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  • Annual Children's Mental Health Research & Policy Conference Wraps Up

    Greetings from the Children’s Mental Health Research and Policy Conference, hosted March 2-5, 2014, by the Department of Child & Family Studies at the University of South Florida. 

    It has been a busy week with a robust agenda to expand research; translate the science to practice; expand initiatives to strengthen and sustain healthy communities; and improve the quality of life for children and families.

    Research has shown a strong link to between substance abuse and teens seeking mental health care.

    Stay tuned for lessons learned.

    Photo at right: Portland State University was well-represented, as you can see from the contingency (left to right) John Ossowski, Janet Walker, Susan Richardson, and Nancy Koroloff.

  • Digging Deeper: Report on Justice-Involved Youth with Mental Health Needs

    A new report, “Better Solutions for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System [PDF],” details effective responses to youth with mental health needs in the juvenile justice system. The Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change's report highlights the scope of the problem, identifies scientific breakthroughs, and encourages community-based treatment interventions that provide more appropriate, effective responses to youth with mental health needs. 

    The key takeaway from the report explains:

    Whenever safe and appropriate, youth with mental health needs should be prevented from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place.

    View or download the report in full [PDF].

  • New Report Details Effects of Mentoring on Teens

    MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership recently released "The Mentoring Effect: Young People's Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring.”Via the press release (emphasis mine):

    The publication links mentoring to significant life outcomes for youth and highlights a substantial gap that exists in America: one in three young people will reach adulthood without having a mentor. A nationally representative survey of youth informs this report, which reveals that at-risk youth with mentors are much more likely to attend college, participate in extracurricular activities, take on leadership roles, and regularly volunteer in their communities. The publication outlines opportunities for the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to integrate mentoring as a key youth development strategy.

    View or download the report and executive summary.

  • New Webinar Series, Girls Matter!, Addresses Adolescent Girls’ Behavioral Health

    It's no secret that adolescence is a time of transition with unique challenges and pressures for both girls and boys. The Girls Matter! webinar series aims to turn the attention to how these challenges and pressures affect adolescent girls. One in four adolescent girls experiences a behavioral health problem, but research shows a gap in services, support, and important behavioral health care for adolescent girls—the very tools that help girls successfully transition into adulthood.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is launching Girls Matter! in an effort to bridge the gap between services, support and health care for adolescent girls with behavioral problems by providing professionals with information about the critical needs of girls today. The six-part series features professionals from multiple fields and specialties who share a passion for helping teen girls thrive. Continuing Education Hours NAADAC and NBCC CEHs are available through the ATTC Network Coordinating Office.

  • NCMHJJ Announces New Resource Center

    The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) recently created a new resource center, Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, to continue to advance the juvenile justice reforms initiated by the states participating in Models for Change. Via the announcement:

    The Collaborative for Change promotes the mental health reforms that came from Models for Change by supporting their adaptation, replication, and expansion in the field. Its primary areas of focus include critical topics such as: mental health screening, diversion models, mental health training for juvenile justice staff and police, evidence-based practices, family involvement, and juvenile competency. We offer a 24/7 online Resource Center, a Help Desk, and are available to provide consultation and technical assistance.  

    Watch the video below to learn more about how mental health treatment can help teens:

  • 2014 Brings Change to the Georgia Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Justice Redefined (
      Times change. And science changes. And however belatedly sometimes the law needs to change to take all of that into account. In reaction to some admittedly horrific crimes, lawmakers — here and around the country — rewrote laws that allowed juveniles to be sentenced in adult courts to some very adult penalties, including life in prison without the possibility of parole.
    • 2014 Brings Change to the Georgia Juvenile Justice System (
      Georgia is making some changes when it comes to juvenile offenders, a new law will be put in place to reduce the number of minors in lockup and help save the state thousands of dollars. Starting this year, only those who commit serious offenses will be held in custody and as for those accountable for minor offenses, they will be placed in community based programs instead.
    • Looking Back: A Year in Juvenile Justice (
      As 2013 concludes and 2014 begins, JJIE has compiled a selection of some of our most compelling stories from the last year. Collectively, these articles tell of issues in juvenile mental health, improvements in alternative forms of treatment, the danger of stop and frisk, and more.

  • Confronting Bias in the Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Black Girls Disproportionately Confined; Struggle for Dignity in Juvenile Court Schools (New Pittsburgh Courier)
      African American girls continue to be disproportionately over-represented among girls in confinement and court-ordered residential placements. They are also significantly over-represented among girls who experience exclusionary discipline, such as out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and other punishment.
    • Teen-Produced Video Highlights Campaign to ‘Raise the Age’ (
      Last summer, a group of teens enrolled in a program at the New York Center for Juvenile Justice decided to take on what they see as an unfair practice in a recently released video called “Because I’m 16.”
      “Because I’m 16, I can’t drive at night,” a teen says as the video begins. It lists other things you can’t do as a 16-year-old -- drink, smoke, buy a lottery ticket, see an R-rated movie.
    • Reforming the Juvenile Justice System Could Save Hawaii Millions (
      Hawaii is spending nearly $200,000 per bed per year to house juvenile offenders, most of whom got in trouble for non-violent low-level crimes. But the state could save millions of dollars a year by focusing only on the most serious offenders and putting the savings back into the community to help with mental health and substance abuse programs for young offenders, juvenile justice experts say.
    • Confronting Bias in the Juvenile Justice System (
      In the ABC News video, the white youth and the black youth both appear to be trying to do the same thing: steal a bike in broad daylight in a community park. But the two actors playing thieves, both filmed by hidden cameras at different times, get decidedly different reactions from passers-by.

  • Informed Journalism: Reporting on Teens and Mental Health

    The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) recently hosted a webinar exploring issues around journalism and juvenile justice system. Via JJIE:

    Say you've just been assigned to do a story on a 15-year-old kid in trouble with the law. She's got drug problems, she may have mental health issues -- is her story unusual? If her probation officer tells you the girl has been sent to treatment, but it "didn't work," how do you know what questions to ask next?

    Get the answers and more in this webinar, where you'll learn about:

    • the actual prevalence of mental health and alcohol and drug issues among young people in the juvenile justice system;
    • why effective treatment is critical to safe communities;
    • how treatment services are funded and regulated;
    • where to go for information about treatment funding and programs in your jurisdiction.

    About the presenter: Benjamin Chambers is a writer and editor specializing in juvenile justice who currently works as communications specialist for the National Juvenile Justice Network. Prior to that, he spent seven years working for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice in Portland Oregon, where he directed the local Reclaiming Futures project.

