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  • Join the Conversation in the Reclaiming Futures LinkedIn Group
    by ASHLEY HEINONEN

    Did you know that Reclaiming Futures has a LinkedIn group? Becoming a member lets you stay on top of the latest news related to juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment, participate in thought-provoking discussions, and connect with peers and thought leaders in the industry. All you have to do is visit our Juvenile Justice Reform and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment LinkedIn group and request to join.

    Our group will be especially beneficial if you are a:

    • Policy maker or legislator
    • Professional in the field of juvenile justice or adolescent substance abuse treatment
    • Family or youth advocate

  • Next Week: James Bell, National Juvenile Justice Leader, to Speak at Portland State University
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    James Bell, a founding member of the Reclaiming Futures National Advisory Committee in 2001, will be speaking at the Native American Student and Community Center at Portland State University on April 17. See the description below from the event announcement:

    The remanding of youth to adult criminal court is a social justice issue of national significance. Mr. James Bell of the Haywood Burns Institute will speak on a campaign soon to be launched in California called "Reclaiming Childhood.” This initiative will stand up against the forces that move youth (and disproportionately youth from low income communities and communities of color) into the adult system. Mr. Bell has worked closely with juvenile justice advocates in Oregon and his comments will be directly relevant to the work being done in our state.

    This event is free and open to the community. Light refreshments will be served. To register, visit the PSU website.


  • Words Unlocked Continues to Inspire Incarcerated Teens
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Last year, we reported about a new poetry initiative designed to introduce young people involved with the juvenile justice system to the therapeutic power of writing, give them hope, and inspire them to persevere in overcoming challenges posed by addiction and crime. Developed by the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS), Words Unlocked is a month-long poetry curriculum culminating in a nationwide competition open only to incarcerated teens.

    We’re excited to see that Words Unlocked is happening again this April, this year with the theme “Boundaries.” Via Words Unlocked:

    Boundaries exist in all shapes and forms; boundaries can be physical, social, emotional, or personal. Through Words Unlocked we hope to encourage thousands of students who are locked up to explore this theme and not let the boundaries prescribed by their locked rooms or the razor wire that they see every day limit their creativity, seriousness, or passion for writing and expression.

    Far too many young people are locked up around the country. Through this initiative, we intend to ensure that their words are not.


  • Report Finds Family Visits Improve Behavior and School Performance of Incarcerated Teens
    by ASHLEY HEINONEN

    A report from the Vera Institute of Justice, Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Public Welfare Foundation underscores the importance of family involvement for incarcerated youth. The Families as Partners: Supporting Youth Reentry Project’s findings reveal the positive correlation between family visitation and behavior and school performance, and suggest juvenile correctional facilities should change their visitation policies to promote more frequent visitation with families.

    In the study, teens who were never visited earned the lowest GPA scores and had three times as many behavior incidents as those who saw their families at least once a week. Conversely, youth who had regular family visits experienced the lowest levels of behavioral incidents and earned the highest GPAs.

    Here are some highlights from the report:

    • Youth who were visited regularly committed an average of four behavioral incidents per month, compared to six among those visited infrequently and 14 among those who were never visited.
    • Youth who had never received a visit exhibited the highest rates of behavioral incidents.
    • Average GPAs for youth who never had a visitor was 80.4, compared to 82 for those who had visits infrequently and 85 for youth who had frequent visits.

    Find the full report from the Families as Partners: Supporting Youth Reentry Project.


  • Upcoming Webinar on Building Relationships with Policymakers to Help your Community
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Mark your calendars! This Wednesday, March 19, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is hosting, “Show Policymakers How Your Court Helps Your Community: Five Steps for Building Relationships that Last.”

    This webinar will provide insight on how building relationships with policymakers can help your community, including by raising public attention for your issue, building new community support, or even increasing funding. It can take time to establish the strong relationships necessary to reach these results.

    Guest speakers Mac Prichard and Jessica Williams of Prichard Communications will share lessons learned and tips from their experiences helping juvenile courts and nonprofits in Washington, DC, and across the country, focusing on three learning objectives:

    • Understand the benefits of building relationships with policy makers.
    • Share strategic principles for working with elected officials in your
    • community.
    • Review case studies of juvenile courts in Dayton, Ohio, and Seattle.

