REPRESENTING GIRLS IN MASSACHUSETTS
The JRAP represents and serves as GAL for girls (and boys) in the Massachusetts delinquency and CHINS systems. JRAP represents youth across state systems and until they age out of state systems. Through this cross-system representation, JRAP attempts to de-escalate cases from the criminal justice system and access social, mental health, and physical health services so that youth can be successful in their communities. JRAP's representation is primarily in Boston and Lowell.
THE GIRLS AND MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH PASSPORT PROJECTS
The Girls Health Passport Project (GHPP) and The Massachusetts Health Passport Project (MHPP) are linked efforts to connect youth committed to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) to community health care. The MHPP and GHPP have four objectives: 1) Improving access to health care; 2) Changing relevant systems; 3) Improving youth's social supports; and 4) Improving youth's health status.
The GHPP has been operating in Boston in collaboration with DYS, DotWell, and the Still We Rise Community Re-entry Center since May, 2004. The MHPP is a planned expansion of elements of the GHPP to four Massachusetts sites. The MHPP is a collaboration among DYS, community health centers, and community based providers, and the JRAP. The models that will be implemented in each site have been, and will continue to be, developed and refined through an iterative process between evaluation and program over three years. The research will be conducted by the Tufts Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center (TETAC), led by Professor Francine Jacobs.
H.U.M.A.N. is a design, graphic arts and entrepreneurship program which provides girls who have been committed to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) with an opportunity to document their lives and experiences using visual art. H.U.M.A.N. operates in a DYS residential facility and in the community so that girls become involved in the art and then can continue their work when they are released. Stipends are paid to girls who work in the community site. Girls also sell their art and take graphic arts assignments on commissioned work such as t-shirts, postcards and logos. H.U.M.A.N. art has been exhibited and is available at: www.human-design-online.com
The JRAP has been documenting the situation of girls in the justice system since 1996. Documentation includes statistical research, stories of girls in the juvenile justice system, and qualitative research. Through its documentation the JRAP hopes to call attention to the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system and the benefits of supporting these girls in their communities..
WORKING WITH ADVOCATES AND COMMUNITY SERVICES
Over the years the JRAP has worked with advocates and service providers to discuss and develop collaborative strategies on issues of common concern for youth in the justice system. Most recently the JRAP, with the Youth Advocacy Project, is convening a Post-Disposition Working Group to improve access to counsel and procedural accountability for youth post-commitment to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services.
"Yeah I gave my life to you. I even put you in front of everything. Then, I guess you knew you could disarm my life so you did. You brought me fright. People tell me I don't know what love is, but I do. I know how I wanted to be treated, and what you did to me was not love. Yeah, you told me you loved me, but you really don't. I loved you, but I won't die for you no more 'cause I love myself, and that's why I will never come back to that evil door. I'm the queen of my castle, and I finally made my way back, and like I told you before, move on you mac. I don't want you no more. Well, I do but not your ways. I want you back how I had you for the first 200 days. Let me break up out of this fairy tale dream. You'll never change your ways, especially not for me. So you know what I finally came to see? I'm seeing now that I'm in this world alone, and I'm fighting in this world to find myself a home. A home where I can feel free and have back my sanity. I want peace of mind, so I'm going to give all my might until the day I die."
S., age 15