  • Yelling, Threatening Parents Harm Teens' Mental Health; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • OP-ED: U.S. Must Increase Juvenile Justice Protections for Children (
      "Chicago, my hometown, was the home of the world’s first juvenile court. We are very proud of our history in the pioneering of a separate and more rehabilitative court for children in the United States. And so it comes as a shock to realize that children in the United States have fewer – significantly fewer – legal protections than children in other nations."
    • Gov. Mead of Wyoming Seeks to Collect Juvenile Justice Data (

      Gov. Matt Mead is asking state lawmakers to budget $500,000 for a system that would allow officials to track information about juvenile offenders in the state. Tony Young, Mead's deputy chief of staff, said Thursday that the money would cover installation of the system to track data about young offenders at the five juvenile detention centers in the state, as well as the Wyoming Boys School and Wyoming Girls School.
    • Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Expands Across Indiana (
      Indiana’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) will include nineteen counties as the initiative expands across the state. Eleven counties will join the eight current JDAI counties thanks to a partnership of all three branches of government.
    • OP-ED: Diagnosis: Adolescence, Not Otherwise Specified (
      "Think back to your teenage years for a moment. Were you ever impulsive? Was it important to fit in? Did you make poor decisions? Did you ever do something that (if you had been caught) could have led to serious consequences? Don’t worry if you answered yes to any or all of these questions: you are not alone. For those working with teenagers, the good news is that we now know more than ever about why adolescents tend to have these characteristics or behaviors."

  • Holidays in the Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • At Thanksgiving, Reflecting on Justice for Native Americans (
      “Native Americans and Juvenile Justice: A Hidden Tragedy,” is an article from the 2008 issue of Poverty and Race, and covers the intersection of this historically disadvantaged group with the modern justice system.
    • OP-ED: Life-Saving Suicide Prevention Resources Address Critical Need in Juvenile Justice System (
      When it comes to high risk for suicide, youth in contact with the juvenile justice system stand out. It is alarming. Fortunately, staff within the system can play a crucial preventive role by working collectively to provide guidance, support and access to needed care.
    • Holidays in the Juvenile Justice System (
      "My wife, Mary Jo, and I were snowbound in Michigan while working on a building project so we lost Thanksgiving with our families in southern Illinois. Missing a holiday with the dozens of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles got me to wondering – what is the holiday experience for a kid in detention?"

  • Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [OP-ED] Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform (
      "Locking up a juvenile is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, while treating one at a community-based center is estimated by the Juvenile Justice Project to cost about $5,000."
    • Talking Juvenile Justice: A Webinar with Photographer Richard Ross (
      On Monday, November 18th JJIE hosted a webinar with Richard Ross -- a photographer, researcher and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. Ross has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fulbright, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.
    • Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice System Addressed (
      To illustrate the stark racial disparities in Connecticut’s juvenile justice system, think about this: While non-white kids make up 57 percent of the patients at Riverview Hospital, a youth psychiatric facility, non-white kids at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, a secure facility for delinquents, make up 86 percent of the kids serving there. It’s a reality that child advocates, city officials and roughly 100 residents gathered to discuss Wednesday.
    • [OP-ED] Spotlight on Solano: Youth Thrive Through County Innovation (
      Today, juvenile justice reform and innovation is underway in California and nationwide. The Missouri and Washington models of juvenile justice programming are renowned, as they should be. They present a much-needed road map for other jurisdictions strategizing for systemic change. However, California may not need to look so far away to find the answers. With 58 counties, California is a hotbed of innovation, and Solano County is forging the way.

  • Supporting Systems Change in Reclaiming Futures Communities

    Reclaiming Futures has helped communities break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime for more than 10 years. But how exactly does Reclaiming Futures accomplish systems change? We sat down with National Executive Director Susan Richardson to discuss the model and benefits of becoming a Reclaiming Futures site.

    Lori Howell (LH): What makes Reclaiming Futures successful in a variety of communities across the country?  

    Susan J. Richardson (SJR): Reclaiming Futures offers powerful tools and resources to communities helping teens overcome drugs, alcohol and crime. We work to improve drug, alcohol and mental health treatment and connect teens to positive activities and caring adults.

    LH: That sounds like quite a feat! How do you accomplish this? 

    SJR: Reclaiming Futures unites juvenile courts, probation, adolescent substance abuse treatment, teen mental health treatment and the community to reclaim youth.

    LH: Please tell us about the Reclaiming Futures model.

    SJR:  The proven six-step Reclaiming Futures model unites juvenile courts, probation, adolescent substance abuse treatment, and the community to reclaim youth. Together this leadership team works for change to improve drug, alcohol and mental health treatment for teens and connect them to positive activities and caring adults.

    LH: Please tell me more about the leadership team and how it functions.

    SJR: The Reclaiming Futures Change Teams are organized into five groups: Judicial, Juvenile Justice, Substance Abuse Treatment, Community, and Project Director Fellowships. This change team also represents their local community at national Reclaiming Futures meetings. In addition to regular conference calls, each Fellowship has an annual meeting with their colleagues. Both the calls and meetings provide opportunities for Fellows to discuss implementation issues, professional topics, and seek the advice and support of colleagues as they work to implement the Reclaiming Futures model at the local level.

  • [Video] What is Juvenile Indigent Defense? News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [Video] What is Juvenile Indigent Defense? (
      On November 11th, JJIE rolled out the next section of our juvenile justice resource hub on juvenile indigent defense. To kick start the launch, JJIE led a compelling and informative live group video chat with key players in the Juvenile Indigent Defense reform movement—exploring youth’s rights and access to quality council and defense when they find themselves in court.
    • Proposed Reforms to Juvenile Representation Stir Concerns in Colorado (The Denver Post)
      Criminal justice experts are questioning whether proposed reforms requiring youth offenders to have attorneys are really necessary — or if the system can even afford it. Legislation on juvenile representation — including one provision requiring juveniles to have legal counsel at detention hearings — will be proposed in January when state lawmakers convene.
    • Criminal Case Puts Focus on Bullying Laws (
      Once considered a teenage rite of passage, bullying is now the subject of hundreds of state laws and a rallying cry for pundits, parents and celebrities.
    • Inside Heads and Cells of Juvenile Offenders: New Philly Art Exhibit Showcases and Helps Youth (
      What was originally conceived as a locally-staged art exhibition highlighting the need for reforms to the nation's juvenile justice system has snowballed into something much more. At nonprofit arts organization and studio space InLiquid, housed inside Kensington's Crane Arts building, hundreds of youths will this month receive the opportunity to have their juvenile records expunged, while hundreds more will be provided with resources about diversionary programming that could potentially save them from having to face the issue, in the first place.

  • Study: Many Convicted Juveniles Say They Falsely Admitted Crime; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Study: Many Convicted Juveniles Say They Falsely Admitted Crime (
      More than a third of juveniles convicted of serious crimes said in a recent study they had falsely admitted to a crime they did not commit. The study, which appeared in the journal “Law and Human Behavior,” focused on 193 males aged 14 to 17 incarcerated in a California juvenile justice facility.
    • Our Views: Give More Teens Second Chances in Juvenile Court (
      Wisconsin should give 17-year-old nonviolent first-time offenders a break. Instead of sending them to adult court and risking higher levels of recidivism, the state should keep these low-level offenders in the juvenile justice system, where they can get the help they might need.
    • South Florida Squeezes School-to-Prison Pipeline (
      South Florida’s Broward County School Board voted unanimously to sign new rules, written by many hands, which are meant to drive down arrests and their unintended consequences in the state’s second most populous school district. The Nov. 5 Memorandum of Understanding approved by the school board has its signatories promise “appropriate responses and use of resources when responding to school-based misbehavior.”
    • Debate Over Role Of Government In Juvenile Justice System (
      More than 58,000 delinquents were arrested between 2011 and 2012, according to Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice. Because of those staggering numbers, The James Madison Institute hosted a debate at the Challenger Learning Center tonight.

