We are pleased to announce two new juvenile justice-focused Stoneleigh Fellows, Raj Jayadev and Adam Serlin. Both bring deep expertise, experience, and connections to their new roles. Raj begins his Fellowship in April, and Adam will begin in July 2018.
Making Philadelphia a National Model for Participatory Defense
Stoneleigh Fellow | 2018-2021
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Raj Jayadev currently serves as a Stoneleigh Fellow with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where he is instituting the practice of participatory defense in the juvenile court system.
Raj is co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a storytelling, community organizing, and advocacy nonprofit based in San Jose, California. He started the organization while working as a temporary employee at an assembly plant in Silicon Valley. Without a union or any formal organizational support, he helped the Silicon Valley’s least-heard workforce create a collective public voice through community media platforms. Silicon Valley De-Bug has since become a leading voice in community activism, using Raj’s multimedia platforms, advocacy, and community organizing to spread social change messages and engage in community-building.
As an outgrowth of his organizing and advocacy work, Raj has become a nationally recognized pioneer in criminal defense reform. He is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, a 2015 Ashoka Fellow, a 2015 Leading Edge Fellow, a 2017 Stanford Entrepreneur in Residence, and was listed in The Nonprofit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50 list for 2017. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Time, NPR, PBS, The Atlantic, and various other news outlets.
Raj holds a BA in political science from the University of California-Los Angeles.
The Project Challenge
In all 50 states, crime victims are given an opportunity to provide a written or oral statement during the sentencing phase of a case. These statements often contain information that would otherwise be unavailable to the court, including how a crime has impacted a victim’s life, which may be used by the judge to determine a defendant’s sentence. A similar mechanism, however, rarely exists for individuals who face charges, nor is it available for their families or community members. For youth who are involved in the justice system, this can lead to the imposition of harsh sentences that may not take into account their age or life circumstances.
The Project Solution
As an organizer and advocate for marginalized communities in San Jose, CA, Raj witnessed this challenge firsthand and saw an acute need for a different approach. He and his colleagues at De-Bug developed a new practice called “participatory defense,” which aims to transform justice procedures by enabling families and community members to engage in the defense process on behalf of their loved ones. Individuals who know the defendant provide the court with comprehensive biographical details, or “social biographies,” which offer a fuller picture of the defendant’s background, future prospects, and impact on the community. Through the model, families and communities also assist the public defender in defense preparation and have a more visible presence in the court process. Overall, the goal of participatory defense is to mitigate, or even eliminate, a sentence, as measured by the amount of “time saved” — a counterpoint to the legal term “time served.”
This model has been successfully replicated by 11 community groups across the country, but a large urban city has not yet implemented it as institutional practice. With the support of key allies, Philadelphia is well-positioned to be the first major urban adopter of participatory defense.
Through his Stoneleigh Fellowship, Raj is collaborating with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and community stakeholders to establish the participatory defense model in Philadelphia’s juvenile justice system. In addition, with Philadelphia as the blueprint city, Raj will work with his San Jose-based nonprofit Silicon Valley De-Bug to make participatory defense a new national field of practice and build a network of communities utilizing it.
This Stoneleigh Fellowship will enable Raj to:
- Institute the participatory defense model in Philadelphia’s juvenile courts. Raj will convene a multi-stakeholder planning group to oversee the implementation of the model, lead trainings with community-based organizations, and help build an infrastructure to sustain the work.
- Expand the participatory defense model nationally. Raj will establish a national network of participatory defense hubs, create training materials, memorialize the lessons of practitioners in an open-source platform, and convene hubs from across the country to share lessons and exchange best practices.
Using Data to Improve Outcomes for Justice-Involved Youth
Stoneleigh Fellow | 2018-2021
The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University
Beginning in July 2018, Adam Serlin will serve as a Stoneleigh Fellow with The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University. In this role, he will help Philadelphia’s juvenile justice stakeholders use data to drive more efficient, responsive, and cost-effective services for justice-involved youth.
Adam spent twelve years at NorthEast Treatment Centers (NET), most recently serving as its Director of Court Services. In this role, he was responsible for managing the agency’s In-Home Detention program as well as the city’s first ever Post-Adjudicatory Evening Reporting Center, an alternative to placement for Philadelphia’s highest-risk youth. He also worked with NET, the Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative, and the Juvenile Probation Department to manage the city’s Sports for Juvenile Justice Initiative, where he helped coordinate the work of seven subcontracted sports agencies and three juvenile justice providers to enroll more than 300 youth in non-traditional sports lessons per year—an effort that won “Best New Project” at the international Beyond Sport Awards. Adam also supervised NET’s Adolescent Violence Reduction Partnership program, helped the agency open Philadelphia’s only integrated model of In-Home Detention and Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Drug & Alcohol Treatment, and designed and implemented the Turning Point Case Management Program with Temple University Hospital, providing case management, therapeutic, and job training programs for victims of gun violence after their discharge from the trauma unit.
Beyond his work as a practitioner, Adam has been a featured speaker at the National JDAI Inter-Site Conference and currently sits on various local and state committeees focused on juvenile justice, violence prevention, and education issues.
Adam holds a BA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an MPA and Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.
The Project Challenge
Two of the most frequently discussed challenges among Philadelphia’s juvenile justice stakeholders are the lack of reliable data and the absence of protocols for using data to improve outcomes for youth. In the absence of complete information on youth in the juvenile justice system or a robust understanding about the efficacy of the services they are receiving, efforts to improve outcomes for system-involved youth are significantly hampered.
The Project Solution
After years of working with young people in community-based supervision programs at Northeast Treatment Centers (NET) in Philadelphia, Adam developed a custom performance management system to track the numbers, characteristics, and outcomes of the young people in his care, as well as the efficacy of his program’s services. This information led to improvements in service delivery, new strategies for youth engagement, and better youth outcomes at NET.
Through his Stoneleigh Fellowship, Adam will partner with The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University to develop and further implement performance management tools and strategies to help establish data-informed practices that address the needs of any stakeholders in Philadelphia’s juvenile justice system who express interest in leveraging their data to better serve youth.
This Stoneleigh Fellowship will enable Adam to:
- Identify gaps in information and implement data solutions. Adam will work with system stakeholders to align their data collection and outcome standards, and to design tailored technology and management solutions.
- Sustain and expand his performance management approach. Adam will work with stakeholders to build an infrastructure for data-informed performance management systems in Philadelphia, develop potential policy recommendations, and collect lessons and best practices to help replicate the model in other jurisdictions.