For John,* a youth client of YSRP, violence and tragedy permeated his childhood. At just 10 years old, John’s father was murdered at the hands of a Philadelphia Police Officer, turning his life upside down.
Philadelphia has the potential to bring a game-changing new idea for juvenile justice reform to bear, having been named one of 35 finalist cities for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge to pilot an innovative solution to an urgent local issue: the Juvenile Justice Hub. Over the next six months, the Juvenile Justice Hub will be piloted by creating a central location for kids who are brought in by the police to be processed, and then evaluated to identify what social service needs they and their families might have — such as mental health counseling, housing, educational support and more.
If selected as a winner, the Hub would make Philadelphia the first jurisdiction to have such a facility. Philadelphia Citizen reporter Roxanne Patel Shepelavy reached out to the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project for additional perspective on the potential for this pilot program to take hold. She writes:
To Fine, at Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project, this recognition is a long time coming, and she’s excited—if Philly can pull it off—by the idea of working in a system that approaches juvenile justice holistically. In fact, Fine would push it even further: Yes, it’s important to look at trauma, and the context of poverty and social ills. But it’s also important, she says, to consider a child’s strengths, goals and aspirations—not just to treat them for what is wrong, but also to help them become the adults we all want them to be. It’s an aspirational idea for criminal justice in America—but then, so is the very notion of police preventing crime by offering kids and their families what they need to survive in their worlds.