December 14, 2023

PIX11: Avenues for Justice on PIX11 with Monica Morales

HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — A Harlem man who was formerly incarcerated is now making it his life mission to help others after prison.

Jalil Abdurraheem, 58, got his dream job in November – fighting for young people in his community. He spends some time in court, but he said most of his time is spent in his neighborhood – preventing young people from getting into trouble and helping those who have found a way out.

“A lot of good times here. I was raised here but a lot of bad when I left,” Abdurraheem said.

Abdurraheem said he feels he is fulfilling his personal mission. It’s a full-circle moment. He works just blocks away from where he said more than three decades ago, almost lost his freedom.

“No regrets. I’m on a mission to save the youth here,” Abdurraheem said.

His new job is fighting with a nonprofit called Avenues for Justice. Their focus—reducing prison rates for children 13-24 years old in New York City through programs and court advocacy.

Abdurraheem said it’s deeply personal work. He was sentenced to 25 years to life and had to work hard to transform himself. He now wants to give back—he knows about the power of second chances because he needed one himself.

“He gives credibility. He’s warming them from the heart. It’s not from a study he lived it,” said Avenues for Justice Director of Court Advocacy Gamal Willis.

Abdurraheem said it’s all because his mentor Gamal Willis saw his potential and knew he could make an impact. His story is his strength, he said.

“I call him a miracle. It takes a miracle to come out the other side,” said Avenues for Justice Advocate Brian Stanley.

On last month’s Monica Makes it Happen show, Khaliah Ali, one of Avenue for Justice’s biggest supporters and champions, said the organization is helping continue her dad’s legacy fighting for Justice. Legendary boxer and Social Justice advocate Muhammad Ali.

Abdurraheem said every day, he is driven and won’t stop, driven by the love of his community.

“Going to keep doing it. Somebody had to do it, and it’s me!” said Abdurraheem.

Avenues for Justice helps young people pay for anything from MetroCards to mental health services, as well as getting internships and jobs.



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