SWAG Bags are helping to reduce juvenile recidivism!


There is a 50% chance that youth will return to a youth detention center in less than 2 years. 70% of these youth return within 90 days. There are over 2,000 kids currently incarcerated in the state of GA. 50,000 kids locked up nationwide - for nonviolent offenses.  


When a kid goes into a juvenile detention center, as young as 12 years old, they enter a series of barbed wire fences and high-security doors, the kid gets a cell, they’re told to stay quiet and behave, do their time, get out, and told not to come back.


But truth is - Kids come back. In fact, 50% of kids come back within 2 years because there is limited support to prepare them for what’s going to happen once they return to the same environment that they came from.


The Showcase Group provides intervention services inside of Juvenile Detention Centers that make sure that our kids are prepared with the skills, the tools, the social and emotional intelligence that they need in order to succeed when they get out.   We introduce a number of culturally relevant programs that help incarcerated youth understand their emotions and reactions and how to manage their behavior in tough situations. Many of our youth learn about STEM careers for the first time thanks to our programming.   


Our goal is to make certain that our youth leave these detention centers mentally prepared to make the best choices so they are never faced with incarceration again!  


This is unlike other juvenile justice programs because, of the other programs throughout the state, we are the only program incorporating social and emotional learning workshops to incarcerated youth. Only 30% of incarcerated youth receive mental health treatment when studies show that over 70% actually need it.


Over the past 5 years, Showcase Group has expanded programming statewide and we’ve achieved some great results - contributing to a decrease in recidivism.  We’ve learned that just providing services inside of the juvenile justice system is not sufficient, because, within 90 days of those kids leaving, we run a risk of losing them once their back in their home. Every effort that we’ve put in, could be lost if we don't keep in touch with the youth we have worked so hard to empower.  We’ve created a solution for that - and we’re proud to introduce that solution as The Swag Bag.




































The idea is that every youth in our program will receive this bag upon release.  


This bag does 2 things. First and most importantly, it provides us with a way to stay directly connected with youth in the community. Each bag includes a smartphone that is pre-programmed with the contact information for a personal advocate assigned to that youth - all that youth has to do is press the number 2 and they’re connected with their advocate.  Also, there’s the swag! We want to welcome these kids back into society by providing some basic needs and that first outfit to ultimately boost their confidence.


We tried the swag bag over the last 8 months with 30 boys and girls transitioning out of detention centers and we’re proud to report that our kids love it! Only one participant returned to detention 3 days after their release.  Other participants are actively working with their advocates and many have successfully transitioned into a success pathway thanks to their advocate (employment, residential care, education, mental health) The Swag Bag Advocacy Initiative makes sure these kids have a new start and the resources necessary to live successful and fulfilling lives.  






























Hykeim, with his mother and sister day of release after receiving his Swag Bag filled with resources.




The GA Dept of Juvenile Justice loves the program.  They want to take those same 30 kids we currently serve and grow that number to serve more youth transitioning back into the community after being incarcerated.  We currently have advocacy clusters in Fulton, Dekalb, Troup, Bibb, Richmond, and Chatham counties. To grow this program, we obviously need financial support - not just to pay for the SWAG - but also to support our recruiting, training, and managing of all of the volunteer advocates we have who work with our youth when they are released.


For $125 we can provide this swag bag along with advocate support to a kid for 6 months.  We want to raise awareness for this forgotten population of our youth - Youth in the juvenile justice system through the use of the Swag Bag. We want to put awesome things inside of the swag bag, so if you represent a company or an organization that can provide things that would be useful to these youth, we’d love to connect with you.


This work is personal for the Founder of the Showcase Group, John Kennebrew.  He has worked with youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system for 5 years as a licensed psychotherapist. Kennebrew was introduced to this work because he is a foster parent with kids that have been incarcerated. Kennebrew says “I know that these kids are not addicted to crimes, many of them are stuck in poverty and when we work with them as advocates, we are able to achieve results that will last them a lifetime.”     

Showcase Group believes that if youth in detention centers are given the means, they will stay connected with our organization through a dedicated advocate/mentor, ultimately lowering the rate of recidivism and a means of being provided the necessary resources.  


Our Process:


We believe Emotional Intelligence is as important of a skill as math and science.

  1. Social and Emotional Learning Workshops during incarceration for youth 12-17.  

  2. Mentor/Advocate assigned to detained youth 60 days before release to start rapport building.

  3. “Swag Bag” given to youth upon release

  4. Advocate maintains communication with youth and family a minimum of 3 months after release through nonclinical case management

  5. Facilitate access to resource pathways (Employment, Education, Residential, Mental Health)

  6. Video testimonials from youth about program experience for qualitative data.


Each SWAG bag includes the following:


5-step instruction card and a handwritten letter from their Advocate

1 package of 3-4 underwear

1 body lotion

1 cell phone (activated 4G LTE Android with mobile hotspot)

1 stick of deodorant

1 journal and 1 writing pen

1 package of 3-4 t-shirts

1 body wash

1 motivational text/book

Showcase Group brochure & business card

Area Resource list

1 Exit outfit







For additional information, questions or resources please contact John Kennebrew at jkennebrew@showcasegroup.org 678-744-8336.

© 2019 by Showcase Group. All rights reserved.

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