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Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign

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Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign Slideshow Video

Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign Slideshow Video

View our Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign Slideshow Video »

Nationally, 1 in 3 Black and 1 in 6 Latino boys born in 2001 are at risk of imprisonment during their lifetime. While boys are five times as likely to be incarcerated as girls, there also is a significant number of girls in the juvenile justice system. This rate of incarceration is endangering children at younger and younger ages.

This is America's pipeline to prison — a trajectory that leads to marginalized lives, imprisonment and often premature death. Although the majority of fourth graders cannot read at grade level, states spend about three times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil.

CDF's vision with its Cradle to Prison Pipeline campaign is to reduce detention and incarceration by increasing preventive supports and services children need, such as access to quality early childhood development and education services and accessible, comprehensive health and mental health coverage. Emphasis must be shifted for the sake of our children and our nation's future.

State Coalitions to Dismantle the Pipeline

The Cradle to Prison Pipeline campaign launched during a national summit in September 2007 held at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Community leaders, government officials, educators, parents and young people responded by forming coalitions to keep children in school and out of trouble in their communities. Summits have convened in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Ohio and Texas. During the meetings, participants formulate action plans and form working groups to promote best practices, build community and confront policies that are contributing to the crisis in their state.

On January 25th, 2011, the Massachusetts coalition reconvened to continue the work of addressing zero tolerance and school discipline policies that are funneling children into the state’s criminal justice system. Learn more about the goals and principles of the Massachusetts coalition and download the group’s action plan.

Listen to a radio interview with Barbara Best, CDF’s Director of Foundation Relations and Special Projects, about the Massachusetts Coalition’s work.

Black Leaders Address the Mass Incarceration of Youth

The Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC) is committed to dismantling the pipeline to prison through education and by expanding programs that work such as the CDF Freedom Schools® program and replicating the Harlem Children’s Zone model in other communities through the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative. During a meeting in December 2010, Black leaders gathered at CDF Haley Farm to discuss the problems Black youth face and promising approaches. Watch new videos from the convening where author Michelle Alexander addresses the devastating impact that the mass incarceration of Black men is having on communities and Judith Browne-Dianis of the Advancement Project discusses zero tolerance policies in schools.

Portrait of Inequality 2012

Portrait of Inequality

The economic crisis of the last three years has pushed Black children and youth deeper and deeper into an abyss of poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair. Black children and youth continue to face multiple risks from birth and throughout life that increase the danger of their becoming part of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis that leads to dead end lives. To highlight these harsh realities CDF produced the “Portrait of Inequality 2012”, a report showing the gross inequalities facing Black children compared to White children, across all critical indicators of wellbeing.

Click here to download the report.

Promising Models for Reforming Juvenile Justice Systems

Marian Wright Edelman

As Congress considers re-authorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), CDF President Marian Wright Edelman looks at several promising approaches across the country that are changing the juvenile justice paradigm from punishment and incarceration as a first resort to prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation that put children onto a path to productive adulthood in her weekly Child Watch® Column, "Promising Models for Reforming Juvenile Justice Systems."

Key Immediate Action Steps

Tens of thousands of youth are being funneled down life paths that often lead to arrest, conviction, incarceration and even death. The urgent challenge for each of us and for our nation is to prevent this waste of our children's lives and our nation's capabilities.

Find out ways you and your community can step up and take action.

Learn More about the Pipeline in Your State

Access state-level data on the various issues related to the Pipeline including poverty, health care, early childhood education, education, child welfare, juvenile justice system and incarceration, and community violence with CDF's Cradle to Prison Pipeline state factsheets. These factsheets also provide action steps needed to protect and reroute children from the pipeline.

America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline© Report

This report documents an urgent national crisis at the intersection of poverty and race. The report includes an overview of the major factors behind the Pipeline, photographs that show the faces of children in the Pipeline, case studies describing how the Pipeline affects children, calls for the hard work and persistence needed to build a transforming movement, descriptions of some promising approaches to help keep children out of the Pipeline, and research tables and state-by-state data of key child indicators. Learn more and download the report.

Youth in the Juvenile Justice System are Underserved in Los Angeles County

On December 2nd, Marian Wright Edelman joined with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to discuss the state of the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles County and release the report, “Juvenile Reentry in Los Angeles County: An Exploration of the Strengths, Barriers and Policy Options.” The reentry report found that most juveniles who are released from long-term secure placement in the county are not successfully reintegrating into their communities. These youth require services and supports that meaningfully engage them in school, employment, and community life if they are to successfully exit the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and enter the pipeline to college and work. The report on juvenile reentry was prepared for Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ office earlier this year by Michelle Newell and Angelica Salazar, former masters candidates at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who now both work at the Children’s Defense Fund on juvenile justice policy.

Read the entire set of findings and policy recommendations in the full report edited for the Web.

Innovative Solutions to Dismantling the Pipeline in Texas

The American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter has produced a report, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline in Houston and Texas: A Study of Solutions, that documents promising approaches that are effectively shutting down the pipeline by focusing on prevention and early intervention. These programs create a more positive future for young people and save taxpayers by avoiding the costs of incarceration. The report and accompanying power point presentation can be found on the American Leadership Forum’s website.