The Campaign for Responsible Justice

The Campaign for Responsible Justice is committed to the fairness and safety for all men, women and children held in U.S. detention.   The mission is to transform public attitudes, raise global awareness and advocate policy change on behalf of vulnerable populations in our nation's jails, prisons, juvenile and immigration detention facilities.   This includes juveniles housed in adult facilities as well as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender prisoners.   Government studies  have consistently shown these populations tend to be most vulnerable to discrimination, sexual assault, physical violence, and institutional indifference.
T.J. Parsell

Campaign for Responsible Justice   
Youth held in adult prisons are the hardest hit and easiest prey for sexual abuse. Placing juveniles in adult facilities can have devastating consequences for the youth involved and for the communities from which they came. Eighty percent are released before their 21st birthday, and 95 percent are released before they turn 25. They’re coming back into society indelibly marked by what they’ve experienced — either traumatized by sexual assault, or hyper-violent from having learned to fend off the threat.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that youth who are transferred to the adult system are approximately 34 percent more likely than youth retained in the juvenile court system to be rearrested for a felony. When research has shown young people kept in the juvenile system are less likely to re-offend, why do we keep making the same mistake?

Amnesty International maintains records of known incidents internationally in which LGBT prisoners and those perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have suffered torture, ill-treatment and violence at the hands of fellow inmates as well as prison officials.

For their own safety, LGBT prisoners are often placed in administrative segregation or protective custody.   Administrative segregation is akin to disciplinary custody.   This places inmates in a highly restrictive, isolated setting - sometimes in more or less a permanent lock-down or solitary confinement setting -- thus preventing these inmates from participating in drug and alcohol treatment, education, job-training, having contact with other prisoners or outside visitors, or from enjoying privileges that other inmates are allowed to enjoy.  

In other cases, institutions may have special areas (known by such nicknames as  "queerentine", "gay tank," "queen tank," or "softie tank") for housing vulnerable inmates such as LGBT people, elderly or disabled prisoners, or informers. In San Francisco, for example, transgender inmates are automatically segregated from other prisoners. Nevertheless, according to Eileen Hirst, San Francisco Sheriff's Chief of Staff, being gay is not in itself enough to justify a request for protective housing: inmates requesting such housing must demonstrate that they are vulnerable.

The only way to ensure an ongoing commitment to policy change is through the political will to change it.   The mission of the Campaign for Responsible Justice is to raise global awareness through film and media, by putting a human face on the issue and making the plight of the these populations as palpable as possible.     The film, Boys Don't Cry is a classic example of a film that was well told, earned Hilary Swank an Academy Award, and raised enormous awareness to the plight of  transgender youth.  

Through documentary and narrative film, the Campaign for Responsible Justice will launch a public awareness campaign aimed at policy makers, corrections authorities and the general public.   To date, CRJ's videos have been viewed over 8 million times.   Presentations have been given at Harvard, Columbia, Howard, American, UCLA and Notre Dame Law Schools.   Our work has appeared on numerous radio and televisions outlets, including CBS,  BBC, NPR and Court TV.   The Campaign for Responsible Justice will work with policy makers, corrections agencies and other critical stakeholders to promote tolerance, confront homophobia, and combat institutional indifference.
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