Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Juvenile Lifers 1: Colored Pencils by "Suave Gonzalez"

"It is extremely difficult explaining to anyone about the intellectual and spiritual changes that take place within the teenager who is destined to become a man in prison. A man that is condemned to die in that very institution. "

Erik VanZant was 14 years old when he broke into his neighbors house and fatally stabbed her. No psychological examination was performed to determine his competency prior to his hearing to remand him to the juvenile court system. His case remained in the criminal court and a jury found him guilty of first degree murder. Erik's second request for Post Conviction relief was recently denied by the State Superior Court.

Nevertheless, since his imprisonment he has endeavored to educate himself by taking courses in business and criminal justice. He is planning on registering in the spring with Villanova University to continue his studies. Erik has also been trained to facilitate Restorative Justice workshops. He has completed programs in Impact of Crime(a class that shows the effects of crime from a victims perspective), a Character Development course, End Violence(a course in leadership and transformational thinking, a Citizenship Program, Alternatives to Violence workshops, and Drug awareness groups. Erik has always taken a pro-active approach to rehabilitating himself and is currently the coordinator of the Juvenile Lifers for Justice.