What inspired Protect Our Rights:



  1. Better classes/programs in school. (Teaching more about taxes, laws, parenting, social skills, social justice issues, etc.)

  2. End youth homelessness.

  3. Increase in the amount of mental health facilities that will provide access to good quality therapy, psychiatry, substance abuse counseling, etc.

  4. No juvenile should be incarcerated for a nonviolent crime.

  5. Stop sending juveniles/young adults to jail/prison due to substance abuse diseases. This is taking away a person's freedom due to a medical condition they have. It is declared a medical disease by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Incarceration should qualify as discrimination for simple possession.

  6. Juveniles/Young adults on supervision for nonviolent crimes should be supervised by a behavior therapist, not a probation officer. Therapists are more qualified for rehabilitating individuals with behavior issues than probation officers.

  7. Felons should be able to get their real estate license, bondsman license, or any other license available to the general public.

  8. Every U.S. citizen, INCLUDING INMATES, should have the right to vote.

  9. Ending mandatory minimum sentences

  10. Provide more no-cost extracurricular activities for youth so they can remain active and more likely to stay out of trouble.

  11. Hire qualified staff and provide more guidance/counseling in schools.

  12. Do away with prison-like schools.

  13. Free substance abuse programs for juveniles available in school and out of school.

  14. Stop out of school suspension. Why kick them out of school when we are supposed to keep them in school?

  15. Teach more education and awareness in school on the effects of drugs on a person's life, including their families, friends, and possibly even community. (D.A.R.E. should be taught on a high school level. D.A.R.E. was taught in elementary when I was in going, high school students are the ones who need it.)

  16. Teach high school students about all the community resources available to them for when they graduate. (Goodwill, unemployment offices, and other organizations in the community can provide a lot of help with jobs, school, training, housing, financial support, etc. They don't teach those types of things in school.)

  17. Hold more community events to promote unity.

  18. Access to more education opportunities for those incarcerated to provide them a better chance of a successful reentry into society.

  19. Increase the quality of incarcerated individuals' environment to reduce the amount of stress and violence. This will help inmates better prepare for reentry. Inmates are forced to live in a negative environment but are expected to come out positive. That doesn’t really make any sense.

  20. End immunity for government officials. It's strange how the people who enforce the laws are immune from consequences if they do not follow them.

  21. Increase the public-school systems budget.

  22. More extensive training and background checks required for police. They need to be qualified to serve the community. Serving the community is not just incarcerating and issuing citations to citizens, it's helping them do better and providing resources that will make a difference.

  23. EXTREME probation/parole reform.

  24. Those convicted of drug charges should not be denied nutritional and/or housing benefits (SNAP/EBT, WIC, TANF etc.) - SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM LAWSUIT FILED IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF NC 23CV320 ON 4/20/2023

I was 17 years old when this happened. I was still just a kid. Since I have already been convicted, I can tell my story without fear of conviction. I was in the wrong for what I did, but I served my time. A cruel and unusual one. The United States juvenile justice system has to change. This could dramatically improve the future society of America. The butterfly effect. I'm concerned about our juvenile justice system neglecting to provide adequate care to juvenile offenders who are released from custody and/or under their supervision. This is an absolute disaster for future life in America. In 2011, by the time I was 17 years old, it’s sad to say I thought being incarcerated was normal. Most institutions in today's American society would need a lot of work to make them considerable for human living. I get that it isn't a Holiday Inn, but they need more programs/rehabilitation services and insights from people who have been in these situations. We offer a lot of information on what could have helped us more, but it’s hard to find people who want to help.

