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A Flash Mob for Juvenile Justice Reform, Family Engagement and More

December 20, 2012

Update from Youth Justice Leadership Institute Alumna, Rukia Lumumba


As the 2012 Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellows settle in, the 2011 Fellows continue to make an impact. Below, Institute alumna Rukia Lumumba shares what she has been up to since the end of her Institute fellowship. -Ed.

I continue to push forward toward juvenile justice transformation in New York City. In an effort to continue my advocacy project work around family engagement in the juvenile justice system, I assisted in the coordination of the New York City release of Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice, released by Justice for Families and DataCenter. As a result of the report and the work of families and advocates, I, along with a small committee of organizations and parents, meet monthly with the Department of Probation to reform their policy and practices around family engagement in the juvenile justice system. I give tremendous thanks to my mentor, Liane Rozzell of Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth, for her continued guidance.

In addition to promoting increased family engagement in the juvenile justice system, I have been active in advocacy around raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State. I coordinated a community forum on the issue of raising the age of criminal responsibility in collaboration with eight other advocacy organizations (including the Children’s Defense Fund, the Correctional Association of New York [an NJJN member], the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Justice, Youth Represent, the Child Welfare Organizing Project, Youth in the Impact Zones, A Community United, Justice for Families and the New York Center for Juvenile Justice). The notable New York County former judge and current juvenile justice advocate, the Honorable Michael Corriero, presented on the need to increase the age of criminal responsibility in New York State and community members discussed their support, concerns and policy solutions to the issue. Over 150 people attended the forum.

To provide more visibility to the raise the age issue, I coordinated a flash mob in Times Square for YJAM (Youth Justice Awareness Month) in collaboration with my agency (the Center for Community Alternatives) and the Correctional Association of New York. Approximately 15 advocates and youth participated in the flash mob, which was viewed by hundreds of people in Times Square.

To further promote the need to raise the age, I participated in an interview on Press TV’s Program Inside Out entitled, “Juvenile Detention and Imprisonment.” The interview aired internationally in November 2012.

Currently I am working with Brave New Foundation on a raise-the-age promotional video, and I am scheduled to assist in the production of a radio series regarding juvenile justice in 2013.

I want to truly thank Diana Onley-Campbell for being an amazing leader and advisor throughout the fellowship year! I also want to send my fellow Youth Justice Leadership Institute alums “Congratulations!” on all of your accomplishments. It has truly been an honor to know you. You are each inspiring, and just knowing you and the work you do has encouraged me to want to do more. I also want to give my sincere thanks to Sarah Bryer, John Williams, and (again) Liane Rozzell. They provided valuable guidance and support throughout my fellowship year.

Ms. Lumumba currently serves as Director of Youth Advocacy Services for the Center for Community Alternatives in New York City. In addition to juvenile/criminal justice advocacy, program development, and direct service provision, she collects donations of coats, clothes, shoes and toiletry items. The Center provides these items to youth, their families and adults that are returning home from prison. For more information on how to donate, please contact Ms. Lumumba at rlumumba@communityalternatives.org.

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