Upcoming Youth Advocacy Program Session at Carver!

On Wednesday, May 2, 2018 from 8:30am-9:45am we will hold our final Youth Advocacy Program Group Mentoring Session of the semester along with Project STAND at Carver High School (1591 Pennsylvania Avenue).

This session, Carver students will present community advocacy statements to our group and take suggestions for improvement while brainstorming creative ways to publicize their community statements.   You truly don’t want to miss this session–come show Carver youth support!  

If you plan to attend this session and/or need the specific instructions for the Session, please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com letting us know that you plan to attend.  All attending Project MI members must have completed Youth Advocacy Program (YAP) Orientation & Training.  If you did not attend the YAP Orientation & Training in person, but would like to attend any of our group mentoring sessions at Carver, please do the following:

  1. Watch the YAP Orientation & Training Videos here (Parts 1-7).
  2. Email pjmimemphis@gmail.com indicating what sessions you plan to attend (see below) and swearing that you completed the above YAP Orientation & Training Videos Parts 1-7; and
  3. Complete this Shelby County School Volunteer Application/Screening Form and bring it with you to the event, or email to pjmimemphis@gmail.com.

Please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com with any questions.

Thank you for your dedication to our youth!

Call for Youth Organizations: Youth Leadership & Activism Summit

Project MI is busy planning our First Annual Youth Leadership & Activism Summit, “My City, My Voice,” co-sponsored by LeMoyne Owen College and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office.  Save the date!  This FREE Summit will be held on Saturday, July 28, 2018 from 9am-4:30pm at LeMoyne Owen College.

The highlight of the program is a listening session that will invite youth to discuss their challenges and questions along with Memphis elected officials and other leaders in a moderated solution-driven forum.   If you know of youth groups or organizations (aged 14-18) that might benefit from this listening session and the below planned summit programming, please drop the organization name in the comments, or email pjmimemphis@gmail.com with a contact for the youth organization so we can be sure to invite them.

Thanks so much!

Planned Programming:

Memphis Leaders Panel:  Dynamic Memphis leaders from different fields will share their various paths to leadership and what it means to be a leader and activist in Memphis.

Know Your Rights Theatre (presented by MidSouth Peace and Justice Center):  A dramatic performance workshop that encourages lawful and peaceful interactions between youth and law enforcement.

Community Advocacy Listening Session Workshop:  Community leaders will work with youth to prepare for the “Listening Session with Memphis Leaders & Elected Officials,”  by learning effective community advocacy techniques.

Listening Session with Memphis Leaders and Elected Officials: This Session will invite elected officials, community advocates, and other Memphis leaders to join youth in a moderated forum to discuss youth concerns, questions, and pathways forward.

My City, My Voice Call to Action: Youth voice does not end at the Summit!  Participants will be encouraged to take action by becoming a continuous voice and community advocate.  

Building Our Communities Art Contest: Winners Announced!

We are very happy to announce the winners of the Project MI “Building Our Communities” Art Contest.   High School students were asked how they would build our communities and stop the school-to-prison pipeline.   In response we received fantastic work!

First, second, and third place winners will receive a “Back to School” Scholarship at our July 2018 Youth Leadership & Activism Summit, “My City, My Voice.”

First Place

Artist: Christopher Morris

Artwork Title: “Success”

Artwork Narrative: “I have made huge changes in my life. I came from gangs and doing plenty of things I know I shouldn’t have done. I grew up with no guidance or mentors so my previous life decisions weren’t good and could have eventually sent me to prison. Then came football, it changed me and made me realize I wanted to do something better with my life. I currently have several football college scholarship offers that motivate me to keep going and do the best I can. Football is giving me many opportunities to pursue what I want to do in life, and navigating me above the negative choices, upwards in the right direction.”

1st Place

Second Place

Artist: Renard Gwynn

Artwork Title: “Stop the Bullet”

Artwork Narrative: “The bullet in my drawing represents failure, gang association, homelessness, and prison. The brick wall, which represents organizations and people who care about our future, protects the bullet from destroying young black men like myself. Bricks of brotherhood and positive mentors help young black men break the pipe line to prison. The other side represents a man with his head tattooed with success because he is able to remain separated from the negative surroundings.”

2nd Place

Third Place

Artist: Terry Carter

Artwork Title: “Story of a Young Black Boy”

Artwork Narrative: “This is a story about a young black boy in our city of Memphis. This boy wants a chance, most boys don’t get a chance in our city and most don’t make it to 19 years old. Sometimes there is a choice; prison or fame.”