I was only 17 years old. Releasing a child, that is 17 years old, with no family in the state of Georgia to a homeless shelter isn't acceptable. The court system had banned me from communicating with my grandmother, the only person I knew in Georgia, and told me I couldn’t go to her house or the county she lives in. That is child neglect, abuse, and endangerment. Albany, GA was an extremely rough part of the state. In 1988, Albany, GA was listed in the paper as the “Murder capital of America.” The Georgia department of corrections was fully aware of the situation. They should have known it was wrong and made provisions to allow me to return to the state of North Carolina where all of my family was. I had just come to Georgia to visit my father and my grandmother for a summer. I had just met my father for the first time in 14 years, since I was 3 years old. My father did not reside or have a house in Georgia for me to live in after my release. He was working in Pennsylvania. He could not afford to just quit his job and come back to Georgia. My mother and father discussed getting a cheap apartment, but the financial aspect of that definitely couldn’t be met. I was told by the Department of Corrections that I couldn’t go back to NC and that I had to find a place to stay in Georgia. I reached out to the Albany Rescue Mission after all the other places saying I couldn’t stay due to the fact that I was underage and didn’t have any kind of identification. I was forced to go to the rescue mission on December 27th 2011. The justice system needs more attention brought to what this type of cruel punishment exposes youth too. It exposes them to things that they should never be exposed to. I don’t know who those people were. I wasn’t even from there. I was even forced to leave the homeless shelter in the middle of January by a minister and had to sleep in the downtown park area. The one with the big turtle. I hated it there. I applied for the Army in January of 2012. My 18th birthday was coming up. I was told no due to my charges in Stephens County, GA and the fact I was on probation. I was trying my best to do good. All of this is documented with the facilities I reported to and resided at. Everything I am saying is the absolute truth. I was reporting to the Dougherty County probation office the month of January 2012. They knew my circumstances and refused to make the necessary changes that should have been made. They cannot do that to a child. Humans are creatures that form with the environment that they are placed in. I honestly felt kidnapped. I just wanted to leave the homeless shelter. I was willing to do anything to get the money to leave. I even thought about and came close to actually taking an air compressor off someone’s truck who stayed at the mission. After attempting to grab it though, I thought about the situation, and didn’t want to go through what I had just gone through and I put it back. The Albany police department arrested me for this at the Albany rescue mission on January 31st 2012. I was charged with misdemeanor larceny and booked into the county jail. While in the county jail of Albany, GA I began to struggle with depression. I couldn't think about anything but the fact I was never going to see or speak to my grandmother again, and that I was trapped in Georgia. I contacted the Albany rescue mission and they tried to get the charges dropped, along with the victim of the alleged larceny. Luckily, he was an older gentleman who had sympathy for me. He knew my situation and wanted the charges dropped as well. He even wrote to the district attorney's office and told them so. The court system disregarded this and still convicted me of larceny for something that wasn't even stolen. This violated my probation in Stephens County. Stephens County transported me back to their county within a day or two after my conviction. Since I had taken the first offender act, the same judge who had just sentenced me was allowed to re-sentence me to 10 years of probation, and another 1 year in the county jail, along with the original sentencing/probation/bond release conditions set forth on the Dec. 20th 2011 hearing. Although this situation made me a stronger person, it put me through a lot of things that I wouldn’t have gone through. I am grateful for what happened, due to the lessons I have learned through life. But, no 17 year old should have to endure that. This problem needs to be corrected. This whole situation is wrong. I cannot stop thinking that I cannot be the only one who has gone through something similar. We all deserve justice. I know I make my own decisions, but I’ve never been a violent person. I just made a mistake when I was 17 that has caused me a lot of hardships that could have been avoided if the justice system did what was right. How does the government tell a 17 year old child he can’t go home to his family, then release him to a city's homeless shelter that was once labeled the murder capital of America? You can’t throw a child in those situations. That’s when a child learns the most in those years. I was only taught and set up for failure. If this situation was handled differently and the court system would have actually looked into my situation and tried to understand, like they should in every juvenile's case, then my life would probably be extremely different than it is today. I deserved the opportunity to enroll in school. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court recognized that it is “doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”. I needed the medication the doctor prescribed me, but I couldn't afford or pick-up. I didn't have access to transportation to go to important things like doctor appointments, school, work etc. I deserved the opportunity to be with my family at 17. Family is supposed to be a support group, I needed that badly at the time. I didn't have anyone to help me or anyone to talk to about my problems. I didn't have access to and didn't have the knowledge of the necessary resources I needed to succeed. At the time, I didn't even think that success was possible after something like that. Many youths today that go through mental health problems, substance abuse problems, family issues, etc. still do not have these resources that they need and deserve. These children remain in a troubled state of mind throughout adulthood if there is no intervention/support provided to encourage them to change. These struggles will continue to get worse as they get older. We will never see change unless we help these individuals by showing our support and changing how we discipline adolescents that are having behavioral issues. If some of the issues mentioned on Protect Our Rights homepage were addressed and policies were put into place to prevent these types of injustices, then maybe I wouldn’t have been taught that a 17 year old doing time was normal. Maybe I wouldn’t have been subject to the criminal world of things. Maybe I wouldn't have missed years with my family and would have the proper relationship with them that I should. They make drug rehab centers for children and adult drug users. No child should be confined for a non-violent drug offense. The justice system is only making the problem worse by throwing these juveniles in the jails and prisons with the violent offenders and teaching them worse crimes than before. Most of the time offenders come out worse than better because the court system doesn’t spend money on the necessary resources to correct the problem. The solution to problems is not kidnapping a juvenile, throwing them in the wild, and saying you can’t see your family for 10 years. This type of treatment is inhumane. What if this was your child?