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Published by: Center for Media Justice on Dec 13, 2010
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12/13/2010

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SPEAKER LISTHouston, TexasTarsha Jackson, 
Grassroots Leadership
 
Texas incarcerates more of its residents more than any other state. Most of them are people of color. In Houston, Tarsha Jackson is the go-to criminal justice person in her community. When she isn’t organizing “black-brownunity meetings,” she has an informal, full-time job helping families. In 2003,Jackson’s 11-year-old, mentally ill son was sentenced to three years in theTexas Youth Commission for breaking a window at a neighborhood pool. The judicial system changed the court date without informing her, and she was notat her son’s trial. While in custody, her son was sexually abused by anotherchild and physically abused by guards. She went to the courthouse and handed out fliers, tellingparents who couldn’t afford an attorney to get another opinion. She organized rallies on parentawareness. “I didn’t want other parents to have to go through what I did,” she says.
La Crosse County, 
 
WisconsinVicky Gunderson, 
Campaign for Youth Justice
 
At the age of 17, Vicky’s son Kirk was incarcerated as an adult in the LaCrosse County jail. After nearly seven months there, he took his own life.Since losing her son, Gunderson has become a leading advocate in Wisconsinfor keeping youth out of adult jails and prisons. Gunderson has worked closelywith the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and other interestedindividuals and organizations to promote legislation that would return 17-year-olds in the state to the juvenile justice system. She has spoken at numerousconferences and other public events, and has written guest columns in newspapers.
New York City, NYChino Hardin, 
 Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives
 Chino was born and raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and has worked in thefield of youth leadership development and gang prevention/intervention forseven years. Chino is committed to developing and elevating leadership andcivic engagement in youth and communities that are hardest hit by crime,violence and incarceration. Chino has appeared in numerous renownedpublications and media outlets, such as the Village Voice, City Limits, TheAve Magazine, BET, and the Caribbean Life. Chino’s journey is a trulyinspiring one, serving as an apt model for youth aspiring to turn their life around. Chino has afirm belief in becoming the change one wants to see for the future, never measuring one’s successby material possessions but how to continuously become a better person.
 
New Orleans, LouisianaErnest Johnson, 
 Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC)
Ernest is the father a 14-year-old boy who could spend the next 17 yearsbehind bars if he is tried as an adult in the killing of a 39-year-old FrenchQuarter bartender during a robbery. Johnson’s son is not accused of pulling thetrigger, and yet is being held at the New Orleans Youth Study Center whileawaiting his fate. Children held there are allowed only two half-hour visits permonth. Johnson has dedicated his time to fighting for his son’s future and isnow a youth and parent organizer with FFLIC, which has successfullyorganized to shut down an abusive juvenile facility known as Tallulah.
San Francisco Bay Area, CALeaJay Harper, 
The Center for Young Women’s Development 
LeaJay was raised in Oakland, CA. She was placed in foster care at age 16,was homeless at 17, incarcerated at 18 and pregnant at 19. After living on thestreets of Berkeley for two years, she moved to San Francisco to change herlife as she prepared for the birth of her daughter. She attended San FranciscoCity College, but because of her criminal record she could not work towardbecoming a registered nurse. She decided to give back to her community. Priorto CYWD, LeaJay worked for the San Francisco Department of Children,Youth and Families under the "Changing the Odds" internship. She is arecipient of DCYF's Youth Empowerment Fund Great Leader. She is also a participant in CLRJ’sLatinas Empowered for Action. Today, LeaJay is a proud mother to Karizma and Jayla.
New York City/Bronx, NYRev. Ruben Austria, 
Community Connections for Youth
 
Ruben foundedthe first and only community-based alternative to incarcerationprogram in the Bronx, called BronxConnect, which soon grew into a largeorganization with a significant caseload of youth who would otherwise besitting in prison. He recently established a new nonprofit, CommunityConnections for Youth, which will provide support to nonprofits that areinterested in serving as alternatives to detention or incarceration. Ruben is alsoa member of the New York Racial Disparities Task Force, which as acollective of advocates is working to push the juvenile justice system to routinely share andanalyze data on the youth it is incarcerating, and reduce disproportionate minority contact.
 
Boston, MassachusettsMallory Hanora, 
 Reflect and Strengthen and Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Task Force on Racial Disparities
 
Mallory became a member of Reflect and Strengthen in 2004, which helpeddevelop much of her analysis of the juvenile justice system as she witnessedunfair outcomes for young women. She is currently fighting for data collectionand reporting in the juvenile justice system as part of the MassachusettsJuvenile Justice Task Force on Racial Disparities. The task force has been ableto obtain more data from the system than ever before by using the JuvenileJustice and Delinquency Prevention Act federal guidelines to put pressure onthe system. They are using the newly collected data to confront juvenile justice stakeholdersabout racial disparities.
Washington D.C./VirginiaJuan Pacheco
, Barrios Unidos and The Gathering for Justice
 
Juan was incarcerated in Virginia and struggled to find work after his release,until a friend’s mother told him about a nonprofit that was offering youngpeople a full-time job if they were willing to serve their community. BarriosUnidos provided him “the tools to realize my potential,” he says. He is noworganizing around the Youth PROMISE Act (Youth Prison Reduction throughOpportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act). The billis one of the fastest moving bills in Congress. It is also the first time in thehistory of legislation dealing with gangs that a potential law is focusing on prevention, iscommunity-based and focuses on rural areas along with urban.
Attendees to the conference are traveling from the following areas:
Alexandria, VA;Arlington, VA; Aurora, IL; Austin, TX; Aylette, VA; Baltimore, MD; Berkeley, CA; Brooklyn,NY; Chicago, IL; Chula Vista, CA; Daly City, CA; Dorchester, MA; Durham, NC; Elk Grove,CA; Fairfax, VA; Greensboro, NC; Hazel Crest, IL; Herndon, VA; Hollis, NY; Homestead, FL;Houston, TX; Hyde Park, MA; Jackson, MD; Lake Charles, LA; Madison, WI; Marrero, LA;Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI; New Market, TX; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Onalaska, WI;Peoria, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Raleigh, NC; Richmond, CA; San Francisco, CA;Santa Cruz, CA; Seattle, WA; Seffner, FL; Sicklerville, NJ; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; Tucson,AZ; Washington, DC; Watsonville, CA
***To interview any of the speakers after the press conference or for future stories, contactShadi Rahimi, CJNY Communications Director, (415) 368-8007***

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