We are heartbroken by the news that Laura Talkington-Brady passed away.

Laura was a fierce advocate for young people impacted by the system; whether she was championing programs for kids with special needs, or testifying in Sacramento, or protesting outside youth prisons, Laura’s work has changed youth justice in California. She also fought for tenants rights in her home city of Fresno for many years.

Laura joined the Ella Baker Center’s Families for Books Not Bars campaign in 2001 when her 15-year old son was serving time inside the notorious N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility.

Back then, no one imagined that a small, scrappy group of parents and activists could get California’s massive, inhumane youth correctional facilities closed. Through years of setbacks and hardships during the Books Not Bars campaign, Laura provided support and inspiration to other parents and EBC staff. Thanks to Laura’s activism, five of California’s eight youth prisons have been shut down, and the last three will be closed starting this year.

Our hearts go out to Laura’s family and loved ones. Laura will be missed, but her legacy will live on.

Click below to read the op-ed Laura wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.