Advancing Racial Justice (Praxis II)
Diverting Young People’s Cases from the Courts to a Restorative Justice Process
Semester: Fall 2022
Course Instructor: Darlyne Bailey
Field Site: Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)
Field Supervisor: Felix Rosado
Praxis Poster:YASP Healing_Poster Final
Further Context and Reflections (Jasmin Diaz Tello):
Being a part of the Youth Art Self-Empowerment Project (YASP) has made my passion clear. People are my passion. I love to work with people and form genuine connections, trust, and relationships. YASP is all about their relationships with people and other communities. Under YASP and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office with the help from Impact Justice, the program that another student and I got to work with – Healing Futures – was created. We focus on the diversion of incarceration of youth through restorative justice and real healing. We have weekly workshops until the last one where we focus on the responsible youth writing a reflective and powerful apology letter to the person harmed. The responsible youth then share this apology letter at a Restorative Community Conference (RCC) at the end of the workshops. The RCC holds a space for healing, learning, and reflection. The community members, person harmed, responsible youth, and their supports are all invited to attend the RCC and express how the incident affected them each. The community members then create a restorative plan for the responsible youth that is attainable, has an end date, and relates to their case in some way. The other Bryn Mawr student and I are currently community members for one of the responsible youth and with the help of the Associate Dean for Student Support and Belonging, Leslie Castrejon, we have been hosting them on campus for some workshops. I spent my time at Healing Futures actively participating in team meetings, taking notes, facilitating workshops, and learning as much as I could about the program and the incarceration system as possible.
I am going to continue my work at Healing Futures next semester in an independent Praxis course where I will become more involved in the process and community outreach. This organization does such incredible work and has taught me about the power of knowledge, community, self, and apology and that just because someone makes one mistake, it does not mean that they are a terrible person and should face the consequences of it for the rest of their lives.
Further Context and Reflections (Palmer Jones):
I had the opportunity to intern for Healing Futures under The Youth Art and Self Empowerment Project, or YASP, this semester. I was placed with this organization through the Advancing Racial Justice course which was created after the on-campus strike with the goal of increasing awareness and action around transformative justice. I have been able to apply the things I learned
in class to support my work at YASP.
Along with another student, I came into the office three times a week to be hands-on with the program. We receive cases from the District Attorney’s office and allow for an alternative course of accountability. With weekly workshops and the creation of an apology letter, we hope that the responsible youth will have the opportunity for a second chance. At the end of the workshops, the responsible youth, person harmed, and their supporters come together with members from the community to create a space for healing and growth in what is called a Restorative Community Conference, or RCC. By the end of the RCC, the responsible youth has a restorative plan put in place to make things more right. Members from their community come to the conference ready and eager to provide something for this plan that is tangible and has a completion date, unlike the current criminal justice system. I had the opportunity to act as a community member in one of our RCC’s and it has provided me with skills and knowledge on what transformative justice really is. I have been co-facilitating workshops, attending team meetings, as well as observing and participating in all facets of the program possible.
I have been so inspired by this work, that I have decided to create an independent study so as to continue interning for Healing Futures at YASP.