I Am Not A Number is an anthology of art, writing and poetry made by young people in our Creative Arts workshops since 2005. The book’s 40 artists are a small sample of the hundreds of kids we’ve worked with.
Check out the introduction to our book below:
YASP has been going into Philadelphia’s adult jails since 2005 to host art and poetry workshops with the young people who are being held pre-trial. That’s how this art anthology got started - we have been collecting poetry and art that young people wrote in those workshops and decided to create this book to showcase their talents and that they are more than a number. Poetry and art in this book were created by young people who were locked up and charged as adults and participated in our weekly workshops.
YASP also runs the country’s first youth participatory defense hub, which meets every Tuesday to support young people who are going through the system by helping them show the court who they are as a person beyond their charges. We also help them navigate their cases, talk to their lawyers and inform the young person of the step-by-step court process. In Spring 2021, we launched Healing Futures, a groundbreaking restorative justice program that diverts young people’s cases from the courts to a YASP-led restorative justice process prior to any charges being filed. With Healing Futures, we are making space for real justice and healing—by allowing survivors to get their needs met and young people who’ve caused harm to take accountability without getting pushed into the criminal legal system.
We believe that young people should not be locked up - whether in adult or juvenile facilities. We know prisons do not make our communities safer, and they never will. Chances should be given not taken, and removing a person from the community doesn’t change anything. We need to be bringing communities back together and offer more love and support to build the future we all deserve.
I Am Not A Number will be released in 2023.