    To register for Wednesday’s webinar, email Jessica Pearce at jpearce [at] ncjfcj [dot] org.


  • How About a Caring Adult for Every Teen?
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Community leaders in Snohomish County, Washington, are helping teens overcome drugs, alcohol, mental health issues and crime.

    They have a lofty goal: To have a caring adult help every teen.

    The Herald of Everett, Washington, recently highlighted mentors who spoke out on behalf of young people involved in the juvenile justice system: 

    "They're not bad kids. A detour has taken them off the road to success," Litzkow says, repeating a mantra favored by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss. Weiss presides over the juvenile drug court at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center. He also is a champion for the county's Reclaiming Futures project. The pilot program was launched in 2010 in the county's juvenile court system. It's modeled after a national initiative aimed at providing effective treatment for drug- and alcohol-addicted teens, and caring for their needs once they're out of the criminal justice system. A large part of that initiative is connecting kids with positive role models.

    Deena Eckroth, 49, believes young people need support regardless of some of the bad decisions that they may make. "They've had enough people abandon them," Eckroth said. The Mukilteo mother of two grown children recently was paired up with a 15-year-old girl. Eckroth said she was compelled to volunteer with at-risk youth in part because of her experience as a human resources manager. She has had to turn people away for jobs because of their past mistakes. "It made me wonder what happened in their life and what could have helped that person turn around," she said. "This really makes sense for me." Eckroth now is recruiting co-workers and others to become mentors.

    This effort builds on the success of the Promising Artists in Recovery program that is still going strong in Snohomish County. 


  • Crime and Punishment with Psychologist Evan Elkin
    by DAVID BACKES

    Comedian Jake Johannsen recently got serious (well, a little more serious than usual) with psychologist Evan Elkin during his Jakethis podcast. The two sat down and talked about the juvenile justice system, and problems with how we handle crime and punishment. The podcast is embedded below for your listening pleasure. Jump to the 18 minute mark for the discussion of the juvenile justice system.  


  • Breakthrough: Mental Health Solutions for Teens in the Juvenile Justice System
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Did you know that around 70 percent of all youth in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder? 

    A new white paper by the Collaborative for Change—a training, technical assistance and education center and a member of the Models for Change Resource Center Partnership—discusses the scope of this problem, scientific breakthroughs that can help, and how communities can adopt better solutions for youth with mental health needs in the juvenile justice system.

    In the white paper, Better Solutions for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System, the substantive focus of the Collaborative for Change includes: 

    1. Mental health screening within juvenile justice settings

    2. Diversion strategies and models for youth with mental
    health needs

    3. Adolescent mental health training for juvenile justice
    staff and police

    4. Guidance around the implementation of evidence-based
    practices

    5. Training and resources to support family involvement in
    the juvenile justice system

    6. Juvenile competency

    Access the full white paper on http://cfc.ncmhjj.com/


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Justice Redefined (BostonHerald.com)
      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 (WALB.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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
    by DAVID BACKES

    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’ (JJIE.org)
      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 (CivilBeat.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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.

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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • OP-ED: U.S. Must Increase Juvenile Justice Protections for Children (JJIE.org)
      "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 (GreenwichTime.com)

      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 (IndianaNewsCenter.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      "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."

  • Powerful Video About Youth in Adult Criminal System
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Are you ready to be moved? Please take 1.5 minutes to watch "Because I’m 16," a video collaboration between Judge Michael A. Corriero, who presided over the cases of youth in the adult criminal court system; T.J. Parsell a filmmaker who as a teenager served time in an adult prison; and a group of students in the New York Center for Juvenile Justice’s summer associates program.

     

    This video was made possible by the generous support of The Sirus Fund, Linda Genereux & Timur Galen, and the MacArthur Family Charitable Foundation.


  • Shifts in Juvenile Justice Legislation Spark Debate Among Key Influencers
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    The shift from the tough-on-crime approach of the 1980s and 1990s has been visible through newly enacted laws (in 23 states) aiming to keep teens out of adult prisons and court systems. This shift is a result of the growing amount of research that suggests placing young people in adult court leads to repeat offenses.

    However, some claim that these new laws cause needless delays to prosecution and are an insult to victims. Last Thursday, Diane Rehm and a panel of guests covered this topic and the controversies surrounding it on The Diane Rehm Show.

