“Humanity, restoration and equity are the pillars necessary to change the conversation of true public safety.”
My name is Chloe Williams and I work at the Tow Youth Justice Institute as a Master’s intern. I received my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Juvenile and Family Services, and cur-rently I am a Masters Student in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. I do research at the Tow Youth Justice Institute that correlates to youth justice, child welfare, and the importance of how the education and training of state and local officials can have a beneficial effect on youth’s futures.On June 23, 2015, I participated in a webinar hosted by the Claiming Futures Leadership Institute. The topic was “Public Health and Justice: A Partnership to Promote Equity and Well-Being for Youth and Families” and it was live-streamed from San Diego, California.The presentation was not only informative, but brought up vital information that is relevant to the juvenile justice and child welfare system. The different speakers all touched on varying aspects of the system that can affect why and how a child is put into the system.
Through the seminar, I have learned that there are many significant challenges that the juvenile justice system faces in their two approaches to the system. Additionally, the seminar brought up the very familiar topic of minorities facing substantial difficulties in relation to the youth justice system.James Bell, W. Haywood from the Burns Institute discussed “Equity in Public Health and the Administration of Justice” articulating that our country has an addiction to the societal reliance of our primary con-cern being incarceration. Furthermore, he shared examples of the bias or inequity as to how society responds to youth based on race. I believe that our society and criminal justice system too often associates safety with punishment.
On the subject of equity, Mr. Bell examines the inequality as to how youths of color (YOC) are treated compared to whites when one is referred to treatment for disorders (conduct, substance use, anxiety, and mood.)Mr. Bell differentiates two approaches of the (juvenile) justice system that do not work together: Custody, Control and Confession and Intervention, Asset-Based and Restoration, as they are based on two different types of trainings and ideas. Dr. Angela Irvine (Impact Justice) dis-cussed the number of girls in California deten-tion centers who identify as LGBTQ and the importance of behavioral health treatment needed in the centers. Dr. Ken Hardy (Drexel University) discussed the idea of “being psychologically homeless,” in correlation to youth feeling that they “have invisible wounds that cannot be seen and are very difficult for kids of color to grow up with in this society.”
Dr. Monique Morris (National Black Women’s Justice Institute) believes that detention can sometimes reinforce the cultural stereotypes that black women face, especially in drug use and dependency issues; and that “Being ignored is traumatic and it shows that we accept silence…” in reference to other (cultural) groups that may not be considered; i.e. transgender, LGBTQ, and Asian and Hispanic girls.No longer can society ignore the problems that youth are facing today. They are the future