January Meet-Up

Happy New Year!

For those interested in our Youth Advocacy Program, our Monday, 1/8 meeting at 6pm at the Law School (1 N Front St.) will be a great one to attend!

In this meet-up we will be recruiting for our Youth Advocacy Program and providing an informational about our work at Carver High School.

After our informational, all committees will meet.

Hope to see you there!

Youth Art Competition: “Building Our Communities”

Project MI is excited to announce the “Building Our Communities” Youth Art Competition! 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.

PJMI art competition

#FreeMIKids

 

The Supreme Court on Mental Health & Sentencing

This fall the U.S Supreme Court heard the case of Carlos Ayestas, an indigent felon convicted of first degree murder  of a Houston woman in 1999, then later diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001.

Carlos_Ayestas_SCOTUS_TT
Carlos Ayestas was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston woman in 1995 prior to his schizophrenia diagnosis.   Photo credit: TDCJ/Abby Livingston

This summer the Supreme Court will decide whether the indigent convicted have a right to funding for experts and other resources at the sentencing phase.   Had Ayestas had funding for expert evaluation of his mental condition during the investigation prior to his sentencing hearing, he may have never been sentenced to death.

Ayestas’ undocumented immigrant status at the time of the murder further complicates the issues and adds much fuel to the controversy surrounding this case, especially given President Trump’s promise to prosecute such violators to the fullest extent of the law possible.

The Supreme Court is expected to side with Ayestas, recognizing the critical part mental health plays in the commission of crime.

For more, checkout this article on In Justice Today.

 

Youth Advocacy Program Recruitment & Informational (January Meet-Up)

On Monday, January 8, 2018 at 6pm Project MI will hold its first Meet-Up of 2018!

In this meet-up we will be recruiting for our Youth Advocacy Program and providing an informational about our  group mentoring work at G.W. Carver High School.

YAP Recruitment

After our informational, the following committees will meet:

Youth Summit Planning Committee (for those interested in planning programs for youth)

Legislative & Policy Research Committee (for those in the legal and related fields)

Narrative Committee (for artists, other creatives, and anyone interested in telling the real human stories of mass incarceration and our youth)

If you are new to MI, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our Youth Advocacy Program and join a committee to get straight to work!

The Meet-Up will be held at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (1 N. Front St.). Parking on the North side of the Law School, on Court Street, is free beginning at 6pm.

 

Cyntoia Brown Case Reveals Entrenched Problems with Tennessee Juvenile Justice

Check out this article by Project MI’s executive director Demetria D. Frank appearing in MLK50 that provides a bit of insight to the Cyntoia Brown case.  In a nutshell, Tennessee law makes it easy to throw youth like Brown’s life away, rather than consider the traumas justice involved youth often face and offer them hope of rehabilitation.

In 2004, Brown was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent who solicited sex from her when she was 16.  The Cyntoia Brown case went viral last week, 13 years after she was sentenced to life in prison, following this Instagram post by Rihanna:

Rihanna’s Instagram post about the Cyntoia Brown case.

The juvenile justice system was created based on the reality that youth do not have the mental capacity to fully appreciate wrongs.   As noted in the article,  “News stories have focused primarily on the plight of an unfortunate girl subjected to years of sex trafficking and other abuses, finally confronting and killing an abuser but nevertheless sentenced to life in prison for murder.”

Brown’s fate also reveals big problems with Tennessee’s juvenile justice system, especially its mandatory “51-to-life” law and the factors considered in transferring youth to adult courts in Tennessee.

The editorial calls for “Tennessee legislators to lift mandatory minimums for convicted juveniles and recognize youth have no place in the adult system, regardless of the offense.”

#FreeCyntoiaBrown

Thanks to MLK50 for continuously publishing justice journalism!

Photo by Daniel H. Birman.

Youth Advocacy Program on Thursday!

On Thursday November 30th from 2:15pm-3:15pm we will hold our Youth Advocacy Program Group Mentoring Session along with Project STAND at Carver High School (1591 Pennsylvania Avenue)!  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).
    1. Email pjmimemphis@gmail.com indicating what sessions you plan to attend (see below) and swearing that you completed the above YAP Orientation & Training VideosPart 1-7; and
  2. Complete this Shelby County School Volunteer Application/Screening Form and bring it with you to the event, or email to pjmimemphis@gmail.com.
  3. Attend at least Three Group Mentor Session Dates:

November 30, 2:15-3:15pm

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 three of the scheduled sessions.  There will be other opportunities to support in the Spring.

Please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com with any questions.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our youth!

Youth Advocacy Program on Friday!

On Friday, November 17th from 2:15pm-3:15pm we will hold our Youth Advocacy Program Group Mentoring Session along with Project STAND at Carver High School (1591 Pennsylvania Avenue)!  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).
    1. 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
  2. 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:

November 17, 2:15-3:15pm

November 30, 2:15-3:15pm

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 three of the scheduled sessions. There will be additional opportunities to group mentor in the spring.

Please email pjmimemphis@gmail.com with any questions.

Thank you for your dedication to our youth!

November Meet-Up

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 6pm at Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (1 N. Front St.)  Project MI will hold its November Meet-Up!

This is the perfect opportunity to get to know more about Project MI and get straight to work!   After our general business meeting, the following committees will meet:

Youth Summit Planning Committee (we suggest this committee for those interested in planning programs involving youth development)

Legislative & Policy Research Committee (we suggest this committee for those in the legal and related fields)

Narrative Committee (we suggest this committee for artists, other creatives, and anyone interested in telling the real human stories of mass incarceration and our youth)

Change Committee (we suggest this committee for those interested in galvanizing the community around some of our projects, and coordinating service opportunities within these initiatives–leadership needed for this committee!)   

Additionally, our Youth Advocacy Program Committee will not meet at our November Meet-Up, but if you are interested in information on how to become involved click here.  We suggest the Youth Advocacy Program for those interested in serving as group mentors and understanding issues impacting Memphis youth.

The meeting will be held in the Reading Room, located on the Fourth floor on the South side of the building.    Parking on the North side of the Law School, on Court Street, is free beginning at 6pm.

Shelby County Proposed Youth Assessment Center

Check out this op-ed series in the Commercial Appeal about the Shelby County Juvenile Court and the prospect of a new Youth Assessment Center.

The position of the youth advocates in this series is simple.  Despite the lure of an assessment center, Shelby County should work on correcting the culture of the now-existing Shelby County Juvenile Court and look for opportunities to maximize our youth’s potential before creating another poorly run institution.

On the heels of the proposed Youth Assessment Center comes news that the U.S. Department of Justice will continue monitoring Shelby County Juvenile Court despite a request from Mayor Mark Luttrell earlier this year to end federal monitoring.

Thanks to all in this series that took the time to lift the voices of our youth in contemplating how we move forward with creating a better justice system!