    Guests on the panel included John Schwartz, national correspondent, The New York Times; Liz Ryan, president, Campaign for Youth Justice; and Dan May, district attorney, Colorado Springs.

    Throughout the discussion, it became clear that Mr. May opposed this shift in legislation, while Ms. Ryan and Mr. Schwartz supported the shift. This kept the segment interesting and addressed both ends of the spectrum.


  • “Recruitment, Re-engagement & Re-entry: Incorporating the Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform” Webinar
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Teens and their families are often not included in important discussions on how to improve the juvenile justice system. Two programs with growing support are working to alleviate this void across the United States: the Raising Our Youth As Leaders Project (ROYAL) and the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice Youth Committee (WA-PCJJ).

    On Nov. 21, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice held a webinar discussing the progress and future of these programs, “Recruitment, Re-engagement & Re-entry: Incorporating the Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform.

    The webinar addressed the benefits, steps to engage, and challenges of including young people in juvenile justice reform efforts with the help of two knowledgeable and invested presenters:

    • Starcia Ague - Youth and Family Advocate Program Administrator, Juvenile Justice Rehabilitation Administration; Co-Chair Youth Committee, Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice
    • Debra R. Baker - Project Director, The Raising Our Youth As Leaders Project (ROYAL), King County Department of Public Defense

    Important takeaways from this informative webinar include:

    • Young people representing the youth voice on juvenile justice reform serve as an effective advocacy tool and provide a perspective that moves leaders to implement change.
    • Including teens in reform efforts empowers them to become the next generation of advocates, while also developing their leadership and life skills.
    • Programs working with young people need to meet standards for organizational readiness to provide successful mentorship and support to teens involved or likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.

    For more information, watch the webinar in full:


  • Hocking County Ohio Juvenile Justice Fellow Recognized for Outstanding Service
    by CHRISTA MYERS

    Yessika Barber, Hocking County Ohio Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Justice Fellow, received the Hocking County Substance Abuse Prevention Award on Monday, October 28 at the Athens-Hocking-Vinton 317 Board (also known as Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board) annual meeting. Board member Erin Gibson nominated Yessika, and shared the following about her decision,

    Yessika is very active in the community and is an excellent example of someone who puts children and the community first. She serves as a reminder that for us to raise healthy, strong children we, as a whole, need to work together to provide them with good examples and a safe community.

    I am so very lucky to call Yessika a friend, and yes, she is a probation officer, but to the families she touches every day, she is a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, a shining light of guidance and a constant source of encouragement. We would like to thank you for all that you do Yessika, and please, keep up the good work!

    Yessika has been an employee for the Hocking County Juvenile Court for almost six years, serving as a Juvenile Justice Fellow and Specialized Docket Probation Officer for most of that time. When I asked her what the award meant to her, she explained,

    My hope was renewed. It means I have to work harder to move bigger mountains and I think receiving it as a probation officer says a lot in respect to how far we have come from the hammer to the strength-based aspect of this field where kids can really find hope in themselves and the system.

    I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Yessika, on behalf of the National Program Office and the Reclaiming Futures network, for receiving this prestigious award. She truly deserves it!

    If you know of any local Reclaiming Futures leaders receiving accolades for their work, please email me because it’s important to share the success stories and news with our national learning collaborative and the field. We love to show off your great work!


  • Growing Evidence for Link Between Experience in Detention and Recidivism in Teens
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Young people in the juvenile justice system who have an overall positive experience are 49 percent less likely to continue committing crimes, according to arrest and/or return-to-placement reports.

    Two recent research briefs, “What Youths Say Matters” [PDF] and “Reducing Isolation and Room Confinement,” [PDF] by the Performance Based Standards Learning Institute (PbSLi) suggest that there is a direct, and strong, link between the quality of a teen’s time in detention and their likelihood to commit new offenses:

    The latest PbSLi brief, “What Youths Say Matters,” focuses on the recent study, Pathways to Desistance, which is regarded as the most comprehensive longitudinal study of youths in the juvenile justice system.

    The Pathways researchers interviewed around 1,400 youths in Philadelphia and Phoenix over a seven-year period observing what makes youths continue—or stop—committing crimes.

