Diverting Youths’ Cases From the Courts to a Restorative Justice Process
Semester: Spring 2023
Faculty Advisor: Darlyne Bailey & Gwenn Prinbeck
Field Site: Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)
Field Supervisor: Felix Rosado
Praxis Poster:Jasmin Diaz Tello_Praxis Poster_Final
This spring I was able to continue doing my Praxis study at the same organization that I did last year, Youth Art-Self Empowerment Project (YASP) – in their Healing Futures diversion program. I am absolutely grateful to have been able to go back and create a bigger impact in the program. Last semester I was mostly an observer and participant in our sessions with the young kids, this semester I carried the same duties as a Healing Futures facilitator. I facilitated most of the sessions every time I went into the office (3 times a week). I helped organize events such as Restorative Community Conferences (RCC) and Fun Days for the responsible youth. I have felt like a true social justice leader with my time in the Healing Futures program and have learned how to connect with the Philadelphia youth even further. I fully embraced empathy, trust, and the unexpected – the three most essential things in this kind of work.
I adore spending my time and effort at YASP, and I am happy to share that I will continue doing so into the following year even though I am graduating in May. I have received American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Robert Andrew Stuart Fellowship. With this fellowship I will be continuing to work with Healing Futures and with AFSC’s Emerging Leaders Cohort (ELL). I am lucky enough to continue doing what I love to do in not just a familiar setting but in a new one as well that will push me to grow into an even better leader. With my experience at YASP and the help of my faculty supervisor, Dr. Bailey, I have unlocked a love for social service and will be getting a master’s in social service in the following years to be able to create an even bigger impact for change.
The way the Healing Futures program works is as follows: we receive referrals from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office of young people who have been arrested for a variety of crimes. If the youth choose to enroll into the program, we reach out to the person(s) harmed. For weeks we then prepare everyone for a RCC where all parties come together with two of our facilitators and community members to talk about what happened and what needs to be done to put things more right. At the RCC, a restorative plan is developed that the responsible youth then must complete for the next few months. Once the plan is completed, all charges are dropped, and it is as if the arrest never happened. This allows them to move on in life without carrying the burden of a permanent charge on their criminal record society has made it to be for something that youth did when they were young.