3rd Place

Honorable Mention

Artist: Jadveon Perkins

Artwork Title: “P.U.R.E.”

Artwork Narrative: “P.U.R.E. stands for Progressing Under Restraints and Extremes, an organization that focuses on education, football, and character for the youth of Memphis. P.U.R.E. is used in my artwork as a representation of the fence that surrounds me made of brothers, coaches, teachers, and family. Within my fence I am able to create new books containing positive chapters in my life. If we had other organizations like P.U.R.E. I believe it will keep young people out of prison.”

Honorable Mention

Artist: Jordan Armour

Artwork Title: “Do the Right Thing”

Artwork Narrative: “The idea I chose to draw centered around family. The reason why I drew this idea is because to me, family influences kids from going to jail by teaching them what is right and what is wrong. For example, your mother/ father always tells you not to steal anything from the store. The theme of this competition ties in with my artwork by showing people that if you can trust your parents and try to think or understand that they were trying to prevent you from doing something bad, then you or any other kid wouldn’t have to end up in jail in the first place. In this picture, this girl realized that her parents/family was trying to help her this whole time and now she understands what her family has been trying to do for her all this time, even if they were mean to her.”

Honorable Mention 2

Congratulations to each of our winners!

Youth Art Competition: “Building Our Communities”

Project MI is excited to announce the “Building Our Communities” Youth Art Competition submission period opens TODAY! All Shelby County high school age youth are invited to visually express their ideas on how to improve our communities. Selected entries will be premiered at our First Annual Youth Activism & Leadership Summit with the theme, “My City, My Voice” on July 28, 2018.  Click here to submit work!

Please forward this announcement widely, and contact pjmimemphis@gmail.com if you have any questions!

PJMI art competition

#FreeMIKids

 

Youth Advocates Digital Campaign Part 3

Please join Project MI for Part 3 of our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!  In Part 3 of our campaign running from 2/20/18 to 2/22/18, we are asking Project MI members, partners, and supporters to contact legislators, in a coordinated effort, to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, please see this video link which will connect you to our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training (the separate Powerpoint for the session can be found here).   The training also includes highlights about various pending legislation.

Additionally, this worksheet and telephone call script are excellent tools to help you get started on what to say when you speak to legislators.  Remember to be brief, professional, and polite in your contact–also relate your support to a personal story if you have one.  Project MI recommends focusing on the bills you feel most passionately about in your contact.

Digital Activism

Part 3 of our campaign will address the following bills:

HB 0825 / SB 0919

Project MI is in support of HB 0825.  According to Free Hearts Tennessee, an organization that advocates on behalf of kids with incarcerated moms, “this legislation would most significantly impact Tennessee families, especially young children and their mothers who would benefit from community-based alternatives to incarceration.”

As introduced, this bill would require courts to sentence a person who was convicted of a nonviolent offense and is the primary caretaker of a dependent child to an individually assessed sentence based on community rehabilitation with a focus on parent-child unity and support.

The reasons you should support this bill:

  • First, 1 in 10 children in Tennessee currently have or have had an incarcerated parent.  Tennessee ranks above most states for the highest prevalence of children with incarcerated parents.
  • Second, parental incarceration is recognized as an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE).  The separation of incarceration causes families immeasurable pain and lasting trauma that negatively impacts the well-being and life outcomes of children of incarcerated parents.
  • The majority of women in jails and prisons are mothers with children under the age of 18.  Most of these are single mothers who are the primary caretakers  young children.
  • Black women are incarcerated at a rate three times that of white women and Black children are seven times more likely than their white peers to have an incarcerated parent.
  • Alternatives to incarceration are better for families and communities and more cost effective for Tennessee.

Contact your representatives  about HB 0825 in support of this bill.  HB 0825 is currently with the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Senate Judiciary Committee   Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” screen.

HB 2271 / SB 2261

While contacting your representatives, please also express your support of HB 2271.  The state of Tennessee is in desperate need of juvenile justice reform that will lead to less youth in detention and better results for our youth. HB 2271 as introduced enacts the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.”  Tennessee has the opportunity to pass major youth justice legislation, and we should support!