    This study demonstrated that teens’ experiences in custody impact their future choices. The two main conclusions of the report include the following:

    1. What youths say matters; youths tell us ways we can help prevent them from continuing to commit crimes; and
    2. Asking young people is a valid, cost-effective way to find out what we need to know to prevent future crime.

  • Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform; News Roundup
    by DAVID BACKES

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [OP-ED] Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform (TheNewsStar.com)
      "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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (TheMiddletownPress.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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.

  • New JJIE Webinar: Talking Juvenile Justice with Photographer Richard Ross
    by DAVID BACKES

    JJIE recently hosted a webinar with Richard Ross, a photographer, researcher and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. Richard's most recent project, Juvenile In Justice, aims to expose conditions within the juvenile justice system. Via JJIE,

    [Juvenile In Justice] turns a lens on the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist and, occasionally, harm them. Seven years in the making, the project includes more than 1,000 kids in juvenile detention and commitment facilities in 31 states. The project is a quest to make the lives of these forgotten kids visual and tangible.

    Watch the webinar in full below: 


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • [Video] What is Juvenile Indigent Defense? (JJIE.org)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (Philly.com)
      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.

  • "Spotlight On Youth" Radio Segment Gives Unique Perspective on Fair Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    There are 2,500 young people currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in the United States—the only country in the world that has enforced the policy of life behind bars for those under 18. In recent years, the Supreme Court determined the policy of no parole to be unconstitutional for minors—calling it a cruel and unusual punishment.

    The radio show, Spotlight on Youth, recently hosted a segment, “What is Fair? Examining Sentencing for Youth,” that discussed this policy among four unique guests:

    While each guest had a different background, they all agreed on one main idea:

    Young people are fundamentally different than adults, and the justice system should take this into account when sentencing those under 18.


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

    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 (Jacksonville.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (Middletown-CT.Patch.com)
      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.

  • Upward Trend Lines in Juvenile Justice Reform
    by CHRIS STURGIS MA

    Isn’t it fun when policy is trending our way? Indeed, after reading State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth From the Adult Criminal Justice System released by the Campaign for Youth Justice I just want to celebrate.

    State Trends identifies twenty-three states that enacted forty pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal courts and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. They identify four important trends:

    • Trend 1: Eleven states (Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Ohio) have passed laws limiting states’ authority to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
    • Trend 2: Four states (Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, and Massachusetts) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
    • Trend 3: Twelve states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Maryland and Nevada) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
    • Trend 4: Eight states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults, allow for post-sentence review for youth facing juvenile life without parole or other sentencing reform for youth sentenced as adults.

  • OP-ED: Girls in the System Need More of Our Support; News Roundup
    by DAVID BACKES

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • In ‘Vernon’s World,’ a Young Photographer Documents the Life of a Homeless Teenager (JJIE.org)
      Unaccustomed to the cold, hard floor in his spot next to the door of the public bathrooms in Trenton, Missouri, Sam Wilson, 22, slept badly. In a stall next to him, Vernon Foster, 18, didn’t have the same trouble. By the time Foster woke, Wilson had been in a state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness for hours, apologizing to the morning walkers as they filtered through the bathroom, surprised to see two young boys asleep on the floor.
    • Mandatory Sentencing 17 year-olds in Adult Court - Is There a Better Alternative for Wisconsin's Youth and Taxpayers? (MacIver Institute)
      In the United States, there is a wide consensus that children differ from adults. The very fact that each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. have institutions designed to render judgment on cases and administer justice outside of the adult criminal court speaks to this critical distinction.
    • OP-ED: Girls in the System Need More of Our Support (JJIE.org)
      "I just returned from the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine, where Piper Kerman, author of the memoir 'Orange Is the New Black,' -- the inspiration for the wildly successful Netflix series of the same name -- gave the keynote address to the 400 or so attendees all with some connection to the offender population."
    • Florida's Juvenile Justice Department Seeking Reform Suggestions (WJHG.com)
      Gulf County residents sat quietly as Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters talked about a major change, focusing more on prevention programs. "These problems that allow people to become violent and so disregard authority and commit crimes and know that they're committing crimes, these things don't happen in a day," said Secretary Wansley Walters of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

  • Clinic at Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex Teaches More than Just Basketball
    by TODD FERTIG

    Washburn University basketball coach Bob Chipman and five members of the Ichabod team gave some pointers on the game of basketball, and a few on the game of life, to residents of the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) last week.

