The Life's Blueprint Diversion Project with University of Maryland
THE LIFE’S BLUEPRINT PROJECT
A BELOVED COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR JUVENILE DIVERSION PROGRAM
“This is a most important and crucial period in your lives. For what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine which way your life shall go.”
—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., October 26, 1967
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND, June 17, 2019
— In a speech delivered to teenage students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, PA, on October 26th, 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. posed a simple, yet profound question: What is in your life’s blueprint? In an effort to help today’s youth—especially those who experience marginalization and are disproportionately impacted by the social determinants of health and education—answer this question in ways that promote prosocial behaviors by enabling at-risk youth to restore, empower, and, ultimately, transform their lives, The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice & Ethics is pleased to announce The Life’s Blueprint Project (LBP), a new signature program developed through a collaborative partnership withThe Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc. that operationalizes the practice of restorative social justice in shifting the trajectory of at-risk youth from juvenile detention to successful life outcomes.
Through this strategic initiative, the Judge AW Center and Take Charge aim to increase access to mental and behavioral health and wellness supports; provide opportunities for leadership development through civic engagement, and social and emotional learning; and promote the cultivation of Career Technical Education (CTE) skills through evidence-based programming designed to improve life outcomes for at-risk youth residing in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, MD. In adopting a dual focus on health and education, the LBP connects program participants with culturally competent mental health and wellness professionals, life and career coaches, engages them in civic and experiential learning activities, and exposes them to motivational speakers with relevant life experience who encourage and help equip youth with the skills needed to develop a comprehensive plan for their lives that will empower them to thrive in the global economy of the twenty-first century.
The need for this programmatic intervention is evidenced by a number of alarming statistics, including the fact that 93% of incarcerated youth report exposure to Adverse Childhood Events (ACE), which are a key contributor to mental health disorders in juveniles. These adverse events include, but are not limited to, accidents, physical or sexual abuse, serious illness, and violence. On average, incarcerated youth report six adverse events prior to their conviction(s). Given the fact that between 40% to 80% of incarcerated juveniles have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder, it is not surprising that researchers have found a correlative relationship between preventative mental healthcare and reduced juvenile incarceration rates.
In accordance with The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, the ultimate goal of the LBP is to divert youth from the formal, punitive processing of the adult criminal justice system through the use of community-based programs, rather than large institutions. As an alternative to incarceration, juvenile diversion serves as an intervention strategy that leads youth towards healthy behaviors, while simultaneously holding them accountable for their actions without the use of a juvenile detention.
The Life’s Blueprint Project will begin accepting referrals for program participation from agencies, institutions, and organizations in Prince George’s County, MD, including, but not limited to the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), Prince George’s County Juvenile Court, the Department of Social Services, and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) on Thursday, August 1st, 2019. Participant referrals from Baltimore City, MD, will be accepted beginning Monday, February 3rd, 2020. This program will be hosted at The Judge Alexander Williams Jr. Center for Education, Justice & Ethics located on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park.
If you would like more information about the content of the press release, please contact Ms. Valerie Jones at 301. 314. 2062, or via email at [email protected]
About The Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc.
The Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc. is a nationally recognized tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization based in District Heights, Maryland, that has been engaged in working with juvenile offenders for more than two decades. The mission of the Take Charge Program is to intervene in the lives of at-risk, delinquent, and court adjudicated youth by providing individual and group counseling to at-risk youth and their families; serving as an alternative to detention; and providing juvenile prevention, intervention, and behavior modification supports, including family counseling and family strengthening services.
The Take Charge Program has received widespread acclaim for providing crime prevention services in Prince George’s County, MD, as demonstrated by Prince George’s County Department of Juvenile Services recidivism audits, which indicate a 90% non-recidivism rate for all Take Charge Program graduates. Moreover, the organization has received recognition for helping to turn around the lives of troubled and low-income youth as well as working with homeless and prison populations. Understanding the true value of family, Take Charge also offers a complimentary course for the parents of program participants.
About The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center
Having served two terms as the elected States Attorney for Prince George’s County, Maryland, Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. recognized the importance of social justice issues concerning education, justice, ethical leadership, and civic responsibility. During his nearly twenty-year tenure as an Article III Judge on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Judge Williams witnessed the ways in which mandatory-minimum sentencing has contributed to mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. In an effort to address this and similar injustices within our legal, social, and political institutions, Judge Williams retired his appointment and founded The Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice & Ethics as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in 2013. Themission of the Judge AW Center is to research, develop solutions to, and provide a forum for discussing the prevailing issues facing underserved and disadvantaged communities in Maryland, the U.S., and the world today.
After entering into a partnership with the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2016, the Judge AW Center was (re)established under the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences within the Department of African American Studies. Working in collaboration with the University of Maryland and community stakeholders, the Center strives to address social inequalities resulting from histories of discrimination, injustice, and the disparate impact of educational, legal, and social policies that further exacerbate gaps in achievement, opportunity, and socio-economic outcomes among vulnerable populations in Maryland, the U.S., and throughout the world. AsFounder and Executive Director of the Judge AW Center at the University of Maryland, Judge Williams continues to teach and advocate for criminal justice reforms, and has called for federal and state legislators to “review and rethink the impact of mandatory-minimum penalties.”
"Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on."
— Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)