Who are we?

The Philadelphia Youth Solutions Project is a program designed to give a voice to those touched by violence in Philadelphia, and enhance opportunities for youth and community engagement in violence reduction.

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Philadelphia Youth Solutions

Nov 03

For all of you whose lives have been touched by violence, this is a safe space for you to share your views, experiences, hopes and fears about the danger and violence that consumes so much of your day. Ask questions, vent, tell us who you are. We’ll make sure your voices are heard by those who run the city, community leaders, reporters, politicians, and anyone else who can, with your help, make a difference in your life.

A quick look around:

The Wall

The Wall is a space for you to leave a comment– anything you’re thinking about, worried about, or want others to know about.

Fast Facts

Poke around here to find out the truth about violence.

Incident Map

This interactive map is an online memorial to those who have lost their lives to violence. Here you can post your own marker for someone you want to remember.

Digital Shorts

Check out these short videos produced by our Philly Flash Productions crew to hear about what is going on in Philly.

Important Discussions

Speak your mind! This page gives you a list of topics you might want to talk about. Click on the subject you have an opinion on and tell us what you think.

8th Annual Vigil to Remember Victims of Homicide

Apr 09

In 2013, Philadelphia saw its lowest number of homicides since 1967 with a reported 247 slayings. We were happy to acknowledge this gain for the City but still pulled to remember the humanity of the 247 Philadelphians who are no longer walking their city streets. On Tuesday, April 8, 2014; The Center held its Eighth Annual Vigil to Remember Homicide Victims. This solemn evening was joined by Everett Gillison and Richard Negrin who read the names of each individual slain; also a reflection by Reuben Morgan of Focus Deterrence whose work contributed to a 43% drop in homicide in South Philadelphia, and a keynote address by the Honorable, Mayor Michael Nutter who appropriately challenged the audience in the area of homicide, gun violence and the human condition because 247 lives lost in Philadelphia is 247 too many.

See coverage of the event from 6abc Action News/PHL17 HERE.
More images to come.


William Julius Wilson | April 1, 2014

Mar 25

The Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence is privileged to host the MacArthur Prize Winner, Provocateur, Genius, Scholar and exceptionally distinguished Harvard Professor on April 1, 2014.

Professor Wilson will present: “The Truly Disadvantaged Revisited: Critical Reflections on the Recent Research on Concentrated Poverty and Joblessness”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
7:00PM | President’s Lounge: Campion Student Center

Sponsored By: Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence and the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

William Julius Wilson

RJC’s Panel Examining Philly’s Drop in Homicide

Feb 25

In case you missed it: Here is a clip from 6abc Action News covering our panel featuring some of the City’s finest in policing and law enforcement.

Surveying Decreased Philly Homicide Rate | “The Philadelphia Experiment: Re-imagined Policing and Enforcement in the City of Brotherly Love”

Feb 07

In 2013, Philadelphia reached its lowest homicide rate since 1967 with a reported 249 slayings. Although any number of homicide is still an indication of social disease, the 40% drop Philadelphia experienced this past year is evidence of the remarkable, strategic and thorough work of city law enforcement. The Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence is happy to present “The Philadelphia Experiment: Re-imagined Policing and Enforcement in the City of Brotherly Love” to be held on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 7PM in the North Lounge of Campion Student Center.

Please join us as we learn more about the methodology and tactics used to achieve this great stride for public safety in the city of Philadelphia.

RJC Web Smaller

RJC Hosts || Course Brings Students Into the World of “The Wire”

Jan 28

Friday, January 24, 2014

by David King ’08

HBO’s popular series “The Wire” won many devoted fans and earned critical praise for painting a picture of\ modern day Baltimore for everyone from police and city hall, to the drug dealers, a dwindling middle class and teachers cash-strapped school districts.

This semester, some Saint Joseph’s University students will get an up-close look at that world, examining sociological texts and volunteer experiences in the city of Philadelphia alongside the David Simon’s television series as part of the course “The Wire: Crime, Community and Urban Inequality.”

For Maria Kefalas, Ph.D., professor of sociology, the series provides a good framework to talk about complex social issues.

“The great thing about ‘The Wire’ is that it holds a mirror up to urban life,” Kefalas says. “It communicates straightforward academic research on poverty, crime, violence and education in a clear way that sociologists haven’t always been able to.”

Since going off the air in 2008, “The Wire” has been used as a basis for a number of college courses because of its ability to present realistic portrayals of all walks of life in the city.

For the first time, Kefalas is making her course based on the show a service learning class. Students will spend three hours a week volunteering in programs such as Connection Training Services, which provides economic, housing and social needs of the disadvantaged populations of Philadelphia; Interim House, which provides services to women with substance abuse and mental health issues; and the Juvenile Justice Center, which serves the needs of disadvantaged children, youth and families.

“We want to get students on the ground to see what’s going on in their own city,” says Kefalas. “The goal is for students to come out of the course with a real understanding of urban America.”