    With their first game of the season a little over two weeks away, Chipman and a few of his players took time out to teach a group of juvenile offenders about basketball, as well as to encourage them to make healthy life choices.

    The visitors coached the residents on techniques of the game and ran through a series of drills that helped bond the two groups of young men, many of whom are very close in age. The day ended with one of the young offenders tossing alley-oop passes to red-shirt freshman Evan Robinson.

    “It’s a great feeling to get this opportunity to serve the community, and I guarantee that I will learn a lot more from them than I will teach them,” said Robinson. “It’s good to see the smiles on their faces and know that we’re able to make a positive impact in some way.”

    Chipman first connected with KJCC through one of his former players, Steve Bonner, who now serves as a corrections counselor at the facility.

    “We all make mistakes, in life, and in basketball,” Chipman told the juvenile offenders. “But you learn from your mistakes and you go on. Just like in basketball, it’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts. I want every one of you to finish great.”


  • Horse Therapy as Intervention Strategy for Young People
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Winston Churchill once said, "There’s just something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Horse therapy has indeed been proven effective in several different cases regarding mental health, addiction, physical therapy, and human development. Hardin County, Ohio is putting this idea to the test.

    Hardin County Reclaiming Futures has partnered with Serenity Stables Therapeutic Center Inc. to provide horse therapy to youth in the juvenile system through the Horse and Youth program (H.A.Y.).

    The H.A.Y. program will provide intervention strategies for the adjudicated youth who need a way to build self-confidence, leadership skills, and group interaction capabilities. The young people will have 12 weekly sessions to create a bond with their horse, as well as the people, of Serenity Stables.

    “The horses do not care who you are, what trouble you have been in, or what problems you may have. Each youth will be able to establish a bond with an animal that is totally non-judgmental,” Judge Christopher, Hardin County Juvenile Court, explains.

    This type of bond will serve to build confidence in the young people of Hardin County and help them develop a new, healthier mindset. Judge Christopher also believes the people of Serenity Stable, who have ample experience working with challenged youth, will serve to be positive role models for the participants.


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms (JJIE.org)
      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 (NewsObserver.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (Miami.CBSLocal.com)
      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.

  • Six Steps to Break the Cycle of Drugs, Alcohol and Crime
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Nearly 1 in 5 youth (17%) at the door of the juvenile justice system meet criteria for substance abuse disorders; in detention, 39% do. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 1 in 16 young people with substance abuse disorders get into treatment

    That's unfortunate, because while we need to hold teens accountable for their actions, simply locking them up does not work.

    Effective adolescent substance abuse treatment can help teens stay out of trouble, make our communities safer, and save money.

    The Reclaiming Futures model unites juvenile courts, probation, adolescent substance abuse treatment, and the community to reclaim youth. Together, they work to improve drug and alcohol treatment and connect teens to positive activities and caring adults.

    Please call 503-725-8911 to learn how to bring the six steps of the Reclaiming Futures to your community:


  • [VIDEO] Community-Based Alternatives for Kids in Trouble with the Law
    by DAVID BACKES

    A new video from JJIE's Juvenile Justice Resource Hub explains how community-based alternatives can be more cost-effective and have better outcomes for teens than incarceration. Via the video:

    All kids make mistakes; some get in trouble with the law. Instead of having a chance to learn from their actions, though, they're often sent to costly, dangerous facilities that make them more likely to commit new crimes.

    What else can we do? Plenty. Many cost-effective program options, known as "community-based alternatives," have already been developed and tested that serve youth safely in the community instead of incarcerating them in jail-like facilities. Many alternatives have also been developed to divert youth from almost any point in the juvenile justice system.


  • Free Drug Facts Webinar October 29; News Roundup
    by LORI HOWELL

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Justice Department Pushes New Thinking on Kids and Crime (npr.org)
      Robert L. Listenbee, administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, advocates for understanding adolescent brain development to stop what experts describe as a "school-to-prison pipeline."
    • Bipartisan Support for Criminal Justice Reform (vera.org)
      The current moment of government shutdown might seem the antithesis to bipartisanship. But one area in which bipartisanship is in evidence might offer some hope: criminal justice reform.
    • Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms (jjie.org)
      A new report from the Washington-based Campaign for Youth Justice finds that 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.

