Two Social Justice Champions Receive Bimel Award
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has named Lynn Ausley, a member of the Juvenile Court Family Council in Pierce County, Washington, and Frankie Guzman, director of the California Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law, as its 2019 Natalie S. Bimel Award recipients. The Foundation recognized Ausley and Guzman for their commitment to fairness and equality, human rights and social justice.
The Foundation’s Natalie S. Bimel Award recognizes community leaders whose work has advanced justice reform efforts. The award’s namesake was a criminal justice reformer who established a number of highly regarded community programs that reduced reliance on incarceration and helped former prisoners successfully transition back into their communities. Natalie S. Bimel passed away from cancer in 2004, shortly after directing the JDAI® documentary “These Are Our Kids.” She epitomized the creativity, determination and influence of community leaders who dedicate themselves to the well-being of local residents.
Frankie Guzman, Director of the California Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law
Guzman advocates for youth in the criminal justice system by drawing on his personal experience of being incarcerated at the age of 15 for six years. He uses his passion and professional skills, which include a law degree, to create opportunities for healing and growth for young people. Guzman and his team have supported 13 landmark bills that have helped reform the youth justice system, including eliminating the power of prosecutors to charge youth as adults, abolishing life without parole sentences for youth and establishing the Youth Reinvestment Fund, a one-time state expenditure of $37 million to increase the availability of trauma-informed, community and health-based interventions for young people. Peers cite the humble, tenacious and inclusive spirit he brings to this work, along with the positive influence he has had as a role model to other Latino young people currently and formerly in the system.
Lynn Ausley, Member of the Family Council of the Pierce County, Washington Juvenile Court
Ausley was recognized for “turning her pain into purpose,” in the words of Jeanette Bocanegra, the director of family partnerships at Justice for Families. Ausley’s son was involved in the justice system. Her desire to support her own child became an education in how the system worked — or failed — and the levers she needed to pull on behalf of her son. She applied that knowledge to advocate for children and families who found themselves in similar situations. Ausley is part of a council that advises the juvenile probation department from the perspective of parents or other family members of young people involved with the court. Working with multiple court staff and community partners, the council produced a 47-page information guide to help families navigate the Pierce County Juvenile Court process. Its introduction reads: “We want our community to be one that is safe and supportive, where all children are healthy and succeed in school, and where all children grow up to be productive and contributing adults.” Bocanegra cited four words Ausley uses to describe her pursuit of a better, more equitable youth justice system: hope, pray, trust and believe.
The awards were bestowed at the JDAI Inter-Site Conference in Seattle before an audience of juvenile justice practitioners, policy makers and advocates.