Many of these Philadelphia neighborhoods resemble the parts of Baltimore that “The Wire” was set in. The students will also meet and speak with police and public officials who work in these high-crime or disadvantaged areas.

Also a first for the course, an actor and writer from the show will visit campus to discuss their experiences with “The Wire.”

On January 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Presidents’ Lounge, Charley Scalies ’62, an actor who appeared in the show’s second season as Thomas “Horseface” Pakusa, a union dock worker, and Rafael Álvarez, a former Baltimore Sun reporter and staff writer on “The Wire” will speak with students.

According to Kefalas, one of the challenges of a course based on a popular show is getting people to think about it from a sociologist’s point of view rather than a fan’s.

While “The Wire” won fans with characters like Omar, a stick-up man who robs the city’s drug dealers, Kefalas emphasizes that there’s nothing redeeming about the violence the show depicts.

“If you’re watching and not paying attention, you may miss the tragic and horrific consequence of violence,” says Kefalas. “But the show really depicts the crisis in urban America. No one escapes unscathed, especially the children it depicts, and the characters aren’t portrayed in a heroic way.”

Much like the series itself, students usually leave the course with no easy answers and a better understanding of the challenges cities face today.

“One of the things that sticks with students is how broken the system currently is for everyone involved,” Kefalas says. “They understand the tragedy of the kid who slings on the corner and recognize how difficult it can be for the police day in and day out.”

RJC Gets WIRED with “Horseface”!

Dec 17


The Richard Johnson Center is excited to welcome back Actor Charley Scalies ’62, to SJU. Charley is best known for his role as Thomas “Horseface” Pakusa in Season Two of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire. He returns to Hawk Hill to share his experiences portraying the iconic character, along with Rafael Alvarez, a fiction writer, former reporter for the Baltimore Sun and screenwriter for three seasons of show.

We hope you will join us for this exciting event!

January 28th, 11am-1pm
President’s Lounge – Saint Joseph’s University
Refreshments will be served.

RJC “On the Job” for Juvenile Lifers

Oct 30

Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of juveniles with life sentences. The RJC was granted the ability to share some of their stories in their own words decades after the fact. Featured are some pictures of the process. Special thanks to Greg Corbin and Denice Frohman of Philly Youth Poetry Movement and the many key players behind the scenes for lending their voices to the voiceless. We look very forward to sharing the project with you!

Philadelphia Homicide Vigil

Apr 23

Special Thanks to Mayor Michael Nutter, Dr. Eileen Weissman, Everett Gillison, Betsy Linehan RSM, SJU President Father Gillespie, all SJU faculty, staff, students, and our neighboring community members for making this evening of remembrance possible.

Breaking Down Barriers Between Youth and Law Enforcement

Mar 20

On Monday, March 11th, PYSP invited Corporal Brian P. Haughton, Officer Robert Monahan and two other officers from the Philadelphia Police Department to visit with two 10th grade classes at Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School (MACS) on North Broad Street with the goal of breaking down barriers that exist between young adults and law enforcement in Philadelphia.

Prior to that day, the MACS students submitted anonymous questions they wanted to ask of the officers, which began an open dialogue and Q&A on what it’s like to be an officer in Philadelphia, racial profiling, advice for teens on how to best interact with police, stop snitching, community stereotypes of the police, and the reality that many citizens in Philadelphia suffer from some form of PTSD as a result of the violence they witness in their everyday lives. The students also had an opportunity to give advice to the officers, offering suggestions on how the police might approach teenagers differently to improve community relations.

In an anonymous post-survey, students were asked whether the class changed their view of police officers, out of which many gave positive responses, highlighted below:

“It did change, because I didn’t know their side, & how much they care”
“I don’t think the cops are that bad because they just want to keep us safe”
“It changed in a positive way because they wanted to know how we feel”
“Mine changed in a positive way because now I know what they deal with”

Students were also asked to list what they may have learned from their discussion:

“I have more respect for their jobs”
“I learned when the police tell somebody to get off the corner, they are not trying to be disrespectful but trying to save your life”
“They go through a lot to protect us”
“I realized how many things they do for us”
“I learned they do care about us”
(I learned) “to be a bit more respectful”

PYSP would like to thank the Philadelphia Police Officers and students from MACS for their willingness to participate in this open and honest discussion! We hope to continue holding these conversations with other groups of young people in the future.

RJC with Emily Bazelon

Mar 06

The Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence hosted Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate Magazine and contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. Bazelon discussed her newest book Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Discovering the Power of Character and Empathy. Released on February 19th, the book focuses on the devastating consequences of teenage bullying and offers thought-provoking solutions for parents and educators. Bazelon later presented at Philadelphia’s High School of the Future where students across Philadelphia, parents, and members of the school district were able to ask questions and comment on their concerns with respect to Bazelon’s expertise. Hosting Bazelon was a collaborative effort of RJC, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Office of School Safety Advocate, and the School District of Philadelphia