A group of Black female judges in Dallas County, Texas, are doing their part to keep teens in school and out of their courtrooms.
The Honorable Judges Stephanie Mitchell, Shequitta Kelly, Lisa Green, and Amber Givens-Davis are also members of prestigious Black Greek-lettered organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., respectively.
The initiative is called “Pipeline to Possibilities.” It is an empowerment program aimed at helping at-risk youth in Dallas. Since 2016, Pipeline to Possibilities has helped approximately 300 children choose a better path to have a better future.
“I see a lot of young people come in, between the ages of 17 and 25. Most of them are often first time offenders,” explained the Honorable Judge Lisa Green, who was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Spring ’94 through the Delta Rho City Wide chapter.
The school to prison pipeline trend has specifically targeted youth from lower economic and urban backgrounds. Instead of offering help and services to troubled children, school administrators delve out severe punishments that often place these students into the criminal justice system. Many of these children have learning disabilities, live in poverty, suffer from abuse and/or neglect, and would better benefit from additional counseling services and educational services.
Black children are more likely to be victims of this trend.
The Honorable Judge Shequitta Kelly, who was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta in Fall ’98 through the Gamma Nu chapter, stated: “Tupac has a phrase that I live by: ‘It’s like a rose growing out from concrete.’ If you see a rose in concrete, you don’t ask why its petals are bent or why it’s not leaning perfectly. You see its beauty and power, and that’s what we see. We see people who have come from tough situations. I would recommend people to be more compassionate. It could be something as simple as saying, ‘Have a nice day.’ You don’t know how much that could mean to someone.”
Much like their respective organizations, the judges are committed to providing the community a service with their four-week program. Pipeline to Possibilities offers a comprehensive curriculum on the various aspects of the justice system.
Their collective goal is to keep more children in school and out of prison in Dallas. Instead of seeing troubled teens as damaged, the women are offering them a chance at having a better life. Sometimes, it takes someone seeing the best in these children in order for them to see the best in themselves.