2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Henrissa Bassey

Henrissa Bassey

Name of Host Organization: Bay Area Legal Aid
City, State: Oakland, California
Issue area: Children/Youth
Sponsors: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

The Project

This project will provide comprehensive legal and policy advocacy to address these challenges and ensure that delinquency-involved youth with disabilities stay in family-like settings and successfully reenter their communities.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Over 60,000 young people under age 21 are confined in juvenile justice facilities throughout the United States. 36 percent to 70 percent of confined youth have a specific learning disability or emotional disturbance. Henrissa will provide trauma-informed, civil legal representation to formerly instituionalized youth with disabilties to promote successful reentry and reduce congregate care placements.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Henrissa is the right person for the project because:
• As the sibling of an individual with autism and intellectual disabilities, she understands the unique obstacles juveniles with disabilities face
• Her work at the intersection of juvenile justice, education, race, and disability, has included serving as a Constitutional law teacher to high school students, a student attorney with a disability rights legal clinic, and an evaluator of the Alameda County Juvenile Reentry System
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 

• Provide legal representation to formerly incarcerated youth with disabilities
• Build a partnership with Antioch Middle School to connect formerly confined youth with community-based mental health services and entitlements
• Develop education and training materials on the dynamic between race, incarceration, and disability
• Connect with youth of color with disabilities in the community to create a youth-led young equity leaders council

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