Who We Are

As a network of leaders who were formerly incarcerated as youth, we are living proof of the unique capacity for change that resides within every child, humbly recognizing our responsibility to humanity and serving as a source of motivation to others that it is never too late to become a positive force in the community.

The Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network’s vision is to help create a fair and just society which recognizes the developmental differences between adolescents and adults and never loses sight of children’s unique capacity for positive change and rehabilitation, a society which nurtures all children and provides them with an equal opportunity for positive development and success.

We believe that a fair justice system would address victim and public safety concerns, hold justice-involved youth accountable in age-appropriate ways, and utilize restorative approaches that help build children’s capacity to not re-offend. Such a system would focus on trauma-informed approaches, which recognize that “no child is born bad.”
We believe in the principles of restorative justice and in the rights and dignity of all children—even those who’ve made poor decisions and mistakes.


The Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network is a national network of individuals formerly incarcerated for crimes committed as children. We endeavor to champion the cause for age-appropriate and trauma-informed alternatives to the extreme sentencing of America’s youth—with a focus on abolishing “juvenile life without parole.”

As an initiative of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, we aim to change the narrative of formerly incarcerated youth and advocate for age-appropriate accountability measures for children by:

  • Speaking publicly to provide living examples of positive change
  • Educating stakeholders and other strategic audiences about the impacts of extreme sentences upon individuals, families, and communities
  • Highlighting in the media and in amicus briefs stories of individual change that demonstrate the potential of formerly incarcerated youth to become positive and productive members of society
  • Advocating for reforms to justice policies at the state and federal levels that fail to reflect the fundamental differences between adolescents and adults
  • Supporting campaign partners and other organizations and initiatives that advocate for age-appropriate and trauma-informed consequences for children
  • Sharing our unique insights gained from experience to inform institutional policies and practices in working with youth
  • Connecting and collaborating with other advocacy organizations and initiatives that are headed by, are staffed by, and/or are informed by formerly incarcerated leaders

    ICAN members with Rep. Tony Cardenas at the CFSY 2014 National Convening

    ICAN members with Rep. Tony Cardenas at the CFSY 2014 National Convening

ICAN is also on Facebook–connect for news stories, posts from members nationwide, and ways to help.

ICAN’s Youtube channel features many of the stories of formerly incarcerated youth and highlights their ongoing work.

To get involved or add your story as a formerly incarcerated youth, please contact Youth Justice Advocate Xavier McElrath-Bey at xmcelrathbey@fairsentencingofyouth.org. For any questions or concerns, email the Campaign at info@fairsentencingofyouth.org.