Casey Celebrates Arizona’s Richard Elías For Building a Fairer Youth Justice System

Posted November 14, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog richardelias jdai 2015

Richard Elías received the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Natal­ie S. Bimel Award for his efforts to build a just and equi­table youth jus­tice sys­tem. Elías rep­re­sents the 5th Dis­trict on the Board of Super­vi­sors for Pima Coun­ty, Arizona.

The award is named for Natal­ie S. Bimel and hon­ors the con­tri­bu­tions of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers to deten­tion reform. Bimel direct­ed the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive (JDAI) doc­u­men­tary, These Are Our Kids,” com­plet­ed short­ly before her death from can­cer in 2004. Bimel was a crim­i­nal jus­tice reformer who estab­lished a num­ber of high­ly regard­ed com­mu­ni­ty pro­grams, which reduced the reliance on incar­cer­a­tion and helped for­mer pris­on­ers tran­si­tion suc­cess­ful­ly back to their com­mu­ni­ties. She epit­o­mized the cre­ativ­i­ty, deter­mi­na­tion and influ­ence of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers who ded­i­cate them­selves to the well-being of local residents.

Richard Elías shares Bimel’s com­mit­ment to jus­tice. He has rep­re­sent­ed Dis­trict Five on the Pima Coun­ty Board of Super­vi­sors since 2002. In pre­sent­ing the award to him, Raquel Mariscal, a direc­tor at the W. Hay­wood Burns Insti­tute, said, Richard works tire­less­ly to bring peo­ple togeth­er to enhance the qual­i­ty of life for all in Pima Coun­ty: work­ing for afford­able hous­ing, elim­i­nat­ing health­care dis­par­i­ties, nur­tur­ing the devel­op­ment of our youth, push­ing for qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion and for a just and equi­table youth jus­tice system.”

Elías has been active with JDAI since 2002, when Pima Coun­ty Juve­nile Court began its part­ner­ship with the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Burns Insti­tute. He serves on JDAI’s exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, where he ensures a bal­anced per­spec­tive between com­mu­ni­ty and sys­tem stake­hold­ers. Elías advo­cates for pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment and for build­ing the community’s capac­i­ty to offer alter­na­tives to deten­tion. Mariscal praised Elías for his polit­i­cal will, inten­tion­al­i­ty, sense of urgency and unwa­ver­ing passion.”

The Natal­ie S. Bimel Award is 1 of 4 that the Casey Foun­da­tion bestowed this year to results-dri­ven and strate­gic reform­ers whose stead­fast ded­i­ca­tion to deten­tion reform has improved the lives of youth. The awardees’ work exem­pli­fies some of JDAI’s best attrib­ut­es: con­tin­u­ous improve­ment, cross-fer­til­iza­tion of ideas and a per­son­al com­mit­ment to improv­ing the lives of court-involved young people.

Elías accept­ed his award in front of an enthu­si­as­tic and appre­cia­tive audi­ence of peers at the JDAI Inter-Site Con­fer­ence in Phoenix.

Read about the win­ners of the Jenk­ins and JDAI Dis­tin­guished Sys­tem Lead­er­ship awards

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