A Peacemaking Project by Jasmine B.
What is the injustice we are solving?
I am a product of the foster care system and have faced the oppression, disadvantages and negative effects first hand. Foster care is a massive system --with significant problems-- that is rarely ever talked about in mass media.
Fostering IncarcerationJasmine B. 31 December 1969 19:00 My name is Jasmine Babers. I am in my third year at the University of Illinois Chicago. I was born into the foster care system after my birth mother was found to have drugs in her system. My birth father has been in the criminal justice system as well as a few of my birth siblings. I was fortunate enough to be adopted when I was five years old. This background knowledge is important for my project, Fostering Incarceration.
In some mild research, I found that there is indeed a correlation between the foster care system and the justice system. In a 2008 study, it was estimated that about 14% of all incarcerated people have been in the foster care system at some point in their lives. In a study conducted by the University of Chicago a few years ago, it was seen that about 1 in 3 people who have been in foster care have been a part of the criminal justice system at some point in their lives. Also, in the state of Illinois only 49 scholarships are awarded for youth who have been in foster care even though hundreds apply annually. Only 3% of youth who’ve been in the foster care system graduate college overall. This initiative will do a multitude of things that ultimately combat—what I feel—are two of your three reform goals, reducing mass incarceration and promoting fairness in our systems of justice in the U.S. I see the project focusing on 3 main branches, one being a publication, the second would be policy/legislation and the third would be social media and awareness.
Fostering Incarceration would be the name of the book which would highlight the stories of women and girls who fit some basic criteria; either they have aged out of the foster system and have found success beyond the system, and women who was in the foster care system and was incarcerated, a girl who is currently in the foster care system and in Juvenile detention (protection of identity and consent needs to be evaluated in order to see if and how much of their information can be given) etc. Not only would this book tell the stories of these women and girls who have found themselves at the intersection between the foster care system and the justice system, but it will be a work of art, complete with quotes, research and statistics, photography, sketches and any poems or written pieces they subjects have that they would like to share. The purpose of this would be one, to shine a light on the correlation between these two systems, celebrate those who have overcome the odds, and tell the stories of those who fell victim to a world and systems that were built against them.
The next branch, policy and legislation would deal with fixing a piece of the foster care system to lower the number of people going from the foster care system to the criminal justice system. To do this, I plan on introducing the idea of free tuition to any public school in the state of Illinois for anyone who has been in the foster care system and is accepted into the university. Backing this policy would be a few strong points. One being that according to a study conducted in California in 2011, nearly HALF of inmates who transitioned from the foster system to incarceration made the jump in 5 years or less. Seeing as how you age out of the system at 18, that means that about half of incarcerated foster care youth were behind bars (NOT receiving degrees) by their 24th birthday. Secondly, in 2016 on average annually, Illinois spends $38,268 per inmate, while Western Illinois University (a public school in the state of Illinois) has an in-state tuition rate of $12,217 in 2016.
The last and most broad branch would be to start some sort of social media campaign with strong hashtags and videos that captured the essence of the project, as well as some guest blogpost, to promote the book and legislation.
I believe that I am a good fit for this project because on my background in community service and the foster care system and even the incarceration system. Having received one of the 49 scholarships and talking to others who hadn’t, I realized that it was by chance or grace, or whatever it is that you believe in that I was fortunate enough to make it to college having come from the background that I came from. I want to draw attention to an intersection that has been overlooked for far too long, the foster system and the justice system and bring about fairness and reduce mass incarceration.
I am truly passionate about this project and hope I can have the opportunity to see it through.