Youth Justice Community Collaborative Launches in Albuquerque

Updated October 15, 2021 | 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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