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Kerry Kennedy
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Entries by Kerry Kennedy

Restoring Hope in the Juvenile Justice System

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 1:46 PM

Emphasizing the significant barriers confronting women and men returning to their communities from incarceration, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch designated this week, April 24 through 30, as National Reentry Week. She asked the Department of Justice and its partners to focus on recommitting themselves to coordinating services and strategies that ensure returning citizens are in the best position possible to succeed. We focus every day on the reentry needs of young people returning to our communities from the justice system through the work of Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative, a project of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and RFK Children's Action Corps, two organizations honoring my father's legacy by working to improve justice and human rights worldwide. We applaud Attorney General Lynch and the Department of Justice for concentrating on reentry, and we urge them to keep the reentry needs of young people at the forefront of this critical effort.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights supports youth reentry projects because my father cared deeply about children and young people involved in the juvenile justice system, part of his focus while serving as attorney general. My father said, "Justice, dignity, equality--these are words which are often used loosely, with little appreciation of their meaning. I think that their meaning can be distilled into one goal: that every child in this country live as we would want our own children to live." Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative was formed in 2009 to improve federal youth reentry policy through advocacy, coalition building, and giving voice to youth who are directly impacted by the justice system. The collaborative includes a special emphasis on access to education because it is such a key indicator for successful youth reentry and for overall success in life. Approximately two out of three young people returning from the juvenile justice system do not enter an appropriate educational endeavor. Barriers to getting an education include everything from principals and school boards intentionally barring reentering students because of their previous justice system involvement to frustrating administrative barriers such as slow records transfers between the often-disconnected justice and education systems.

To help begin increasing access to education for young people returning from the justice system, Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative co-led a coalition of advocates that succeeded in getting the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to adopt a range of recommendations that became part of the Correctional and Reentry Education Guidance Package jointly released by the departments in December 2014. This guidance was the first major step by the Obama administration to improve correctional and reentry education for thousands of young people in the juvenile justice system nationwide. Other federal initiatives and congressional actions have followed suit, and the RFK Juvenile Justice Collaborative continues urging decision makers to guarantee access to education and reentry support efforts for young people both while incarcerated and upon reentry to the community.

Fortunately, some young people impacted by the justice system have been able to overcome reentry barriers and succeed. Last year, Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative featured some of these young people at the Congressional Black Caucus's Annual Legislative Conference with honorary host Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri on a panel where young women and men detailed perspectives and best practices. These panelists, leaders in their respective communities, identified key aspects of youth reentry, including access to education and financial aid; medical care, including behavioral healthcare; and opportunities for job training and employment in a diverse range of careers. In addition to these more obvious reentry resources, the young panelists also described the importance of having caring adults involved in their lives upon reentry. Fostering such connections are crucial as we continue improving reentry prospects for young people across the country.

During National Reentry Week and all year round, all of us should work to restore hope for young people involved in the justice system by improving access to education and employment, and by strengthening the reentry programs that helps them achieve these milestones. We should also recommit ourselves to preventing further discrimination and disenfranchisement by helping youth stay out of the justice system in the first place by reducing incarceration and promoting effective alternatives. My father believed young people are among our nation's most valuable resources, and so we should ensure that every child--including children and youth returning from the justice system--have access to the opportunities we would want for our own...

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Standing With Cesar Chavez's Movement, Like My Father

(3) Comments | Posted March 31, 2016 | 12:09 PM

Fifty years ago this month my father, Robert F. Kennedy, traveled to Delano for a Senate hearing, six months into a bitter strike by Filipino and Latino grape workers. To everyone's surprise, he visited a vineyard picket line and spoke with strikers at their union hall.

He was the first...

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Frank's Eventful Life

(8) Comments | Posted February 26, 2016 | 1:31 PM

Frank Mankiewicz was a journalist, political strategist, public relations authority, and my friend. He was press secretary to my father, Robert F. Kennedy, during Daddy's 1968 presidential bid, president of National Public Radio, and head of the Peace Corps Latin America division. He fought in the Battle of Bulge, was...

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To Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, Leaders Must Focus on Human Rights

(3) Comments | Posted September 14, 2015 | 4:16 PM

The UN General Assembly is upon us, and discussions will focus squarely on ratifying the Sustainable Development Goals. However, another document should be front and center in the minds of global leaders as they descend upon Manhattan this September: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The truth is this: we...

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The Enduring Inspiration of Robert Kennedy's Ripples of Hope

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2015 | 11:01 AM

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In the summer of 1966, my parents, Robert and Ethel Kennedy, traveled to South Africa at the invitation of Ian Robertson, President of the National Union of South African Students, or NUSAS. NUSAS, which opposed the racist Apartheid regime then in power...
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Law Day -- and a Look Back

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 3:44 PM

Today we celebrate Law Day in the U.S. As the new Attorney General in 1961, my father took that time to address the University of Georgia shortly after the university integrated and allowed two African-American students, Charlene Hunter and Hamilton Holmes, to register. In the speech, he addressed the need...

