“The Truth About Our Youth”
In Maryland, kids as young as 14 can be charged as adults, meaning they are sent to the adult criminal justice system and wait in adult jails pre-trial. When the Just Kids Partnership looked at what happens to youth in the adult system, it found that 70% are sent back to the juvenile justice system or have their case dismissed, nolle prossed, or stetted – after waiting an average of four months (a school semester) in an adult jail. Just Kids recently released a film that examines this practice through the stories of four individuals charged as adults while still teenagers. Just Kids Youth Leaders share their personal stories to bring statistics to life and dispel misconceptions about youth who are charged as adults.
Kara Aanenson is the Director of Advocacy for the Just Kids Partnership in Baltimore, a statewide campaign to end the automatic prosecution of youth as adults. As the leader of Maryland’s campaign, Kara was responsible for building the Just Kids membership base that includes parents, youth, and families directly impacted by the issue. Ms. Aanenson is also responsible for creating the Just Kids communications strategy, to effectively engage strategic partners. She leads the Partnership’s state legislative strategy, which achieved passage of policy reforms.
Rashad Hawkins is the youth organizer for the Just Kids Partnership. Rashad organizes grassroots support and builds public awareness about issues and stories of real youth who are charged as adults. Rashad created the award-winning youth advocacy group for the Just Kids Partnership, named the Core Alliance of Youth Leaders (CAYL). He was also the chairman and one of the main organizers of the alliance of 30 organizations that worked to stop the construction of the proposed youth jail that would have held youth charged as adults.