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‘Jim Crow Juvenile Justice’ Film Details Racial Legacy of Youth Prisons

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A new short film is seeking to shed light on the history of extreme racial disparities in youth prisons.

Jim Crow Juvenile Justice: The Racial Legacy of Youth Prisons was released by the Youth First Initiative. The national campaign advocates for shutting down youth prisons and instead investing in community-based programs and opportunities for American youth.

The film “reveals the slavery-era origins of youth prisons and examines today’s juvenile justice system from a racial-justice lens,” according to a press release announcing the film. “The film traces the history of how and why youth prisons were created, noting how the Thirteenth Amendment allowed continued enslavement of black people convicted of crimes.”

According to reports, racial disparities have been on the rise across the country, despite the overall number of incarcerated youth declining. Nationally, the average rate of incarcerated African-American youth is five times higher than the rate of their White peers, even when they are charged with similar offenses.

“We have what is essentially a separate system of justice for youth of color,” Carmen Daugherty, policy director for Youth First, said in the press release. “By warehousing young people in abusive youth prisons, we’re continuing to deny them a chance at future success. Youth justice is racial justice—and that’s why this system of oppression needs to change.”

To learn more, watch the short film and visit www.nokidsinprison.org.

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