Richard Cabral X AFJ Summary

Alternate text



On June 15, Primetime Emmy Award Nominated Actor and Gang Interventionist,  Richard Cabral, went Live on Instagram with AFJ Court Advocate, Elsie Flores, who described her journey from being an AFJ participant to becoming an AFJ Court Advocate.

Facing 6 years in prison at age 16:  Elsie described her early troubles - and the problems many of AFJ’s youth still face - growing up without a father and with a drug addicted mother who forgot her own daughter's birthdays, deciding whether to sell drugs for $1,000 a week or work at a store for minimum wage. Elsie also described what it was like at age 16 to face up to 6 years in state prison. That was the point where Nelson and Angel at Avenues for Justice intervened, convincing the judge to mandate her to AFJ’s services instead of sending her update to prison. Today, Elsie is a college graduate, a parent of two, as well as a motherly figure to all her participants, a full-time Court Advocate and Mentor.

Advice from The Evolution of a Gang Member: Pivoting towards her time on the other side of the courtroom, Elsie cited Richard’s essay The Evolution of a Gang Member  where Richard articulates that staff and mentors at youth programs need to understand the pain and trauma youth have undergone. Elsie now finds that her difficult past is a source of her strength as a mentor and court advocate. Her participants, see from her example, that if they work hard and turn their lives around, they, too, can be successful. Richard was also incarcerated in his teens and now works with youth at Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program in Los Angeles, where his guidance is rooted in the fact that he was once in their shoes.

Innocence or criminality: While society may see a young person defined by a rap sheet, Elsie said she sees innocence in her participants - they didn’t choose to grow up impoverished and neglected. They are young, filled with trauma, and need support and guidance. Elsie said 20 years ago, Nelson and Angel saw this innocence in her when they stood by her in court.

Expand their worlds: Elsie and Richard discussed how these youth need their world to be expanded during rehabilitation. Richard described youth from the Los Angeles metro area who had never seen the ocean or even another neighborhood. Elsie said AFJ provides field trips because many youth have never been to a museum, seen the Statue of Liberty, or walked through Central Park. It is critical that these youth know that there is a world outside their immediate neighborhoods. 

AFJ is incredibly grateful to Richard for providing the platform to share Elsie’s story. If you want to see more Instagram conversations like AFJ’s, head to @RichardCabralOfficial on Instagram!


Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
e-mail icon