Youth Justice Community Collaborative Launches in Albuquerque

Updated on October 15, 2021, and originally posted February 4, 2021, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Albuquerque Justice for Youth Community Collaborative

More than 20 com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions in Albu­querque are join­ing forces in a mul­ti-year effort to sup­port healthy and thriv­ing futures for all young peo­ple, espe­cial­ly those in trou­ble with the law. The Albu­querque Jus­tice for Youth Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lab­o­ra­tive, sup­port­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, will engage local youth-serv­ing orga­ni­za­tions and fam­i­lies who have been affect­ed by the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem in efforts to shape promis­ing futures for young peo­ple — even after they’ve made mistakes.

Ground­ed in Com­mu­ni­ty Leadership

Progress toward social jus­tice, racial heal­ing and equi­ty requires a rad­i­cal change, ground­ed in com­mu­ni­ty lead­er­ship and respect for the per­spec­tives of young peo­ple and fam­i­lies who have been direct­ly — and often neg­a­tive­ly — affect­ed by the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem,” says Albi­no Gar­cia, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of La Plazi­ta Insti­tute in Albu­querque and founder of the Collaborative.

The Col­lab­o­ra­tive launched on Jan. 20, 2021 with the inten­tion to:

  • hon­or and strength­en com­mu­ni­ty self-determination;
  • reduce and even­tu­al­ly elim­i­nate depen­dence on the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem; and
  • keep youth safe­ly at home and sup­port­ed by their own communities.

The Collaborative’s first pub­lic announce­ment elab­o­rat­ed on these goals: “[Our] work is both heal­ing and cre­ative — hold­ing pub­lic sys­tems account­able for harm they inflict on com­mu­ni­ties, hold­ing each oth­er account­able for our com­plic­i­ty in that harm, and con­tin­u­ing to devel­op cul­tur­al­ly-ground­ed and com­mu­ni­ty-based sup­ports and oppor­tu­ni­ties, espe­cial­ly for young peo­ple of col­or. We come togeth­er to build a col­lec­tive part­ner­ship and work toward a new, com­mu­ni­ty-defined vision of youth jus­tice for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

After the first Col­lab­o­ra­tive meet­ing, Cathryn L. McGill, the founder and CEO of the New Mex­i­co Black Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, reflect­ed: There is a way to do this, and we will find it togeth­er.” She spoke of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build and strength­en com­mu­ni­ty from the inside out to deter­mine how best to sup­port our youth with assets-based strate­gies that will obvi­ate the need for incarceration.”

The Foundation’s Com­mit­ment to Its New Mex­i­co Partners

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is fund­ing the Col­lab­o­ra­tive, includ­ing its coor­di­na­tion by La Plazi­ta Insti­tute, stipends to par­tic­i­pat­ing young peo­ple and fam­i­lies (along with child­care and tech­nol­o­gy sup­port) and sub­grants to mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions. Jae­lyn DeMaría, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mex­i­co, is lead­ing a team that will use com­mu­ni­ty-based par­tic­i­pa­to­ry research and solu­tion-based jour­nal­ism to doc­u­ment and tell the sto­ry of the project. Cap­tur­ing the sto­ry of the Collaborative’s first years will inform efforts by oth­er com­mu­ni­ties to repli­cate a com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven approach to youth well-being.

Our sup­port for the Albu­querque Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lab­o­ra­tive is an invest­ment in the wis­dom, pow­er and cre­ativ­i­ty of young peo­ple, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties to lead the way,” says San­dra Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez, vice pres­i­dent of the Foundation’s Cen­ter for Sys­tem Inno­va­tion. We look for­ward to learn­ing from and with all of our New Mex­i­co part­ners as they work to build bright and healthy futures for all young people.”

The Casey Foundation’s invest­ment in juve­nile jus­tice reform in New Mex­i­co dates back to the 1990s. Bernalil­lo Coun­ty — home to Albu­querque — was one of the first JDAI® sites and has served as a learn­ing lab for oth­er juris­dic­tions seek­ing to build bet­ter and more equi­table youth jus­tice sys­tems. Since 2013, Bernalil­lo Coun­ty has been a demon­stra­tion site with the Foundation’s JDAI deep-end work, which empha­sizes that young peo­ple are more like­ly to lead healthy and pro­duc­tive lives when they are sup­port­ed in their com­mu­ni­ties, rather than detained or incar­cer­at­ed. The New Mex­i­co Chil­dren, Youth and Fam­i­lies Depart­ment is pur­su­ing the expan­sion of JDAI to coun­ties across the state.

Mem­bers of the Albu­querque Jus­tice for Youth Com­mu­ni­ty Collaborative

ABQ Cen­ter for Hope & Recovery
Ances­tral Lands Con­ser­va­tion Corps, a pro­gram of Con­ser­va­tion Legacy/​Ancestral Lands
South­west Con­ser­va­tion Corps
Bold Futures New Mexico
Cen­tro Sávila
Future Focused Education
Keshet’s New Mex­i­co Arts & Jus­tice Network
La Plazi­ta Institute
NACA Inspired Schools Network/​My Brother’s Keeper
New Day Youth & Fam­i­ly Services
New Mex­i­co Asian Fam­i­ly Center
New Mex­i­co Black Lead­er­ship Council
New Mex­i­co Youth Jus­tice Coalition
Pega­sus Legal Ser­vices for Children
Recy­cled Man, LLC
Seren­i­ty Mesa
South­West Orga­niz­ing Project
Togeth­er for Brothers
Trans­gen­der Resource Cen­ter of New Mexico
Unit­ed South Broad­way Corporation
Youth Devel­op­ment, Inc.

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