  • What Role Does Race Play in Juvenile Justice? News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Justice Reform Pays, in Dollars and Sense (Ledger-Enquirer)
      One eye-popping number: The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice says the state can save more than $90,000 for every child -- every child -- that doesn't have to be placed in a juvenile detention center. So said political, law enforcement and judicial officials in a town-hall panel discussion at the Augusta Library Headquarters.
    • New Coalition to Focus on Juvenile Justice in Jacksonville (
      More than two dozen Northeast Florida elected officials, churches, advocacy groups and policy organizations are joining forces to put a stop to the criminalization of first-time juvenile offenders accused of committing misdemeanors.
    • Georgia Closing Juvenile Prison With Nation’s Highest Rate of Sexual Victimization (
      A Georgia youth prison, recently found by a federal study to have the highest rate in the nation of sexual victimization of incarcerated youth, will close at the end of the year, the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced Monday.
    • What Role Does Race Play in Juvenile Justice? Youth Forum Tackles Subject (
      The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and young people will explore solutions to racial disparity to promote equality for Connecticut young people in the system.

  • Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms (
      Nearly half of U.S. states have made great strides in the past eight years toward reducing the prosecution of juveniles in the adult criminal justice system or preventing youths from being placed in adult jails and prisons, a report released Thursday found.
    • ‘Raise the Age’ Advocates Tout New Report on Juvenile Justice (
      The NC Insider is reporting that advocates for raising the age at which North Carolinians are tried in adult courts are touting a new national study that notes that 48 other states have enacted legislation to prevent older teenagers from being prosecuted in adult courts.
    • When Babysitting Joins Forces With Zero Tolerance (
      Sometimes on a Friday night, when there’s nothing better to do and the streets are quiet, indigenous kids in this town 100km (some 60 miles) north-east of Perth, Western Australia, might hang out at the local police station. They’re often not there by choice, but they don’t really mind sticking around either.
    • Florida Struggles To Craft Juvenile Sentencing Policy (
      As state legislators have tried and failed to craft a juvenile-sentencing law that conforms to landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings, a national advocacy group is calling Florida a “clear outlier” among states for its hard-line approach to trying juveniles as adults.

  • Lucas County Youth Assessment Center to Open Soon; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Massachusetts Increases Juvenile Court Jurisdiction to Include 17-Year-Olds (
      Massachusetts now includes 17-year-olds in its juvenile justice system. Only 10 states remain which place 17-year-olds under adult court jurisdiction. Although 17-year-olds who commit violent crimes will be placed in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system, judges still have the discretion to sentence them as adults.
    • U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey Announce $11.67 Million Grant to Reduce Juvenile Recidivism in Massachusetts (
      An innovative program which started in Chelsea and has since expanded to Springfield is getting an influx of cash to help curb juvenile recidivism rates, thanks to a grant from the Department of Labor. On Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, both Massachusetts Democrats, announced that the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has landed $11.67 million to boost employment opportunities and reduce recidivism for young men leaving the state's juvenile justice system.
    • State's Youth Prison System Violates Inmates' Rights, Experts Say (Chicago Tribune)
      Illinois' youth prison system is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by failing to provide adequate mental health care and education and by unnecessarily keeping youths in solitary confinement, three court-appointed experts found this week.
    • OP-ED: Transforming the ‘Bench Box’ Judge (
      "I am a reformist who happens to be a judge. I came to this realization when introduced as a "reformer" at a recent Houston gathering of politicians, judges, clergy and juvenile justice stakeholders. I was invited to share some insights into the collaborative process of building effective juvenile justice systems at the local level -- a judicially led process."

  • New Hope – Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Years Later, Mother and Daughter Still Scarred By Teen Boot Camp Experiences (
      Nicole’s story is one demonstrating both how far -- and how little -- mental health treatment in the nation’s juvenile justice systems have progressed. In a state fraught with Department of Youth Services troubles, she did not receive intensive treatment or rehabilitative services when she entered Alabama’s juvenile justice system.
    • A Court to Give Juveniles a Chance (Tampa Bay Times)
      "Plenty of kids who commit serious crimes deserve adult court and adult sanctions. Others — like juveniles who end up there because a co-defendant qualifies for adult court — might be salvageable. As Judge Stoddard put it: 'Some kids have burned all their bridges. Some kids haven't had the opportunity.'"
    • OP-ED: New Hope – Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth (
      "We may not all become astronauts, actresses or the next NBA all-star, but the beliefs we have in ourselves during childhood are often reflections of the paths we take into adulthood. For this reason it is important for the health of a society to nurture, respect and enrich its youth."
    • Courts Split Over Ruling on Juvenile Life Sentences (The Wall Street Journal)
      Jeffrey Ragland, sentenced to life without parole in 1986 for his involvement in the killing of a fellow teen with a tire-iron blow to the head, could soon be a free man. That outcome is the result of a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court last month that found the sentence handed down to Mr. Ragland, now 44 years old, unconstitutional.

  • How will States Handle Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole? News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [OPINION] In Juvenile Justice, Kids Need Protection from False Confessions (The Christian Science Monitor)
      A third of false confessions come from youths under 18. Youths are more easily intimidated and less adept at understanding the ramifications of their statements than adults. They should not be treated as adults in the criminal justice system.
    • How will States Handle Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole? (USA Today)
      Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life sentences for offenders under 18 are cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore unconstitutional. In the wake of that decision, a federal court this month ruled that Hill and more than 300 other Michigan juvenile lifers are entitled to a parole hearing.
    • Bryan Stevenson Optimistic About Juvenile Justice Trends, But Work Remains (
      The man who took the fight against life without parole sentences for juveniles to the U.S. Supreme Court said he is optimistic about juvenile justice trends, but said there is much work to do in a few areas, most especially around housing youth in adult lockups. Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., also said the number of states that try juveniles as adults is a problem.

  • The Adolescent Brain and Substance Abuse: Looking the Elephant In the Eye; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Initiative Aims to Improve Hawaii's Juvenile Justice System (
      The goal of a new initiative launched today is to improve Hawaii's troubled juvenile justice system by reducing crime while cutting costs. Roughly 5,000 youth are currently incarcerated in Hawaii. According to experts, about 80% of them have a substance abuse problem.
    • $3.2mil Grant for Program to Encourage Kids to Stay in School (
      Kids with emotional and behavioral disorders are more likely to miss school, fail classes and drop out than any other group of students with disabilities. With support from a $3.2 million grant, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are evaluating a unique new program that uses parent-to-parent support to encourage families to get the help they need to keep kids in school.
    • Campaign to get Dropouts to Return to School (
      Getting our most at-risk teens back in school. It was the goal of Kennewick, Washington School District this morning. School officials knocked on the doors of dozens of high school dropouts. Asking them to return to school. Last year, two students graduated from CBC High School Academy as a result of the outreach.

