From the news, images on this site, and your personal observation, it is strikingly clear that racial equality is one area seriously lacking fairness when it comes to justice. Since 2007, Sedgwick County’s juvenile justice reform has been working towards fairness and equality—even before a kid enters the courtroom. When a youth of color is sitting in intake at a juvenile detention facility, it is more than likely that injustice has already occurred in their encounter with the justice system. With racial profiling an ever-present threat, and less resources allocated to communities that are mostly people of color, it is clear that to make progress toward racial equality, a change needs to be made before kids are behind bars (or even in the cop car.)
In this department, Sedgwick Co. made meaningful strides with their DMC (Disproportionate Minorities Contact) Action Initiative, funded by Models for Change. From 2009-2011 the county saw a 31% and 26% reduction in arrests for African American and Latino Youth, respectively, over the course of 3 years. Though the road to justice can be painfully slow, strides such as these must be acknowledged when and where they are made.
Even with progress on the outs, kids are still serving time within the walls of institutions. Sedgwick County Juvenile Detention Facility is a 108-bed facility in Wichita, Kansas. Though life in the facility is no summer camp, there is comparatively much worse out there. The youth have participated in an art project where they leave vibrantly-colored handprints on a wall of the facility. Corrections officers have to come up with activities once a month, so they are engaged in the full process. The images below show more positive strides in Sedgwick County.
Stay tuned for stories of the youth inside Sedgwick County Juvenile Detention Facility in the coming weeks.