The youth justice community lost a powerful advocate on Tuesday, April 21st, and YAP lost a dear friend and mentor. Paul DeMuro was an early pioneer in juvenile justice reform. He spent his career working to close youth prisons and to make life better for youth and their families all over the country.
Paul was a wonderfully positive, visionary person who was a critical and effective advocate for young people. He had a deep reserve of compassion combined with a towering intellect that presented as unassuming, but gently challenging. He mentored many of today’s juvenile justice and child welfare advocates and practitioners and contributed greatly to the field over 6 decades. Paul set the bar high when he, Tom Jeffers, Dr. Jerry Miller and others shut down the Massachusetts youth prisons and replaced them with a community based system of care in the early 1970s.
Paul also is responsible for helping Tom Jeffers found YAP. Paul’s efforts to help systems meet the needs of their higher risk young people contributed to YAP programming in New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York and Texas. Paul was an early Board Member and a friend and supporter of ours for 45 years. Almost 5 years ago we awarded Paul the “Last One Over The Wall Award” as a tribute to his amazing contribution. He gave a speech which was addressed to and written for all of our staff.
So, in these dark times, take a moment to read Paul’s speech. It will give us all what we need to get through these days, refocus on our purpose and move on to continue to change lives and human service systems for the better.
We will miss Paul, a kind, compassionate, caring, committed, intelligent and wise man, mentor, advocate, friend, warrior and husband and father and grandfather. Our gratitude and affection for him will remain, as Pauls’ fingerprints are all throughout the YAP universe.
Read Paul's op-ed from 2019 calling for youth justice reform.