Although the Juvenile Justice Reform Act is quite lengthy and substantial, here are some of the highlights and why you should support it:

  • The Act prohibits use of solitary confinement of youth as punishment while in detention.
    • See this article on how solitary confinement hurts youth by causing “profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”
    • As an example of the severe damage of solitary confinement in youth, recall the case of Kalief Browder who committed suicide in 2015 following three years at Rikers Island jail after being accused of stealing a backpack.  Browder’s supporters say his death was the result of mental and physical abuse sustained in detention, including spending a total of nearly 800 estimated days in solitary confinement.
  • It limits offenses for which a youth can be detained more than 24 hours to those that caused or likely to cause death or seriously bodily injury; requires hearing within 30 days of detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can be held in detention for minor offenses such as truancy.
  • Removes failure to appear for hearing and probation violations from offenses for which youth can be held in detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can face detention time for simply missing a hearing date or violating a minor probation provision.
  • Eliminates automatic detention mandates based on offense and instead encourages “individualized examination of a child’s case…”  This provision recognizes that each child is different and so are the reasons that they offend–a one-size approach is not effective for many youth.
  • Seeks “evidence based” remedies for youth and promotes “validated risk assessment” tools as a basis of determining whether a youth should be confined.  Youth should not be required to complete measures, including detention, that will not help them avoid re-offense.
  • Shifts court financial responsibilities away from youth; prohibits bond/bail settings in juvenile court.  Youth should not spend time incarcerated due to inability to pay court and attorney fees and fines.

Contact your representatives in support of this bill during Part 3 of our campaign (2/20 through 2/22) by your preferred method of contact (phone call, email, in-person visit).   HB 2271 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Criminal Justice Sub-Committee,  Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” field.

Join us for our upcoming Digital Campaign dates!

  Tues., 2/27/18 to Thurs., 3/1/18

Thanks to all that participated in our First and Second Digital Advocacy Campaigns.

Your calls, emails, voice, and  support absolutely matter for our youth!

Youth Advocacy Program on Wednesday!

On Wednesday, February 21st from 8:30am-9:45am we will hold our first Youth Advocacy Program Group Mentoring Session of the semester along with Project STAND at Carver High School (1591 Pennsylvania Avenue)!

We are excited to announce that this semester we will move from focusing on self-advocacy to community advocacy with Carver youth!  While last semester we spent much of our time discussing the justice system and providing information about youth rights and the juvenile courts, this semester we will begin encouraging youth to become community advocates.  As you may know, many youth that end up in the justice system deal with serious sustainability and other issues related to public health. Hence, we will be working with youth to address an issue related to public health in their community, schools, or homes.  

If you plan to attend this Wednesday’s session and/or need the specific instructions for the Session, please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com letting us know that you plan to attend.

All attending Project MI members must have completed Youth Advocacy Program (YAP) Orientation & Training.  If you did not attend the YAP Orientation & Training in person, but would like to attend any of our group mentoring sessions at Carver, please do the following:

  1. Watch the YAP Orientation & Training Videos here (Parts 1-7).
  2. Email pjmimemphis@gmail.com indicating what sessions you plan to attend (see below) and swearing that you completed the above YAP Orientation & Training Videos Parts 1-7; and
  3. Complete this Shelby County School Volunteer Application/Screening Form and bring it with you to the event, or email to pjmimemphis@gmail.com.

Remaining Group Mentoring Session Dates are:  February 21st, March 7th, April, 11th and May 2nd.   All meeting times this semester are at 8:30 am.

As reflected in the YAP orientation video, it is not necessary that group mentors attend each and every session.  However, our youth should see familiar faces in the sessions so we ask that our group mentors commit to at least two of the scheduled sessions. There may be additional opportunities to group mentor over the summer.

Please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com with any questions.

Thank you for your dedication to our youth!

Youth Advocates Digital Campaign Part 2

Please join Project MI for Part 2 of our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!  In Part 1 of our campaign running from 2/13/18 to 2/15/18, we are asking Project MI members, partners, and supporters to contact legislators, in a coordinated effort, to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, please see this video link which will connect you to our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training (the separate Powerpoint for the session can be found here).   The training also includes highlights about various pending legislation.

Additionally, this worksheet and telephone call script are excellent tools to help you get started on what to say when you speak to legislators.  Remember to be brief, professional, and polite in your contact–also relate your support to a personal story if you have one.  Project MI recommends focusing on the bills you feel most passionately about in your contact.

