Dec 04 2013

Voices of the Unheard: Formerly Incarcerated Youth Use Art as Tool for Liberation

The United States not only imprisons more people than any other country in the world, it also holds the record for the largest number of youth behind bars.

It was a year ago that the Supreme Court ruled the practice of sentencing juveniles to life sentences without parole was unconstitutional. And, while the ruling seemed to offer some hope to the thousands of inmates who were sentenced as juveniles, it did not apply retroactively to those already incarcerated, leaving the decision to grant parole up to individual States.

Over 2,000 inmates across the nation are still serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children.

A recent study published in Pediatrics showed that by the time American youth reached the age of 23, 41% of them were arrested at least once for something other than a minor traffic violation.

Often growing up in fractured families, many American youth, particularly those who are formerly incarcerated, have few ways of expressing their views and their frustrations.

Seeing the tremendous need for incarcerated youth to heal, actress, author and activist Akuyoe Graham started the Spirit Awakening Foundation in 1995 to help children through meditation, creative writing and drama.

On Saturday, the group will hold its seventh annual event showcasing the written work of formerly imprisoned youth called Voices of the Unheard at the Los Angeles Theater Center in downtown LA.

GUEST: Akuyoe Graham is founder of Spirit Awakening Foundation, author of “The Little Book of Transformation/7 Days to a Brand New You,” and creator of a writing program “Writes of Passage” which was heralded by California’s State Department of Justice as “innovative and effective” in preventing youth gang violence;

Quiyona Bridges is a “graduate”- of the Spirit Awakening creative writing and life skills program, who was in juvenile detention in Santa Clarita as a teenager some years ago, currently a Sociology major in college, and mentors other students in the program.

What: Voices of the unheard is a Spoken word event featuring probation and foster youth alongside guest artists Hilary Swank, Marianne Williamson, Frances Fisher, Rev. Michael Beckwith, Al Rodrigo, Jamie Socci, Gary Dourdan, Michael Colyar, Gerald Rivers, and others..

When: Saturday December 7th at 2:30pm

Where: The Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 South Spring Street, LA, CA 90013

For more info and tickets: Call 866.811.4111. Tickets are $25.00 general; $15.00 students and seniors; $100.00 vip- all seats include after party.

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