What are Youth Justice Initiatives?
CLIA created its Youth Justice Initiative to provide positive leadership experiences to teens that face the unfortunate reality of being involved in the criminal justice system. These unique programs engage incarcerated or detained youth as advocates for themselves and others. They teach personal and professional skills such as positive decision making, understanding the consequences of one’s actions and resolving conflicts peacefully. Participating youth are willing and able to serve as leaders and active citizens when they return home, lowering recidivism and increasing positive outcomes.
Youth Justice Workshops
CLIA created these specially designed workshops for youth detained in juvenile and adult facilities. The Department of Juvenile Services facilities and several Alternative Schools now provide sessions that teach youth how to advocate for themselves and integrate law-related and civics content with conflict resolution, anger management and leadership development.
In 2006, CLIA first began offering workshops in partnership with the Eager Street Academy, a public school located in the Baltimore City Detention Center, serving juvenile’s detained pre-trial on adult charges. The program began in response to a request from the principal, concerned his students did not have access to positive activities. The workshop has served more than 250 youth over the past three years, and continues to make a positive impact. Recently, CLIA has partnered with community artists to offer weekend workshops to young men teaching them how to speak out about their lives and their choices through art forms such as creating graphic novels and painting inspirational murals.
Life Plans and the Next Step Initiative
CLIA expanded its YJ Workshops to include “Life Plans,” a one-on-one counseling program providing guidance on the obstacles that may be encountered upon leaving detention and returning home. Life Plans look at each individual’s unique situation and guide them through challenging scenarios such as, avoiding probation violations, job interviews, non-violent family communications and positive decision making with school and job. Youth are connected to community-based services upon release and are provided with ongoing support through CLIA’s re-entry after-school program, Next Step.
Just Kids Partnership
When the Open Society Institute-Baltimore wanted to conduct a study and organize efforts around Maryland’s laws and policies charging minors with adult crimes, they contacted CLIA to bring the voice of the impacted youth into the study. CLIA has a unique level of access to youth in the adult system and is making sure their voices and unique stories are heard on this important public safety issue.
- CLIA workshops in the Baltimore City Detention Center led to the creation of a Youth Inmate Council and a 200% decrease in violent incidents
- BCDC youth created a high quality graphic novel and published over 300 copies talking about their personal stories
- Former gang youth spoke out in front of the MD General Assembly, providing testimony on current anti-gang legislation
- CLIA created the Youth Justice Network to support formerly incarcerated juveniles