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Youth Testimonials

Jabreria Handy

Community Law In Action
Before the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Task Force
Youth Advocate
November 29, 2011

Good afternoon. My name is Jabreira Handy and I was exposed to violence as a youth incarcerated as an adult. At the age of 16, I was charged as an adult in the adult criminal justice system. It is because of my exposure to the adult system that I’m here to urge this task force not to expose any more young people to violence in the justice system, particularly in adult jails or prisons. It’s also fitting because this hearing comes as here, in the city of Baltimore, we are debating whether to build another adult jail for youth charged as adults, which disturbs me. 

Jermaine Hailes

Good Morning and thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing me to come before you today and give my testimony on behalf of the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), my community and Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop.

I’d like to start off by saying I am 19 years old and I have been through the trenches of the judicial system. Since then I have turned my life around – but I didn’t do it alone. The help and support from my family, friends and has made it to turn my life around not solely by myself but with help which is what our young men caught in the system need help from their District responsible for overseeing and making sure that we are getting the most appropriate programing, training skills and rehabilitation that this City has to offer and a few program’s that I can say is succeeding at a rapid pace are CFYJ and Free Minds.

Michael Kemp

"People's District"
October 18, 2011

I grew up in so many different neighborhoods in D.C., but the truth is that I don’t have any fond memories of being a kid here. I remember my first experience with violence. I was seven or eight and playing outside of my house. There was this dude, running up the street with a gun, and he was shooting at this car in the middle of the street. This dude went running through my yard, right past me, while he was getting shot at.

We have so much potential, but growing up in the hood, the streets will get you. “Everybody grabbed up their little kids on the block, but I was the last kid out there. I just froze. I was stuck, and didn’t know what to do. My aunt ran out and grabbed me and then asked me, ‘Why did you freeze up?’ I was seven, how was I supposed to know what to do around guns?

Rachel Carrión

Testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor
Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee
Hearing on “Meeting the Challenges Faced by Girls in the Juvenile Justice System”
March 11, 2010

Good afternoon. My name is Rachel Carrión and I am here today to talk about my experience with New York’s juvenile justice system. Thank you for this chance to tell my story.

My experience with the system started when I was 15 years old. I was arrested for the first time when I got into a fight with another girl and was charged with assault. When I was arrested, I was having a rough time in my life - my mother had just passed away and I was very depressed. In order to deal with my depression and loss, I began smoking marijuana to ease the pain I was feeling.

Shannon Jones

My name is Shannon Jones, I’m eighteen years old. I’m pleased to have the opportunity today to share my story with you. On January 7, 2007, my life changed for the better because that was the day that I was committed to the Community Intensive Supervision Program (CISP) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although I will speak from my own experience, I am also here to represent the experiences of the other youth whose lives have been positively impacted through their participation in CISP.

William Avila

My name is Wilbert Avila. I am twenty years of age and working as an intern for the Campaign for Youth Justice. I am here to tell all of you my experiences being a juvenile at the age of sixteen in the DC Jail Department of Corrections Juvenile block, known as the “Quack”. They consider it the “Quack” because the DC Jail jumpsuit is orange like a duck and since you’re in a cell feeling dehumanized you start to Quack like a duck. My struggle was hard, my life scarred, and my mindset crippled.

Originally I thought I would only be in jail for a few weeks while I waited to go to court, but the weeks became months and I realized I was going no where because I was different from juveniles and adults. Since I was a juvenile charged as an adult I could not go to any group home for juveniles and because I was sixteen and I could not go to a house for adults. So, I was stuck in the DC Jail. I was viewed as a high danger to the community even though this was my first time in the criminal justice system.