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There Is No Such Thing...

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2015 | 2:09 PM

We see the term "child prostitute" used every day. But there is no such thing. There are many children who are repeatedly raped and trafficked for sex.

More than 1,000 children are arrested on prostitution or prostitution-related charges in the U.S. and placed in juvenile detention facilities every year....

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In Bangladesh, the Steady Pursuit of Justice and Freedom

(5) Comments | Posted July 3, 2014 | 11:08 AM

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Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center (third from right), with Grameen Bank members.

Last week, at the invitation of my friend Muhammad Yunus, I traveled to Bangladesh, a truly humbling and inspiring experience. I met so many incredible people struggling...

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Senator Markey's Bill: A Chance for America to Lead on LGBT Rights

(2) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 7:52 PM

Co-authored by Michael Guest, Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality and the first openly gay, Senate-confirmed U.S. Ambassador (to Romania, 2001-04).

Since our country's founding, American presidents have time and again appointed special envoys to respond to particularly challenging human rights and foreign policy crises. In recent decades,...

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48 Years of a Ripple of Hope

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 10:37 AM

Forty-eight years ago today, my father, Robert Kennedy, spoke to students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, delivering what is now known as the "Ripple of Hope" speech. The words my father offered that evening stand as an inspiring testament to his faith in young people as...

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Faith in Action: Spending Holy Week at Zanmi Beni Haitian Children's Home

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 5:09 PM

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Dear Cara and Mariah,

Happy Easter!!

It's been pretty hectic the last few weeks, and I'm very happy that Easter is here, with daffodils and forsythia in bloom, lilacs on the way, and chocolate finally allowed after 40 days of abstinence (though...

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U.S. Must Suspend Funding to Egypt's Military Regime

(67) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 2:45 PM

This week, the United States Congress is voting on legislation that would to restore funding to Egypt's military government in Fiscal Year 2014, in direct violation of long-standing and crucial provisions that prohibit funding to countries where democratically elected governments are toppled by a military coup.

The event in...

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Piangiamo la perdita di Nelson Mandela, icona mondiale per i diritti umani

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2013 | 5:54 AM

É con profondo dispiacere che i membri del board e lo staff del Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) esprimono le più sentite condoglianze alla famiglia, agli amici e ai colleghi del Premio Nobel per la Pace e ex presidente del Sudafrica, Nelson...

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We Mourn the Loss of Global Human Rights Icon, Nelson Mandela

(9) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 5:42 PM

It is with profound sadness that the board and staff of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) offer our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Mandela's...

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Come celebrerò il 50esimo della morte di mio zio JFK

(6) Comments | Posted November 21, 2013 | 11:00 PM

Nei mesi successivi alla data del 22 Novembre 1963, molte persone di ogni parte del mondo hanno detto a mio padre, Bobby Kennedy, che con la morte del Presidente moriva anche la loro speranza. Lui rimase toccato dalle loro parole e dalle continue riverenze rivolte al fratello, ma non volle...

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Honor His Life, Not Just His Death

(43) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 8:23 AM

In the months following November 22, 1963, people around the world told my father, Bobby Kennedy, that with President Kennedy's death, so died their hope. He was touched by their words and by their continued reverence for his brother, but he did not share their sentiment. To me, my siblings...

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Community Organizing at Its Very Best

(2) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 9:53 AM

Three years of intense advocacy came to fruition last month, when we opened the Robert F. Kennedy Health Care Clinic in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. It was a day of celebration and awe. RFK Human Rights Award laureate Stephen Bradberry led the charge along with the RFK Center and our partners...

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An Anniversary of Hope

(8) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 9:47 AM

Today, as well as being the 45th anniversary of the day we lost my father Robert Kennedy, is the 47th anniversary of his speech to student activists in South Africa, that has come to be known as the "Ripple of Hope speech."

In 1965, a South African medical student...

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A Civil Rights Freedom Rider Returns to Montgomery, Ala.

(7) Comments | Posted March 11, 2013 | 2:33 PM

A few weeks ago I joined Congressman and RFK Speak Truth To Power defender John Lewis as he returned to First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, site of a brutal night in civil rights history. As Freedom Riders in 1961, Lewis and a dozen companions traveled by bus from Washington,...

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The Time Is Now for a Federal Anti-Bullying Law

(89) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 2:23 PM

Last week, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) reintroduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), an act that would solidify the requirement for schools to address bullying and hold them accountable to collect data on the incidence and response. Federal bullying prevention legislation has been introduced every year since 2003, when Congresswoman...

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