Youth Justice Coalition
The YOUTH JUSTICE COALITION/Free L.A.High School is working to build a youth-led movement to: challenge race, gender, and class inequality in the Los Angeles County juvenile injustice system; work to tear down a system that has ensured the massive lock-up of people of color, widespread police brutality and corruption, vast disregard for youth and communities' Constitutional and human rights; oppose the build-up of the world's largest prison system. We use direct action organizing, advocacy, political education, and activist arts to agitate, expose, and annoy the people in charge in order to upset power and bring about change. YJC members, ages 8 to 24, are the young people L.A. has labeled as criminals, gangstas, thugs, and hoodlums -- in other words, we’re basically considered trash. To most people, we are invisible and forgotten, locked away in dusty corners of LA County, behind barbed wire and concrete -- in juvenile halls, county jails, camps and youth authorities. We’ve been pushed out of the school system into Continuation Schools and Probation Schools where the teachers are overworked and under-trained, the books and materials are in short supply, and there are more Probation Officers than guidance counselors. We report to Probation and Parole on the regular, and have gotten use to routine police searches and peeing in a cup on demand. Led by People Most Affected by the Criminalization of Young People, Poor People, Communities of Color and Immigrants, the YJC has made a commitment to building youth leadership by promoting a voice, vision, and action plan for community justice that is developed, led, and staffed at all levels by people who have experienced the justice system first-hand. The project represents one of the nation's few organizing projects led by young people who have been, or are currently under arrest, on probation, in detention, in prison, or on parole or whose parents/guardians, brothers, or sisters have been incarcerated for long periods of their lives. Over the past two years, the YJC has worked to recruit youth countywide to join this effort, with a membership of more youth both inside lock-ups and in communities that have received leadership training, legal and political education, and court support. The YJC also represents an organizational base of 63 youth-serving organizations.