FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2019
Contact: Kyung Jin Lee
AmeriCorps Funds First-Ever Program Designed to Intentionally Engage System-Involved Youth and Young Adults
California Justice Leaders program will pair currently incarcerated and recently released young people with formerly incarcerated navigators who have successfully re-entered their communities
LOS ANGELES: Impact Justice announced today the launch of California Justice Leaders, a first-of-its-kind AmeriCorps program designed to provide employment and training opportunities for young adults who have been involved with California’s justice system and have successfully re-entered their communities. During their year of service as a California Justice Leader, participants will receive training and professional development to help guide other system-involved youth and young adults on a similar path.
“This is a groundbreaking moment in the history of AmeriCorps,” said Alex Busansky, president of Impact Justice. “California Justice Leaders represents the first AmeriCorps partnership among federal, state, and local governments to provide compensated service specifically for young adults with justice involvement while simultaneously supporting young people coming out of the juvenile justice system. Through this unique program, system-involved youth will be offered opportunities to become the next generation of justice reform advocates and community leaders.”
California Justice Leaders will provide 40 young adults between the ages of 21 and 30 who have experienced incarceration, adjudication, or justice involvement with one year of half time paid service at a local nonprofit organization.
For their AmeriCorps placement, members will serve as a re-entry navigator in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Fresno counties. They will work with youth and young adults currently in or recently released from California’s Division of Juvenile Justice facilities. They will build awareness and increase the utilization of California’s Honorable Discharge petition, which can help to remove barriers related to their juvenile records. It also recognizes and rewards the hard work and personal development an individual has made post incarceration.
“Young people who’ve experienced incarceration face enormous hurdles to successfully re-enter their communities, such as finding jobs, securing safe and affordable housing, having access to education, and rebuilding healthy relationships with their families,” said Aishatu Yusuf, state program director for California Justice Leaders. “Navigators who have successfully re-entered their communities will be real life examples to their younger peers of how to achieve the futures they desire.”
“We are looking forward to partnering with AmeriCorps and Impact Justice to support the increased use of the Honorable Discharge petition,” said Rachel Stern, executive officer of the Board of Juvenile Hearings for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice. “We hope the Honorable Discharge petition will open doors of opportunity for the young people leaving DJJ, and encourage their efforts to create positive change in their lives.”
California Justice Leaders also received support from My Brother’s Keeper Los Angeles County, California Volunteers, and more than 20 community organization partners.
Members are slated to start their year of service in early 2020.
ABOUT IMPACT JUSTICE: Impact Justice is a national innovation and research center advancing new ideas and solutions for justice reform. We work to dramatically reduce the massive number of youth and adults in our justice system, improve conditions and outcomes for those who are incarcerated, and provide meaningful opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to rejoin their communities.