tips: Man with dark beard, mustache, holding certificate and wearing glasses, hat and dark blue Georgetown University sweatshirt is hugged by elderly couple on either side of him.

10 Tips for Youth Defendants Awaiting Trial

Make a release plan now: A mentor of mine once told me he’d started preparing for the day he was released the same day he came to prison. Start to plan for your release now. Whether you get an acquittal or conviction, use every opportunity available while awaiting trial to improve yourself.

gang database: Seated man at microphone props up chin looking right.

New York City Bill That Would Tweak Gang Database Gets Heated Hearing

In the early morning hours of April 27, 2016, Kraig Lewis was up late studying for his statistics final. A graduate student at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with only nine credits left until completing his MBA, Lewis planned to go to law school next. At about 4 a.m., Bridgeport Police banged on his door. 

Najet Miah in 2010 (left) and today.

Prison Brought Me Back to Allah

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.”

We Need to Help Immigrant Youth, Not Scapegoat Them

“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.”

Child welfare: A crowd of young people, only heads visible, in large room.

A Graphic Memoir About Working With Youth

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.

Self-esteem: Flower struggles to break through cracked pavement.

Low Self-esteem, Feeling Alone Let the Gangs, Streets Shape Me

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.

Restorative Justice Helps Us Take Kids Where They Want to Go

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.