Home News Center Meet the Members: Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (PA)

Meet the Members: Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (PA)

December 9, 2015
Zoe Schein

NJJN’s newest member, the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP), is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit whose primary objective is to keep young people out of adult jails and prisons. The organization, founded in 2014 by co-directors Lauren Fine and Joanna Visser Adjoian, does this through dual strategies of direct service and policy advocacy. YSRP joins NJJN as an affiliate member, a new category of membership for organizations that do not fit the profile for state advocacy membership.

“We have begun working on local policy issues to help improve the situation of children facing prosecution as adults,” said Fine. “Specifically, we have begun working with City Council members and other government stakeholders to reform the way children are detained pre-trial when facing charges in the adult criminal justice system, as well as the costs associated with their contact with the system.”

YSRP also currently administers support to (primarily) court-appointed counsel in the form of mitigation, a process that attempts to provide courts a picture of a young person’s life and to bring to light any mitigating information that the court should take into account in making a decertification or sentencing decision.

“We get to know the young person, as well as their teachers, parents, social workers, coaches—anyone who can give us a more holistic idea of him or her. We want to give the court an accurate and nuanced picture of the child’s life and identify resources in the community that can help them address the issues they’re experiencing,” said Fine.

To that end, Fine emphasized that YSRP’s work extends beyond the legal sphere: “We’re not just lawyers, we’re also made up of social workers, social work students, medical students, and we even have a journalist volunteering with us. It’s important to us to be interdisciplinary, so if others in the network have ideas, we’re always looking for ways to learn and share about our work.”

“I was lucky enough to present at NJJN’s annual forum in Mississippi in 2014,” Fine said. “I’d already had a sense of the community that NJJN brings together, but that made clear how important it is to be in touch with others doing similar or related work in other jurisdictions. We’ve found so much value in learning from others, and we’re excited to be part of a community so narrowly focused on the same kinds of issues that we are.”

>> Learn more about our affiliate membership, as well as other ways organizations and individuals can join NJJN.

Photo: Flickr user Howard Stanbury.

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