Dear YNY Community,

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at our upcoming exhibition next Tuesday to celebrate the achievements of our extraordinary young women in our very first all-women’s diversion program. These young women, most of whom are 16 and 17 years old, have been prosecuted as adults in New York State, and all will have their cases dismissed and sealed now that they have successfully completed the YNY program. Find our invitation and press release below.

Please do not underestimate what a wonderful gift your attendance is to our young participants. Each of the young New Yorkers has an extraordinary depth of human experiences and profound insights on social issues which often goes unacknowledged. Your attention to their creative voices offers them the experience of being heard and celebrated. Finally, YNY relies on your generosity to run its court-mandated programs. Please consider becoming an Everyday Hero by donating a dollar a day to partner with our young people.

Finally, a warm thank you to the Pinkerton Foundation for supporting our program; to Robert A.M. Stern Architects for sponsoring our exhibition; and Loci Architecture PC for providing us with large format printing.
Rachel Barnard

Founding Director of Young New Yorkers



Questions? Call us at 347.720.0776 or reply to this e-mail. 

Continue reading

Dear FFJ Community,

More than a year after uprisings began in Ferguson, MO, communities across the US continue to turn up the heat and keep the pressure on public officials and police for meaningful change:

On Saturday, protesters in Chicago, including members of BYP100, The BlackOut Collective, Assata’s Daughters, and #Not1More, disrupted the meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Read a statement released yesterday by BYP100. While everyone has been released, there will be ongoing legal expenses, as well as costs for this action – support BYP100’s grassroots organizing efforts, and read about the three-day counter-conference – a series of workshops and trainings –  that culminated in this direct action.

At the same time, communities mobilized in New York City, for RiseUpOctober, protesting ongoing brutality by the NYPD, and horrible conditions at prison facilities on Rikers Island. Thousands of people turned out to actions and marches across the city, and the police arrested several protestors. The mobilization was co-initiated by Dr. Cornel West, and endorsed by many families of those killed by the police, cultural and faith leaders, community-based organizations, and celebrities like director Quentin Tarantino. Although protestors were expected to be released today, they will also need ongoing legal support.

Earlier this month, protestors took over City Hall in Baltimore, demanding that public officials and government agencies protect people over profit, even as the police shut off power in the building and blocked the protestors from food and bathrooms for hours. Read more about the occupation, during which twelve people were arrested, and contribute to the Baltimore United Fund 4 #CityHallShutDown Youth. Baltimore funders, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, have been working directly with Baltimore organizations involved in the occupation, to support capacity-building, community power-building, and community-driven change.

Additionally, in Ohio, the mother of Tamir Rice, killed by a Cleveland police officer for holding a toy gun, has called for an independent prosecutor in the criminal investigation into Rice’s death, after initial investigators were found to be biased in their examinations. for more information and to take action.

Also making headlines: Black Lives Matter has called for an additional democratic presidential debate that would focus on the issues of BLM – Democrats offered a town hall instead, and BLM continues to push for a full debate; as a result of ongoing pressure from ColorOfChange and others, Hillary Clinton agreed to stop taking donations from the private prison industry.

For ongoing updates on grassroots organizing for police accountability and racial justice, funding needs and opportunities in the field, and connections to your peers in philanthropy, visit us at, and write to us at

In Struggle,

Lorraine Ramirez

Program Manager

Neighborhood Funders Group

Continue reading

October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 1.39.37 PM

National Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) aims to provide people across the country an opportunity to develop action-oriented events in their communities during the month of October. We know that the power for change lies in our communities, so every year during the month of October, people all over the country come together to shed light on an issue that impacts nearly 250,000 youth every year.

This year, we’re asking our partners and friends to get official declarations that October is Youth Justice Awareness Month. As you organize to convince your local government or state Governor to endorse YJAM, you will be educating your community, elevating the importance of the issue, and developing important relationships with lawmakers and others. If you haven’t done this kind of thing before, we’ve created a guide to help you.”


Brooklyn Leading the Way

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 12.27.40 PM

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, along with other legislators, judges  and advocates are asking why summonses for minor offenses have ended up entangling so many people, saddling them with arrest warrants — NYC has 1.2 million open warrants for small offenses; in Brooklyn, there are 260,000 open warrants, accumulating at a rate of about 16,000 a year. DA Thompson is piloting a program in Brooklyn to address this issue, in which New Yorkers with open warrants can visit a church safe-space to address their open warrants and clear their names. “Some people had more than one summons; others had none. A few had parking tickets or other low-level matters, and a small number of people had misdemeanor warrants, which lawyers for the Legal Aid Society handled by giving them return dates.” With each event costing about $30,000, Mr. Thompson is planning more, possibly in partnership with foundations and nonprofit groups that are seeking reform. To learn more, read here. 

