The Story Beyond the Statistics: Meet Hakim

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Meet Hakim. A son. A friend. More recently, a filmmaker. Hakim has navigated through grief and obstacles to a place of determination and great promise. At a very young age, Hakim was stabbed while leaving a party and was unable to walk for three months. Hakim was arrested for the first time at the age of 13. He was subsequently arrested several times in his late teens, including a ten-month jail sentence in 2019. After a 2021 sentence, Hakim enrolled himself in AFJ’s crime prevention program. He wanted to take control of the trajectory of his life by obtaining an HSE (High School Equivalency) in order to attend engineering school, and by working on his physical and mental health wellness.

In just a few short months, Hakim is well on his way to turning his life around. He completed the six-week videography training which AFJ led in partnership with NYC Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) as part of our new Communications Leadership training.

For many young people an initial mistake can lead to years of involvement with the court system. In 2010, a report found that 69% of New York City parolees were rearrested within three years of release and 59% were reconvicted within three years. 

Because of this vision, our court advocacy and prevention programs remain an important centerpiece of our work. Our unique model involves a personalized and ongoing approach to supporting young people as they navigate the system. With headquarters inside the courthouse, we can respond immediately when a young person has a court appearance, assess their needs, and appear with them before the judge to advocate for our supportive services instead of jail time. Our court advocacy is backed by AFJ's wraparound programs for job training with certification, corporate partnerships, education, and mental health, offered both online and at our Community Centers in Harlem and the Lower East Side for court-involved and at-risk youth.

In addition to court advocacy, AFJ recently started supporting incarcerated youth as they prepare for re-entry in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and Center for Community Alternatives (CCA). As we know, conditions at Rikers Island remain deplorable, with 12 deaths in 2021 and escalating violence. While still an emerging area of work, and despite limitations to access due to the pandemic, AFJ is currently serving twelve participants who were able to join our program directly after release from Rikers or other detainment facilities. With your support, young people can connect to job opportunities, social and emotional supports, and continued guidance with their case. We look forward to growing this area of our work and supporting young people in this phase of their journey.

To continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of court-involved young people in New York City, we need your support. Once again, we will be unable to host our gala which raised a significant portion of the funds we need for our program. Your donation will go a long way towards helping us continue to support youth as they navigate the system and work towards a second chance.  

Join us in making a difference in the lives of our participants, creating even more Avenues for justice and pathways to accomplishing their goals.