The Central Park Five and Our Work in Juvenile Justice


Did you know?

Youth Communication cultivated writing by the wrongfully convicted “Central Park Five,” and continues to work within the juvenile justice system today.
Four of the “Central Park Five” were initially sent to the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, where they participated in a writing workshop run by Youth Communication.
One of the teens, Raymond Santana, published three poems in our prison newsletter, Spofford Voices
In the poem below, Raymond protests his incarceration and proclaims his innocence. It was published in 1991, right before the end of his trial.

The work continues

The city closed Spofford in 2011, but we continue to help teens write and publish their stories in our award-winning magazines and curricula
Like Raymond Santana, the writers are often misunderstood and want to tell their stories.
With the close attention of our professional editors, the writers truly feel heard, often for the first time. The result is authentic and compelling stories that inform and inspire both teen and adult readers. 

Today: Empowering staff to support adjudicated youth

Our stories help adults build empathy for teens’ struggles so that they can be more effective in all of their work with teens.
Major NYC agencies including the NYC Department of Probation, Administration for Children’s Services, and the NYC Department of Education have hired us to help their staff create more supportive settings for struggling youth. They use our teen-written stories to improve their youth’s literacy skills while showing them how their peers respond constructively to challenges.
In the last three years, we have trained more than 500 teachers, youth workers, counselors, probation officers, and even prison guards to use our stories and lessons. 
Your support helps adults continue to transform their settings into a safe place where youth feel recognized and seen. 

Youth Comm Reporter Youth Comm

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