Race and Justice: Telling the Stories of Black and Latino Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System

Race and Justice: Telling the Stories of Black and Latino Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 14 3:30 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 14 4:45 PM (Eastern)

Over the last decade, a number of states have enacted laws that aim to keep juveniles out of adult prisons and court systems—a reversal of the tough-on-crime legislation of the 1980s and 1990s. The new laws stem from concerns about teenage suicides in adult jails and new research showing that young people held in adult courts are more likely to be repeat offenders than juveniles not held in adult jails. Youth of color particularly are disproportionately impacted by this practice. Join us for a discussion about the long-term impacts of treating children as adults in the criminal justice system.


Brian Evans

Brian Evans

As the State Campaign Director, Brian leads the Campaign in supporting state advocacy efforts and providing technical assistance to states. He works closely in partnership with state-based organizing groups seeking to change juvenile justice policy for the better. Prior to joining CFYJ, Brian worked for 6 years assisting numerous state-based advocacy groups as the Campaigner and Director of Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. A seasoned criminal justice and human rights advocate, Brian received a Master’s Degree in Middle East Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992, and from 1997 to 2007 served as a Middle East Country Specialist for AIUSA while also organizing grass-roots efforts to challenge capital punishment in Texas.

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Alton Pitre


Alton Pitre was raised by his loving grandmother in a neighborhood located in South Central, Los Angeles known as The Jungles. Predictably, as a youth he became affiliated in the local gang which led to his arrest two months before graduating high school, for a robbery he did not commit. On his last juvenile court date, two years later, Pitre declined a plea bargain of a year and a strike and was sent to adult court where he faced a potential 46 years to life. He was later exonerated in adult court.

Since his release 2010 release, the Jungle native has dedicated his life to becoming an advocate for youth across the nation. Currently, Pitre is a columnist for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, serves on the Member Board for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and a sociology major at Morehouse College.

Angel Sanchez


Angel was born in Miami where he was raised in a broken family surrounded by drugs, crime, and violence. He turned to the local gang life at the age of 12, began getting arrested, and at 16 was tried as an adult spending the next 12 years in prison. After his release, instead of returning to his old environment in Miami, Angel moved into a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Orlando, FL. Through a homeless waiver, he enrolled in Valencia College where he became an Honor Student despite living in a homeless shelter. He eventually was named Valencia College’s 2014 Distinguished Graduate and the recipient of the nationally prestigious and highly selective Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship earning him full “rides” to complete his bachelor degrees at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and beyond. Today he is enrolled in UCF’s Burnett Honors College where he is completing his Bachelor Degree in Political Science and Legal Studies. He has been selected as a UCF Legislative Scholar earning him an internship in the Florid Senate in addition to serving as a judicial intern with judges in the criminal division of Miami’s trial courts. Along with being a highly regarded student, Angel is committed to giving back to the community by mentoring at risk youth, speaking at major events, and advocating for criminal justice reform. Angel has partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center to advocate for reform of Florida’s adult prosecution (direct-file) of juveniles. Angel has also used his position as a senior member of UCF’s Moot Court organization to lead a book-drive initiative to help build the local jail’s inmate library. Angel’s compelling story has been reported by various news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, WESH 2 News, and Telemundo.

Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker

The Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker was born in Nyack, New York. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in Washington DC and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO. and her Doctorate of Ministry Degree in Preaching from Aquinas Institute Theology, St. Louis, MO. Dietra works full time as Chaplain and Program Development Manager for Episcopal City Mission a non-profit providing chaplaincy services to incarcerated children in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. In addition, she serves as an organizing specialist for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. In this role she challenges congregations to engage in systemic level work in racial reconciliation. Currently she is organizing the “Break the Pipeline “campaign aimed to break the school to prison pipeline in Missouri. In 2014 she was given an Emerging Leader Award from the National Convocation of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ . Pastor Dietra was also in the inaugural class of the St. Louis American Young Leaders Award. In August of 2014 she became the clergy caucus co-leader of the Gamaliel Networks’ Metropolitan Congregations United an organization that resourced clergy and congregations in the early stages of the Ferguson movement. She planted Liberation Christian Church (DOC) in April 2009 seeking to create a church that frees lives and communities through the power of Jesus Christ. Pastor Dietra loves to dance, sing, and teach and is married to Cornell R. Baker and they have a beautiful daughter Alexis Baker.