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Native Youth Juvenile Justice Work

News & Notes

Native Youth Juvenile Justice Work

Lee Francis


For the past three months, Wordcraft Circle has been conducting writing workshops at the Youth Diagnostic and Development Center (YDDC), the youth detention center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The Center serves as an alternative placement, as opposed to juvenile detention, for youth who may benefit from a different approach than incarceration.  In collaboration with First Nations Community Healthsource, youth have had the opportunity to develop personal stories and turn them into comic books.  First Nations has been working in the facility to provide culturally relevant experiences for Native youth as an aspect of their development.  The writing project developed from a conversation between Kelly Gilbeth, one of the First Nations coordinators, and Lee Francis IV, Wordcraft National Director.  The youth have been engaged in the workshops and have created some very wonderful and enjoyable comics that speak to their background, culture, and conditions.  Wordcraft National Director, Dr. Lee Francis IV, who has served as the facilitator for the workshops, has been excited about the work and serves as a champion for Native incarcerated youth, especially in promoting their stories.

 The project will continue through November, after which Wordcraft hopes to continue the services to more Native youth in the detention center, as well as provide ongoing mentorship for those youth who wish to continue pursuing writing and creating.  If you are interested in more information or providing mentorship for these youth, contact us at