Cities, Counties Are Freeing Youth Due to COVID-19, While States Still Slow to Respond

Eric Ferkenhoff,

As the coronavirus began spreading in the United States, and grassroots youth activists got wind of the enormous risks as well as the precautions needed to protect people — social distancing, masks, frequent cleansing — they began to take action.

Parents and advocates created car parades at statehouses and courts. Advocates for youth started pressing insiders to begin releasing juveniles at risk of COVID-19. And lawsuits were filed to get youth out of locked facilities.

It was largely a grassroots effort, led by people like Jeannette Bocanegra-Simon, the executive director of Justice for Families. But it was a big push. Parents of locked-up youth wanted them home, and safe, so they rallied in front of the most powerful state institutions across the country.