAR3qcigp9hboSBZQFDH-YjG226TooHm-Lb8Hp9FoP3RGNQStLamkdJX42Sw ^
  7. “Our Team.” Youth First Initiative. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-team ^
  8. “Our Team.” Youth First Initiative.” Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-team ^
  9. “Our Team.” Youth First Initiative. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-team ^
  10. “Our Team.” Youth First Initiative. Accessed July 4, 2020. https://www.nokidsinprison.org/about-us/our-team ^
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