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 12.38.57 PM

Brownsville Youth Court

The Brownsville Youth Court, a program trains teenagers to serve as jurors, judges and advocates, handling real-life cases involving their peers. The goal of the Brownsville Youth Court is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses restore harm done to the community and receive the help they need to avoid further involvement in the justice system. The Brownsville Youth Court is part of the Brownsville Community Justice Center. For more information about the Brownsville Community Justice Center, click here. Read more from this article, here.

Overuse of Felonies –  A Driver of Mass Incarceration

California recently passed Proposition 47,  a ballot initiative that changed six low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors (simple drug possession and five petty theft offenses under $950) and will invest the savings into prevention and treatment. In the first five months, Prop. 47 allowed judges to resentence and release 3,703 people from state prison, and up to 10,000 incarcerated individuals in total may have this same chance at resentencing and release. Read more.

Introduction of a Needed Bipartisan Senate Bill to Address Overincarceration Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 12.59.56 PM

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would, if approved, re-examine federal sentencing laws and reduce mandatory minimum terms for nonviolent offenders “For decades, our broken criminal justice system has held our nation back from realizing its full potential,” added Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has become a face of the reform effort. “Mass incarceration has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, drained our economy, compromised public safety, hurt our children and disproportionately affected communities of color while devaluing the very idea of justice in America.” Click here to read more.

New York City Bar Association Urges Reduction of Mass Incarceration

“Citing a “critical juncture” and a “historic opportunity” to achieve change, the New York City Bar Association has announced the formation of a Mass Incarceration Task Force… the “Mass Incarceration: Seizing the Moment for Reform,” report offers several recommendations for changing sentencing laws and other policies on the state and federal levels, including repealing or reducing mandatory minimum terms, reducing sentences for nonviolent offenses and providing sentencing alternatives to prison.” The report can be read here:


The Gender Injustice System Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 1.07.25 PM

A new report calls for juvenile justice reformers to focus attention on girls in the system. The report, “Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reform for Girls,” acknowledges promising reform initiatives, but emphasizes the need for these efforts to be inclusive of girls who have landed in the system due to a traumatic experience, such as domestic violence or sexual abuse. The report is authored by Francine T. Sherman and Annie Balck, and produced by The National Crittenton Foundation and The National Women’s Law Center.

According to the report, despite overall declining juvenile arrest rates, in the last two decades girls’ participation in the juvenile justice system increased at all stages of the juvenile justice process:

  • Arrests increased 45 percent (from 20 to 29 percent);
  • Court caseload increased 40 percent (from 20 to 28 percent);
  • Detentions increased 40 percent (from 15 to 21 percent);
  • Post-adjudication probation increased 44 percent (from 16 to 23 percent); and
  • Post-adjudication placement increased 42 percent (from 12 to 17 percent)

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 1.12.24 PM

“The report’s authors, Boston College law professor Francine Sherman and Annie Balck, a policy consultant at the National Juvenile Justice Network, attribute the gender gap to the juvenile justice system’s long-standing “protective and paternalistic” approach to dealing with delinquent girls. The system tends to detain girls, the authors write, because they’re seen as needing protection. It’s a strategy that is ill-suited to the personal histories of trauma, physical violence, and poverty that lead many girls into bad behavior. Even when the system acknowledges these factors, there are limited options available beyond traditional arrests and detention.” Learn more here. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Annual Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Conference

About 900 juvenile justice practitioners, researchers and advocates gathered in Phoenix for dozens of workshops and plenary sessions over three days. The week also will feature the release of a practice guide about LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system. This guide highlights a wide range of best practices – everything from big picture improvements to frontline fixes – that juvenile justice facilities can implement to advance the safety and well-being of a particularly vulnerable population: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. JDAI, which works to safely reduce the use of secure detention for juveniles, operates in nearly 300 sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia. See more.


