Home News Center YJLI Fellow Darius Swift Seeks Educational Empowerment for Justice-Involved Youth

YJLI Fellow Darius Swift Seeks Educational Empowerment for Justice-Involved Youth

November 24, 2020
YJLI Fellow Darius Swift Seeks Educational Empowerment for Justice-Involved Youth

What got you interested in youth justice reform?

I think at the root of my interest in youth justice reform is my desire to serve and help people. I believe that’s just who I am at the core. Though, I am very fortunate to have a firsthand account in the juvenile detention center services. I express that I am fortunate for this unique experience because at the age of 14 or 15 it ultimately shaped and altered my path. [Because of that] I’m passionate about making juvenile justice truly rehabilitative and looking at reentry - not just how young people re-enter into schools after detention, but how they enter into the community and get their life back on track.

Can you tell us about your YJLI advocacy project?

My project focuses on restructuring policy and funding in education to offer STEM related courses and training for justice-involved youth, particularly those in detention. For a kid who makes a mistake and has no interest in school whatsoever, [the thought is] they could get introduced to something like carpentry, welding, or computer science inside of a facility and are able to use those skills to try to make a living for themselves when they re-enter the community or to simply spark a flame of change in their mind.

If you go to almost any school in 2020, you see STEM all throughout, so I just want to make sure all of these things are being maintained inside the school system for juvenile detention centers. I want them to have the same thing I see inside of other school systems when it comes to computers, augmented technology, and other STEM related programming – just giving those kids that opportunity to be exposed to STEM; this just seem like a perfect opportunity to create avenues, in my opinion, that can really change a kid’s life.

What is your motivation for doing this work?

My motivation to serve comes from dreams and desires of my heart shaped by my family and upbringing. When I close my eyes, I see certain things or if I’m in a daze, I fantasize about certain things. Those things that I fantasize are always centered around other people – whether it’s my family, community, friends or the kids I’ve encountered over the years - I’m just trying to help people by attempting to bring these dreams and fantasies into reality.

What’s your dream youth justice vision?

For it to actually work. I have friends and family members who started off in detention centers and still battle with some of the same things they battled with when they were kids. If a young person makes a mistake, they should be able to learn from their mistake with GUIDANCE, SUPPORT AND RESOURCES.

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