When Corey Roberts came out of prison, he hit the ground running.
In short order, he found a job at a chicken joint. He found a girlfriend. And at 21, after an 18-month stretch in Georgia correctional facilities, including nine months in a drug-rehabilitation program, he began the process of rebuilding a life within the legally constrained horizons of an ex-convict.
In 1979, my family risked our lives to escape the war in Vietnam and I went and voluntarily placed myself into a war of a different kind; a war that consists of myself and gangs. My parents gave up all they had to seek freedom for our family and I went and lost what little freedom I had.
A new set of resources from the federal Education Department aims to help justice-involved youth transition back into school and avoid further offenses.
The department released Friday a guide for students and an updated transitions toolkit for administrators and practitioners who work with youth, emphasizing for both the importance of early reentry planning.
Experts estimate that only 15 to 20 percent of youth offenders end up in court in New Zealand. For the remainder of the cases, which are often petty, opportunistic crime, police have the flexibility to make decisions based on the context and details of the case, with a focus both on diverting young people from entering the court system and involving their families and communities in the rehabilitative process.
Cultivating true partnership between law enforcement and community-based providers can support the evolution of these critical systems. We suggest having strong community allies embedded within systems to ensure that policy changes are discussed and implemented as a way to make and sustain systemic change.
We may not get the hoped-for commitment on juvenile justice reform from the federal government. Despite the best efforts of national advocacy groups, the era of large-scale national reform may well be at an end.
But that doesn’t have to mean a halt, or even a slowing of the wave of reform. There are now unprecedented Left-Right-and-Center coalitions at the state and local levels all around the country that agree on the fundamentals.