At his announcement of his state’s new plan to replace its youth prisons with community-based services, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker introduced 21-year-old Diasee.
“When I was 15, I was charged as an adult after taking the life of another person,” he said. "I grew up in a violent area, but that’s not an excuse. I live with what I’ve done every day.”
After a hearing where the charge was changed to a youth offense, Diasee spent five years in three Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) youth prisons. As part of the plan for him to reenter his community, he began working with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., a national nonprofit that partners with justice and social services systems in 29 states and the District of Columbia to provide community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and out-of-home placement.
The new IDJJ YAP program is one of six community-based youth justice start-ups across the U.S. funded by the Safely Home Fund, an initiative implemented by YAP in partnership with Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR). YAP and CJJR collaborated to create the unique grant to provide a year of funding to seed innovative community-based rehabilitative services for the highest-risk youth, many whose histories include serious offenses, multiple arrests, and lengthy out-of-home placements.