Home News Center YJLI Fellow Travis Andrews Wants Youth Removed from Isolation

YJLI Fellow Travis Andrews Wants Youth Removed from Isolation

September 26, 2018
Sarah Bryer

Travis Andrews (Redmond, WA) is a 2018-19 fellow in NJJN's Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI), a year-long program that 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.

Travis Andrews is currently a Juvenile Justice Policy Analyst at Columbia Legal Services (CLS). He serves on the equity team and provides equity and diversity training and mentorship to legal aid organizations. Travis specializes in community engagement and investigations and is currently working to bring restorative practices to Washington’s penal system.

We spoke with Travis about his background and advocacy project.

Why are you involved in youth justice reform?

I came from a place that was heavily affected by the juvenile justice system.  As a child, I grew up in a community where we were all close-knit -- there were adult, black males connected to us and we played kickball together.  But then one day I came back from vacation and the neighborhood was empty.  The police had done a sweep of the place and arrested everyone on RICO charges.  A full thirty to forty kids were removed.  I was really affected by this and from that day forward my focus was “how can I help?”

Tell us about your advocacy project.

I’m looking to push legislation to end the practice of putting youth in adult facilities into isolation.  Just recently, I successfully pushed King County to change this practice and now I want to move it statewide.  I spent a year with youth who had been placed in isolation in adult facilities in King County.  I had a chance to hear and understand all of their stories.  For example, they were only getting ten minutes of face-to-face time with an educator.  They were supposed to get an hour outside of their cells, but that single hour kept on being removed because of ‘infractions.’  I was really careful in my process to include the youth in the work.  For instance, they and their parents were fully part of the mediation process with King County; this involved them being in a room for 8 hours during the mediation.  Ultimately, King County changed its policy to end the isolation of youth and agreed to no longer hold youth in adult jails pre-trial. 

What motivates you to keep you going?

Where I fall in history is what motivates me.  I stand on the advocates who came before me and I prepare myself to have others stand on my shoulders.

What’s your dream youth justice goal?

I want the oppression and history of people of color in this country to be taken into consideration and be a part of the process in a person’s criminal or delinquency proceedings. 

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