Long Time PJDC Board Member Elizabeth Calvin received the Sister Janet Harris Juvenile Advocacy Award at an April 27, 2012 award ceremony in Los Angeles. This was only the second year for the awards, given by the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law & Policy in honor of Sister Janet, an indefatigable Nun who has spent close to sixty years working on behalf of young people in the juvenile justice system. Elizabeth was honored for her remarkable and groundbreaking work on behalf of children sentenced to Life without Parole. As a Senior Advocate for the Children’s Right Division at Human Rights Watch, she has brought to light the inhunanity of these sentences and shown how out of step they are with internationally accepted standards of treatment for children. Elizabeth has worked tirelessly to give voice to the young people and families of youth sentenced to spend the rest of their life in prison for crimes committed when they were juveniles. She has also given voice to the families of people who were killed by juveniles, and brought offender and victim families together to create a place for healing. She has written Against All Odds: Prison Conditions for Youth Offenders Serving Life Without Parole Sentences in the United States; and When I Die, They’ll Send Me Home:Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole in California. She has been instrumental in building support for legislation that would provide a second look at the sentences of at least some youth serving Life without Parole sentences in California.
The award also honors Elizabeth for her amazing career in juvenile advocacy. She was the co-founder to Washington State”s TeamChild program, which provides holistic respresentation to youth in the court system. She has worked since its inception with the National Juvenile Defender Center and has been a part of the Equity Project, focusing on the needs of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. She served on the California Team for the MacArthur Foundation’s Juvenile Indigent Defender Action Project, and is on the Boards of PJDC, TeamChild and the Center for Juvenile Law & Policy. She also coordinates California’s Coalition for Fair Sentencing of Youth, an interfaith group that works with families impacted by youth violence, families of youth in the system, and advocates deidcated to ending extreme sentences for youth. Additional information about Elizabeth’s work is posted on the Human Rights Watch web site.