By Jesse Trott, OYA Communications
A quick look at the recent educational accomplishments of Keeve, a 20-year-old who is currently incarcerated at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, shows a young man focused on improving himself.
He graduated in the spring from Lord High School at MacLaren and immediately began taking college courses through Chemeketa Community College, with the goal of studying juvenile justice at a university.
When you look more closely at Keeve’s activities at MacLaren, you also see a developing leader who wants to make a difference and improve lives for other incarcerated young people like him. He is a Certified Recovery Mentor through the Oregon Health Authority, using his own experiences to help his peers on their path to recovery.
Through Hope Partnership, which provides programs to help MacLaren youth explore their talents and prepare for their transition back to the community, Keeve applied and was selected for the Emerging Leaders Committee with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, D.C.
This month, Governor Kate Brown also appointed Keeve to serve on the state’s Youth Development Council. The council, part of the Youth Development Division, supports Oregon’s education system by developing state policy and administering funding to community and school-based youth development programs. (MacLaren youth Andy S.M. was also appointed to this council – read more about him at this link.)
Being part of the Emerging Leaders Committee allows Keeve to receive mentoring, connect with other youth who have or are currently experiencing incarceration all over the U.S., learn and discuss juvenile justice and system reform, as well as participate in a monthly book club that meets once a month (they recently discussed “Burning Down the House” by Nell Bernstein). All these opportunities are conducted virtually.
Along with the other Emerging Leader Committee members, Keeve had the opportunity to present at two different conferences this year. Keeve and his peers gave a presentation on the school-to-prison pipeline to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference in early June. More than 200 people attended Keeve’s workshop. Keeve said he felt like the presentation went well and that he did a good job answering everyone’s questions on the fly.
Keeve’s second conference presentation was at a Youth Summit that took place in early August; where Keeve gave three different presentations. To prepare, Keeve met with the entire Emerging Leaders committee on a regular basis.
Before the conference, Keeve said he was excited about the pipeline topic because he had already given a presentation about it, he felt confident, and he had firsthand experience to draw upon. Keeve said he prefers to speak on topics he has experienced firsthand, rather than talking about other people’s situations and experiences.
After the conference, Chris Cleaver, project coordinator for Hope Partnership, said, “Keeve and his colleagues discussed and planned how to make juvenile justice more equitable and compassionate, and how these reforms can lead to lower recidivism rates. Keeve engaged his audience, discussing such topics as the dangers of the school-to-prison pipeline, the importance of sharing one’s story strategically, and also how re-entry and rehabilitation can be facilitated more effectively. Not only was this a meaningful time for Keeve, but the efforts of the committee will have long-lasting effects on juvenile justice reform.”
Keeve’s work with Emerging Leaders has been supported by Hope Partnership, which is part of Janus Youth Programs, an Oregon-based nonprofit working to provide at-risk youth with resources and a second chance. When asked why he wanted to be involved with Hope Partnership, Keeve said, “Growing up in the system, in different states, makes me want to step up and help out any way I can. I care. I care for a lot of people. I have a voice. I want to be able to advocate for all juveniles. I want to be heard.”
I care for a lot of people. I have a voice. I want to be able to advocate for all juveniles. I want to be heard.
“I have learned a lot through this experience,” he added. “Once people hear your stories, it makes others want to step up and help.” Keeve also said that, in his experience, a lot of people want to help advocate for juveniles in the justice system but do not know how or have the platform.
Keeve’s more recent appointment to Oregon’s Youth Development Council (YDC) is also a huge honor and has been one of his goals for some time.
When asked about how he felt about the possibility of being a part of the YDC, Keeve said, “I like learning. I want to sit back and learn how things work. I have a lot of questions for them.”
In the future, Keeve hopes to set up a mentorship program and advocate for all youth.