Young women who were incarcerated as youth are among the panelists in a nationwide public forum on evidence-based alternatives to incarcerating girls. The event, which takes place Thursday, May 27, from 12 noon to 1:30 pm ET., is part of a virtual series, On the Road to Unlocked!: Investing in Our Children and Communities, presented and sponsored by The Social Justice Initiative at Bryn Mawr College (SJI) and Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. The National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) is a co-sponsor of the series.
Unlocked! highlights how a community-based continuum of care can serve as an alternative to ineffective youth justice approaches that disproportionately harm Black and Brown youth. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, women and girls are the fastest growing demographic in America’s prisons and jails. Like boys of color, Black and Brown girls are disproportionately represented in youth justice systems. The May 27th panelists’ life- and work experiences will help illuminate how community and in-home family services provide youth justice alternatives that address complex challenges facing girls.
The event will be moderated by Camille R. Quinn, PhD, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Social Work, a youth justice expert with more than fifteen years’ experience as a social and health services clinician and administrator. Dr. Quinn’s research focuses on mechanisms that underlie individual and structural barriers associated with recidivism and mental health disparities for Black girls and young women. She was reappointed by Governor Mike DeWine, to the Ohio Council on Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group. The May 27th panelists include the following:
Alyssa Beck is a member of the staff at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, which uses political science and social science strategies that integrate lived experiences of girls and young women in the justice system to inform research, advocacy, training, and model programs. A survivor of sex trafficking who was incarcerated as a youth, Beck is a Survivor Mentor with the Policy Center’s Open Doors Outreach Network, which serves survivors ages 10-24. At the Policy Center, which is leading the Justice for Girls Reform movement, Beck has consulted with policymakers, anti-human trafficking, and girl-centered services leaders. She is a former member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Youth Advisory Council, appointed by former Governor Rick Scott, and serves on Florida’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group.
Desiree Victor, Site Director at the Young Women's Freedom Center (YWFC), where she uses the critical lens of a feminist of color to contextually call out injustices that oppress communities of color, specifically those that affect young women. Victor’s work at YWFC empowers and inspires cis and trans young women, trans young men, and gender-expansive young people who have been disproportionately impacted by incarceration, racist and sexist policies, the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and/or the underground street economy, to create positive change in their lives and communities. Standing in her power as a self-identified Xicana and grounded in community knowledge and ancestral wisdom, Victor brings her lived experience, a master’s degree in Mexican American Studies/Education, and 15+ years of community work to her work at YWFC.
Zaneyah, 19, is a participant in Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Essex County, New Jersey Community Re-Integration Services program. She asked to remain in YAP after receiving the program's re-entry support services when she returned to the community last year. Zaneyah spent 11 months in youth prison on an assault charge followed by a few weeks in a transitional congregate care facility. Zaneyah says with support from her YAP Advocate Kayla Culbreath and her team, she now understands that anger issues leading to her incarceration were connected to her childhood. She grew up with her paternal grandmother and says even though everyone agreed it was for the best, she was angry about not being able live with her mother. Zaneyah initially received YAP’s alternative-to-youth incarceration services at age 15 when she was on probation for fighting. She believes she would have turned her life around sooner had she been allowed to remain in YAP instead of spending nearly a year incarcerated. Since receiving re-entry services from YAP, Zaneyah sees her strengths as a leader and a creative person with a bright future. She has graduated high school, passed her written test for a driver’s permit and has been working full-time as an assistant store manager.
About the Sponsors
SJI utilizes its four pathways to co-create a just world for all. YAP provides alternatives to youth incarceration, and NHSA strengthens health and human services in the United States through the active involvement and leadership of its members.
Learn more about the Unlocked! Series and register for the May 27 event.