  • MacArthur Pledges New $15 million to Juvenile Justice Reform; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • The Sting of Juvenile Detention (
      When young people held in San Diego County’s juvenile hall are disciplined with pepper spray, guards at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility ask afterwards if they want a shower. The best response, says former youth offender Ian Arellano, is “no.” Water reactivates the sting—which then washes down your body, he explains. Instead of affecting just your arms or face, suddenly every pore burns.
    • Providing Teddy Bears for Nueces County Juvenile Justice Center (
      It may not sound like a big deal -- the Nueces County Juvenile Justice Center, dangerously close to running out of teddy bears -- but it turns out, it is. "A lot of these kids that come in here are sad and confused, and traumatized," Chesney said. "And sometimes just the smallest gestures, like a stuffed animal, will help break the ice and allow them to talk more freely and feel more comfortable in talking to me."
    • MacArthur Pledges New $15 million to Juvenile Justice Reform (
      The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced it will increase its juvenile justice reform funding by some $15 million, a major part of which will be used to establish the new Models for Change Resource Center Partnership. “Right now there are no go-to places to get the kind of information, resources, toolkits, [and] access to colleagues who have ‘been there done that,’” for would-be juvenile justice reform advocates, said Laurie Garduque, director of justice reform for the MacArthur Foundation.
    • Fixing Juvie Justice (
      Young people in the United States are entering the youth justice system in shocking numbers, and many seem to come out worse than when they went in. The staggering costs and recidivism — more than half of incarcerated kids are likely to recommit crimes after being released — have led people to wonder if there is a better way to deal with youth offenders and whether exposure to the system itself could in fact be perpetuating a life of crime.

  • Across the Country, Neighborhoods Gather, Celebrate National Night Out; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Jails Being Reworked (
      West Virginia's juvenile justice system is being reorganized. “The changes we’re making are positive changes for the division,” said state Director of Juvenile Services Stephanie Bond. On Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Bond talked about the plan that will mean changes at most of West Virginia’s eleven juvenile facilities.
    • Separate Funding for Adult, Juvenile Drug Courts Sought (
      Youth Court judges want the Legislature to provide separate funding for juvenile and family drug courts. “The adult felony-level drugs courts can operate on funds generated by their fees and assessments on their adult participants,” said Rankin County Youth Court Judge Tom Broome, a member of the state Drug Court Advisory Committee. “The juvenile courts cannot operate under this model.”
    • Across the Country, Neighborhoods Gather, Celebrate National Night Out (
      In theory, National Night Out sounds a little strange — encourage thousands of residents, in cities nationwide to throw block parties and barbecues that will be attended by city law enforcement. In practice, National Night Out is a city-sanctioned, nationwide, one-night event to encourage residents to get to know their neighbors and reclaim their streets, all in an effort to deter crime. In urban hubs across the country, this message resonates particularly strongly, where some communities have historically had complex and sometimes strained relationships with the police.
    • St. Louis Judge to be Honored forWork in Juvenile Justice (
      St. Louis Judge Jimmie Edwards, is to be honored for his work in juvenile justice on November 21, later this year in Washington, D.C. Judge Edwards will be the 2013 recipient of the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, from Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts.
    • OP-ED: Wise Spending Leads to Effective Solutions (
      "A recent conversation with a group of friends reminded me that discussions about money are complicated and can move easily from discussion to heated argument. I said that more public funds should be dedicated to research about positive outcomes for kids in the juvenile justice system and that the research would lead to development of additional evidence-based programs and practices."

  • Massachusetts Senate Votes UNANIMOUSLY to Pass Raise the Age Bill; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Massachusetts Senate Votes UNANIMOUSLY to Pass Raise the Age Bill (CFJJ News)
      "We wanted to share the exciting news that the Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously today (40-0) in favor of legislation to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include seventeen year olds! We are tremendously grateful to all of you for all of your calls, emails, letters, and support over the entire campaign."
    • Calls For Juvenile Justice Reform Grow In Florida (
      The calls for juvenile justice reform in Florida are growing, as advocates turn to research to prove that more robust juvenile diversion programs for first-time offenders can prevent kids from dropping out of school.
    • Renewed Push to Raise Age of Being Tried as Adult (
      Democratic state lawmakers, community leaders and rights advocates on Thursday renewed a push to raise to 18 the age at which a defendant can be tried as an adult in New York.
    • More Flexibility in Juvenile Court (
      Juvenile courts in Illinois now will be trusted with handling the cases of some minors previously tried as adults. It's a good thing that the cases against most 17-year-olds arrested for misdemeanors and felonies will be resolved in juvenile court beginning Jan. 1.

  • Scared Straight Continues, Despite Misgivings; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Scared Straight Continues, Despite Misgivings (
      This week, the fourth season of the A&E TV show “Beyond Scared Straight” follows two young sisters to the adult jail in Douglas County, Ga., where one inmate tells one of the sisters how she could beat her up “and make you not so pretty no more.” Plenty of critics pan the show, saying it publicizes a discredited, harmful practice. Neither Georgia nor the feds will fund such jail tour programs, citing both evidence that it doesn’t work and the liabilities jails take on when they invite minors to meet with inmates.
    • Announcing the New AATOD Blog (
      "This represents a slightly more informal way of communicating what AATOD is doing in representing the collective interests of our field. AATOD released its most current Five Year Plan in 2012. Three of the most prominent issues affecting the existing system and the future of or field are Health Care Reform; work with the Criminal Justice System; and prescription opioid use and addiction."
    • OP-ED: Troubled Young People Deserve Compassion, Not Punishment (
      More than 2,500 Californians are serving life sentences in prison for crimes they committed when they were younger than 18. At San Quentin, it is all too common to come across young men serving 35 or 40 years-to-life for crimes they committed before they were old enough to drive — meaning they would be in their 50s before their first parole hearings.
    • National Guard Program Gives Forest Grove, Hillsboro High Dropouts a Second Shot at Education (
      Oregon Youth Challenges Program is an alternative school for high school dropouts aged 16 to 18. The program includes a five and a half month residency in Bend, followed by a year of mandatory check-ins by a student mentor and program leaders. The program is voluntary and free for students and their families.

  • Locking up Juveniles may Plant Seeds of More Crime; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Seven Officers at Georgia RYDC Removed after “Egregious Policy Violations” (
      Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced that seven employees at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center have been removed, following findings from a three-week investigation. According to Jim Shuler, an official DJJ spokesman, three of the officers, among them the facility’s night shift sergeant, resigned while the review was still being conducted.
    • Locking up Juveniles may Plant Seeds of More Crime (The Chicago Tribune)
      Joe Doyle was still a grad student at the University of Chicago in the late 1990s when he went to watch the proceedings in Cook County's juvenile court. He sat there while inexperienced lawyers argued over the fate of young offenders, mostly young black men. He witnessed judges who had to instruct those inexperienced lawyers on procedure at the same time that they, the judges, had to render life-altering decisions.
    • OP-ED: Breaking the Cycle of Hyper-Recidivism (
      "Is reform a means to cut the budget or is cutting the budget a means to reform? It’s like which came first–the chicken or the egg? For Georgia, I think money is part of the equation, and ultimately becomes part of the outcome, but it’s definitely not the primary objective despite it’s appearance."
    • Charlottesville Forum Focuses on Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice (The Daily Progress)
      Gloria Newman remembered a son’s troubles as a teen and the message she received. “I was looking for help,” Newman said Tuesday at a Charlottesville Commission of Children and Families task force forum. “I was told, he’s not in the system, he can’t get help. There needs to be a preventative measure to get help before they get in the system.”