  • Fitness Program Encourages Healthy Lifestyle in Hocking County Juvenile Justice
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Preventing drug use before it begins, especially among our youth, is a cost-effective way to reduce substance abuse and its negative consequences. A great way to achieve this is by encouraging an overall healthy lifestyle, which is exactly what the Hocking County Juvenile Court (HCJC) did this summer in Ohio.

    HCJC partnered with North’s Fitness Center, a local gym, to invite 14 court-involved young people to exercise in their facility at no cost for the duration of the six-week summer program called “Crush-It Fitness”.

    Similar to programs like SPORT and InShape, Hocking County’s Crush-It Fitness was designed to channel the youth’s free time into something positive and guide them toward a healthier lifestyle—a tactic that can be very effective to prevent substance abuse and reduce recidivism.

    A celebration ceremony was held on Sept. 12, 2013 to recognize the young people who completed the program. They received t-shirts and positive affirmations. Participants gave mixed reviews on the program—mandating exercise is tough business! But, a combination of logistic and planning feedback came in that will help Hocking County succeed if they continue the “Crush-It Fitness” program in summer 2014.


  • Complex Trauma Among Youth; News Roundup
    by DAVID BACKES

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Complex Trauma Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Impact and Implications (Corrections.com)
      Youth who have experienced complex trauma—repeated and various forms of victimization, life-threatening accidents or disasters, and interpersonal losses at an early age or for prolonged periods—have difficulties forming attachments with caregivers and self-regulating emotions.
    • Family Seeks Change in Law to Protect Students (JJIE.org)
      The government has a duty to protect prisoners from harm. It also has a duty to protect people who have been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. Yet that same duty doesn’t apply to the government when it comes to protecting students in school, according to case law.
    • Grant to Help Men Leaving Juvenile Justice System (The Boston Herald)
      The U.S. Labor Department is giving Massachusetts an $11.7 million grant for a project to increase employment and reduce repeat crimes for men leaving the state's juvenile justice system. The grant will first go to serve 535 men ages 16-22 in Chelsea and Springfield who are leaving the juvenile justice system. It will provide education and pre-vocational training to help them get jobs.
    • When Young Offenders–and Their Teacher–Say Goodbye (Kids in the System Blog)
      Last month, due to a lack of funding, the juvenile lock-up where I taught a weekly “life skills” workshop was shuttered. According to my very rough calculation, in the year that I worked there I had about 400 young men of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds pass through my group. Of those, about half came and went frequently, often gone for a couple of months to less than a week, and then re-offended to find themselves right back where they started.

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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Massachusetts Increases Juvenile Court Jurisdiction to Include 17-Year-Olds (JJIE.org)
      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 (MassLive.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      "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."

  • Join Twitter Chat About Recovery in Federal Policy @ONDCP
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Are you wondering how the Affordable Care Act will impact treatment services and recovery support? Do you have questions about recovery in federal policy? 

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy invites you to join a #RecoveryMonth Twitter chat @ONDCP Thursday, September 26th, at 1 pm (PDT)/4 pm (EDT).

    Follow @ONDCP and include #RecoveryMonth in your tweets to ask guest host, Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli, questions about

    • Recovery in federal policy,
    • Mr. Botticelli's personal recovery journey, and
    • How the Affordable Care Act will impact treatment services and recovery support

    Editor's update: Please visit the New York Times, In Practice to track news on the Affordable Care Act.

    The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover substance abuse and mental health treatment just like any other chronic disease. Please see the transcript on recoverymonth.gov for a similar Twitter chat in July.

    For information on enrollment visit www.healthcare.gov


  • Think That you Can’t Learn from a Beaver? New Webinar Shows Otherwise
    by DAVID BACKES

    In this recent webinar, Learning from our Animal Colleagues: Community based ethics for respectful interactions, treatment, and collaborations with American Indian, First Nations, and Native American Peoples and Societies, Dr. Rodney Haring discusses what treatment providers and systems should consider when working with Native Americans, including historical environmental influences, confidentiality, tribal differences, and styles of communication. This presentation will help participants understand how historical underpinnings, external factors, and cultural norms impact Native American Communities.