Continue reading

Invitation: Philanthropy NY’s The End of Mass Incarceration
Today, more than 60% of those who are incarcerated are racial and ethnic minorities. For black males in their 30’s, 1 in 10 are in jail on any given day. Despite the enormity of the problem, approximately 1% of all philanthropic dollars goes to criminal justice reform with the smallest percentage in Southern states. On Tuesday, November 10, 2015  from 8:30am to 12:00pm join Philanthropy NY to learn from frontline Southern leaders who are activists in the fight to end mass incarceration through a variety of strategies, including advocacy/education,  litigation, organization and strategic communications. This session will also cover the strides smaller foundations can make to share information and play a role in the justice reform field. To RSVP and learn more, click here

Stepping Up the Fight to Radically Transform Youth Justice: Katayoon Majd recently wrote a post on the YTFG website regarding a new effort, the Youth First! initiative, which aims to tackle the challenges involved in pursuing fair and effective treatment of youth by pushing for a fundamental restructuring of youth justice. “With seed funding from the Andrus Family Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Butler Family Fund, and Public Welfare Foundation, Youth First! is pursuing the bold goal of ending the use of youth prisons—what it calls “the signature feature” of juvenile justice systems.” To read more, see here.

Reauthorization of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice voted 8-2 for a slate of recommendations related to the reauthorization of the JJDPA, the law that sets standards for juvenile justice programs. States must comply with the law to receive funding for their programs. Legislation that would update the law has cleared a Senate committee and is expected to reach the Senate floor this fall. The committee’s recommendations support many of those updates, such as increased data collection and reporting requirements, as long as additional funding is provided. Read more.

Mass Incarceration Becomes the New Welfare State:

The Atlantic summarizes the Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article, Revisiting the Moynihan Reportto demonstrate how mass incarceration is a “perverse form of social spending that uses state power to address a host of social problems at the back end, from poverty to drug addiction to misbehavior in school.” This very unique and insightful analysis shows how “even as this spending exacts a toll on those it targets, it confers economic benefits on others, creating employment in white rural areas, an enormous government-sponsored market in prison supplies, and cheap labor for businesses.”  To read more on how Coates connects this phenomenon to the Moynihan report, see here. To read Coates’ argument, click here.

Burden of Mass Incarceration Falls on Families

New study finds families incur average debt of $13,607 to pay for visits, phone bills and court-related fees demonstrating how the burden of mass incarceration falls on poor families. Read more in this Al Jazeera article. 


Confining Youth for Profit | Policy Platform

“Youth in trouble with the law are a public responsibility…American public agencies often work with private business to achieve goals that we as a society have all agreed are for the common good, such as repairing our highways, delivering power to our homes, or collecting the trash. The privatization of youth confinement facilities is now widespread in the United States; almost half of the youth facilities in the country are privately operated. While many of these private facilities are owned or operated by non-profits, we focus this policy platform on for-profit facilities, which pose a unique and significant risk to youth. Read the National Juvenile Justice Network’s policy platform. 

Continue reading

Study Finds Black Students Suspended at Higher Rates

“A new analysis of federal data identifies districts in 13 Southern states where black students are suspended or expelled at rates overwhelmingly higher than white children. Among the other findings in the analysis were that in 181 school districts where blacks represented just under 60 percent of enrollment on average, all of the students expelled during 2011-12 were black. Within the 13 states, Louisiana and Mississippi expelled the highest proportion of blacks.” To read more, click here. Also find the study cited in this article, here.

LGBTQ Girls’ Needs Not Met by Juvenile Justice Reform


“Juvenile justice initiatives often fail to include the unique challenges confronted by young LGBTQ women of color in their approaches, making issues associated with sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression invisible.” This article discusses how interpersonal violence, trauma, homelessness, a lack of affirming health care services can contribute to the sexual abuse to prison pipeline–through which girls who are survivors of trauma are funneled into a punitive juvenile justice system. In some states, as many as 8 in every 10 girls in the juvenile justice system have a history of sexual or physical abuse. A high percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system–40 percent, most of whom are girls of color–identify as LGBTQ or as gender-nonconforming (GNC). Read this article for more information on how the LGBTQ community is marginalized within the criminal justice system.

Latinas and Mass Incarceration

This short article featured in Latina Magazine lists facts regarding the mass incarceration trends for latina women in the United States, a population often ignored when talking about criminal justice reform. One such fact is that the number of women behind bars is increasing at almost double the rate for men, and Latinas are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated than white women. Latinas face harsher sentences than white defendants and are also most often arrested for for non-violent drug offenses.

