Incarcerated youth who have been victim to, or engaged in violence or misconduct are isolated from effective and holistic trauma-informed services. DYRS reported in 2018 that 98% of youth were African American and 2% were Latino, making all committed youth, minorities.
The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services ( DYRS), in Washington D.C. works with fellow District agencies, community partners, and juvenile justice experts to achieve comprehensive support services to committed youth in secure facilities as well as within the community.
DYRS is designed to help young people get on the right track and successfully transition into their community. DYRS collaborates to implement innovative, research-based models that align with best practices in the juvenile justice and youth development fields.
Since 2019, #MeWeIntl has leading community planning with DYRS staff to launch a #MeWeDC pilot where high risk youth convicted or awaiting sentencing may access innovative programs that support non violent communication skills, psychosocial wellbeing (emotion regulation, goal-setting, perspective taking), and community engagement.
DYRS have reported program gaps for youth convicted or serious crimes, and a high rate of youth repeating crimes once released. Several factors contribute to this, including generational poverty, gentrification of the D.C. area, and lack of skills and spaces for youth to express their perspectives and exercise communication.
As of Spring 2021, the #MeWeDC pilot will begin with 24-32 incarcerated young men, and together we will discover why words and stories matter, how stories and communication change our brains, impact our bodies and our mental health. We will also engage in collaborative storytelling and content creation projects—writing, drawing, spoken words—some of which will be published and featured in a book for the community, short films, and also put on public billboards across the country.
The program is projected to reach 24-32 young men between the ages of 15-20 convicted or awaiting sentencing of serious crimes ranging from armed robbery, to car-jacking, to murder.