Children’s Defense Fund Hosts National Conference


Patti Hassler

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) will gather 3,000 educators, researchers, teachers, and advocates to host its first national conference in nearly 10 years, from July 22 – July 25 in Cincinnati, Ohio. This year’s conference, “Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Power,” will focus on juvenile justice and mass incarceration. CDF has launched the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” campaign to address the issues of unjust incarcerations in the United States. “We are looking to close the gaps between what we know works and what can be done in practice,” said CDF’s Vice President of Communications and Outreach Patti Hassler. “There has never been such an urgent time for children. The confluence of the economic downturn and the budget cuts have created a crisis for our children.” According to Hassler, a Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Latino boy has a 1 in 6 chance. With a focus on poverty, racial disparities, zero tolerance school discipline polices, and the achievement gap between poor and non-poor children, the conference will look at how these factors combine to contribute to the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” and what can done to dismantle it. “Zero tolerance school discipline policies do so much to push children out of school and into prison,” Hassler added. Civil Rights Activist Marian Wright-Edelman founded Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. Edelman, who was the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar in the 1960s, served as Director for the Center of Law and Education at Harvard University before starting the CDF. Today, the CDF has become one of the leading voices for children and families in the nation. For information go to
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