  • [Photos] Changing Confinement Culture in Olathe, Kansas; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [Photos] Changing Confinement Culture in Olathe, Kansas (
      Last month, Richard Ross, the creator of Juvenile In Justice, visited and photographed two juvenile detention facilities in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. This week the photos are featured on Bokeh, JJIE’s multimedia site.
    • Trial Run for Revised Juvenile Justice System (The New York Times)
      In Travis County, juvenile justice officials have decided that they can do a better job than the state in dealing with the most troubled local offenders, considering Texas’ history of scandal and violence in youth lockups.
    • Summer Jobs May Reduce Teen Violence, Study Says (
      Summer jobs may help reduce violence, according to a recent study that found that low-income Boston teens who held down summer jobs were less likely to engage in violence than teens without jobs. The study, conducted by researchers at Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, surveyed more than 400 young people who obtained employment last summer through a State Street Foundation youth violence prevention program.
    • JUVENILE JUSTICE: Families Want Changes (
      Some Iowa families say the state`s juvenile justice system is broken and they`re suffering because of it. They`re sharing their stories as the state Supreme Court considers making changes. Members of the group Iowa Family Rights met at the Capitol Tuesday claiming parents and grandparents are being denied fair treatment.

  • Paws for a Cause; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Mentoring Program for At-Risk Youth to Begin in Scott County, Missouri (
      A new program will pair mentors with at-risk children in four area counties. Building Understanding; Developing Success, or BUDS for short, is a recently developed mentoring program funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The program will place volunteers 21 years old or older with at-risk children and teenagers ages 9 to 17.
    • Paws for a Cause (
      Rehabilitation is two-fold at Rankin County Mississippi Juvenile Justice Center where both dogs and juveniles leave the center ready for the world. The Rankin County Sheriff Department’s Paws for a Cause is a partnership between the county’s animal shelter and juvenile justice center. It’s a way to rehabilitate both the juveniles and the dogs. Since it began about a year ago, Sergeant Ken Sullivan said pet lovers have adopted about 22 dogs from the program.
    • Local Television Piece Features Innovative Baby Elmo Program for Young Fathers at an Ohio Juvenile Correctional Facility (
      A recent piece on ABC News Channel 5 in Cleveland, Ohio, highlighted the Baby Elmo Program for young fathers at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility. The program, which was designed by researchers at Georgetown University, develops the relationships between incarcerated teen fathers and their babies through intensive experiential learning.

  • Social Media Could be Teen Suicide Prevention Tool; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • A Look Inside Juvenile Justice Reforms (
      Report from Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman: "A few weeks ago, I signed into law one of the most important bills of the 2013 legislative session -- Legislative Bill 561 which is aimed at improving the juvenile justice system in our state. It shifts the supervision of all juvenile offenders in the community to the state’s probation system which reduces reliance on detention and focuses on rehabilitation for youth while keeping families involved."
    • When Is a Juvenile No Longer a Juvenile? (
      When it comes to incarceration, Massachusetts has recognized 17 as the age of adulthood since 1846. Of course, anyone who has a 17-year-old might question that assumption, as have citizens in 38 states across the U.S. Even some states we think of as far more conservative than Massachusetts—Arizona, Alabama, and Mississippi, for example—send lawbreakers younger than 18 to juvenile instead of adult court.
    • Program Might Reduce Minorities in Juvenile Detention (Valparaiso Community News)
      The city of Valpairiso, Indiana's Advisory Human Relations Council is exploring how to help reduce racial bias within the juvenile justice system. Tony McDonald, a Porter County juvenile probation officer and coordinator of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, spoke to City Council members at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
    • Why Maine is a Leader in Juvenile Justice (BDN Maine)
      The criminal justice system is often thought of as existing on a pendulum. Opinions about how the system should operate swing from one end of the spectrum to the other over time. In its early history, rehabilitation ruled the day in corrections. The prison was initially called a “penitentiary,” representing the idea that offenders would give penance, pray and leave a changed person. However, the pendulum swung the other way in the 1970s, when public sentiment moved toward the idea that offenders cannot be rehabilitated and punitive measures are best for society.

  • New Research Finds Link Between Childhood Bullying and Adult Psychiatric Disorders

    Recently, professors at Duke University in North Carolina have published research that shows the link from childhood bullying to adult psychiatric disorders. “We were surprised at how profoundly bullying affects a person’s long-term functioning,” said William E. Copeland, PhD, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and lead author of the study.

    Of the 1,420 youth studied, researchers found:

    • 26% (421) reported being bullied at least once.
    • 9.5% (200) acknowledged bullying others.

    As adults, those exposed to childhood bullying experience:

    • Higher levels of depressive, anxiety, and panic disorders as well as generalized anxiety and agoraphobia among victims of bullying compared to non bullied youth.
    • Higher levels of all anxiety and depressive disorders among victims and bullies.
    • Highest levels of suicidal thoughts, generalized anxiety, depressive and panic disorders among youth who were both victims and bullies.
    • An increased risk of antisocial personality disorder among bullies.

  • Washington One of Nation's 'Comeback States' on Juvenile Justice; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Accouncement: Website Launch
      New website launches for Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), providing help for adolescents and families.
    • Washington One of Nation's 'Comeback States' on Juvenile Justice (
      Washington’s juvenile detention population dropped 40% between 2001 and 2010, according to a new report released Tuesday by the National Juvenile Justice Network. The analysis puts Washington among nine “comeback states” on the issue of juvenile justice.
    • Ted Cox has Faith in the Youth he Serves (
      Retired Army Reserve Col. Ted Cox arm wrestles an inmate at the Caddo Parish Juvenile Justice Complex, where he is the administrator. He regularly counsels the youth there.
    • Zero Tolerance and Juvenile Justice: A View from the Bench (Alaska Justice Forum)
      "The factors that lead youth into juvenile crime are many and varied. Drugs, alcohol, and interpersonal violence are often cited as major contributors. However, in my estimation, one of the principal factors that may often precipitate a plunge into the juvenile justice system is the failure to maintain and succeed in school."

  • 'Supper Club' Brings Stable Connection; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • For Juvenile Detainees, 'Supper Club' Brings Stable Connection (The Baltimore Sun)
      The one-year-old Supper Club program is designed around a time-tested principle — that sharing regular meals with caring grown-ups provides young people with a sense of stability and connection. It's an experience that teens inside these walls may be only passingly familiar with.
    • [OPINION] Juvenile Justice System Broken, Needs Oversight (
      "No child should ever be subject to mistreatment, and this report will hopefully incentivize our policymakers to ensure that incarceration is truly the last resort, used only for the safety of the child and the public."
    • Forum Focuses on Juvenile Justice (
      For the second straight month, the Time and Space Limited theater in Hudson hosted a meeting on juvenile justice in conjunction with the newly formed Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. At Wednesday’s event, TSL co-Director Linda Mussman welcomed moderator and sociologist Richard Smith, and a panel of local legal experts to discuss issues facing Hudson youth in the juvenile justice system.
    • OP-ED: Families: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice (
      "In 2006, the mother of a teenage daughter involved in the juvenile justice system in Hawaii contacted a small, non-profit in Lake Charles, La., more than 4,000 miles away. The mother was seeking support from someone who could understand her plight in navigating the juvenile justice system and possibly help her find the treatment and services her daughter desperately needed."

