Surveys conducted by the Department of Justice have found that 85% of incarcerated youth can’t read. This unsettling link between illiteracy—something that is determined as early as five years old—and one’s likelihood of arrest is shocking. Given the disproportionate representation of black youth in our juvenile justice system, it’s evident that the lack of good schools, adequate funding, and resources in minority communities are the mechanisms by which African-American students are flushed down the school-to-prison pipeline.
Brandon Griggs has witnessed firsthand the inequities that permeate our education system; he’s also proud that as a 4.0 student and EVAC movement member, he is redefining stereotypes and setting an example for other black teens. Juvenile justice reform, Brandon argues, begins in our kindergarten classrooms, because keeping kids out of prison starts with giving them basic literacy skills.
Brandon Griggs is a student activist and advocate for “at-risk” youth who, like him, have lived in the epicenter of gang and gun violence in Jacksonville and experienced its traumatic effects. As an advisor to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, he represents Florida’s youth and brings attention to problems that students face, but that aren’t getting enough awareness. He was also elected to serve on the Jacksonville City Council Task Force on Safety and Crime Reduction, where he proposes further legislation on the violence that has so deeply impacted him. Brandon currently works as a national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice.