Young New Yorkers (YNY) is committed to bringing positive systemic change to the ways that teenagers are prosecuted as adults in the criminal legal system. YNY utilizes a two-fold approach. First, through our innovative arts-based transformative justice programs, youth swiftly exit the criminal justice system without incurring a lifelong criminal record, and second, through the resulting exhibitions and artworks, youth become advocates for themselves and for a transformed legal system.
YNY provides alternative-to-incarceration programs that directly address over-criminalization of low-income youth of color. A 2015 report revealed that in New York State 72% of arrested 16-17-year-olds are Black or Latino. In New York City, 95% of incarcerated youth are Black or Latino. While New York State is currently adopting legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility, it is still presently one of only two states in the US that prosecutes 16-17-year-olds as adults, despite the f...
Young New Yorkers (YNY) is committed to bringing positive systemic change to the ways that teenagers are prosecuted as adults in the criminal legal system. YNY utilizes a two-fold approach. First, through our innovative arts-based transformative justice programs, youth swiftly exit the criminal justice system without incurring a lifelong criminal record, and second, through the resulting exhibitions and artworks, youth become advocates for themselves and for a transformed legal system.
YNY provides alternative-to-incarceration programs that directly address over-criminalization of low-income youth of color. A 2015 report revealed that in New York State 72% of arrested 16-17-year-olds are Black or Latino. In New York City, 95% of incarcerated youth are Black or Latino. While New York State is currently adopting legislation to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility, it is still presently one of only two states in the US that prosecutes 16-17-year-olds as adults, despite the fact that the brain’s capacity to handle reasoning, consequential thinking, and impulses does not fully mature until age 25. Many youth subject to this system incur lifelong criminal records which significantly constrain opportunities for employment, higher education, student loans, and affordable housing. This deeply impacts not only the teens themselves, but the communities of which they are a part.
Our transformational arts restorative justice programs run in 1-day, 4-week, and 8-week durations as we continue to receive requests for programs from our criminal justice partners. Each program culminates in a public art project that brings young people and court professionals together in a humanizing way. To date, 99% of 567 participants have graduated from YNY programs. 438 of those are from our court-mandated programs, the vast majority of whom have had their cases dismissed and sealed, leaving them free of the lifelong collateral consequences of an adult criminal record.
YNY has grown from a start-up organization providing occasional arts diversion programs to becoming an established organization with criminal justice partnerships providing go-to diversion programs to the courts for 16–20- and 21–25-year-olds in several Brooklyn court parts. YNY envisions a gradual sustainable scaling of program offerings over the next three years (FY18-FY20) meeting the need for developmentally-appropriate legal sentencing.
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Recommendations

Kate van Voorhees

I became a YNY supporter a few years back. It was obvious to me at the time that if rich white boys didn't go to jail for jumping turnstiles or selling pot, then neither should black boys. It was the split reality of boarding school vs jail that drove me to the cause. As I was once a shy, insecure high school kid who found my voice through a boarding school English teacher, I now see the YNY youth find their voice through the program's wise staff. What is happening at YNY is all the good you get from a pastor, a mentor, a community of caring peers. The right tools are offered and the youth that enter the program most often blossom. If only YNY could be there for every teen that's started down the wrong path. Transformative. Transcendent.

Clifford van Voorhees Principal at C. I. van Voorhees & Associates

YNY has my wholehearted recommendation. I founded a charter school in the South Bronx, and worked in that school full time for 7 years. During that time, I met many families with teens in jail as we educated their siblings. The siblings did very well, but those in jail wasted their time, and worse, had reinforced feelings of hopelessness, usually leading them back to jail, and damaging the whole family.

We need ways to replace jail with programs that draw out the constructive talents and goodness of these teens, as YNY does so well.

YNY is a successful alternative to incarceration, saving the lives of children with real potential, and saving tax payers considerable expense in the process.

Young New Yorkers is also committed to bringing positive systemic change to the ways that teenagers are prosecuted as adults, offering a path away from mass incarceration.

Clifford van Voorhees
co-founder and former Chief Operating Officer, Hyde Leadership Charter School

Irina Tehrani

I’m writing to express my strong support for YNY. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the inception of YNY and I’ve been following their work ever since. It’s inspiring to see the dedication of the YNY team. Their work is transforming young lives when they are most vulnerable and therefore making a difference in a geometric progression in their communities. I’d like to see this program grow and provide an alternative to incarceration for more young people.

Irina Tehrani
Architect

Matt Kipilman

I give my whole hearted support and recommendation to Young New Yorkers. I’ve been involved as a young ambassador and volunteer for the last 4 years now. YNY is important to me because it’s a unique program that approaches the problems with the criminal justice system with creativity and compassion. The programs give youths an opportunity to learn, be heard, and express themselves in an impactful way. It’s been inspiring to see how the graduates from the program are moved to improve themselves and make their lives better. The end of program exhibitions are a special place for graduates to share and express what they’ve learned in a nurturing and productive environment. I’ve enjoyed watching the program grow and evolve over the years. The potentials for the program are great.

Matt Kipilman
Architect
YNY Young Ambassador

Daniel Littlewood

I've watched Young New Yorkers grown from a tiny grassroots project to a... well, a less-tiny grassroots project that has helped hundreds of young people. We need alternatives to mass incarceration, and YNY is a step in the right direction towards ending it.

Daniel Littlewood
Video Producer

Lawrence Ciarallo Artist/Graphic Designer at Art Is For Everyone LLC

YNY has my unconditional recommendation. As a working artist and program assistant for numerous 1-Day Programs, I can testify to the transformative nature of YNY and their art-based programming. I am consistently inspired by the diversity of our supporting community. (artists, judges, law enforcement, district attorneys, lawyers, etc.) YNY is a true alternative to incarceration and works at the local level to end mass incarceration. For those reasons, and many more, I unequivocally recommend Young New Yorkers.

Lawrence Ciarallo
artist & designer

kristine herman

YNY has my highest recommendation. As the Supervisor of the Policy & Advocacy Team at Brooklyn Defender Services, I have witnessed the incredible impact YNY has - not only on young people with criminal justice involvement but also on the various justice system professionals as well. I have attended nearly every exhibition, and I am constantly moved by the young people who go through YNY programs. YNY is a powerful, ground-breaking organization that uses an arts-based approach to help young people satisfy criminal charges and use their voices toward much-needed systemic change. It is without hesitation that I recommend YNY.

Kristine Herman, LMSW, Esq.
Supervisor, Policy & Advocacy
Brooklyn Defender Services

Mary McLeod

I am writing in strongest support of Young New Yorkers and Rachel Barnard. In only a few years, Rachel has done an amazing job in providing alternative programs involving public art for youth who would have been sentenced as an adult. I've met some of the wonderful graduates of the program and all speak with total enthusiasm and admiration of Rachel.
This is an important organization--and my hope is that it will grown in the next few years, offering alternative programs to an even greater number of youths.
Mary McLeod
Professor of Architecture