Today, this is what I'm thinking about as I recover: In my neighborhood, there are signs posted, letting me and my neighbors know that there will soon be a "special school" open around the corner. What makes this school so special, that it calls for neighborhood signs and meetings? Its goal will be to educate youth from the criminal justice system. And while my first thought is of the positive impact this will have on youth, the signs go on to let me know how I can voice my concerns.
No specifics about what these concerns should be. Just the implication that I should be worried that criminal youth will be in my neighborhood, doing their criminal youth things... like, you know, learning. Hmm.
I have an idea. How about instead of criminalizing, stigmatizing and isolating underprivileged youth who have made mistakes, we educate ourselves about how providing these young folks with the opportunities they lack can help reduce their chances of repeating their mistakes, and help heal our broken, violent world in multiple ways?
Here's a great start. The Ella Baker Center has put together an award-winning film that shows concrete examples of how to shift from endless cycles of detention and violence to new stories of change and hope. Here's the trailer for Learning from Our Mistakes: Transforming Juvenile Justice in California. Visit the Ella Baker Center website to watch to film online, or to order a DVD copy with a viewer and action guide. Let's give all young people a chance at life.