There is change being made at the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum. The “Say No To Prison” initiative is working with youth to decrease the rate that youth enter the prison system. The center holds weekly meetings to interact with youth and guide them on a path away from prison.
Started in 2009 by Jason Taylor, the initiative uses a 21-week program to decrease the number of defenders. 13-17 year old teenager are the target age group of this program.
“In the U.S. we have more than 70,000 juveniles in prisons and 2500 plus juveniles serving life without parol.” states Jason Taylor. Taylor’s experience as a prison Chaplain inspired him to work to curb the number of juveniles in the prison system. Structured into three parts, Confession, Commitment, and Change, the program takes youth through a very personal journey. Showing the youth the bigger picture surrounding their behavior and making them commit to making progress.
The first step, Confession, is aimed to create an open discussion among participants. They get to discuss their at-risk behavior and create bonds through their similar experiences. Participants then explore their behaviors and pinpoint the sources of their behavior.
During the second step, Commitment, participants commits to change. The participant commits to his or herself, the participant’s family, and the participant’s victim. The initiative’s website has more information on their philosophy.
The third step, Change, gives the youth the hard skills to change their life. By teaching the youth these skills they have less of a chance of reverting to their old ways.
The “Say No To Prison” Initiative is working to fix a major problem in the Sacramento area, using a very innovative and personal approach.