The number of teenagers under the age of 18 who are held in adult jails and prisons in Pennsylvania has increased drastically over the last fifteen years. The Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP) is building a youth-led movement to stop this trend by ending the practice of automatically trying and incarcerating young people as adults. Through its work in the Philadelphia jails, YASP provides space for incarcerated young people to express themselves creatively and to develop as leaders both within and beyond the prison walls. Young people who have been through the adult court system are at the forefront of YASP, leading the movement to keep teenagers out of adult prisons and to create new possibilities for youth around the city.
What We Do
YASP conducts art, poetry, music, and empowerment workshops at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (P.I.C.C.) and Riverside Correctional Facility (R.F.C.) every Saturday with young people under 18 who are being tried as adults. We also show our documentary and do leadership building workshops at schools and colleges to teach youth about the flaws of the criminal justice system and how to avoid a a life of crime.
YASP’s work with young people continues even after their time in the adult prison system. On Thursdays, YASP has “open hours” from 4:00pm-7:00pm to provide these teens help with finding employment, writing resumés and cover letters, continuing education, homework, college applications, etc.
YASP participates in rallies and demonstrations, and conducts door knocking campaigns for our petition to repeal or amend Act 33, the law that allows youth to be automatically charged as adults in PA.
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