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Below are stories of some of our youth and juvenile lifer client-partners who faced charges in the adult criminal justice system when they were under 18 years old. Together, we are fighting back against the inhumane ways our justice system treats children in Philadelphia.

Shavonne’s Story

Shavonne grew up during the height of the crack epidemic, in a neighborhood plagued by drug use and dealing. In 1992, Shavonne was 16 years old when she was involved in a robbery in which a man tragically lost his life. At 17, Shavonne was automatically sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Yami’s Story

From 10 years old, Yami was abused and then abandoned by adults in her life, and lived homeless in between placements in the foster care system. At 17, Yami was dating a 32-year-old man, with whom she was using drugs and drinking to numb the pain of her trauma. When she was 17, Yami was arrested and faced prosecution in adult court.

Allen’s* Story

When Allen* was 15 years old, his close friend, only 14 at the time, was shot and killed blocks from his house. Soon after, at the age of 15, Allen was arrested and faced serious charges in the adult criminal justice system —
if convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in an adult prison.

Eddie’s Story

At 17 years old, Eddie was homeless and owed money to a drug dealer, but was told he could work off his debt by driving the getaway car in an incident in which a man tragically lost his life. At…

John’s* Story

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. Lacking the supports he needed…


Yami talks about her incarceration, at 17 years old, as the only teenage girl held in functional solitary confinement at the adult jail for women in Philadelphia. Today, she is on track to graduate from high school in June 2018. Video by Jason Slomovitz.

Stacey, Charles, Sharif, Giovanni and Danny are all men who were sentenced, as children, to life in prison without parole. Today, they are home after decades behind the wall. Here they talk about their experience and their work with YSRP. Video by Jason Slomovitz.

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