Joel Castón elected to the DC ANC while still inside

The Young Men Emerging Unit meets participatory democracy

Take a couple minutes out of your day to watch this incredible profile https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/wednesday-october-13-2021/616742d0a5964c37fa1fb3c1?jwsource=cl

Joel Castón: “I discovered that not only can we vote, we can run for office.”

Alzo Slade/VICE News: “Meet Joel Castón, the first person in DC to win public office while still locked up.”

Joel is one of the founding mentors of the Young Men Emerging Unit (YME), an experimental unit within the DC Jail that is leading the national conversation on how we can create facilities designed to enhance, not destroy, peoples’ humanity.

There is a growing movement to create approaches specifically designed for emerging adults in the justice system. Reforms include new developmentally-tailored approaches to institutional care, court processes, community supervision, and community-based resources. This is in contrast to the common practice of treating justice system-involved emerging adults in the same way older adults are treated, despite their developmental differences. These age-appropriate approaches will result in improved public safety outcomes as well as enhanced safety in facilities for incarcerated young people and staff. Washington, D.C. is one of several jurisdictions throughout the country pursuing such reforms. The developments in D.C. were a result of a work by policymakers, advocates, and practitioners over several years. Young Men Emerging Unit (YME)

Alzo Slade: “Getting those rights [to vote] wasn’t just something promised in the Constitution, after decades in prison it was also a way to reclaim his humanity.”

Alzo Slade: “Did you think it was a pipe dream, or were you like ‘let me just try and see’?”

Joel Castón: “I didn’t even think about winning. I’m always talking about civic engagement, and what it looks like to participate in the democratic process. I just wanted a spark to ignite inside the hearts and minds of, particularly people on the inside, that we need to start thinking like citizens now.”

Joel’s ANC district represents the DC Jail, the nearby women’s shelter, and the luxury Parker Kennedy apartments across the way.

Joel Castón: “What a dichotomy — you have poverty and prosperity living in close proximity. I think that’s a small image of America as a whole.”

Watch this incredible profile of Joel — https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/wednesday-october-13-2021/616742d0a5964c37fa1fb3c1?jwsource=cl

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Reducing society’s reliance on incarceration and the justice system. We inform policymakers, advocates and the media about fair and effective justice reforms.

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Justice Policy Institute

Reducing society’s reliance on incarceration and the justice system. We inform policymakers, advocates and the media about fair and effective justice reforms.