Law Enforcement and Disabled Youth (LEADY)
Why did we create LEADY?
Based on the insight offered in recent studies on the prevalence in fatalities and incarceration when disabled people encounter police officers, the goal of LEADY is to provide participatory democratic spaces where city leaders, key decision makers in law enforcement agencies, rank and file first responders, disabled youth and their families in the District of Columbia come together in community dialogues to rethink our law enforcement systems. LEADY seeks to uncover why law enforcement violence disproportionately affects people with disabilities, particularly Black and Brown youth with severe mental health conditions and put in place new systems and controls so we can end it.
Our core beliefs are rooted in racial equity and disability justice through the lens of the concept of intersectionality and disability critical race (DisCrit) theory. Based on this theoretical framework, the theory of change for the LEADY Program is to transform disproportionate targeting of disabled youth as “suspects” and create more visibility and accountability for the implicit and explicit biases that result in incarceration and police brutality.
How will LEADY gather information to make the world a better place?
Through an action research landscape project, our first steps to actualizing the vision for the LEADY Program is to apply two key methodologies: (1) interview people in key government agencies (ex. Metropolitan Police, Office of the Attorney General, DCPS and OSSE School Safety Divisions, etc) and advocacy organizations (ACLU DC, Advocates for Justice and Education, Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic, Children’s Law Center, etc.) and (2) survey (written or oral – depending on what is best for the interviewee) first responders and directly impacted Black and Brown disabled youth and their families via email, phone, zoom and canvassing.
What’s the goal?
We hope to move the needle on the national campaign to defund the police to apply locally via encouraging reinvestments in therapeutic interventions, especially as it relates to law enforcement engaging with Black and Brown disabled youth in schools and in the community. Additionally, we aim to support in transforming the District of Columbia policies and practices in law enforcement as well as support a shift in mental models to reduce the disproportionate and negative outcomes of mass incarceration and high death rates for Black and Brown disabled youth. LEADY is led by people who have been and live in fear of being impacted by this type of violence.
All funding for this project will be from grants aligned with our purposes.
What about all the other Black and Brown people, not just the youth?
While the scope of this LEADY Program focuses on Black and Brown disabled youth ages 10 years old to 26 years old, we are deeply and personally aware that negative police encounters happen at any age. Chi Bornfree is committed to early childhood education and understands that even for children younger than 10 years old, there are unfortunate early patterns that lend to the school to prison pipeline. Alternatively, we understand that some definitions of youth extend beyond the age of 26 years old. Chi Bornfree is committed to providing family-centered supports and services that are inclusive and multigenerational, beyond the research the LEADY Program is developed as part of our inclusive approach to social justice work.