Clinton’s Alternate Plan to the War on DrugsCop looking at drugs with arrested criminal behind.

On September 1st, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced her plan to commit $10 billion over 10 years to target addiction. Clinton’s plan addresses mass incarceration by including alternatives for low-level and nonviolent drug offenses and provides for treatment programs. It also targets opioid dependence, which has recently moved to the forefront of the national health agenda. Learn more here.

Drug Reform for Immigrants


The Human Rights Watch recently released an article advocating for the passage of two bills presented to the California legislature that address a gap between California state law and federal immigration law. “Under California law, participants who successfully complete drug diversion under a program known as Deferred Entry of Judgment earn a dismissal of charges and a clean record. But because they must plead guilty before starting the program, federal law considers even successful participants as having a conviction that can trigger deportation and mandatory detention for permanent residents (“green card holders”) and unauthorized immigrants alike.” Read more here.

Ferguson Announces Amnesty on Arrest Warrants

As a response to the sharp criticism of the court system in Ferguson after the killing of Michael Brown, the city recently announced that it would withdraw thousands of arrest warrants for municipal violations and taking steps to prevent the incarceration of people who cannot pay fines and fees. The city additionally will limit the amount of money municipalities can keep from minor traffic offenses and imposes safeguards on the amount of time people can be locked up for failing to pay fines and fees. To learn more about these important measures, see here. Photo Credit:

To Improve Police-Community Relations, End the War on Drugs


According to this Huffington Post blog written by a former prosecutor and board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, “ending drug prohibition is essential to restoring peace in the streets, reforming our criminal justice system, and healing our communities. Until those policies change, black communities will continue to fall victim to American policing gone awry.  LEAP believes that without reforming U.S. and global drug policy, no reform or set of reforms can stop the unending perversion of American values, virtues [and]… policing [practices].” To read the rest of the argument regarding the merits of ending the war on drugs from the perspective of law enforcement, click here.

Obama Extends College Grants to Some Prison Inmates

“More than 20 years after banning prisoners from receiving student aid, some federal and state inmates could be eligible for Pell grant money to take college courses while still behind bars. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the administration’s new Second Chance Pell Pilot program during a visit to the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland. The program will allow, on a temporary basis, federal grants to be used to cover college costs for prisoners for the first time since Congress excluded them from student aid in 1994. It will last three to five years and be open to prisoners who are eligible for release, particularly within the next five years. Inmates could be eligible for the money as early as the fall of 2016. Read more here. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

HBO’s VICE series will air VICE Special Report: Fixing The System on Sunday, Sept. 27, and will include Obama’s tour in July of the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma. HBO says the special, hosted by Shane Smith, is aimed at giving viewers a look at the pervasive consequences of America’s approach to crime and imprisonment. It explores the interlocking pieces of the sprawling system, from prisoners and their families to the judiciary and community reformers.

Continue reading

Inmates at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.New federal data show that suicide has reached crisis proportions in local jails, where psychiatric care appears to be particularly poor. This situation is especially alarming, given that 12 million people — many with mental illnesses — will cycle through local jails this year. Read more.

American incarceration is not a problem with consequences that have been levied evenly across gender, and racial lines.  African American males make up nearly half of all American prisoners (with a total of around 800,000 people imprisoned). This represents a 559 percent increase in the number of black men behind bars since 1980. To read more about the trends of mass incarceration, see this article.

Immigration detention is now the “largest mass incarceration movement in U.S. history. In FY 2012, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detained a record 477,523 adult noncitizens. Since the Obama Administration announced its detention reform initiative in 2009, the number of noncitizens DHS detains yearly has increased by nearly 25 percent. Since passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIIRIRA) in 1996, it has expanded over fivefold. To read more about how mass incarceration affects non-citizens, click here.

How New York’s leading on criminal-justice reform

After President Obama toured the El Reno Federal Correction Institution in Oklahoma, making him the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, Governor Cuomo published a response in the New York Post. Cuomo discusses what his administration has done for criminal justice reform as well as his executive order for a special prosecutor. Yet he remains vague about what he intends to do to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Read more here.

John Legend published an article in Time Magazine regarding his reflections on US mass incarceration. He discusses his personal experiences with the war on drugs, as well as a description of how Portugal has decriminalized drug-use. To read more of this insightful piece, see here.

