E-Alerts & Press Releases

Youth stories: In their own words

February 26, 2013: “When you lock a child up it is on their mind and heart for the rest of their lives.” So writes Dennis, one of the youth contributing to the new Just Kids Storybank blog. Launched in early February, the blog gives youth who were automatically prosecuted as adults another platform for speaking out for reforms to the justice system. Each week, the blog is updated with testimonies about life as a juvenile in the adult system. By giving youth a space to share experiences in the adult criminal system, Storybank Coordinator Shannon Daley of Community Law in Action believes the blog “challenges negative stereotypes about what kids who were charged as adults are like.” 

The diversity of mediums that the youth use reflects the deeply personal aspect of the storybank blog. Some youth, such as Dennis, advocate for change by describing how being locked up with adult prisoners impacted them. Other youth use visuals to communicate their story. Through a partnership with Critical Exposure, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that teaches youth to use the power of photography to become effective advocates for social change, Just Kids Youth Leaders take photographs that serve “as a jumping off point to tell a piece of their story,” says Daley. 
The Just Kids Partnership has high hopes for what this new tool will contribute to the movement to end the automatic prosecution of youth as adults in Maryland. “The blog is a great means of empowerment for the youth in the Just Kids Partnership, who are critical to the success of our campaign,” says PJC attorney Camilla Roberson. “It’s also a great way of humanizing the policies we are trying to change.” 

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