This country and its juvenile justice systems are facing an important set of transitions as we enter 2017. A new president is about to take office who is committed to taking the country in a different direction.
In 2010, reformed drug dealer Thomas Cotton created the faith-based nonprofit Redemption and Advancement Alliance to encourage men and women to lead healthy, constructive lives free of crime and negativity.
Grace Warren of Chicago was an advocate on behalf of incarcerated children, including her son, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole at age 17. She was on the steering committee of the National Family Network, a support and advocacy group for family of people sentenced as children to life without parole and other extreme sentences.
The response to the behavior of a young adult shouldn’t happen in a police station, prison or jail, but should happen in neighborhoods, led by community-based, culturally competent organizations that seek to address their behavior in their home community.
Is there a need for trauma-informed training for police officers? Let me share an example of a situation where the outcome could have been very different if the responding officer had been trauma-informed.
Jeanne Bishop, a Cook County, Illinois, public defender, starts her story of reconciliation, “Change of Heart,” on a cold winter day, her shoes crunching on the gravel of the Pontiac Correctional Center visitors' parking lot.
In 1979, my family risked our lives to escape the war in Vietnam and I went and voluntarily placed myself into a war of a different kind; a war that consists of myself and gangs. My parents gave up all they had to seek freedom for our family and I went and lost what little freedom I had.
When Corey Roberts came out of prison, he hit the ground running.
In short order, he found a job at a chicken joint. He found a girlfriend. And at 21, after an 18-month stretch in Georgia correctional facilities, including nine months in a drug-rehabilitation program, he began the process of rebuilding a life within the legally constrained horizons of an ex-convict.
Every young person has been asked this question in a job interview. After all, what better way to assess someone’s work ethic, perseverance and self-reflection than hearing how they learn from failure or just life’s challenges?
Manuel Dircio’s success story is a prime example of what YOW was designed to accomplish: promoting the positive development of juvenile offenders who struggle with mental health diagnoses, substance use disorders and histories of trauma by providing supports to manage these challenges.