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Kruti Parekh of Youth Justice Coalition is one of Liberty Hill’s 5 New LA Leaders to Watch

February 4th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon

Each year the Liberty Hill Foundation names five local “Leaders to Watch,”
the idea being that these are five exceptional people who are fighting for social justice from the grassroots up, and are on the verge of doing still more.

Liberty Hill has just named this year’s Five to Watch” whom you can find here.

We were particularly happy to note the selection of Kruti Parekh, the Program Coordinator Youth Justice Coalition as one of the five.

The idea behind the Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is to train young people who have been affected by the criminal justice system, to organize to change unjust and ineffective laws, practices and systems that have an impact on them or their families.

With this in mind, in 2007, YJC opened Free L.A. High School, a charter school in partnership with John Muir High School that helps kids who have either dropped out or been pushed out of other schools and who have, in most cases, had some kind of contact with the juvenile justice system. Kruti is the school’s program director. Now at Free LA, in addition to core academic classes like English, Algebra, and Science, students study community organizing, public policy development, the use of media and communications, and advocacy.

Through Kruti’s efforts (along with that of YJC’s executive director, Kim McGill) YJCs young people have learned to effectively protest, lobby, hold press conferences and partner with other organizations in order to have a very real and measurable part in changing public policy. For instance, Kruti and YJC were instrumental in bringing about a new city policy that protects high school and middle school students from receiving $250 tickets for being late to school and other minor infractions, and were among the most consistant and vocal advocates for the successful passage of the Fair Sentencing for Youth act, SB9, which gives some California inmates sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as minors, at least a glimmer of a chance of one day being paroled.

According to Liberty Hill, Kruti’s mission is to help all LA’s kids have a better future by “prioritizing ‘youth opportunities over youth cages.”

We’re for that.

Posted in juvenile justice, LGBT | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Barbara Osborn Says:

    I am so glad that the work of YJC is being legitimated! They are a smart powerful group that advocates for young people, especially kids who’ve been caught up in the criminal justice system. More people should know about them.

  2. Sarah Robin Says:

    While the message behind this program is needed, the actual enactment of it leaves much to be desired. Many students are unhappy here. There is a high drop-out rate. They utilize staff members as teachers who have no official training to serve in the classroom. Many students fail to even pass the state CAHSEE examination. Furthermore the administration is horrible and abusive to its staff. Likewise, these “examples” of youth activism are fraudulent as students are required to attend and given signs to hold. This is not a community-led initiative. Founded by a white woman and run by someone not even from CA, these students are being used yet again.

  3. January 2013 Frontline to Headlines | Liberty Hill: News from the Frontlines Says:

    [...] Hill throughout the year. The wide range of interest is already apparent in these clips, one Witness L.A., a blog that covers the criminal justice system, another from A Wider Bridge,  a blog that is [...]

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