Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Our post today comes from Sonia Balaram, the program coordinator of the Harlem Youth Court and a member of the first Youth Justice Board when the program started in 2004.

On Saturday, March 24th, I had the pleasure of joining Youth Justice Board member Jona and graduate Jessica on WBAI’s On the Count: The Prison and Criminal Justice Report, a public access radio program produced and hosted exclusively by men and women who were formerly incarcerated as juveniles or adults. This episode was devoted to women's history month, and we spoke about criminal justice issues in our communities and our work as members of the Board.  As part of this year’s group, Jona has been studying youth crime and ways to improve police-youth relations. Jessica was a member 6 years ago when the Board studied permanency planning for youth aging out of foster care.

As a member of the Youth Justice Board’s first cohort nine years ago, when the Board studied recidivism, it was affirming for me to hear Jona and Jessica share their experiences as members of the program and how participation has left a mark on their lives. I noticed how their eyes lit up the moment they started talking about their projects, the things they learned, and the difference they felt they made for young people across New York City. It was humbling to be surrounded by such strong, confident and intelligent women and it reminded me of my own Youth Justice Board experience and how it inspired in me a commitment to a career in public service.

The host of the show, Robin McGinty, invited us to come back at some point in the future and volunteered to speak to youth court members and respondents about her own experiences growing up in New York City and how she ended up hosting On the Count. The sense of community and shared commitment to change that this offer suggests made for a wonderful final chapter to our experience at WBAI. It’s always exciting to be part of powerful new opportunities for collaboration like this and we look forward to working with Robin and On the Count again soon.

In the meantime, enjoy listening to our radio show by following the link

No comments:

Post a Comment