  • The Affordable Care Act: Changing Mental Health Treatment in America

    One aspect of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act that’s often overlooked in the media is its attention to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

    Overall the landmark legislation hopes to bring near universal health insurance to the United States when the last round of its major provisions goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. These provisions include the controversial individual and employer insurance mandates.

    But the law goes further though than just getting people insured, it aims to improve the American health care system, especially in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.

    Mental health and mental health policy have been favorite topics in the news these last few years with the tragedies in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. Pundits from all sides have found a new pastime in discussing and arguing over how the system should be changed.

    Opinions aside mental health and substance abuse are serious issues in America. About one in every four adults can be expected to experience a mental illness during the course of a given year, according to stats from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). That’s nearly 55.7 million people, no small number for a nation of 315 million.

    That number of adults rises to one in 17 when talking about more serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. For younger Americans the rate continues to climb with one in 10 children living with a serious mental or emotional disorder, according to NAMI numbers.

    Substance abuse is estimated to cost the United States over $600 billion annually. A 2012 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that among teenagers alcohol and cigarette use has declined in recent years but the use of illicit drugs is on the rise.

    So it’s no wonder that the Care Act looks to extend coverage and improve treatment of mental health and substance abuse. Let’s take a look at some of the ways it aims to do that.

  • A Conversation Starter for Mental Health

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new online resource full of information on mental health. The site includes guides to warning signs of mental illness, how individuals can find help and how communities can host conversations about mental health. seeks to launch a national conversation on illnesses, recovery and hope.

    SAMHSA supports the website with a Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health with the first section released on June 3, 2013. The Toolkit is a component to rally support and conversations in the community about mental health with features like an “Information Brief,” a “Discussion Guide” and an “Organizing Guide.”

    The website and SAMHSA’a Toolkit confront some of the greatest challenges people face including: Anxiety disorders, Eating disorders, Mental Health and substance abuse, Mood disorders and Suicidal behavior. There is space for story sharing and support groups, along with an abundance of information about the prevention and treatment of mental health to help communities work together.

  • Past Traumatic Experiences Common Among Detained Juveniles; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Efforts Sought to Rehabilitate Troubled Youth (
      While there have been drastic changes in the juvenile justice system in the wake of the “Kids for Cash” scandal, some advocates believe Pennsylvania has so far failed to widely embrace efforts to fully focus on rehabilitating troubled young people. One of the more innovative efforts in Pennsylvania involves the use of youth courts, in which young people themselves mete out justice for their peers.
    • Bad Food, a Bible, and a Blanket: 24 Hours in Juvenile Solitary Confinement (
      As a photographer, how far would you go to get in the heads of your subjects? For Richard Ross, it meant 24 hours in solitary confinement at a juvenile detention center. Over six years, Ross has photographed hundreds of detention centers and interviewed more than a 1,000 children for a project called Juvenile-in-Justice that aims to educate people about the juvenile justice system. He’s as familiar as any outsider with the subject, but he decided it wasn’t enough.
    • Past Traumatic Experiences Common Among Detained Juveniles (
      Most young people placed in detention have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, according to a new report from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). “PTSD, Trauma and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth,” released Tuesday, included findings culled from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, which assessed more than 1,800 young detainees in Chicago between 1995 and 1998.
    • Nebraska Gov. Heineman Signs Juvenile Justice Reform Bill, Focusing on Youth Rehabilitation (
      Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has signed a juvenile justice reform bill into law. The measure by Sen. Brad Ashford, of Omaha, is designed to shift the state's focus toward rehabilitation for youths who break the law. Heineman approved the legislation on Wednesday during a news conference.
    • Gov. Heineman Signs Juvenile Justice Reform into Law (
      The state embarked on a new approach in dealing with troubled juveniles Wednesday. Gov. Dave Heineman signed into law a major reform bill that shifts the focus from incarceration to treatment for youthful offenders and puts state probation officers in charge of that rehabilitation work instead of state social workers.

  • Justice Reform Paying Off Sooner than Expected; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [AUDIO] Juvenile Justice System Overhaul Signed into Law (
      Nebraska will shift how it treats juvenile offenders under a bill signed into law by the governor. Gov. Dave Heineman has signed LB 561e, juvenile justice reform approved by the legislature. Heineman, during a news conference in his Capitol office, called the bill complex. Still, he has hopes for a simple outcome.
    • Dramatic Reform of Juvenile Justice Takes Shape in Legislature (
      Juvenile criminals would be rehabilitated at home, with help from probation officers, under a bill advancing in the state Legislature.
      Lawmakers advanced LB 651, aiming to overhaul Nebraska’s juvenile justice system. The bill would transfer responsibility for the state’s roughly 3,000 juvenile offenders from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Office of Probation Administration.
    • Nebraska Governor Vetoes $200K in Golf Tournament Funding (
      Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman used a line-item veto Tuesday to strike $200,000 from a budget bill that was approved to promote the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament in Omaha. The Republican governor said the budget item was unjustified, given the state's other spending priorities on education and reforms to the state's juvenile justice services.
    • Justice Reform Paying Off Sooner than Expected (
      When Gov. Nathan Deal prompted the Georgia General Assembly to undertake sentencing reform for the adult criminal justice system (to be followed the next year by juvenile justice reform), he acknowledged that he didn't expect to see any substantial changes for a few years. In terms of the state prison population, that's certainly the case so far. In fact, the state inmate count actually rose slightly from the end of 2010 through last year.
    • Massachusetts House Votes to Move 17-Year-Olds into Juvenile Justice System (
      The House unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that would move 17-year-old offenders into the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts, ending the practice of routinely incarcerating 17-year-olds in adult corrections facilities.

  • Juvenile Justice Shows Progress; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Justice Shows Progress (Illinois Times)
      When the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice was created in 2006, the state’s youth prisons held 1,500 juvenile offenders. Today, there are fewer than 900 kids behind bars in Illinois juvenile justice system. It’s one sign of progress for the relatively new department, which was previously part of the adult-oriented Illinois Department of Corrections.
    • Forsyth County Clerk of Court Wants to Turn Old School into a Juvenile Court (
      Forsyth County, N.C., Clerk of Court Susan Frye wants to see the now closed Hill Middle School in Winston-Salem turned into a one-stop shop for the more than 1,300 offenders who come through juvenile court each year. Frye says the courthouse is out of space and can not house the services the young offenders are often sentenced too. Hill closed last year after consolidating with Philo Middle School.
    • Pennsylvania Finds 20 Percent of Juveniles Re-offend Within Two Years (
      A new report issued by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission finds that among juveniles whose cases were closed in 2007, one-in-five recidivated within two years. The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report found juvenile recidivism rates to be as high as 45 percent in some counties, with the average length between case closure and recidivism to be 11.5 months.

  • Guest Post from the Flawless Foundation: Knowing and Doing!

    Last week at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, I attended the Criminalization of Mental Illness Symposium. National experts shared fourteen presentations in an effort to make sense of hundreds of statistics and research studies on such topics as recidivism, gun violence, juvenile justice, homicide, suicide, Aurora, Tucson, Newtown and VA Tech. Do you think this sounds overwhelming? Actually, it wasn’t.

    Over and over, members of this Think Tank who are advising our nation’s leaders on public policy, mental health and criminal justice reform repeated, “We know what to do, we just need to do it.

