Young Adults Share Their Insights on Reentry
In a special segment of the Coordinating Council meeting on July 28, Starcia Ague, 27, and Osbert Duoa, 20, offered their perspectives on successful reentry based on their own histories of involvement with the juvenile justice system.
Ms. Ague is currently a Youth and Family Advocate Program Administrator with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services at the Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation Administration. She also serves on the Governor’s Washington State Partnership Council for Juvenile Justice and on the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice.
In her remarks at the Council meeting, Ague said many youth in the juvenile justice system have previous histories of exposure to violence, abuse, and neglect, and that trauma-informed care must be more fully integrated into juvenile justice services and programs. Ague also noted the urgent need for states to improve educational opportunities for youth during confinement, prohibit the sale of juvenile records by consumer agencies, and incorporate the insights of youth into juvenile justice reform. “It’s important to include youth and families at the table, and to show them that their input has been used,” Ague said.
Among many other reform efforts, Ague worked with students from the University of Washington's Legislative Advocacy Clinic to get a bill passed restricting the dissemination of juvenile records by consumer reporting agencies in Washington state. In addition, she helped push through a law that allows Class A juvenile felony records in Washington to be sealed, at the discretion of the judge, as long as youth have a clean record for 5 years after their release.
Mr. Duoa was born in Liberia and migrated to the United States with his mother when he was 5 years old. He is currently a retail sales manager with the Rhode Island Harvest Kitchen project. He sells their products at winter and summer farmers’ markets throughout the state. He credited his successful reentry in large part to the Youth Transition Center at Tides Family Services, an organization in Pawtucket, RI, that provides support and services for at-risk youth and their families. There, he met Chef Jennifer Stott from Harvest Kitchen and began training for a culinary arts career. Duoa cited the mentoring of Ms. Stott and the commitment of other staff and volunteers of Tides Family Services as important elements in his successful transition. “At Tides, they made sure I had rides to and from school, and this, combined with my work at Harvest Kitchen, kept me off the streets,” Osbert said.
“Osbert and Starcia remind us that, at the end of all of the policy discussions and interagency collaborations, there are actual young lives that depend on folks around this table getting it right,” said Associate Attorney General West. “They remind us that . . . through the work we do in these and other sessionsby working to expand the support that will reduce recidivism and enhance post-juvenile systems education, job training, parenting skills, counseling and health carewe can maximize the opportunities for young people to express and be who they truly are; to find that inner strength, so clearly evidenced by Starcia, Osbert, and so many others, to rise above circumstance.”