I scrolled down my Instagram feed when I spotted it. It was an image of a jail cell on Rikers Island. Below was a caption that read, “Free studio apartment in a gated community with ocean views and vintage style rod-iron double doors. Excellent security and free laundry.”
“Animals.” “Menace.” “Blood-stained killing fields.” These are all terms President Donald Trump used in a one-week period to describe undocumented immigrants, alleged members of MS-13 and the purported harm they are causing our country. The White House doubled down on these assertions by releasing an official statement titled, “What You Need to Know About the Violent Animals of MS-13.”
Garry Powers stands on Alameda Street near the North Vignes Street overpass, across from a smoke shop and a Vietnamese restaurant. He’s on the edge of Chinatown and a couple of miles north of Boyle Heights, a neighborhood once rife with gangs.
Ninety-nine percent. The number sent an audible gasp throughout the City Council chamber. Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea had just read off the percentage of people of color on the NYPD’s controversial — and until now — largely secretive gang database.
I have worked since 1981 with teenagers who are homeless, runaways, addicted to drugs and alcohol, in the criminal justice system, former gang members and victims of abuse and neglect. I am now the director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services, the largest program in Vermont for this population.
I am 38 years old. I have been incarcerated almost 15 years now. I have a sentence of LWOP (life without parole) plus 25 to life for a first-degree murder with drive-by enhancement. I was raised in the Bay Area on the Oakland side of the water. My family was big. Dad’s side was Mexican, mom’s side was white.
Humans of Restorative Justice (HORJ) stories highlight the incredible individuals working to build and restore strong relationships in their communities. They are written and edited by David Levine based on interviews with real-world practitioners. This one is with Keyonn of New York, New York.
“Everyday Desistance: The Transition to Adulthood Among Formerly Incarcerated Youth” sheds a critical light on the winding journeys into adulthood of 25 formerly incarcerated young adults ages 18 to 24 in Los Angeles County.
Since local violence peaked in the 1990s, the Compton neighborhood has battled gang culture and worked to lower its high crime rates. For 30 years one after-school program has found success keeping kids off the streets by putting them on horses.
Just as lightning flashes and dances across the sky, so too, does this life I live. In a world away, a jungle so thick that everything touches you, a war not of my making, took my father and sister in a cloud of thundering smoke.