Digital Activism

Part 2 of our campaign will address the following bills:

HB 2651 / SB 2218

Project MI is in support of HB 2651 concerning establishing a Tennessee commission  on the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative justice practices.   Although teachers deal with way to much in the classroom, over the years, schools have adopted policies like “zero tolerance” that are bad for our youth and produce negative outcomes.   Too often, the separation of youth from schools results in youth entering the juvenile justice system, and eventually, adult prison.

As introduced, this bill would mandate a commission to research the school-to-prison pipeline in Tennessee, that would research the solutions necessary to keep youth out the justice system and in schools.

The reasons you should support this bill:

  • First, Memphis has the highest rates of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions in the state of Tennessee.  Youth that are suspended or expelled have a much higher rate of incarceration than youth that aren’t.
  • Second, according to the American Bar Association, as a result of some of our practices in schools. students of color are disproportionately:
    • lower achievers and unable to read at basic or above
    • damaged by lower expectations and lack of engagement
    • retained in grade or excluded because of high stakes testing
    • subject to more frequent and harsher punishment
    • placed in alternative disciplinary schools or settings
    • referred to law enforcement or subject to school-related arrest
    • dropping out of school and fail ing to graduate from high school
    • feel threatened at school and suffer consequences as victims
  • Additionally,  education programs at alternative schools and in detention, are less robust and and sometimes completely unavailable.
  • Six out of ten schools in Tennessee with with the highest percentages of students suspended overall are in Shelby County.
  • Shelby County also ranks in the top five districts in the state for:
    • Districts with the highest percentage of students suspended overall (ranked #2)
    • Districts with the highest percentages of black students suspended (ranked #1)
    • Districts with the highest percentages of students expelled overall (ranked #1)
    • Districts with the highest percentages black students expelled (ranked #4)

Contact your representatives  about HB 2651 in support of this bill.  HB 2651 is currently with the Education and Planning Subcommittee and the Senate Government Operations Committee on its calendar for consideration TODAY (2/6/18).     Although contacting each committee in its entirety can’t hurt, please make sure to specifically contact members of these committees that are also your own representatives.   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find MY Legislator” screen.

HB 2271 / SB 2261

While contacting your representatives, please also express your support of HB 2271.  The state of Tennessee is in desperate need of juvenile justice reform that will lead to less youth in detention and better results for our youth. HB 2271 as introduced enacts the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.”

Although the Juvenile Justice Reform Act bill is quite lengthy and substantial, here are some of the highlights and why you should support it:

  • The Act prohibits use of solitary confinement of youth as punishment while in detention.
    • See this article on how solitary confinement hurts youth by causing “profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger.”
    • As an example of the severe damage of solitary confinement in youth, recall the case of Kalief Browder who committed suicide in 2015 following three years at Rikers Island jail after being accused of stealing a backpack.  Browder’s supporters say his death was the result of mental and physical abuse sustained in detention, including spending a total of nearly 800 estimated days in solitary confinement.
  • It limits offenses for which a youth can be detained more than 24 hours to those that caused or likely to cause death or seriously bodily injury; requires hearing within 30 days of detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can be held in detention for minor offenses such as truancy.
  • Removes failure to appear for hearing and probation violations from offenses for which youth can be held in detention.  Currently, there are no such limitations in the state of Tennessee so a youth can face detention time for simply missing a hearing date or violating a minor probation provision.
  • Eliminates automatic detention mandates based on offense and instead encourages “individualized examination of a child’s case…”  This provision recognizes that each child is different and so are the reasons that they offend–a one-size approach is not effective for many youth.
  • Seeks “evidence based” remedies for youth and promotes “validated risk assessment” tools as a basis of determining whether a youth should be confined.  Youth should not be required to complete measures, including detention, that will not help them avoid re-offense.
  • Shifts court financial responsibilities away from youth; prohibits bond/bail settings in juvenile court.  Youth should not spend time incarcerated due to inability to pay court and attorney fees and fines.

Contact your representatives in support of this bill during Part 1 of our campaign (2/6 through 2/8) by your preferred method of contact (phone call, email, in-person visit).   You can can find your representatives here by entering your address in the “Find My Legislator” fields. HB 2271 is currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee.  So please also take time to contact members of the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee, whom can be found here, especially those members that are also your own representatives.

 

Join us for our additional upcoming Digital Campaign dates!

Tues., 2/20/18 to Thurs., 2/22/18

  Tues., 2/27/18 to Thurs., 3/1/18

Thanks to all that participated in our First Digital Advocacy Campaign last week!

Your calls, emails, your voice, and your support absolutely matters for our youth!