    Dr. Haring discusses a number of issues that pertain to working with Native American clients and systems in the health care, human service, and juvenile justice settings. Traditional stories are used to explain Native historical contexts, how history transcends into the professional/client relationship, contemporary vs. traditional worldviews and practices, and key communication patterns between professional/client interactions.

    See the webinar in full here >>


  • Underage Suspects Are Apt to Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit. Here’s Why; News Roundup
    by DAVID BACKES

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Underage Suspects Are Apt to Confess to Crimes They Didn’t Commit. Here’s Why. (Slate.com)
      Why so many false confessions? Juvenile suspects are generally more deferential to authority—at least in the context of a police interrogation—and less likely to understand the consequences of confessing to something they didn’t do.
    • [OPINION] Time to Affirm What We Mean by ‘Juvenile’ (The New York Times)
      Recent Supreme Court rulings on juvenile sentencing raise issues that go beyond what’s at stake in Miller v. Alabama. They also present an opportunity to affirm what we mean by “juvenile.” New York State may soon be the only state in the country that processes all youth as young as 16 in the criminal justice system, regardless of the severity of the offense.
    • Health and Incarceration: A Workshop Summary (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
      The health disparities that exist in our communities are concentrated in the population that cycles in and out of our jails and prisons. Justice-involved populations have very high rates of physical illness, mental illness, and substance use disorders. And their health problems have significant impacts on the communities from which they come and to which, in nearly all cases, they will return.
    • [OPINION] A Court Just for Juveniles in N.Y. (The New York Times)
      Teenagers prosecuted in adult courts or who do time in adult jails fare worse in life and can go on to commit more violent crimes than those who are handled by the juvenile justice system. Neuroscience research has found that these young offenders don’t weigh risks the way adults do, making them prone to rash judgments that can land them in trouble with the law.

  • Teens' Photovoices Celebrate Recovery Month
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    It's not too late to add your voice in support of National Recovery Month 2013 and promote the benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery for mental and substance use disorders.

    Forsyth County Reclaiming Futures is leading the way this September in Winston-Salem, N.C. with:

    I encourage you to visit Facebook to see the powerful images of teens' choices, their motivations for recovery and hopes for the future.


  • Major Gains for Family Engagement in Indiana’s Juvenile Justice System
    by RYAN SHANAHAN

    Last year, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Family Justice Program wrapped up a multi-year project to develop and pilot family engagement standards for the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute. All juvenile corrections facilities participating in PbS are now collecting information related to family engagement—including a survey of family members twice a year. There are currently 48 facilities across 15 states collecting family surveys with a total of 1,033 family surveys collected since the start of the project.

    One of the original pilot states is already benefiting from having data on family engagement after implementing the new standards last fall. Based on feedback from their PbS reports, Indiana’s Pendleton Juvenile Correctional facility decided to increase their rates of visitation. They analyzed their visitation policies and made drastic changes—opening up visitation hours to just about any time a family member can get to the facility. In addition to the expanded visiting hours, all restrictions on the number of visits a young person could receive were lifted.

    These changes went into effect at the beginning of this year and, after just a few short months, the staff are seeing big changes. Not only did they successfully double their normal rate of visitation, they saw improved behavior by young people in the facility. The Family Justice Program found a similar correlation between improved behavior and visits in Ohio.


  • Juvenile Life Without Parole: The Confusion Remains; News Roundup
    by DAVID BACKES

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • OP-ED: Digging up the Past (JJIE.org & The Miami Herald)
      Sometimes, only by unearthing the skeletons of a tortured past can they be given a proper burial. That is what is happening in Marianna, in North Florida, literally and figuratively. A team of researchers, including anthropologists, archeologists, students and police detectives are searching, painstakingly, for the remains of young boys once confined to the Dozier School for Boys.
    • Wisconsin Considers Keeping Non-Violent Teen Offenders In Juvenile Court (Wisconsin Public Radio News)
      Wisconsin is moving slowly towards changing the age at which teenagers are automatically treated as adults when they commit a crime. A bill introduced Thursday would allow 17-year-olds who commit nonviolent crimes to be tried in juvenile court.
    • OP-ED: Juvenile Life Without Parole: The Confusion Remains (JJIE.org)
      "Last June, on the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Miller v. Alabama, I spoke to a long-time advocate for the elimination of juvenile life without parole. Like a lot of people, I was pleased with the ruling, and saw it as a victory not only for activists but for science-based research into the juvenile brain."

