Launched in 2009, Project NIA is an advocacy, organizing, popular education, research, and capacity-building center with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. We believe that several simultaneous approaches are necessary in order to develop and sustain community-based alternatives to the system of policing and incarceration. Our mission is to dramatically reduce the reliance on arrest, detention, and incarceration for addressing youth crime and to instead promote the use of restorative and transformative practices, a concept that relies on community-based alternatives.
Our goals are:
1. To empower diverse community members to take leadership in addressing issues faced by youth impacted by the juvenile justice system.
2. To develop effective community-based (rather than criminal legal) means of accountability for violence and crime – using a restorative and transformational justice approach.
3. To eradicate youth incarceration.
Project NIA supports youth in trouble with the law as well as those victimized by violence and crime, through community-based alternatives to the criminal legal process, and we partner with numerous stakeholders to create such alternatives. We advocate for redirecting resources from youth incarceration to youth opportunities.
In Swahili, NIA means “with purpose.” Ultimately, the main purpose for Project NIA is to prepare communities to get involved in creating an effective strategy to address violence and crime.