In the News

We're proud of the work of our youth members and their Advocates. Read the latest press coverage of
Youth Justice Network, formerly Friends of Island Academy.

January 04, 2024

The Prison Poets: Revolutionizing Incarceration

At New York’s Rikers Island, poetry workshops organized by the Youth Justice Network are transforming rehabilitation and changing the lives of inmates.

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December 21, 2022

New York nonprofit advocating for formerly incarcerated youths using a converted bus

“Shifting Gears,” a New York program, is a mobile outreach effort by the Youth Justice Network to help formerly incarcerated people find their bearings. Lester Holt spoke with team members about the impact on the community and what the organization means to them.

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October 26, 2022

Using Technology to Support Indigent Defense in New York City

With funding from the Catalyst Grant Program, the nonprofitYouth Justice Network collaborated with the New York Office of Court Administration, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the 18B Assigned Counsel Panel to develop a mobile application on Microsoft’s Power Apps to aid assigned counsel in supporting their clients.

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July 25, 2022

Bus in NYC has resources, trained staff to help young people get their lives on track

With a surge in shootings in some neighborhoods, one nonprofit is working non-stop to help curb the violence. 

Youth Justice Network is equipping a bus with a team of formerly incarcerated men and women with real life experience, compassion and resources. The men and women are ready to help.  

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December 01, 2021

Series of Social Justice Initiatives Announced In Conjunction with Broadway Production of CLYDE'S

Broadway World | With this production of CLYDE'S, Second Stage will host three apprentices - one each in production management, company management, and front of house. They have worked with the Youth Justice Network to identify candidates.

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October 26, 2021

Youth Justice Network Is Using Art for Rehab for Teens Coming From Rikers Island

Brooklyn Reader | Over the last 10 years, Anthony DeJesus has come full circle at the Youth Justice Network, formerly Friends of the Island Academy.

DeJesus was first connected with the nonprofit, which supports young people transitioning out of Rikers Island and back into their communities, in 2008 as a program participant.

Now, 13 years later, he is on staff running the organization’s art program.

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April 28, 2021

Youth Justice Network Joins New York County Defender Services' Press Conference on NYPD Property Seizure

Lack of phone access completely inhibits a young person’s ability to thrive in the community” said Grace Ko, Assistant Director for the Miller Center for Special Mitigation at Youth Justice Network. The following testimony was provided to Youth Justice Network by a long-time youth member: ‘Sometimes it would take weeks to get my phone back. In the meantime, I would have to use my parents phone, but I would miss out on important emails and messages from soccer clubs and school.’

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March 23, 2021

Friends of Island Academy, a 30-Year Pioneering Nonprofit Supporting Young People Affected by the Criminal Justice System, Changes Its Name to Youth Justice Network

PR Newswire | For the first time in its 30-year history, a major nonprofit has changed its name to Youth Justice Network, a name that embodies the organization's long fight to break the cycles of incarceration and disproportionate confinement of young people of color held in New York City's jails.

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November 08, 2020

City Agrees to Extend Federal Oversight of Youth Lockup After Grim Reports Persist

The City | NYC’s child welfare agency has agreed to the return of some federal oversight of its Bronx juvenile detention center. "As long as we have one kid in jail, we need to make sure that they are perpetually on somebody’s radar," said Christine Pahigian, Friends Executive Director.

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October 19, 2020

Recently Jailed New Yorkers Struggle When Dumped on Street With No ID

The City | Leaving Rikers Island, many former detainees can’t rent apartments or get jobs — because the city lost their ID. Discharging people from jail without ID “is like stripping people of all basic necessities,” said Jack Powers, a Friends Youth Advocate.

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June 17, 2020

Giving Care Packages to Teens Living in Shelters

American Voices with Senator Bill Bradley | In this episode of American Voices: Friends Advocate Carmelita Osborne creates and delivers care packages for teens who are living in shelters.

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June 16, 2020

Out of the Penal System, Back into Life: Friends of Island Academy Gives Support where None Exists

Brooklyn Reader | Early Tuesday morning, the team at Friends of the Island Academy took to the streets to join the millions of people across the country protesting racial injustice.

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May 15, 2020

NYC Group on a Mission to Help Homeless, Formerly Imprisoned During COVID-19

NBC New York | A New York advocacy group is determined to keep homeless teens off the streets and formerly incarcerated young adults out of Rikers Island jails during the coronavirus pandemic.

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May 09, 2020

Why This Brownsville Single Mother is ‘Mom’ to Many More Than Her Own

Brooklyn Reader | Venus Core is a compassionate mother, not just to her three children, but to the many adolescents she has supported over the years through homelessness and incarceration.

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May 06, 2020

Friends of Island Academy Goes Virtual, Continues to Help Formerly Incarcerated Youth

News12 | A program that aids formerly incarcerated young adults throughout the city is continuing to help at-risk youth stay on the right track during the coronavirus pandemic.

