Swalwell Convenes Talks on Juvenile Justice, Breaking Cycle of Poverty and Crime

March 30, 2016
Press Release

PLEASANTON, CA – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) convened a discussion on juvenile justice and how to break the cycle of poverty and crime Wednesday at the Alameda County Juvenile Court and detention facility in San Leandro.

“Crime doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Swalwell, a former Alameda County deputy district attorney.  “To keep our communities safe, we must get to the root of what’s happening. That means taking a closer look at what leads young offenders to break the law, and most importantly, what puts them on a path to a law-abiding, successful life.”

Swalwell hosted a panel discussion with 18 juvenile offenders; Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Terry Wiley, who heads his office’s juvenile justice division; counselor Dameion Brown and Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) Program Manager Ginale Harris from Community Works West; organizer John Jones and programs director Jennifer Kim from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Professor Silvester Henderson from Los Medanos College; the Rev. Wanda Johnson, founder of the Oscar Grant Foundation; youth and college program advisor Todd Davis and manager Georgia Browne from the Hayward-South Alameda County NAACP; and ECO supervisor Melissa Avalos and recruiter Natali Mendoza from the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School.

“These young people carry a lot, they hold it all in, but just because you’re strong doesn’t mean things don’t get heavy,” said Brown, a counselor who was paroled from a life sentence last year. “They need to know it’s OK to ask for that help.”

Participants broke into groups to hear from the offenders on the challenges they expect they will face and the goals they hope to achieve when released. Swalwell then led a larger group discussion about those concerns and how best to address them. Representatives from the community organizations spoke about their programs and resources, and Rev. Johnson spoke about her son Oscar Grant and the positive methods she now teaches for de-escalation and positive interactions with police.

Wiley said afterward that “it was a very powerful program. The speakers were dynamic and Congressman Swalwell did a great job reaching out to the kids – they were very responsive to him and most of the speakers.”

No cameras or recording devices were permitted at the event due to privacy and security concerns.

Swalwell later Wednesday visited Leaders in Community Alternatives, an Oakland provider of electronic monitoring and community-based re-entry services – including counseling for cognitive and behavioral issues, as well as alcohol and substance abuse – aimed at breaking the cycle of recidivism. There, he took part in a roundtable discussion with formerly incarcerated clients at LCA’s Transitional Day Reporting Center about the challenges of re-entry.

For more information about organizations that took part in Wednesday’s events, go to:

Community Works West – https://communityworkswest.org/

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights – https://ellabakercenter.org/

Oscar Grant Foundation – https://www.oscargrantfoundation.info/

NAACP, Hayward-South Alameda County Branch – https://www.facebook.com/HaywardSouthAlamedaCountyNAACP.Official/

San Jose Conservation Corps & Charter School – https://www.sjcccs.org/

Leaders in Community Alternatives – https://lcaservices.com/