Project MI Updates Meeting

Project MI (Mass Incarceration) recently celebrated its one-year anniversary of focusing on youth justice.  In the last year, we have built strong and engaged partnerships and made strategic investments in providing voice to opportunity youth.

On Tuesday, October 2 at 6pm we are inviting our community partners an interested citizens to come find out more about what we’ve been up to and what’s to come!

Location:  University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Wade Auditorium

Parking: You may park on Court Street on the North side of the building for free beginning at 6pm.

MI Institute copy

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 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 if you have any questions!

PJMI art competition



Thanks to all that Participated in Part 1 of our Youth Advocates Digital Campaign!

Although Part 1 of our Digital Campaign is over, there are a number of bills you can  support until our next campaign beginning on 2/12/18.   In the meantime, give your legislators a call about one of the bills below you feel most strongly about!
For tips and training on how to contact your legislators, see the following link.  Find your legislators here.

A few notable pending bills you might want to support:

HB2468-We wish this bill sponsored by Rep. DeBerry was more robust, but it is a start to accountability in private prisons.  Showing your support of it with your legislators will send a message about prison for profit.   This bill is currently with the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee.
HB2676 -This one pretty much does the same thing as HB2468 and would establish standards for private prisons–might as well express your support for both!  The key is to emphasize your disapproval of private prisons generally and the lack of accountability standards in private facilities.  This bill is currently with the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the House State Government Subcommittee.
HB2496–It is pretty ridiculous that in 2018 a bill is necessary that would prohibit chain gangs in prisons (i.e., “prohibit restraining any inmate engaged in work within or outside of a prison, jail, or workhouse facility in a manner that joins the inmate with one or more other inmates.”). But it was filed by Rep. Towns (Memphis) last week…and it seems to make sense…support it.
HB2658-This bill will prevent youth from juvenile records for mere unruly/status offenses (offenses that are only offenses because of the youths age, like truancy) that could hurt youth school and employment prospects.  This bill sponsored by Rep Karen Camper is with the Civil Justice Subcommittee.
HB2651–This bill establishes a commission on the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative practices. This is a good one, and needed, also filed by Rep. Karen Camper. It is currently with the Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee and Senate Government Operations Committee.
HB0890–This bill authorizes the TN Board of Claims to hear claims for compensation by persons whose convictions are vacated based on DNA evidence if they have served at least 25 years. Republican sponsored by Rep Williams, currently with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Announcement: 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign

Please join us for our 2018 Youth Advocates Digital Campaign, which will ask Project MI members and supporters to contact legislators to support/oppose legislation impacting Tennessee youth and criminal justice.

Our Digital Campaign will run on each of the following dates:

Tues., 2/6/18 to Thurs. 2/8/18                    Mon., 2/19/18 to Wed., 2/21/18

Mon., 2/12/18 to Wed., 2/14/18                 Mon., 2/26/18 to Wed., 2/28/18

On each of the above beginning dates, lookout for further information via the Project MI website or  Facebook page to find out what legislation you should contact legislators about.  You will also find instructions about which legislators to contact using your preferred method of contact (email, phone or in person).

Please spread the word about our Digital Campaign—the more the better!


Major TN Juvenile Justice Legislation Under Consideration

This past week, Governor Bill Haslam filed major legislation aimed at a number of youth justice issues including inconsistent policies across Tennessee juvenile courts, and placing limits on the types of offenses for which youth can be detained.

Please join us Monday, February 5th at 6pm at our 2018 Youth Legislation Informational and Training for a breakdown of the proposed Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, as well as information on a number of other legislative measures, under consideration by the Tennessee legislature.  We will also provide a brief training on effectively contacting legislators.


2018 Legislation Flyer

2018 Tennessee Juvenile Justice Legislation Informational

You don’t have to be a lawyer or politician to fight laws that are bad for our youth!

Our February Meet-Up next week will focus on 2018 Legislation impacting youth justice in Tennessee. Join us to find out what YOU CAN DO to support the good laws being considered by your legislators and fight the bad!


2018 Legislation Flyer