• Young Artist Movement (YAM)

Arts Diversion Program

New Orleans’ only arts-based diversion program

Arts Diversion Program

Our successful Young Artist Movement (YAM) program is currently the only arts-based diversion program being offered through the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office. The YAM diversion program was founded in 2021 as an alternative to prosecution and incarceration that draws on the healing and restorative qualities of artistic expression. Youth are eligible for diversion if they have a low-level, nonviolent offense. Their cases are dismissed upon completion of the program, preventing unnecessarily drawn-out court involvement. 

We believe that while youth should be accountable for their actions, overly harsh and punitive responses do more harm than good. YAM engages youth in a positive and caring environment where they can explore their talents and become more connected to their communities.  System-involved youth are not separated from their peers, however they do receive additional support and services to foster accountability, growth, and resilience. Through a partnership with Whole Village Art Therapy, we offer optional therapeutic services to all youth in the program.   

The goal of diversion is to reach youth in the juvenile legal system as early as possible, but we intervene at multiple levels of the system. We also support system-involved youth who are referred by the Mayor’s Office of Youth & Families Pathways program. And in 2022, we held our first YAM program for youth detained in the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center. These youth are not eligible for having their cases dismissed, but the premise of our work with them is the same: that art is a tool for transformative personal growth and societal change.  

“YAM is uniquely positioned to make an impact in our city because we recognize that the combination of art, smart justice, and social engagement will enhance the lives of young people, reduce and prevent crime, and increase the quality of life in our community.” 

Judge Arthur Hunter, YAM Co-Founder and Advisory Committee Member