Youth Justice Board tackles youth crime

Youth Justice Board members and Program Coordinator Linda Baird (fourth left) were the guest speakers at Assemblyman William Scarboroughs’ 29th A.D. Task force. Scarborough (fifth left) holds the comic book poster developed by the group.
Photo by Juliet Kaye
Photo by Juliet Kaye

Six teenagers participating in a unique after school program that brings together young people to study and propose solutions to the issues affecting teenagers were the guest speakers at Assemblyman William Scarboroughs’ 29th A.D. Task Force Meeting recently.

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) was founded eight years ago to give young people a credible voice in the public debate about juvenile justice policy.

The group studies a different issue during each two-year program cycle, with the current issue being “Reducing Youth Crime in New York City and Improving Relationships between Police and Teenagers.” The group researched youth cime across the city, focusing on Brownsville in Brooklyn and as a result produced a report with ideas on how to reduce youth crime in Brownsville and neighborhoods that face similar challenges.

In 2011-2012, the Youth Justice Board will be working to implement many of the ideas contained in their report in conjunction with developing a new community justice center in Brownsville.

Over five months, the YJB conducted interviews with people involved in the city justice system and the Brownsville community. They visited four community justice centers and conducted three focus groups with young people involved in the justice system to learn more about their experiences and perspectives. As a result, the group developed recommendations designed to reduce youth crime in Brownsville and make the community a safer and more supportive place for youths to grow up in. They also developed a comic book poster: I got arrested! Now What – A Guide to the Juvenile Justice System.

The YJB presented their recommendations to young people living in the community at a roundtable discussion in Brownsville. They also shared their ideas with policymakers, police officers, probation officers and other relevant stake holders with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes delivering the keynote address at an event.

These six teenagers are part of a group of 20 young people from all five boroughs that meet twice a week for two hours in Manhattan. The teens receive Metro cards and a small stipend. Each year, new teens are selected, with applications due in the spring. Teens are asked to join who have experiences and personal interest in the topic of study and the commitment to working on a long-term project.

A four-phase curriculum builds YJB members teamwork, research and presentation skills to help members develop substantive and actionable policy recommendations. More information about this program is available at www.courtinnovation.org/youthjusticboard.

Assemblyman William Scarboroughs’ 29th A.D. Task Force Meetings are held the last Saturday of each month at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center located at 172-17 Linden Blvd. (near Merrick Blvd) in St. Albans at 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon. The public is invited. For additional information, call Assemblyman William Scarborough’s District Office at 718-723-5412.

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