Home News Center YJLI Fellow Rickell Howard Focused on Reducing Racial Disparities

YJLI Fellow Rickell Howard Focused on Reducing Racial Disparities

March 26, 2018


Rickell Howard is a 2017-18 fellow in NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI), a year-long program  clears a broad path for people of color to lead us toward justice system reform. YJLI seeks to elevate the leadership of people of color who know how to transform the oppressive systems harming communities of color.

Rickell Howard is currently the Ohio Director of Litigation and Policy for the Children’s Law Center. A Cincinnati native, she has dedicated her career to providing legal representation to persons that are underrepresented in the legal system and has built a successful track record of impactful federal civil rights litigation, and criminal and juvenile justice policy reform. Rickell received her Juris Doctor from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 2006 and her B.B.A. in International Business from Howard University in 2002, where she graduated magnacum laude.

About Rickell’s advocacy project
Rickell’s advocacy project for the Institute seeks to reduce racial disparities in Ohio’s Hamilton County’s youth justice system. In the county, African-American children are 9 times more likely to be arrested and twice as likely to be detained as white children, even though they misbehave at similar rates. Rickell is determined to correct this injustice and tells us
, “things may look challenging now, but I will never stop because people will forget.”

Rickell wants young people to know they have the power to be advocates. She is educating students on their rights and responsibilities through trainings. She’s partnered with schools, police officers and other key stakeholders to produce a juvenile justice jeopardy game for young people in the detention centers and public high schools where incarceration disparities are the worst. To ensure participation, Rickell prioritizes the thoughts and expertise of the populations being served.

“I never want to pursue an issue for a population if they are not at the table and in a position to lend their voice to the issues.”

For Rickell, allies have come from unlikely places due to her trainings and community outreach. Her partners have assisted her by sharing hard-to-access data in an effort to make information transparent. Rickell says she plans on staying connected with community leaders who are working on policing issues and to continue seeking partnerships in various camps of influence.

What keeps Rickell going?
Rickell is encouraged with every victory, no matter how big or small.

“I get an adrenaline rush every time I’m able to convince someone to believe in this just cause. I know change is possible. People can change and cultures can change .”

“My biggest motivator is the fact that I am a mother to a teenage boy who is a part of the population I’m fighting for. This personal connection to the work keeps me going. I know 100% that my son is not immune to the system I’m fighting against.”

What has being in the Youth Justice Leadership Institute meant to you?
“The experience of being a fellow has been invaluable. The relationships and personal gain I’ve received have no comparison. I look forward to building on those relationships and giving back.”

Learn more about our YJLI Fellows here.

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