Drive Change is a non-profit food truck business that broadens opportunities for youth (age 16-25) directly impacted by the criminal justice system.
Drive Change aims to reduce recidivism rates for young people and raise the age of criminal adult responsibility in New York State from 16 to 18 years old. NY is 1 of 2 states that automatically arrests 16-year-olds as adults. In 2011, 47,566 kids age 16 and 17 were arrested in NY. If convicted, these young kids leave jail/prison with adult felonies, creating insurmountable hurdles to future employment opportunities, educational options and government benefits.
Recidivism is a public safety and financial issue for every New Yorker. The recidivism for youth (16-25) hovers around 70%, and it costs the city over $60,000 to incarcerate a single NY for one year.
Placing kids in the punitive adult system is an unjust practice and should end immediately: young people that are incarcerated as adults are 85% more likely to violently recidivate than kids of the same age who are processed as juveniles (Fagan, 1999).
Employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated are not only hard to come by, but unemployment directly correlates to recidivism. 67% of people returning home from jail/prison are re-arrested within three years of their release; 89% of the those who recidivate are unemployed at the time of their re-arrest.
Incarceration devastates communities and disproportionately impacts people of color: Black men are incarcerated 5.6 times the rate of white men and Hispanic men are incarcerated 1.8 times the rate of white males. The sooner we re-invest in rehabilitative practices that work for youth, the more likely we are to redeem their futures and to build a stronger, safer, more just society.
Drive Change (DC) is a NYC based food truck and an alternative education program, dedicated to employing and training youth involved in the criminal justice system. The food truck will also act as a mobile agent that will advocate to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in NY and promote peer non-profit organizations also working on this issue.
DC is innovative because it combines direct service and youth leadership development. DC works exclusively with young people, which distinguishes it from its re-entry peers. The mobility of DC differentiates it from other stationary providers: our mobile nature allows us to directly connect with people in the community; the truck will bring awareness to the public about the impacts of incarcerating youth as adults.
The DC design is based on re-entry models that have been scientifically proven to have significant affects on transition. Specifically, DC provides three concrete services that are proven to lower recidivism: paid, transitional, quality employment; concrete transferable industry specific skills and credentials; and community building and outreach. Additionally, the structure of DC will provide for mentorship and group-work, two models that have significantly lowered recidivism rates. All aspects of DC are devoted to empowering youth to believe in the value of their voice and their lives. Empowerment of voice and the development of self-esteem are two variables that are also directly correlated to lowering recidivism.