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    Can We End Juvenile Incarceration?

    By Unusual Suspects Theatre Company 5 years agoNo Comments

    Dear friends,

    Together with the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network, The Unusual Suspects are on the front lines of a groundbreaking change for the Los Angeles juvenile justice system. It’s called the L.A. Model and we are part of the pilot program happening now at the juvenile detention facility, Campus Kilpatrick.

    We believe that arts engagement is uniquely able to divert kids from the school-to-prison pipeline. This is the first installment of a 3-part series, wherein we hope to educate and inspire you to join US in our quest to make arts intervention a system-wide alternative to juvenile incarceration!

    When it comes to helping kids write new story lines for their future, all of us here are incredibly passionate and hope you will be too!


    Photo Credit: The Advancement Project

    From Punishment to Rehabilitation

    Los Angeles has the largest probation department in the country and an historically broken juvenile justice system. A frenzy of anti-crime sentiment in the 1990s caused a prison boom that our kids got caught up in. Only in recent years has the number of incarcerated youth started to decline. This tough-on-youth-crime stance ignored a growing body of scientific research demonstrating that teenagers simply don’t have brains that are sufficiently developed to provide the kinds of judgment and impulse controls expected of adults. And almost more alarming, we have come to understand that the majority of incarcerated youth are themselves victims of trauma. Imprisoning them in outdated institutional facilities with no support services fails them, their families and our communities.

    This is where the L.A. Model for juvenile rehabilitation and Campus Kilpatrick come in. Aimed at improving care for youth in L.A. County juvenile detention facilities, the idea behind the model is that these kids are incarcerated less so because of what they have done, but because of what they’ve been deprived of. They have been deprived of the opportunities to learn right from wrong and they lack the resources – a sense of safety, a stable home, a meaningful education, a feeling of stability – that enable healthy development.

    By design, the L.A. Model is a holistic, therapeutic, trauma-informed, collaborative approach to providing these kids and their families the tools and opportunities they’ve been missing. Thankfully, arts education plays a key role, and The Unusual Suspects are honored to be AIYN’s first network partner to kick off year-round arts programming at Campus Kilpatrick.

    For our first 3 month residency, we will conduct both in-class and after school workshops for the 24 young men incarcerated there providing them each with 10 hours a week of our unique blend of theatre-arts education and mentoring.

    Campus Kilpatrick is just the beginning. Over time, the L.A Model is expected to become the model for ALL the county’s juvenile facilities with the ultimate goal of becoming a statewide and then countrywide approach to juvenile rehabilitation rather than solely punitive incarceration.

    I’m ready to help!

    Read The Children’s Defense Fund report with a summary & roadmap of the L.A. Model.

    Watch Nadine Burke Harris’ Ted Talk
    How Childhood Trauma Effects Health

    They Need You to Play a Role

    Good intentions are not enough. We have designed a 12-week playwriting & performance residency for the incarcerated young men at Campus Kilpatrick with trauma-informed practices built into the curriculum.

    To fully fund this program,
    we need to raise $10,000 by the end of the month.

    The good news is we are already a quarter of the way there, thanks to a generous $2500 contribution from our Angel Contributors, Brigitte & Hart Hanson!

    Join Brigitte & Hart in making arts an alternative to juvenile incarceration.
    Every amount is meaningful and every dollar raised helps an incarcerated young man write a new narrative for his future.

    I’m ready to help!

    Thank you!

    The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.


      Kilpatrick Campaign
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