President Barack Obama during a recent visit to the federal prison in Oklahoma “reflected on the way some young people end up in prison for mistakes “that aren’t that different than the mistakes I made.” These actions, along with his decision to commute the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders last week, underscore his determination to do something about America’s scandalous incarceration rate…Federal-level sentencing reform for drug crimes is certainly most welcome, but it would barely put a dent in America’s overall incarceration rate. Drug offenders make up only about a fifth of America’s prison population, and less than 15% of America’s prisoners are housed in federal cells.To really roll back the prison-industrial complex, it is necessary to reduce sentences for violent criminals at the state level, too. That’s a tougher sell. It involves not only considering its racial inequities and costly bloat, but also the moral failures of a system that doles out punishments that are out of proportion with their crimes.” See here to learn more about this Economist author’s reflections on the prison industrial complex.

Motivated by economic factors, both parties are currently crafting a bill that will reform federal sentencing laws. One idea is to expand safety valve provisions that give judges discretion to sentence low-level drug offenders to less time in prison. Another would be to allow low-risk offenders to participate in recidivism programs to earn up to a 25% reduction of their sentence. Read more about these political options in this New York Times piece.

Continue reading

What Happened With Raise The Age?

After the end of a long session that dragged nearly a week past its scheduled conclusion, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a tentative deal yesterday, June 23rd, 2015. Unfortunately there was no legislative consensus in respect to raising the age of criminal responsibility. However, to address the issue Governor Cuomo will pass an executive order to move move state prison inmates ages 16 and 17 to separate facilities that are managed jointly by the Department of Corrections and the Office of Children and Family Services. Cuomo stated that “this was a very difficult year,” Cuomo said during the press conference to announce the deal. “There were extraordinary developments. I don’t think you could find another year in the state’s history where you saw the number of changes and the major changes that were made from the legislative year.” There were not many criminal justice reforms included in the final deal and not much mention in the news but City & State, Time Warner Cable’s State of Politics, the Gothamist, and The New York Times referred to this executive order without providing any further details.

May 28, 2015-Coxsackie, NY--  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo tours the Special Housing Unit of the Greene Correctional Facility.

May 28, 2015-Coxsackie, NY– Governor Andrew M. Cuomo tours the Special Housing Unit of the Greene Correctional Facility.


Unfortunately, this potential mandate does not adequately address the concerns of public who strongly believe in raising the age of criminal responsibility. Alexandra Cox writes that “Teenagers charged with crimes are currently being treated as bargaining chips in a New York state legislative battle over raising the age of criminal responsibility. Democratic lawmakers want to raise the age from 16 to 18, but seem poised to make a compromise with Republican lawmakers who want to create a prison for this group of teenagers charged with felonies – where they would be segregated from adults in prison, but prosecuted as adults. This could have serious and damaging consequences for the safety and survival of these teenagers and does not promote public safety.” To read more, click here.

The Marshall Project published a piece that critiques Cuomo’s actions even further stating that 13 – 18 year olds charged with violent felonies are not being appropriately addressed in the proposals that arose this session. “These are often the kids we don’t want to talk about,” said Krista Larson, director of the Center for Youth Justice at the Vera Institute, a nonprofit that helped staff Cuomo’s commission. “We want to talk about the kid who stole the Snickers bar and ended up confined. It’s an easier reform conversation. But these kids”—those accused of armed robberies, assaults, and homicides—“are kids too. They have whole lives in front of them. That said, these are real crimes, with real victims.” Read more about this argument and the story of one young man impacted directly by our lack of legislation, click here.


There still remains a desire for reform in this area. Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan, for example, a former county sheriff who helped negotiate the juvenile justice issues, said the issue should continue to be discussed next year. “It’s appropriate we continue the conversation,” Gallivan said. “I don’t think anybody can make the argument that we provide sufficient programming and rehabilitation services for 16 and 17 year olds, and as a matter of fact all of the peple who are going to return to society.” Gallivan stated in this State of Politics article, that “he did not oppose the governor issuing an executive order, in part because New York is already out of compliance with federal law by housing 16- and 17-year-olds with an adult prison population.”


