In mid-March, everything changed because of COVID-19. One mom said her life changed in 24 hours. Her teenage son had been arraigned for his first offense. He was in detention, though not found guilty, with no option to be heard in court. The schools had closed, daycare closed and the juvenile courts were closed.
Fresh shell casings are still scattered in the streets. Multiple sets of dice are still rolling like rocks in an avalanche. Bottles of liquor are still wet. Broken hearts with painful memories of gunshot victims remain fresh. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the hood is still the hood.
NEW YORK — The Surrogate’s Court in Lower Manhattan received a fresh coat of paint — albeit an unprompted one, after graffiti, as colorful in its language as it was in its incandescence, was scrawled across the building by anti-police protesters. Nearby, an elevator shaft for the City Hall 4/5/6 train was covered in scraps of cardboard etched with messages memorializing the lives of Black Americans killed by police. Demonstrators had encamped in the area around City Hall for days while inside city officials dealt with one of the most significant political issues of their time — how to effect massive reforms to the nation’s largest police department without sacrificing public safety. The solution from city leaders, much to the consternation of some protesters who envisioned a wholesale removal of police altogether, has been to enact a massive shift in funding away from the New York Police Department (NYPD), to the tune of nearly $1 billion, and reinvest it into communities of color. After midnight this morning the City Council voted on a budget that includes deep cuts to NYPD personnel and shifts millions to other city agencies.
The Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) in Richmond, Calif., is a non-law enforcement governmental agency whose sole purpose is to reduce gun violence using street outreach as a primary vehicle to deliver optimal and sustained gun violence reduction outcomes.
It is hard to imagine that three weeks ago the chief concern among youth advocates, as well as juvenile justice agencies across the country, continued to be how to keep young people in locked facilities safe from the spread of COVID-19.
By May 6, when over 13,000 people tested positive for coronavirus in North Carolina, only one youth held in custody had been tested. About a month later, the state had tested 110 incarcerated youths, according to Kees: 87 at the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, four at the Chatham Development Center after a staff member contracted coronavirus and 19 at Edgecombe Youth Development Center. All tests were negative.
Be it with outrage or eye-rolling, most of us were confounded by the spectacle of college students indulging in spring break rituals — where social distancing is definitely not on the cocktail listing.
We remember thinking just a few weeks before COVID-19 that everything was all just too much. There was too much on the schedule, we needed to be in three places at once, and everything and everyone was demanding our undivided attention.
Children in juvenile hall have food security and shelter, unlike many of us. COVID-19 has stolen these basics from countless among us, including families of kids in custody. Worry is constant. Routines are disrupted. Our elders are likely isolated from loved ones.