Jessica Younts has been Vice President of FRRC since 2011 and is the current Director of Operations. She was involved with the drafting and ultimate passing of Amendment 4 in Florida, which re-enfranchised over 1.45 million people with past felony convictions in the state. Jessica is respected
among her peers and is well known for her dedication and advocacy for disadvantaged youth and addressing the damage to families and society caused by the numerous collateral consequences Returning Citizens face.
In 2015, Jessica was selected as a Fire Fellow for the United States Human Rights Network.
In 2014, Jessica was part of the NAACP Delegation for ICCPR Treaty Review in Geneva where she testified at the United Nations about felon disenfranchisement practices in Florida. Jessica also contributed to the shadow report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination as it relates to the criminalization of minority youth.
She has been a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem since 2009.
As a single mother raising two outstanding young boys, Jessica was able to obtain her law degree from Nova Southeastern University, has since passed the New York Bar Exam, is currently pursuing her Ph.D. and is happily married with four wonderful children.
While attending law
school, Jessica was appointed by the American Bar Association as Law Student
Division Liaison to the Criminal Justice Section’s Juvenile Justice Committee
for two consecutive years. Included in her work with the ABA, Jessica
researched various aspects of the collateral consequences of juvenile
adjudications and drafted research summaries for a proposed policy that was
subsequently adopted as an official ABA policy. Due to her dedication and hard
work with the Juvenile Justice Committee, Jessica was awarded ABA LSD
Outstanding Liaison Award in 2010.
Jessica was also
appointed by the American Bar Association as a Law Student Division 5th Circuit
Lt. Governor for a Pre-Release/ Reentry Initiative. Jessica created a Volunteer
Re-entry program in conjunction with Broward County Sheriff’s Office which
enabled law students to assist Broward County Sheriff’s Office in providing
Re-Entry Services to individuals set for release from local jails. Due to her
hard work and dedication in the area of re-entry, she was the recipient of the
ABA LSD Silver Key Award in 2011.
During Jessica’s last
year in law school, she created the General Education Advocacy Program at Nova
Southeastern University’s Children and Families Clinic. This program was
initially created to represent children in the education system that were
facing suspension and/or expulsion and expanded to help children with various
other educational issues as well as representing children aging out of foster
care that are being denied future benefits (RTI Advocacy). Upon graduation,
Jessica was the recipient of the Honorable Charles I. Kaplan Outstanding
Service Award for the development of the General Education Advocacy Program.
While in law school,
Jessica also had the opportunity to sit on the Direct Filing Sub-committee of
the Florida Legal Needs of Children and work on proposed legislation to limit
direct filing of youth. She also managed to take on leadership positions in a
variety of law school activities and groups including, but not limited to,
Criminal Law Society- Vice President; Public Interest Law Society- Vice
President; Phi Alpha Delta- Co-Vice Justice; Italian American Law School
Association- Vice President; Student Bar Initiative- Secretary; Law Student
Advisor, and member of the Pro Bono Honor Program.
For undergrad, Jessica
attended St. John’s University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science with
a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. While attending St.
John’s, Jessica was on the Dean’s List and was the recipient of the National
Law Enforcement Scholarship Award and the Arthur B. Carton Scholarship Award.
She was also a member of Alpha Phi Sigma (National Criminal Justice Honor
Society) and the National Criminal Justice Association.
Jessica is an advocate and leader who has refused to let a society labeled status as an ex-offender stop her from achieving immeasurable accomplishments and help pave the way for others. Jessica continues to work hard to break down the barriers and extensive limitations her status places
upon her, so that each and every Returning Citizen can have a chance to succeed.