    So what do we need to do? We need to take a stand for prevention, compassion and love. Doesn’t it make sense to advocate for education, preventative mental health and programming for youth instead of simply waiting until it is too late? Too often in our current system, we are sending those in need straight into the justice system, especially our children who often fall into the “school to prison pipeline.” We all know that the system is broken but the beauty is we can and are fixing it.

    I am very fortunate to spend my days at the Flawless Foundation witnessing miracles over and over again. Our grantees and partners are visionary leaders who have created programs that are not just thinking about these issues but they are actively addressing them through relationship, promoting connections and healing on every level: body, mind and soul. We know what to do and we are doing it.

  • [VIDEO] The Ethics of Solitary Confinement

    Al Jazeera English recently released an Inside Story 30-minute video examining the state of solitary confinement, including teens, in United States prisons. The discussion includes the following:  

    Amongst those in solitary confinement today are juveniles as young as age 16, with one study suggesting that in 2012, 14 percent of adolescents in the New York City prison system had been held in isolation at least once. So, why does the United States put more people into solitary confinement than any other country in the democratic world?

    We've reported in the past about the particularly harsh negative affects that solitary confinement has on teens, and while this video offers a broader look at solitary confinement, its themes are still relevant to our work in the juvenile justice system. Watch the full program below:


  • Encouraging Trends in Children's Mental Health Services

    Twenty years ago, only about 10 percent of people under 18 years old who were identified to have mental health problems received any kind of treatment. Today, about 50 percent of these children and teens will receive the treatment they need. The growing number of young people getting treatment is partially thanks to a national trend toward coordinated health services. Below is an excerpt from The Boston Globe's report on Massachusetts' growing number of pediatric offices sharing space with psychologists.

    Children who go to a Wellesley pediatrician can, if needed, see a psychologist in a nearby exam room. At a medical office in Peabody, boys and girls with anxiety issues can simply go upstairs to see a social worker. And at a Newton pediatric clinic, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are able to see an on-site nurse practitioner specializing in mental health.

    These are among a growing number of Massachusetts pediatric practices that are sharing space with mental health professionals, a move aimed at improving access to hard-to-obtain psychological services and at sending the message that treating children’s depression and behavioral issues is as important as following their asthma and diabetes.

    Roughly one in four pediatricians in private practices in Massachusetts works in a setting that now includes some type of mental health service, according to a preliminary survey of members of the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In the last two or three years, there’s significant growth in this kind of collaborative care,” said Dr. Ellen Perrin, a developmental behavioral pediatrician with Tufts Medical Center who conducted the survey with a colleague. “There is a recognition that the nation’s mental health system is broken, especially for children, and we have to do better.”

    This model is one example of a national trend toward more coordinated services, which centers on primary care doctors working closely with specialists to keep patients healthier and, ideally, to lower overall costs. Getting different clinicians in the same space is not practical in every case, but many pediatricians believe it is the best way to address children’s behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders, which are being diagnosed at far higher rates than ever before.

  • Senate Committee Approves Changes in Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Advocates for Juvenile Justice Reform Rally at Hearing for Bel Air Teenager Accused of Killing Father (
      Friday’s demonstration came ahead of a motions hearing in Robert Richardson’s case, and was the latest organized by a group which seeks to have his case—and Richardson himself—moved back into the juvenile criminal justice system.
    • The Crucial Role of Prosecutors in Juvenile Justice (
      The role and responsibilities of the juvenile prosecutor are plentiful and extend well beyond the courtroom. In fact, in cases involving juveniles, much of the work can and should be done outside the courtroom. Working collaboratively with other youth-serving agencies in their communities, prosecutors often play a leadership role in these efforts.
    • Senate Committee Approves Changes in Juvenile Justice System (
      The Senate Judiciary Committee approved proposed changes to the juvenile justice system Wednesday after making some adjustments to address concerns of judges. House Bill 242, which has passed the House, is designed to send fewer juveniles to state facilities for committing felonies and to divert kids who are not dangerous — especially so-called status offenders such as truants, runaways and the unruly — into less expensive community-based programs.

  • Study Reveals Substance Abuse Among Teens with Mental Health Issues

    A new study from the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute shows striking levels of substance use among teens seeking mental health care, with one in 10 mentally ill teens reporting frequent use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. This pattern of substance use becomes more common as teens age, and likely heightens risk of poor physical and mental health outcomes, the study reports.

    In a University of Sydney news release, lead researcher Dr. Daniel Hermens said,

    “Traditionally there have been mental health services, and substance abuse services, but both have been quite separate. Our study shows that we need to integrate mental health interventions with substance use interventions in order to help at-risk young people.

    “There is a lot of evidence for the co-morbidity of mental health problems and substance misuse. More people have both mental health and substance use problems than either alone—in other words, it's the rule rather than the exception."

    Published in BMJ Open, the study used self-reported data from more than 2,000 people aged 12-30 years seeking mental health care. Overall, substance use rates increased with age across groups, broken into age bands of 12-17, 18-19, and 20-30 year-olds.

  • Florida: Wansley Walters Video on Juvenile Justice Reform

    While we need to hold teens accountable for their actions, simply locking them up isn’t effective. Young people in the juvenile justice system need more treatment, better treatment, and support beyond treatment.

    I encourage you to watch this brief interview with Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. In the video, Secretary Walters shares her views on the importance of early assessments and prescriptive measures in juvenile justice reform. We need to continue this investment to stay on track and reduce crime. "As the resources pull away, the problem starts to creep back in," Walters says.  


  • Georgia: Mental Health is a Huge Issue in Justice Strategy

    Discussion about mental health and other substance abuse treatment alternatives was front and center last week when criminal justice system officials addressed House and Senate joint appropriations lawmakers at the State Capitol. “Mental health is a huge issue in all the things we do,” Judge Robin W. Shearer said on behalf of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges.

    Georgia is in the early stages of significant adult and juvenile justice system reforms that focus on how to ensure incarceration for the most serious offenders, and how to provide community treatment options for offenders who do not benefit from or even require incarceration.

    Last year the General Assembly passed reforms to move the adult corrections system toward those goals. This year legislators are expected to approve sweeping reforms to juvenile criminal law and the civil code. Governor Nathan Deal has made reforms a personal priority and his budget devotes millions of dollars to these goals.

    The importance of mental health considerations was evident early in the hearing.

  • Innovation Brief: Juvenile Justice and Mental Health: A Collaborative Approach

    Models for Change recently published an innovation brief, “Juvenile Justice and Mental Health: A Collaborative Approach,” [PDF download] that reports the benefits of a collaborative model for juvenile justice and mental health. Although teens with mental health problems used to be handled outside of the juvenile justice system, a shift in the 1990s placed “rehabilitation” responsibility to the juvenile justice system. From the report (emphasis mine):

    High crime rates [in the 1990s] led to get-tough measures, including zero-tolerance policies in schools and criminalization of normal adolescent behaviors, that put more youths in the system. The closing of psychiatric hospitals, a trend that began in the 1970s, continued apace, while the community mental health system, initiated with such optimism in the 1960s, was being downsized. As a result, youths with mental health problems frequently ended up in the juvenile justice system, which could not refuse to serve them.

