On January 11, 2012, in an unprecedented action, a group of youth I've been working with at Ventura youth prison posted an online petition calling for the superintendent to fix decrepit and disgusting conditions, such as overflowing toilets, filthy showers, and floors stained with chemical agents sprayed at them.
Last weekend, I traveled to the Ventura Youth Prison in Camarillo, CA. There I joined families of incarcerated youth, formerly incarcerated youth, and allies from across the state to decry the abuses of the Division of Juvenile Justice. Their stories reveal a system that is violent, abusive and ineffective at rehabilitating youth. The pain and passion of the family members inspired me to continue to speak out for California youth.
See and hear highlights from the rally in Ventura:
I had forgotten their stories. I had put away in my mind the incarceration of two of my younger siblings when they were teenagers. My brother was maced into signing his confession, and imprisoned for almost a year. My baby sister was sent hours away from home to a correctional facility in Arizona.