Tracy McClard is a parent whose teenage son committed suicide in an adult jail. She helped launched National Youth Justice Awareness Month in 2008 with a 5k run in Cape Giradeau, Missouri.
Tracy’s vision was to give voice to youth and their families who are most affected by the justice system. The campaign pushes for change in how states treat youth in conflict with the law, particularly the estimated 250,000 young people who are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults.
Now, five years later, her vision is being realized in Missouri and throughout the country.
Tracy led the effort to give young people more access to rehabilitative opportunities in the juvenile justice system in Missouri. This year, the state legislature unanimously approved and the governor signed “Jonathan’s law,” named for her son who died while in custody.
During the month of October, allies from all over the U.S. come together to engage their communities on youth justice issues. Families and young people host community-led actions and events. And over 20 organizations around the country are hosting National Youth Justice Awareness Month events this year to raise awareness, build collective action, and strengthen relationships with other allies interested in creating long-lasting change in their states.
As part of the activities, states that have undertaken efforts to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal court and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons will be highlighted, as well as the youth, families, and advocates who championed these reforms.
Spread the word and learn more about how you can get involved at the Campaign for Youth Justice website.