May 23, 2010

The Juvenile Services Division (JSD) has added a new artistic element to their ongoing partnership with Portland State University's (PSU) senior capstone program.

Assistant Professor Deborah Smith Arthur, J.D. developed the partnership between her Capstone courses and JSD over seven years ago . Last winter, Tifini Linford, PSU student, used her capstone experience to bring The Beat Within program into juvenile detention.  The initial response was so successful that Dr. Arthur now works with Autumn Ray, DCJ volunteer coordinator and Izzy Lefebvre, DCJ Custody Service Specialist to ensure future PSU students have continued opportunities to participate.

PSU captstone students facilitate weekly creative workshops in juvenille detention. During the workshops, the DCJ youth produce art or prose to submitt to The Beat Within, a national weekly magazine that celebrates the voices of incarcerated youth. Whether or not a piece is selected for publication, capstone students provide written responses to every piece submitted by DCJ youth, so that each youth knows that their voice was heard. 

Professor Arthur reports, "My students have begun facilitating Beat writing workshops this term and are loving it".  Participating PSU students have remarked on how their time spent interacting with DCJ youth have challenged their own assumptions, and humanized the youth beyond what they initially expected. 

The experience can be so transformative that Tifini Linford, the first PSU student to work on The Beat Within, is now a full-fledged DCJ intern to continue her commitment to the project’s success. For DCJ youth, The Beat Within experience is often their first positive recognition that their voice is worthy of an audience. “We are giving kids new ways to express their feelings that can be difficult to share with another person,” observes Linford.  “They also learn empathy by realizing there are other kids out there going through the same issues.”

For more information about the partnership, visit The Beat Within. To find out the latest projects worked on by Detention youth, contact Kim Bernard, Department of Community Justice Public Information Officer at 503-988-4376.