Three Leaders Fighting for Youth
Juvenile Law Center’s 2018 Leadership Prize (click here to register to attend the celebration event May 9th) is awarded again this year in a manner exemplifying the Center’s work. By making awards to three leaders fighting for youth in the justice and child welfare systems – all who approach their work from different directions and in different roles, the Center draws on its more than 40 years of experience in achieving and sustaining reforms over time.
Juvenile Law Center builds on the experience and wisdom of those whose careers have been beacons of reform for years, then reaches out to those directly affected by the policies of the system who then become leaders of reform in their own right – sharing their passion, wisdom and leadership to make life better for others coming up behind them. Juvenile Law Center also often seeks the element of surprise, finding unique ways to educate the broader population about challenges facing the young people they know and reforms needed on their behalf. The organization recognizes it takes all these voices and more to secure and sustain reforms that truly benefit youth in the justice and child welfare systems.
This year, Juvenile Law Center and its 2018 Nominating Committee are awarding its Leadership Prize to two individuals and one digital publication that have each created valuable change for youth in the justice and child welfare systems, in their own distinct and critically important ways.
The Honorable Steven C. Teske, currently Chief Judge in the Clayton County Georgia Juvenile Court, has served in various positions in that court for the last 20 years, and at the same time served in key juvenile justice roles in Georgia and nationally. He is a recognized leader in bringing multiple systems together to keep youths out of juvenile detention.
The “Teske Model” as it is called has been used in multiple jurisdictions to get schools and juvenile justice systems working together on youths’ behalf. He truly puts children first and often is called upon to enlighten leaders at all levels. He testifies before Congress and in his own state legislature, and has shared his expertise in nearly every state.
This past year Judge Teske was elected National Chair of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, which like him seeks a nation where fewer children are at risk of or involved with the system, and wants all to receive every possible opportunity to live safe, health and fulfilling lives.
Francis “Frankie ” V. Guzman is today a leading voice for juvenile justice reform in California. His own journey, including six years in the California Youth Authority, after which he put himself through college and law school, has made him an ardent advocate to end the prosecution of youth as adults.
For the past five years, Frankie has worked persistently to see laws passed and fully implemented to secure earlier release for youths under 18 committed to long prison sentences, and to see similar protections extended to those charged with crimes between the ages of 18 and 23. Frankie played a critical role in the development and passage of California Proposition 57, a ballot initiative to end prosecutorial direct file and expand opportunities for rehabilitation and reduced sentences for those in adult prison. He is now working to end life without parole sentences imposed on juveniles and young adults. Many call Frankie a bridge builder.
Now an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, he brings the authentic voices of the grassroots and youth confined in justice facilities to policy conversations to ensure meaningful change, and as a constant reminder of the capacity of young people to change and grow.
Teen Vogue, a digital publication that has not only highlighted concerns affecting youth but also ways to address them. Over the last three years, Teen Vogue has raised recognition and understanding through ground-breaking journalism that has introduced millions of readers to the experiences of youths in the justice system and in prison, through its written word and its Kids Incarcerated digital series for Youth Justice Awareness Month.
Teen Vogue also wrote about Juvenile Law Center’s class action lawsuit with the ACLU of Wisconsin challenging the use of solitary confinement in youth facilities and other terribly harmful practices. Juvenile Law Center has seen firsthand how its work has enlightened a whole new generation of readers. Honestly a bit of a surprise, as some may ask "why Teen Vogue?" but it is indeed an opportunity to ensure critical work in the field of justice reform is recognized and better understood by the broader public, most importantly tomorrow’s young leaders and voters.
Register for the 2018 Leadership Prize celebration at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia here.