incarceration youth - yfc

Dedicated to Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration

October 25, 2021

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YFC Creates Profound Relationships Pointing Youth to Christ

There is an epidemic among American youth today—juvenile incarceration. While the number of youth arrests has receded in the past 20 years. There is still an excess of youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system. Despite research stating that putting youth in confinement actually results in a 33% higher likelihood that the individual is more likely to repeat their offense, governmental systems continue to funnel teens in tough places to detention centers. This pattern of incarceration only continues into adulthood, and it’s easy for youth in the justice system to feel trapped in this cycle.

A solution to break this pattern

YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry is dedicated to coming alongside youth in the juvenile justice system through modeling how Jesus cares and is present even behind locked doors. By walking in relationship with one another and with Christ, YFC helps stop the cycle of incarceration among America’s youth.

Chelsie Coleman, the new Youth For Christ USA Juvenile Justice Lead, recently commented on this cycle, stating, “We see these kids come back to juvenile corrections facilities over and over again. In some states, 80% of young people who get arrested will get arrested again. This statistic alone tells us that we can’t incarcerate trauma. Trauma begets trauma. And without intervention, our kids caught in the system eventually become adults caught in the system, perpetuating a cycle of generational trauma that seems nearly impossible to break.”

Relationships are the key to changing the pattern of incarceration. Coming alongside youth in a variety of juvenile justice settings—including detention centers, correctional facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers or emergency shelters—YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry reminds youth that they are not alone in their struggles while continually pointing them to Christ. By walking through these hard times with youth who are incarcerated, YFC shows those affected by the justice system that they are not just there offering a quick solution—they are committed to living life alongside them.

Coleman remarked, “The youth in these detention centers need to know how Jesus cares for their soul, but they also need to know how he cares for their immediate, emotional and physical pain. What does it look like to walk with God in the everyday crisis? When we just saw mom get arrested? When we don’t have anywhere to sleep tonight? When we’re experiencing one trauma after another? This kind of work is long-term. It is relational. And it must be holistic.”

Jacob Bland, YFC USA President and CEO, stated, “There is a lack of awareness and misconceptions around the Juvenile Justice System. Young people in the Juvenile Justice System often feel overlooked, and it’s our passion to make them feel seen, heard, and valued. Juvenile Justice Ministry leaders aim to be a steady voice and presence in their lives, intentionally postured as humble and authentic mentors.

“Many of the teenagers we meet face adverse situations such as relational trauma, racial trauma, community violence, and lack of access to basic needs. It is during these moments of crisis that our leaders invest in reciprocal trusted friendships with our young people, who are facing pivotal life challenges. We ultimately build relationships with young people to introduce them to Christ and uncover God’s story of Hope in their lives.”

Chelsie Coleman was recently named YFC USA’s Juvenile Justice Lead on October 11. The role exists to mobilize faith communities everywhere to come alongside justice involved youth in healing-centered, authentic Christ sharing relationships.