Supporting De’Jon With Opportunities to Reach His Potential

Posted May 24, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog supportingdejon 2017

Young peo­ple in trou­ble with the law — even for seri­ous offens­es — need guid­ance, edu­ca­tion and a sup­port net­work to get back on track, not incar­cer­a­tion in adult-like pris­ons. The sec­ond video in a series as the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive® turns 25 tells the sto­ry of a young man and two car­ing adults in his sup­port net­work who con­nect­ed him with the oppor­tu­ni­ties he needed.

De’Jon was com­mit­ted to Ohio’s Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices (DYS) for four years for a vio­lent offense at the age of 17. In 46 states, includ­ing Ohio, De’Jon’s case could have been tried in adult court.

The juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem is bet­ter equipped for reha­bil­i­ta­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it builds on the strengths of young peo­ple in ways that help them suc­ceed out­side of the sys­tem,” said Nate Balis, the direc­tor of the Casey Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group. And with­in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, we need to do bet­ter at giv­ing each youth, irre­spec­tive of the crimes they many have com­mit­ted, the tools they need to get on the right path to a suc­cess­ful adulthood.”

De’Jon’s chap­lain and his employ­er gave him the guid­ance he need­ed to mature and gain con­fi­dence and work expe­ri­ence. A local busi­ness leader met De’Jon through a DYS work release pro­gram and hired him when his com­mit­ment with DYS end­ed. They gave me that start and they pushed me,” De’Jon says.

This video is impor­tant because it demon­strates the impact that even a small num­ber of pos­i­tive and car­ing adults can have on suc­cess­ful­ly redi­rect­ing a young per­son who has got­ten off-track,” said Tanya Wash­ing­ton, senior asso­ciate in the Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group. In the end, strong and con­sis­tent rela­tion­ships — not incar­cer­a­tion — will make the dif­fer­ence for young peo­ple who have got­ten in trou­ble with the law.”

The video debuted at the 2017 JDAI Nation­al Inter-Site Con­fer­ence before an audi­ence of juve­nile jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als. The video is on the Casey Foundation’s YouTube chan­nel and avail­able to the pub­lic free of charge for screenings.

Learn more about the Foundation’s juve­nile jus­tice work

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