Starcia Ague's Story
Initially I started SMA Creatives as a vehicle to expand my love of art, instead it has gone into a different direction and we are expanding on my original work with criminal justice reform to create a curriculum teaching newly released (formerly) incarcerated how to function in today’s society without falling back into the behaviors that led to being incarcerated in the first place.
SMA Creatives LLC, we use the profits of our art production to fund our work in reforming the criminal justice system and juvenile justice system. Other mechanisms are by way of grants and donations.
My journey into being a champion for the Juvenile Justice System began when I was incarcerated at the age of 15 years old for 6 felony crimes when a robbery went bad. While I was serving Juvenile life (5.5 years from ages of 15 to 21), I discovered that the best way to get out of the system of incarceration and reoffending was get an education beyond High School. When I inquired into continuing education, the prison administrators laughed at me. However, one of my greatest skills is research; I found “For every kid who doesn’t graduate, the prison system gets funding for, so they don’t want you to graduate in prison.” Armed with this knowledge, I convinced the institution to let me take college classes in hopes of receiving an AA degree before I left the prison system. When I was released on my birthday, I was 5 credits short of an AA, but transferred to Washington State University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice, graduating in 2010.
In 2011, I received a pardon from Christine Gregiour; I am the only juvenile in the state of Washington to receive a pardon.
After graduation, I had the opportunity to coauthor a bill to ensure that all juveniles in lockup have the ability to pursue an education.
Between 2011 and 2016, I had the opportunity to speak at a number of JJS conferences around the country along with serving on the board of the ACLU of Washington.
As owner and chief heart officer for SMA Creatives, I ask myself regularly, how can I ensure that no child lives through a childhood similar to what I had endured (and survived). My mother is a drug addict and my father cooked meth & sold drugs, between them I have been repeatedly raped, abused, neglected, and abandoned. Through my work with the state of Washington, King County and several non-profits, I have mentored 87 children and teens, rescued countless others from drug infested, abusive homes around the PNW. My role as chief heart officer frequently has me mentoring recently released individuals who are referred to me by others who believe my story will help inspire them to make the necessary changes.
My experiences and well as my work for many nonprofits and volunteer organizations gives me a unique insight into the problems of the current juvenile justice system as well the lack of any real desire by the government to make any real meaningful changes to help the young incarcerated children. The system is broken, and the current methods of handling those who are incarcerated, or those about to be released isn’t sufficient to ensure that they don’t reoffend. There are plenty of evidence-based solutions that could make the transition easier, but the current way prisons and juvenile and adult facilities are funded make the work we need to do more difficult.