NYCJJ’s Juvenile Justice Academy Featured In The Huffington Post

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 | by Yuval Sheer

One of the speakers during this summer’s NYCJJ Juvenile Justice Academy was author and advocate David Chura.

He spoke with our summer associates, law students from across the state, about his book “I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup,” which chronicles his 10 years teaching juvenile offenders at the Westchester County Correctional Facility. In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Mr. Chura reflected on his meeting with our associates:

“Even though I taught high school in a county penitentiary for over 10 years and experienced in a minor way some of that same isolation and indifference I still know otherwise about the world: That there are people — teachers, social workers, clergy, parents, judges and lawyers — out there who care about real justice, not just for the “done to” but for the “doer” as well; who worry not only about “the system” — education, child welfare, juvenile and criminal justice — but about the kids, each individual kid, consigned to those systems.

But it’s hard a sell to young people whose world has taught them the opposite. Sometimes, listening to them talk about their lives, I feel as though they are living an alternative reality. Then again, maybe that is the reality of today’s America.

This summer I got to talk with various groups about these issues and met some people who could back me up on my view of the world. I just wish my students could’ve met them as well.

I’d like them to meet the 15 or so law students whom I met who were interning at the New York Center for Juvenile Justice (NYCJJ) in New York City, an organization working to ensure that kids in trouble are treated compassionately and fairly in the justice system. Even the toughest guys that I taught, and I’ve taught quite a few “thugs” — scarred, tattooed, hearts tough as stone (or so they’d like you to think) — would’ve had a hard time not being affected by the interns’ sensitivity to, genuine concern for, and insights into their lives and “the system” that had them (in so ways.) But my students were used to words — judge words, cop words, social worker words, even teacher words, so they would have been impressed by the students plans to establish juvenile justice chapters in their law schools and gotten a kick out of the fast-cut videos they made about laws that treat kids as adults when it comes to crime but not when it comes to voting or drinking or going to the movies.”

The Center wishes to thank Mr. Chura for his tireless efforts to advocate for children in the criminal justice system, and for supporting our cause.


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