The fact that an organization exists with a national focus to end extreme sentences for youth mean a great deal to me.

As a mother, I am encouraged that fewer of our sons and daughters will be subjected to harsh sentencing practices.  As a member of a community of color, I am hopeful about the future of our families getting the opportunity to begin the healing process to strengthen our communities.  As a U.S. citizen, I applaud these efforts to reverse the shameful trend of discarding our young people.

Over the past five years, the CFSY has raised awareness about the abhorrent practice of subjecting our young people to extreme sentences; brought directly impacted individuals together to explore solutions; connected and collaborated with like-minded organizations to identify resources and viable programs for young people as alternatives to long prison terms in adult jails; and highlighted compelling stories that put human faces on this issue.

On a personal level, the CFSY has been lighthouse for me.  After many years of helplessness, isolation and numbness, I was connected to the CFSY and discovered many others families who shared the same pain and concern that I carried since my son’s incarceration.  The CFSY has been a meaningful resource for me and a safe place where I could express my frustrations, share my hopes and get many of my questions answered. When my son was released in August 2013, the CFSY staff was sincerely rejoicing and celebrating with us.  The Campaign’s work inspires me to stay in the fight for others awaiting their own celebrations.

Esi Mathis
Mother of a person sentencing as a child to life in prison without parole