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.”


Thanks to MLK50 for continuously publishing justice journalism!

Photo by Daniel H. Birman.

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!




Youth Advocacy Program Orientation & Training Tonight at 6pm

Those interested in participating in our “Free MI Kids” Youth Advocacy Program (YAP) should plan to attend tonight’s Justice League Training on Monday, September 18, at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Public Library (3030 Poplar Ave) at 6pm where members will be prepared for time with Project STAND students at G.W. Carver High School. All potential group mentors, discussion leaders, and other participants should attend.

The goal of the YAP Training Session is to prepare MI members for group interaction with youth aged 16-18 who have had contact with the justice system. After orientation, training will cover the following topics: how to be a good mentor and engaging opportunity youth.

YAP’s goal is to resource and mentor Carver opportunity youth in a way that recognizes individual youth potential, while providing tools to become better self-advocates. We will also assist youth in goal setting, developing positive self-identity, and communicating social priorities to policy makers. Through our discussions and activities, we additionally aim to gather youth perspectives on education, the youth justice system, and social progress.

Be MI Voice! Call for Bloggers.

Contact Project MI by email if you have interest in serving as a blog contributor to the Project MI group website.  Weekly MI Voice blogs will be posted to the website, as well as shared on Project MI social media platforms, including Facebook.   The MI Voice will also feature artwork on relevant topics.

Blog potential topics may address any area broadly touching mass incarceration, including, but not limited to: education, poverty, health/mental health, justice reform, recidivism, economic justice, leadership development, community engagement/involvement, voting rights, youth, prison profit, and prisoner rights.

We would also love to see perspectives from those with experience in the justice system, and those with loved ones in the justice system. Blogs should be at least 500 words in length.

Our perspectives are important and they matter.  We can learn from all perspectives, but no hate and no politics!

Project MI is also in need of volunteer blog editors with writing experience.

Be educated, be active, be vigilant!