Author: Damilola Kolade is an Undergraduate student in her senior year at Binghamton University, currently studying English Literature and Rhetoric. Passionate about the work of advocacy and witnessing vulnerable and marginalized populations receive access to justice, she previously interned in ProBono Net’s Development and Communications department, and is now a student intern with the Legal Aid Society of Mid-NYC, Inc.
Young New Yorkers is an art-based restorative-justice intervention program founded by Columbia School of Architecture graduate, Rachel Barnard. Aimed at 16 and 17 years olds in the justice system who have been charged as adults, the initiative initially centered on empowering youth through art, to voice on issues concerning them and advocate for change. Since its successful startup in 2012, Young New Yorkers has soon evolved in a court-mandated program, wherein it serves as an alternative to adult sentencing upon its participants’ successful completion.
Young New Yorkers needs to be able to access and work with the confidential information in the youths’ files in a secure and convenient manner in order to provide the best and most successful experience for the youth involved. In order to accommodate the need for access to confidential files on the individuals in the program, the initiative utilizes Intralinks, a secure digital information sharing platform. Using Intralinks, all parties who need to can access the youth’s confidential information for a limited time while the youth is involved in the program. This technology allows Young New Yorkers to keep the confidential information in their care safe and secure, and properly run their program.
Rachel Barnard is a Percival and Naomi Goodman Fellowship recipient from Columbia University’s Advanced Architectural Design Program, and Executive Director of the public art project, Young New Yorkers (YNY). Adam Licht previously worked with Pro Bono Net for 8 years (2006-2014) as Director of Product Management and Business Development. He is currently the Director of Business Development at Intralinks. He has worked with various non-profit organizations, including Young New Yorkers, to provide state of the art security vital to protecting sensitive information involved in such environments.
We asked Rachel and Adam to answer a few questions on the work of Young New Yorkers and the role that the Intralinks technology has played in making this program a success.
Rachel, upon graduating from Columbia University’s Advanced Architectural Design Program, you received the Percival and Naomi Goodman Fellowship. How did your educational journey culminate into the Young New Yorkers initiative, which seeks to intervene on behalf of youth with misdemeanor through the use of art?
Rachel Barnard (RB): The proposal for which I won the Goodman Fellowship was for a public art project that I had called Young New Yorkers. The project’s goal was to give voice to 16- and 17-year-olds being prosecuted classified as adults and who are facing the life long collateral consequences of an adult criminal record. That we provided a platform for the young people to be heard on this issue was particularly important to myself and the YNY team given 16- and 17-year-olds are too young to vote and meaningfully impact change on an issue that effects them the most.
On winning the Fellowship I was struck by the significant responsibility of working with young people in the criminal justice system. The first ten months of starting Young New Yorkers was focused mostly on research and development. A working committee formed of 10-12 people, made up of public defenders, social workers, therapists, advocates, artists and architects. We met every three weeks to discuss this issues surrounding young people who are justice involved and exploring what a public art program could look like.
Young New Yorkers as a court-mandated program came out of this work, and out of Chief Judge Lippman’s call to “Raise the Age” from 16-years-old to 18-years-old when being prosecuted as an adult. We introduced our program to Judge Gubbay and to the Center of Court Innovation, and with their partnership it evolved into an alternative to adult sentencing rather than simply a project for young people to advocate for change. However to this day the young people’s voices are central to our mission which is to provide arts-based transformative justice programs to court-involved young people, with the ultimate goal of transforming the criminal justice system through their own creative voices.
What is the vision behind YNY and how does it aim to bridge the gap in our criminal justice system?
RB: To provide court-mandated programs which provide a space for young people to take responsibility for their actions while giving them an opportunity to advocate for themselves, their communities and a social issue that is important to them. All of our programs culminate in a YNY Finale, a public art exhibition that is designed and implemented by the young participants. Members of the criminal justice system—including judges, defense attorneys, social workers, district attorneys, and court officers—are invited to attend YNY Finales, and to re-meet the young participants as creative, worthy contributors to their communities. Central to our commitment to a transformative justice model, our programs serve to shed light on the system, though the voices of the young people that we serve.
A recent article on InformationWeek suggests the uniqueness of the Young New Yorkers program, by highlighting a strong relationship between art and technology to in contributing to a successful impact. Why is this relationship of particular importance to you?
RB: Young New Yorkers makes use of powerful technology, like Intralinks, to maintain the integrity of our programming. Its secure systems ensures that the sensitive information of our young participants remains confidential, and the leaders of particular programs are the only ones who are able to access such information.
Adam, YNY has partnered with Intralinks VIA in this regard. Could you elaborate on Intralinks’ role in this program and the decision to utilize this specific service?
Adam Licht (AL): The challenge that YNY has is that it must share information with third parties while protecting the sensitive information of minors, and a secure platform is needed to do this. The question to ask is: how secure is the platform? Intralinks has been around since 1996, handling the most sensitive information in the business world and has never been breached in its 18 years of supporting the largest commercial Merger and Acquisition deals in the world. A consumer grade platform, like DropBox does not have the level of security that would be needed for such sensitive and personal information. A hypothetical to describe this: someone shares out a document to someone in your program. If you email it, or someone downloads it from the traditional platforms, you no longer have control over that document, and they will be able to do whatever they’d like with it.” Intralinks, particularly Intralinks VIA, one of its product lines, helps to provide control over that information by allowing the owner of the document to control permissions at any time, even if it’s been downloaded.
Intralinks’ product can prevent screen capturing and printing. Unsharring is another feature, which allows the owner to revoke access to particular information; the document “calls home” to the server and if that individual no longer has permission to access the document, it will be denied. In these ways, Intralinks helps Young New Yorkers to maintain a high level of security while still being able to share sensitive information with those who need it within the program.
RB: All our files are stored in the Intralinks Cloud and are highly secure. Intralinks facilitates two essential things: First, it allows us to share files with different work groups with ease, and helps our teams to function seamlessly, even when many of our collaborators are working remotely; second, it has high levels of security so that information of the participants involved in our programs remain confidential. YNY’s primary purpose is to offer a space for the creative self-expression of our young, court-involved participants, and in doing so, facilitate the movement of our young people out of the criminal justice system. A significant part of our job is in keeping their participation confidential, IntralinksVIA ensures that that happens with relative ease on our part. There’s peace of mind knowing that those files are secure.
Young New Yorkers is in its early stages. Do you see any adjustments that might need to be made on the part of technology to better accommodate the program’s aims?
RB: Intralinks caters to large, complex organizations, with thousands of staff members. I don’t envision any challenges that will come up with IntralinksVIA, since their technology is powerful – I envision that we will simply be able to grow into it.
AL: Intralinks handles issues that are much bigger in scope than this program. The company works with most of the largest banks in the world. These banks demand the highest level of security. Luckily, this means that any foreseeable accommodations and needs for the Young New Yorkers’ program have most likely already been met!
In the work of Young New Yorkers, the arts, the justice system, and technology come together to offer a powerful platform by which young students who had been prosecuted as adults may have an opportunity to creatively express themselves, develop emotionally and behaviorally, and through the integration of technology, be assured that their records are secured throughout the program, to the closing of their case.
About Young New Yorkers
Young New Yorkers is a restorative justice, arts program for 16- and 17-year-olds who have open criminal cases. The curriculum is uniquely tailored to develop the emotional and behavioral skills of the young participants while facilitating responsible and creative self-expression.
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