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April 29, 2020

Support Group Helps Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Young People

NY1 | Once locked up on Rikers Island, Jermaine Ferguson turned his life around and now he’s helping other formerly incarcerated people and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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April 24, 2020

Hero of the Day: Asthmatic Woman Braves Coronavirus to Help Homeless Teens

New York Post | At two hours to midnight, on a cold, wind-swept March night in coronavirus locked-down Manhattan’s Union Square, Friends Advocate Carmelita Osborne is a woman on a mission.

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April 22, 2020

Harlem Youth Advocate Uses Hip Hop to Educate Formerly Incarcerated Youth on Rikers Island

Harlem World Magazine | We love love, love positive and moving stories that show how individuals and organizations step up to provide services beyond their usual mission. In this case with hip-hop lyrics meant to educate and inspire formerly incarcerated young people.

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October 07, 2019

Changemakers: Book Drive for Incarcerated Teens in the Bronx

PIX11 | These teens are behind bars in the Bronx and two women have made it their mission to provide them with books that may one day change their lives.

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September 10, 2019

Partnership helps provide incarcerated teens with books

News 12 | For the last four months, two organizations have been working in the Bronx to make sure incarcerated teens have access to books. Mia Abrahams works with Friends of Island Academy, which helps 17-year-olds at Horizons Juvenile Detention Center. She says the incarcerated teens were requesting many books that they couldn’t provide.

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July 16, 2019

Summer Reading List: Book Drive Helps Teens Behind Bars in the Bronx

The City | For teens held at Horizon Juvenile Center in The Bronx, a book can be an education — and an escape. Friends Advocates are hoping a partnership with a local bookseller — and the kindness of strangers — will help turn a page.

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April 23, 2018

Youth Stories on the Today Show

NBCNews | Drama Club provides theater training to youth impacted by the criminal justice system. Members of the Club, including Friends youth member Alexis, sat down with Susan Kelechi Watson and John Legend to share their stories.

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January 08, 2017

Should Juveniles be Incarcerated with Adults?

PBS | "Any time a child is arrested, cuffed and held, whatever system you're in, it's traumatizing," said Christine Pahigian, Friends Executive Director. Research shows a high social and economic cost of incarcerating youth.

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October 04, 2016

Rikers Youth Reentry Program Attempts to Fill State Juvenile Justice Gap

Politico | A new program at Rikers Island is intended to bridge a gap in juvenile justice services for incarcerated teenagers to help ensure that 16 and 17 year olds coming off the island jail are connected with community-based programming upon release.

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July 03, 2016

These Young People Are Getting A Second Chance

NBC News | Some young people who've wound up on the wrong side of the law are getting a second chance, thanks to an innovative program that begins in jail. Learn more about Friends of Island Academy on the Nightly News with Lester Holt.

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October 28, 2015

Helping out New Yorkers in need this Speak Up for Service Day

NY Daily News | "We believe very deeply in the potential of our kids — it might take them a few years to get there, but we stick by them," said Christine Pahigian, Friends Executive Director, on National Speak Up for Service Day.

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August 02, 2012

Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply

New York Times | New York City, embracing an experimental mechanism for financing social services, will allow Goldman Sachs to invest nearly $10 million in a jail program run by nonprofits including Friends of Island Academy.

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August 02, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Gibbs And Corrections Commissioner Schriro Announce Nation's First Social Impact Bond Program

NYC | “There has never been a project on this scale delivered at Rikers before. It is a pioneering, transformative approach... and will have significant impact on individual youth, their families and their communities,” said Christine Pahigian, Friends Executive Director.

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April 09, 2012

Transition Program Key to Ending Jail Cycle

NY1 | In the final story in NY-1's week-long series on the schools in jails, reporter Lindsey Christ looks at what happens when kids are released and how education reforms and programs like Friends of Island Academy can help them change their lives.

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July 15, 2010

Can a Prison Education Turn Someone Inside, Out?

The Crime Report | America’s first high school at a correctional facility is located on New York’s Rikers Island. But should they be in jail in the first place? “As a society’s needs change, so must its laws,” said Christine Pahigian, Friends Executive Director.

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January 06, 2006

20/20: Rescuing Lives of Juvenile Cons

ABC News | Shortly after his release from Rikers, Rich McClain was shot and nearly killed. That’s when he decided to turn his life around. At Friends of Island Academy, he met people who helped him believe that what he wanted to do could actually happen.

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February 19, 2001

Rikers High: How do you teach teen-agers in a New York City jail?

The New Yorker | Most people who know crime in New York feel that the school, along with its crucial alumni organization, Friends of Island Academy, may be the best hope a sixteen-year-old kid who ends up on Rikers has not to end up someplace like Rikers again.

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Get in Touch

For media inquiries, contact Mia Abrahams.