juvenile justice reform

One act of love can reform a system failing juvenile offenders

Originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Aqilah David’s journey began with an act of love. Living alone with her 10-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister — partially due to adults in her life struggling with addiction — David told me that at 15 years old, she became the mom.

When she and her siblings were hungry and had no money for food, she stole some for them. That, she said, led to her first arrest. David already had a record because of truancy — she told me she didn’t care about school because, well, she was parenting two children. On paper, that meant she had a record at the time of her arrest. David said that while she’s not proud of what she did, she was young and didn’t think she had options.

David was put on house arrest with an ankle bracelet but violated it to again get food for her siblings. She was arrested again.

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