Social Action Network

The Social Action Network brings together college and GED students, community residents, gang members, ex-offenders, corporate volunteers and legislators to discuss and critique the American criminal justice system. Over the course of two months, closed, online groups comprised of members from participating schools or sites, translate their critique of the criminal justice system into plans for direct action. Teachers and staff of participating schools and community organizations will meet with their group members off-line to process discussion and support on-going social action initiatives.

In November and December of 2000, 360degree's Social Action trial-run brought together participants from five New York City organizations — YALA (Young Adult Learning Academy), a GED program in New York City; School for the Physical City, an alternative high school in Manhattan; Hunter College of the City University of New York (freshman composition class); The Fortune Society, an advocacy and educational organization for ex-offenders (an introductory class on web use and design); and Friends of Island Academy (a support and educational center for youth who have been incarcerated or who are at risk of incarceration).

Some excerpts from the discussion:

This is the worst part of jail. The person next to you has done four to five times the little dirt that you did, and not only that, but your "celly" will be quick to do some dirt on you. These guys are criminals!!!! Murderers, rapists, muggers, killers that have nothing else to do with their "I got 25 years till I see parole" life and won't hesitate to kill you!!!!! The government tries to rehabilitate crooks by putting them in a cage full of crooks. What part of the game is that? What do you do when your friend starts hustling and hanging with the wrong crowd? How do you explain to him/her that there is no future in jail? Peace.

--From a peer leader at Friends of Island Academy


well thas just the way it is you know. i mean its like a cycle. if the people before you never made it out and succumbed to societies ills in the form of playin the block or stickin up kids on the ave instead of tryin to get that education thats all you know. people complain about there aint enough minority run businesses in the low income parts of the boros. that the money coming in is from outside sources who are there to cut throats and make cash. we need more people generating more money in these neighborhoods. people that are actually from there or at least know and respect the situation that exists. its about self empowerment. we cant sit idly by in the system that exists and live off what is seen fit to give us. once we see that as a people we gonna move on up the proper way. till next time. holla back

-- From a freshman composition student at Hunter College


If you would you like to take part in a future Social Action Network discussion please provide the information below. The discussions take place over a six week period.

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