Dec 6: Understanding & Resisting the Criminalization of Chicago Youth – An Event

Understanding & Resisting the Criminalization of Chicago Youth –
An Event

There has been a lot of discussion in Chicago about issues related to youth criminalization (including the school-to-prison pipeline, juvenile justice, and more). For those who want to learn more and continue the dialogue, you are invited to participate in this event.

When: Thursday, December 6 2012
Time: 9:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Room 244.
Info: Apply to attend this event by November 27. Accepted participants will be contacted by November 30 – SPACE IS LIMITED; Click HERE to apply for this event.
Cost: We are not charging for this event however we are asking that all accepted participants bring a breakfast and/or snack item to share with others.

9:30 — Registration

10:00 to 12:30 p.m — “Understanding the Criminalization of Youth.”
Facilitated by Mariame Kaba, Project NIA

The goal of this workshop is to increase awareness of the systematic criminalization of young people, specifically youth of color in Chicago, and to address the myths of “criminal youth” to prevent young people from being victimized by it.

Workshop participants will leave with a better understanding of the individual and social forces that lead to the hypercriminalization of youth of color in Chicago.

In his book “Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys,” sociologist Victor Rios’s suggests that “criminalization was a central, pervasive and ubiquitous phenomenon that impacted the everyday lives of the young people [he] studied in Oakland.” He added:

“By the time they formally entered the penal system, many of these young men were already caught up in a spiral of hypercriminalization and punishment. The cycle began before their first arrest — it began as they were harassed, profiled, watched, and disciplined at young ages, before they had committed any crimes. Eventually, that kind of attention led many of them to fulfill the destiny expected of them.”

Rios defines hypercriminalization as “the process by which an individual’s everyday behaviors and styles become ubiquitously treated as deviant, risky, threatening, or criminal, across social contexts.” This workshop will explore the real life consequences of “hypercriminalization” for young people in Chicago.

Facilitator Bio: Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator, and writer who lives in Chicago. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting youth leadership development. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a mission to end youth incarceration. Mariame has also co-founded several other organizations including the Chicago Freedom School. She is a published author and runs the blog “Prison Culture.” Mariame is a teacher and has served on numerous nonprofit boards.

12:30 to 1:30 — Lunch on your own

1:45 to 3:30 p.m. — The Social Service Industry to Prison Pipeline: Policing, Security, & Surveillance of LGBTQ Youth of Color Spaces (or How Not To Send Youth to Prison From Your Social Service or Faith-Based Project)

In recent years, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force ( and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence ( have released reports documenting police violence against Transgender and Queer people of color. The Young Women’s Empowerment Project ( also released research documenting the realities of institutional violence on young women and Transgender youth—revealing alarming information about the barriers and discrimination young people experience accessing social services, health care, and law enforcement. For more than a decade, FIERCE (, a NYC-based LGBT youth of color organizing project, has been organizing around police violence and gentrification—more recently Stop & Frisk, a discriminatory police practice targeting Black and Brown communities.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to explore strategies and best practices for LGBT organizations, youth organizations, and social service agencies seeking to reduce the impacts of oppressive and violent policing, security, and surveillance.

We will focus on the following questions:

1.  What can we do to reduce the impact of institutional violence in our organizations?
2. How can we leverage organizational resources—including staff and youth—to create spaces that value restorative or transformative justice practices?
3. What strategies are we using to interrupt, prevent, and transform violence in our programs and services?
4. What policies, procedures, and practices can we develop to minimize the harmful impacts of police or security in our spaces, on our block, and in our communities?

Facilitator Bio: Lara Brooks, Director of the Broadway Youth Center (BYC), has worked with street-based and homeless youth, survivors of violence, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) youth for more than a decade. Paying special attention to the intersection of trauma, harm reduction, oppression and resilience, Brooks coordinated the BYC’s basic needs program for street-based, homeless, and LGBTQ young people for its first five years. Lara Brooks was a board member for the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, a youth organizing project by and for young women and transgender youth in the sex trade and street economies, from January 2008 until March 2010 and is still an adult ally. Brooks trains locally and nationally on issues related to LGBT intimate partner and sexual violence; harm reduction; alternatives to policing; and community accountability. Prior to the BYC, Lara was a sexual assault counselor for LGBT adults and young people in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.

Click HERE to apply for this event.


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