    To better serve teens with mental health troubles, Models for Change recommends a framework for multi-system change, including (via the report):

  • Q&A with Pamela Hyde: Mental Health and Public Health Law

    The keynote address at last week’s 2013 Public Health Law Research (PHLR) annual meeting was from Pamela Hyde, JD, administrator of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    “People are just beginning to wake up to the knowledge that behavioral health [issues are] so common and that half of all Americans have a mental health issue at sometime in their lives,” Hyde told meeting attendees. Depression, according to the World Health Organization, is the most common medical disorder worldwide. And among the eight million people in the past year who had a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder, only 6.9 percent received treatment.

    “The country has to spend as much time helping children develop their emotional skills as they do their soccer skills,” said Hyde.

    Just prior to the PHLR meeting, NewPublicHealth spoke with Administrator Hyde about public health law research and some new initiatives aimed at helping address behavioral health in the United States.

    NewPublicHealth: What research is critically needed on mental health issues to help improve awareness and treatment?

  • Call for Applicants: Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program
    by LIZ WU

    The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) are seeking applications for funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The program is designed to increase public safety and improve access to effective treatment for people with mental illnesses involved with the criminal justice system by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health treatment and substance abuse systems. Each grantee is given the opportunity to tailor their programming to respond best to the particular needs of their community.

    The BJA welcomes applications from local and state governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, and tribal organizations. Applicants must demonstrate that both a government agency responsible for criminal or juvenile justice activities and a mental health provider will administer the proposed project.

    Applications are due by 11:59 pm ET on March 25, 2013. Apply here!

  • Department of Juvenile Justice Strengthens Oversight; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Department of Juvenile Justice Strengthens Oversight (
      In the wake of allegations of abuse by staffers at a girls’ lockup in Milton, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is tightening its oversight of private residential facilities — adding interviews with youths and a partnership with the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation to its monitoring procedures.
    • Nebraska Chief Justice: Guardianship, Juvenile Probation Initiatives Show Success (
      Tighter court oversight of guardians and conservators in recent months has exposed cases of theft and misuse of funds, Nebraska's top judge said Thursday. Chief Justice Michael Heavican said changes to state law made in 2011 are providing more protection for vulnerable adults in Nebraska.
    • Georgia Governor: $5 Million for New Juvenile Diversions (
      Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is asking the state legislature to spend $5 million dollars to set up community diversion programs for low-risk youth offenders, on the model of other states. The appropriation would “create an incentive funding program” to encourage communities to treat appropriate youth at home, Deal told lawmakers at his annual State of the State address on Jan. 17.
    • Florida Tightening Juvenile Justice Monitoring (
      Florida is tightening monitoring and improving the quality of juvenile justice residential and detention facilities. Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters announced the new efforts on Friday. They come nearly a month after a privately owned facility for girls in the Florida Panhandle agreed to end its contract following the arrest of a staff member who was accused of battering a 15-year-old inmate.
    • Study: Minority Youth in Wash. Arrested, Referred to Juvenile Court More Often than Whites (
      Minority youth are arrested and in the Washington state's court system more often than their white counterparts, a recent study commissioned by the state Supreme Court shows. But researchers said counties aren't keeping complete data on ethnicity and the gap between minority and while youth is larger.
    • Palm Beach County School, Justice Officials Warn Students Juvenile Crimes can Follow, Hinder Them as Adults (The Palm Beach Post)
      Sometimes, Sonya Saucedo gets mad. It happens: She’s 13 years old. But Saucedo said she worries sometimes about where that anger and frustration will lead her. “I’ve gotten in trouble at school a few times,” the Pahokee Middle School student said. “I once screamed at everyone in class and threw books.” So on Thursday morning, Saucedo tentatively approached the microphone at a school assembly to ask one question: How hard is it to get your life back after you’ve committed a crime?

  • Almost 50 Percent Fewer Youth Arrested in Florida Schools; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
      Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
    • Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
      It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
    • Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
      The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
    • Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
      In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
    • Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
      In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.

  • Juvenile-Justice Corrections Program Trains Dogs, Youths; News Roundup

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • DJJ Study: Fewer kids Getting Booked at School (The Orlando Sentinel)
      A new Florida study says the number of students arrested at schools was cut in half over the last eight years, which ”correlates” with a decline in juvenile delinquency. The Department of Juvenile Justice report says school arrests fell from from more than 24,189 in the 2004-05 school year to 12,520 last year, a drop of 48 percent. School delinquency arrests fell 36 percent during the same period.
    • Juvenile Defendants can Meet Victims, Settle Charges Outside Court (
      The suspect was caught on camera and admitted he caused about $1,800 worth of damage vandalizing a Louisville business. Instead of handling the 16-year-old defendant’s case in juvenile court, local officials asked the business owner, Keith Bush, if he would take part in a “restorative justice” pilot program designed to repair the harm caused by a crime and find ways to keep offenders from re-offending — instead of seeking only retribution.
    • Juvenile-Justice Corrections Program Trains Dogs, Youths (
      “This is a program where the girls can learn life skills through training these dogs,” said Mike Griffiths, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. “It’s a small program that pays big dividends — for the girls and the dogs.” The dividends include allowing the dogs to be trained to erase their bad habits, or to at least teach them how to manage their problems and keep their actions in check, so they might be adopted into new homes, he said.
    • Putting a Developmental Approach Into Practice (
      Having developmental competence means understanding that children and adolescents’ perceptions and behaviors are influenced by biological and psychological factors related to their developmental stage. For adults working with young people, taking a developmental approach could lead to better outcomes for kids.
    • Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice? (The New York Times)
      At 2:15 in the afternoon on March 28, 2010, Conor McBride, a tall, sandy-haired 19-year-old wearing jeans, a T-shirt and New Balance sneakers, walked into the Tallahassee Police Department and approached the desk in the main lobby. Gina Maddox, the officer on duty, noticed that he looked upset and asked him how she could help. “You need to arrest me,” McBride answered. “I just shot my fiancée in the head.” When Maddox, taken aback, didn’t respond right away, McBride added, “This is not a joke.”
    • Looking Back and Casting Forward: An Emerging Shift for Juvenile Justice in America (
      The close of 2012 focused so narrowly on terrible events and startling numbers – the Newtown massacre, for example, or Chicago’s sharp rise in homicides – some major criminal justice developments were nearly squeezed out of the national conversation.

  • Mental Health Services for Children and Teens: A Community Approach

    In an effort to more effectively provide mental health services for children and teens, funds were provided to create The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, also known as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI)--a cooperative agreement program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the Department of Health and Human Services.

    The CMHI helps promote the coordination of the multiple and often fragmented systems that serve children and youth from birth to age 21 diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance and their families.

    SAMHSA’s report, “The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, Evaluation Findings” found encouraging results, including self-reported anxiety symptoms decreasing for 24.2 percent of youth from intake to 12 months, and for 30.2 percent of youth from intake to 24 months.

    The system of care philosophy revolves around the following eight principles that state services should be:

    1. Family driven
    2. Based on service plans that are individualized, strengths based, and evidence informed
    3. Youth guided
    4. Culturally and linguistically competent
    5. Provided in the least restrictive environment possible
    6. Community based
    7. Accessible
    8. Collaborative and coordinated through an interagency network