20 Years of Keeping Kids Out of Jail
VORP was founded as a response to what came to be known as the “Summer of Violence” in 1993. At the time Senior Pastor Jerry Weaver of First Mennonite Church located across the street from Denver West High School gathered interested persons for exploratory conversations on what could be done to prevent another “Summer of Violence” in Colorado’s capital city and looked for alternatives to supporting Denver’s youth.
This group acknowledged that societal forms of oppression such as racism and poverty contributed to the violence communities of color were experiencing and wanted to create an organization whose values were rooted in social justice and non-violent conflict resolution. Weaver’s hope was to establish a grassroots response to teach young people alternative methods of expressing their feelings nonviolently and to heal the damage done when juveniles harmed others as a result of their actions. Since then VORP has served over 1,600 youth and their families with restorative justice and mediation programs in the Denver Metro area.
VORP also is committed to ending the school to prison pipeline by educating youth, family and community members about the consequences of mass incarceration, the prison industrial complex, the new Jim Crow and how race and poverty continue to play a pivotal role in the criminalizing youth.
The New Jim Crow
Much of the work VORP does is inspired by MIchelle Alexander's seminal work, The New Jim Crow; Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorablindness illustrates the devistating effect the Drug War and policies that contribute to mass incarceration has on our communies, our families and the individuals that are incarcerated.
Watch the interview below to learn more.