Jasmin Diaz Tello, BMC ’23

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


Further Context:

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.

Jasmin Diaz Tello (BMC ’23) and Palmer Jones (BMC ’24)

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.

Kelaiah Thomas and Orion Klassen, BMC ’25

Advancing Racial Justice (Praxis II)

Fieldwork With the Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project

Semester: Fall 2022

Course Instructor: Darlyne Bailey

Field Site: Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)

Field Supervisor: Gabby Jackson

Praxis Poster:

YASP Hub_Poster_Final


Further Context and Reflections (Orion Klassen):

This semester, I worked with my classmate Kelaiah on the Youth Art and
Self-Empowerment Project. This Philadelphia-based community organization is dedicated to ending youth incarceration and the trial of minors as adults. It dreams of major prison reform and its practices are based on transformative and restorative justice, as opposed to the standard incarceration punishments.

The part of YASP that I mainly worked with was the Youth Hub Fellowship
program. The Hub Fellowship consists of workshops to improve lifelong skills among the fellows in the form of weekly meetings, usually on Thursday afternoons. Examples of skills learned and practiced in these workshops are Active listening, Crisis De-escalation, and Mindfulness. The Hub Fellowship is paid and is 6 to 12 months in length. All participants of the Hub have been impacted directly by the carceral system. The Hub Fellows also facilitate the Participatory Defense Hub, with guidance from full-time staff, and this helps them use some of these skills in real-time. The Hub promotes healing and resiliency and creates a confidential
space for participants to grow and learn.

One of the readings we found that really impacted our work was “Racism in the United States” by Miller and Garren. Different organizations can be discriminatory, non-discriminatory, and antiracist. YASP is an antiracist organization which is evident from their lack of a strict hierarchal structure, inclusiveness of every member, openness to differences, active effort in criminal justice reformation, and close proximity to the community with which they are working.

Some of the things I learned while I was working with YASP are to let go of what you think you know. “What’s said here stays here, what’s learned here leaves here” was a phrase that we opened many of our meetings with and I think it’s a great way to recognize how everything can and should be a learning opportunity. And finally, flexibility, adaptability, and open-mindedness are essential for doing work like this. Things might not always go as planned and sometimes things have to change, so you have to be ready to go with the flow when things aren’t exactly what you expect them to be.

Thank you to Dr. Bailey, Sarah, Gwenn, Lisa, and Gabby Jackson for all of your work and guidance during the duration of this course.


Further Context and Reflections (Kelaiah Thomas):

Hello! My name is Kelaiah Thomas and I am a sophomore at Haverford College. I plan on declaring my major next semester in Religion but I am undecided about a minor. I initially decided to take a Praxis course in order to gain familiarity with the surrounding area, particularly Philadelphia, and push myself out of my comfort zone to achieve personal growth. I chose the Advancing Racial Justice course because I want to be able to recognize any occurrences of racial injustice done unto me or another person and gain the skills needed to educate the offending person/people with the goal of keeping it from happening again. I also want to apply what I learned in class to real-world situations. Becoming knowledgeable of how racism impacts every aspect of life including from the smallest of communities to the biggest of institutions is the first step in working towards undoing the harmful work that has been and continues to be done.

This semester, I have had the opportunity to work with the organization, Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project (YASP). YASP’s mission is to end the trying and incarceration of youth through work in the criminal justice system, community building, and support. They embody the phrase “power in numbers” as their emphasis on community allows for a strong foundation in which trust and dependency are present among the staff, youth, and families that are involved with this organization. My partner and I, Orion Klassen, were involved with one project of YASP, called the Hub. This involved going to the Participatory Defense Hub each week to go over youth cases and provide support in various ways. Throughout the course, I’ve experienced taking on a role for the Hub, writing a letter of support for one of the youth, attending a staff meeting, and attending a prep meeting for the Hub Fellowship. I’ve read and watched many materials relating to the Hub and gained insight into the structure of YASP including the reasoning behind some of the aspects that they have and the values that they emphasize.

Overall, my time at YASP has been quite an experience. The staff and youth that I met were all so welcoming and I could easily see the trust and respect that everyone has for each other. I’m left with a highly appreciative feeling for being allowed to be part of an organization that is doing such important work but I’m also left with a sense of wishing that I could have done more. One semester isn’t nearly long enough to encompass the full scope of what YASP does but I’m so grateful to have been able to help in any way. I can confidently say that I have grown in ways that I didn’t expect to. Becoming closely acquainted with being uncomfortable and encountering situations in which communication and help were needed has taught me to reflect on both my actions and reactions. I am now more confident that I can react logically to uncomfortable circumstances, initiate communication, and request help when required.

Special thanks are given to the YASP community, particularly my field supervisor, Gabby Jackson, the Advancing Racial Justice team including Darlyne Bailey, Lisa Armstrong, Gwenn Prinbeck, and Sarah Spath, and the rest of the course participants for being part of my growth this semester, I appreciate all the help and knowledge I have received these past months.