At 13 years old, Xavier McElrath-Bey was arrested for gang-related murder. Xavier was convicted and sentenced to 25 years, of which he served 13. While in prison he earned a college degree and dedicated his life to working for change on behalf of the victim in his case.
Xavier joined the CFSY in 2014 and is now our senior advisor and national advocate and is based in his native Chicago. In this role, he speaks to groups throughout the country in support of our public education and advocacy efforts. As a restorative justice practitioner, Xavier previously worked for a longitudinal study of the mental health needs, service utilization, and outcomes of formerly incarcerated youth at Northwestern University, where he conducted more than 800 clinical field interviews. He also worked in Chicago as the juvenile justice diversion program coordinator for Alternatives, Inc., as a Catholic Charities street intervention specialist with children in the Back of the Yards neighborhood where he grew up, and as a cease-fire outreach worker.
Outside of work, Xavier works with young people in Chicago to help them avoid involvement in the criminal justice system. He has worked to develop a network of formerly incarcerated youth and has been active in state coalitions working to eliminate extreme sentences for children.