|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
April 5, 2011
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Washington, D.C. – April 5, 2011 — Today Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will receive the National Leader Award for 2011 from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, N.Y. The college chose to honor Edelman for her commitment to improving the lives of all children, and in particular, her work and the CDF’s work highlighting the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, namely the ways that our schools, juvenile and criminal justice system have become overly punitive and are funneling a high percentage of minority youth into the nation’s overpopulated prison system. CDF’s focus on school discipline policies, overly punitive juvenile detention centers and police-youth relations; along with Mrs. Edelman national advocacy for juvenile justice reform was also recognized.
“I am so honored that our work at the Children’s Defense Fund to dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline and replace it with a pipeline to college and productive work has been recognized by John Jay College,” Edelman said. “The most dangerous place for a child to grow up in America today is at the intersection of race and poverty. With more than 15.5 million children living in poverty, and children of color at a far greater risk of being born poor, a Black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime, a Latino boy a one in six chance,” said Edelman, then added, “Incarceration is becoming the new American slavery and poor children of color are the fodder. We must act now to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages. We can and must do better for our children by investing in early childhood development and education to provide an equal opportunity for all children.”
Resent actions taken by the State of New York and New York City have shown a strong spirit of reform. John Jay President Jeremy Travis chaired The Governor’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, which provided the visionary leadership to deliver to New York a set of recommendations that are informing change on the state level, in localities, and ultimately, in New York City – the biggest feeder into New York’s cradle to prison pipeline. New York City’s decision, announced last week, to close the Bridges Juvenile Center, known notoriously as Spofford, is an example of this change. Marian Wright Edelman said, “Though it took years of hard work to make the closure of Spofford a reality, it shows that a commitment to a course of change for children is possible. We applaud the closing but urge a repurposing of the facility so that it can never be used as a jail or prison for children again.”
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