"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 Masters Intern. I received my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Juvenile and Family Services, and currently I am a Masters Student in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Juvenile and Family Services. 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.
The first presenter to speak was James Bell, W. Haywood, from the Burns Institute, who discussed the “Equity in Public Health and the Administration of Justice.” He believes that our country had an addiction to the societal reliance of our primary concern being incarceration. He says that, “Power always believes it has a great soul,” and relates this to Ja’isha Akins, who was a kindergartener, 5, who had a temper tantrum and was arrested by police at the daycare, while comparing it to five teenage girls who were driving while drinking and also had marijuana in the car. These girls were given a citation, while young Ja’isha was traumatized with a police arrest for a tantrum at five. Of course, there is the lingering subject of race between these two situations and the lack of equity. On the subject of equity, Mr. Bell brings up that inequality in how youths of color (YOC) are treated compared to whites when one is referred to treatment for disorders (conduct, substance use, anxiety, mood).
Mr. Bell says that there are two viewpoints of the justice system: 1. Custody, Control and Confession and 2. Intervention, Asset-Based and Restoration. These two approaches do not work together, as they are based on two different types of trainings and ideas. We too often equate safety with punishment.
The second part of the webinar brought on panelists Dr. Ken Hardy (Drexel University), Dr. Angela Irvine (Impact Justice) and Dr. Monique Morris (National Black Women’s Justice Institute).
Dr. Angela Irvine discussed the amount of girls in California detention centers that are identify with being LGBTQ and the importance of behavioral health in the centers. Dr. Ken Hardy discussed the idea of being “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 believes that detention can sometimes reinforce the cultural stereotypes that black women face, especially in drug use independency issues.
Dr. Morris says, “Being ignored is traumatic and it shows that we accept silence…” in reference to other groups that may not be considered: transgender, LGBTQ, and Asian and Hispanic girls.
The conference is wrapped up with a video about equality and different groups at the conference discuss the pros and cons of it.
Chloe S. Williams
Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute 2015
“Public Health and Justice: A Partnership to Promote Equity and Well-Being for Youth and Families”
Live-streaming from San Diego Marriot La Jolla
Tuesday, June 23, 2015