When JeDarrian Jones was released from Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center at the age of 15, he had spent a month and a half in custody on robbery and drug dealing charges — crimes he had committed because he needed the money. His probation officer made a suggestion: Get a job at Café Momentum.
Like other social enterprises focused on helping formerly incarcerated people, Café Momentum, located in Dallas, provides paid work for young people looking to get another start. But it also layers multiple forms of support — education, basic supplies and real-world skills — that are key to staying out of the system but hard for many youth to find at home.
In a single year, an estimated 2.1 million youth under the age of 18 will be arrested in the United States. While there are no national figures available for juvenile recidivism rates, a 2015 CSG Justice Center report found juveniles are much more likely than adults to commit another crime after incarceration.
When minors leave incarceration, they are usually still dependent on their parents or guardians, which means they have less control than adults in making choices for themselves.
“Teens are less independent so they may be going right back to the same environment that was problematic in the first place,” said Luke Hyde, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “Adults have more autonomy.”
To address this challenge, Café Momentum’s programming goes beyond the workplace, offering a safe environment for the teens to turn to after their release.
Read the full article at PBS.