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20 Under 30: Jody Kent

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LAist's "20 Under 30" interview series with interesting Angelenos under 30 continues with Jody Kent, a passionate activist who works for the ACLU. She monitors the jails, advocates for inmates, and can tell you that if you get arrested, the last place you want to to end up is Men's Central Jail.

Age and Occupation:
26, Jails Project Coordinator for the ACLU of Southern California

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
Since August 2002. Venice.

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Why do you live in Los Angeles?
I was placed out here for a one-year volunteer program after graduating from college and swore I would return to the East Coast afterwards. But the brokenness of LA drew me in so much that I wanted to stay and keep working on the issues here about which I've become really passionate.

How did you come to become the ACLU's Jails Project Coordinator?
I used to volunteer with juvenile offenders. Hearing their heart-wrenching life stories had a profound impact on me. Many of them had mothers who were addicted to drugs, fathers in prison, teachers who did not believe in them, and they looked to fellow gang members for love and respect. I realized that had most of us been in their shoes growing up, faced with terribly difficult choices, we would have likely made some of the same decisions that they had, and would be just as likely to end up in jail. It just made me realize how unjust our system is, and how many obstacles low-income, urban youth face. I wanted to advocate for this population that gets locked up and all-too-often forgotten. When I finished my volunteer program, there was this job opening at the ACLU, so I applied and the rest is history.