There is no excuse. There is no justification. There is no explaining.

The senseless murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more BIPOC and LGBTQ people at the hands of law enforcement is inexcusable. Yet, we are hearing police officials provide justification for these acts—justifications rooted in laws that allow police to respond violently and in ways that perpetuate a deeply flawed and systemically racist institution. An institution that oppresses our family, our friends, and our neighbors. And time and time again, these institutions offer our communities nothing but empty explanations about why police need the authority for violence and why police need more funding.

At Colorado Juvenile Defender Center (CJDC), our hearts are broken; we stand in solidarity and in defense of those who are most deeply impacted by a systemically racist and irrefutably flawed injustice system that begins with police. We endeavor, as an organization and as members of an organization, to use our funds, our skills, and our training to support and advocate for those who are not only marginalized in our injustice system but also brutalized by it. At the bedrock of CJDC’s work is a sustained commitment to deconstructing racism and racist systems.

Our clients of color, particularly those who are Black and/or LGBT, are disproportionately swept into the school to prison pipeline. They are also disproportionately harmed inside of the criminal system. Our juvenile clients are brutalized, stigmatized, and neglected throughout their experience with the criminal system – especially our Black clients. When we go to expunge and/or deregister our BIPOC and LGBTQ clients, we bear witness to the trauma that the criminal system has inflicted upon them. Some of our clients still have nightmares about their arrest or have panic attacks every time they see a uniformed officer. Some have been physically or sexually assaulted by police. We will be clear: Police are an obstacle to safe and healthy childhood.

We unequivocally condemn a systemically racist police force that violently and disproportionately targets BIPOC and LGBTQ people

We stand in support of individuals, organizations, and movements to divest from policing and to stop the school to prison pipeline.

We demand accountability for police violence against our loved ones and neighbors.

We vow to continue doing what we can to work with our clients, our allies in the community, and our partners to end the violence against Black and LGBTQ lives at the hands of those who supposedly swore to protect us.

With love, condolences, and wholehearted support to the surviving families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more….

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center

When are you really an Adult? 

The law in Colorado currently provides that kids can be sentenced to life in prison long before they can buy a beer.  This disconnect is getting national attention, too.  In the January 19, 2020 The New York Times, CJDC board member Dr. Apryl Alexander was one of the prominent experts across the nation quoted in an article examining the effects of the US’s inconsistent definitions of adulthood.

Professor Alexander joined the University of Denver as a professor psychology in 2016.  Her work on children, youth and families has already been honored three times by the American Psychological Association since 2017.  Last month, she received The Michele Alexander Early Career Award for Scholarship and Service from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) for her research, advocacy, and service work with justice-involved youth. CJDC is very fortunate to have her voice on our Board of Directors.

To read the full article click here. 

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