The Justice Advisors are a team of five young and ambitious individuals who have a passion for amplifying the voices of youth in their communities. Each advisor has direct connections to their neighborhoods because of their heavy presence in grassroots organizing and working with youth, families, and communities. Each Justice Advisor has first or secondhand experience with the criminal or juvenile justice system.
The Justice Advisors are in the process of developing their organizing and advocacy skills and learning about public policy so they can be effective voices influencing how the juvenile justice system is planned, implemented and evaluated. The Justice Advisors are not relying solely on their own experiences. They are partnering with other organizations to lend a listening ear to young people and family members who have gone or are going through the system so that their voices are amplified and listened to from the legislature in Hartford to community meetings.
Currently, the Justice Advisors are most active in Bridgeport as their movement is just getting started. The goal is to have Justice Advisors working, listening, and amplifying across the state.
The Justice Advisors are paid for their time spent working with the Alliance and are able to take advantage of professional development opportunities as well as travel the country to meet with other cohorts of young people who are working to transform the juvenile justice system. The Justice Advisors have an active role in influencing the Alliance’s policy and advocacy agenda and work in partnership with CTJJA staff.
Our current team of exemplary Justice Advisors:
About Aquil: My name is Aquil Crooks, I was born, raised, and currently reside in Bridgeport. I work for two programs: Street Safe and Project Longevity, with the goal to end gun violence in the community. A quote that I live by is. “be the change you want to see “ by Gandhi.
About Iliana: I am from New Haven, CT and I went to high school at Wilbur Cross. I am a Justice Advisor because our kids deserve better and who better to vouch for them than those who share similar experiences.
About Shamare: She is the Program Director of Her Time which is the sister program to Hang Time which was founded by Charles Grady. Hang Time focuses on the effects of mass incarceration and assists men (and women) during the process of re-entry. People have been given opportunities to take advantage of job/career trainings, connected to stable housing, and given the necessities for getting readjusted to society (i.e. state issued i.d.s, interview attire, access to food, etc.).
Her Time follows suit; however, it is exclusive to women and children. Her Time is a proud partner of The Center for Family Justice who contributes by providing a safe space to meet and services surrounding sexual abuse, domestic violence, and social emotional support. Her Time meets every first Thursday of the month.
In addition to Hang Time and Her Time, Shamare is the Director of Girls Reality Empowerment Circle (GREC), a gender specific group that educates girls on issues that are vital to their growth and success in society. GREC was birthed from Community Hands in Action Mentoring Program (CHAMP), which was founded by Reuel Parks. GREC meets every first Saturday of the month at The Center for Family Justice.
Shamare became a Justice Advisor (through the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance) at the behest of Aquil, a colleague and longtime friend. Six months onboard, she is grateful to have accepted the challenge of helping amplify the voice of youth and families so that there are less conversations about us without us.
Shamare loves God, basketball, seafood and all things art. She spends her free time with family and binge–watching her favorite shows.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou
About Shaneese:Shaneese is an active member of the statewide initiative group, Project Longevity, and is a Justice Advisor. She is an active member in her community trying to make a positive change through her lived experiences.
She volunteers her time in her community speaking with troubled youth in schools and in settings that are comfortable for them, such as their neighborhoods or homes.
Shaneese enjoys cooking and writing poems and short stories.
About Yancy: Yancy Singleton is currently in his second year as an AmeriCorps Public Ally. He is serving at Stamford Academy which is a charter school in Stamford CT for youth with behavioral and trauma issues. In his capacity he works as a Youth Development Specialist in an attempt to instill social and emotional values in the students.Yancy is also an Intern with the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution, supporting the development of action-research projects, engagement with Executive Session members, and the overall strategies of the IIP.
Being a Justice Advisor and at the forefront of juvenile justice issues is less of a job description and more of a duty. These young people are our kids, nieces, nephews and cousins so who is going to go that extra mile besides family? I live in these communities and witness these tragedies first hand, I also understand the shared loss we all feel when our young people aren’t given a chance. I want to be a part of providing solutions for our youth and not excuses.