Rikers Island Reform


In the wake of Kalief Browder’s death, the public has refocused their critical eye on Rikers Island. Many advocates have written to the New York Times with their thoughts on Mr. Browder and the importance of raising the age.  “Last year, the city eliminated solitary confinement for adolescents at Rikers. The court system has put in place a new plan to shorten court delays and to prevent people from being held for lengthy periods without trial.” According to The New York Times “these are important changes. But a serious, legally enforceable reform plan will be needed to remake what a damning Justice Department report issued last August described as a “deep-seated culture of violence” at the jail. The report called for a thorough overhaul of Correction Department operations and also recommended that adolescents be removed from Rikers and placed in a facility elsewhere.” To learn more, see here.

Still, some remain unconvinced of the court system’s ability to implement these important changes. “Throughout the hugely inefficient system, delays are routine — caused by everything from scheduling conflicts among prosecutors and defense lawyers to failure of witnesses to show up and too few judges to hear cases…As of last month, more than 400 people at Rikers had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to a report on Tuesday in The Times by Michael Schwirtz and Michael Winerip. The plan can succeed only if judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, corrections officials and other participants in the justice system stop blaming one another for court delays and work closely together to do away with them.” Read more.

On June 17th, 2015 the City Council held a hearing on  proposed reforms to the bail system such as a proposal to allocate $1.4 million for bail for poor defendants. “At the same time, state court administrators released data showing that judges had made progress in reducing the backlog by moving cases to trial or working out plea bargains… Judge Lawrence K. Marks, the first deputy chief administrative judge, said that in the first two months of the initiative, judges sitting in special courts set up to address the backlog had cleared 42 percent of the 1,427 cases that Judge Lippman and Mr. de Blasio targeted. That has led to a 10 percent reduction in the number of defendants at Rikers who have been waiting more than a year for trial, officials said.” Learn more about the progress that has been made.


Groundswell Mural in Rikers Island


“Groundswell, in partnership with the NYC Department of Correction and NYC Department of Education, celebrated a mural unveiling at a dedication on June 11th, 2015. Designed by a talented team of young women at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island, the mural imaginesrestorative futures for themselves and other women who have been or are incarcerated. To create this mural, entitled “The Freedom Within,” the team of young women artists reflected on their personal experiences during an intensive public artmaking program, presented with the support of the New York City Council through its STARS Citywide Girls Initiative. Lead Artist Jessica Poplawski and Assistant Artist Lauren Baccus led the programming for the youth, and as a team they created the message and design that reflected the transformation necessary to create positive restorative futures.”

Groundswell, New York City’s leading organization dedicated to community public art, brings together youth, artists, and community partners, to make public art that advances social change, for a more just and equitable world. Our projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue. To learn more, visit Photo credit: The New York City Department of Corrections.


Juvenile Justice Reform

“A recently introduced pair of bills in Congress may try to address the plight of juveniles for the first time in 13 years. Piggybacking off of a bipartisan Senate bill that would strengthen youth programming, promote safer detention conditions, and emphasize community-based alternatives to detention under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) just introduced a bill that would re-establish a set of guidelines for the treatment of youth in the juvenile justice system. Should the new bill make its way through Congress, it will mark the first time since 2002 that the system will enforce national standards for young people behind bars.” To read more about the potential juvenile justice reform, click here.


Police-Community Relations and Race

The New York Times published an article on June 20th, 2015 entitled From Ferguson to Charleston and Beyond, Anguish About Race Keeps Building. The author positions recent acts of violence against young black men and the recent massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC in the context of institutionalized racism. The author states that “America is living through a moment of racial paradox…It has become commonplace to refer to the generation of young people known as millennials as “post-racial.” Bryan Stevenson, referenced in this article stated that “all of these examples in some ways are really misleading in what they represent…We have an African-American president who cannot talk about race, who is exposed to hostility anytime he talks about race. These little manifestations of black artistry and athleticism and excellence have always existed. But they don’t change the day-to-day experience of black Americans living in most parts of this country.” To read more of this very insightful article on the role of historical and institutional racism and its impact on the criminal justice system, click here.


Perhaps as a result of the very public acts of violence by the NYPD, Bratton intends to return to the “neighborhood policing” style. The City Council approved a budget that will increase the size of the police force across the five boroughs. Mr. Bratton said, patrol officers across the city will be assigned to fixed areas of their precincts and given time to address neighborhood concerns without being interrupted by 911 calls. “It is not a program,” Mr. Bratton said of the new approach. “It will be how the N.Y.P.D. intends to, over the coming years, police the city.” To learn more, read this article and this other article on the negotiations that led to this policy.



Continue reading