  • Get Involved in Recovery Month
    by LORI HOWELL

    Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

    What are you doing to help spread the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover?

    It's not too late. Add your community's voice to the celebration now at Recoverymonth.gov. You'll find the following helpful resources:

    • Proclamations
    • Press materials
    • Fast facts, glossaries and guides
    • Infographics

  • Kudos: College Basketball Players Hold Clinic at Juvenile Correctional Facility
    by AVERY KLEIN

    Four members of the Fort Hays State University (FHSU) basketball team, with Assistant Coach Sean Dreiling, visited the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) in late August to teach basketball and encourage young people to make healthy life choices.

    “They’ve been doing this for several years, and it really makes an impact on the young men,” said LJCF Chaplain David Hales. “This is a chance for them to interact with heroes in their eyes.”

    For the FHSU players, one of the benefits of helping with the clinic is in the experience of coaching. Though NCAA rules prohibit them from playing against the youth, they can supervise drills and demonstrate techniques. The clinic includes contests, competitions and drills, and culminates with a scrimmage, which the FHSU players coach and officiate.

    FHSU assistant coach Jeremy Brown has been bringing players from his program to LJCF for clinics for the past several years. He said the college students benefit from the experience of seeing life inside a correctional facility and from giving of their time to a good cause. “Our guys have worked hard and made a lot of good choices to be where they are, and for them to go and set a good example and encourage the youth at LJCF is a really special,” said Brown. 


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Years Later, Mother and Daughter Still Scarred By Teen Boot Camp Experiences (JJIE.org)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      "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.

  • New Education Program Offers Incarcerated Youth Future Career Options
    by AVERY KLEIN

    Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) in Topeka recently launched the Environmental Water Technology program, preparing incarcerated youth the opportunity for future careers in water technology.

    The program is a collaborative effort between the community college, Washburn University, the Department of Labor, and the correctional facility and are offered to all residents of KJCC who have completed a high school diploma or GED. Students have the opportunity to receive credentials in four different water technology programs:

    • Water Plant Operation
    • Water Distribution System Operation and Management
    • Waste Water Plant Operation
    • Waste Water Collection System Operation and Maintenance

    The facility hosts instructors from Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train the next generation of water technicians.

    “We are excited to serve students and provide opportunities for career readiness through this partnership with KJCC,” said Dr. Clayton Tatro, president of FSCC. “Water technology is very much an ‘in-demand’ field with high potential for employment. Working together through this partnership, we can assist in the placement of trained individuals into the industry and their respective communities.”


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

    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 (JJIE.org)
      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.

  • Juvenile Court Awarded $975,000 in Montgomery County, Ohio
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Congratulations to Reclaiming Futures Montgomery County!

    Under the leadership of Honorable Anthony Capizzi, this Juvenile Drug Court was recently awarded $975,000 from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    The three-year Drug Court Expansion grant supports Montgomery County's efforts to unite juvenile courts, probation, adolescent substance abuse treatment, and the community to reclaim youth. Through this grant, Ohio will be able to serve an additional 45 families per year and 135 over the grant's three-year span.

    Together, they are improving drug and alcohol treatment and connecting teens to positive activities and caring adults.

    There is statewide interest in Ohio to expand the Reclaiming Futures model beyond the four current sites. If you know community leaders interested in breaking the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime, or philanthropies investing in juvenile justice reform, we'd like to hear from you. 

    For more information about bringing Reclaiming Futures to your community, please call Susan Richardson at 503-725-8914 or email susan.richardson@pdx.edu.

    Map at right illustrates current (blue) and potential (orange and green) Reclaiming Futures communities in Ohio. 


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Initiative Aims to Improve Hawaii's Juvenile Justice System (HawaiiNewsNow.com)
      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 (BeatriceDailySun.com)
      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 (KEPRTV.com)
      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.

  • We Need Mentors: Lucas County, Ohio, in the News
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Have you ever wondered how you could make a difference in the lives of young people in your community?

    Less than one year into a $1.3 million grant, Lucas County Reclaiming Futures Project Director LaTonya Harris breaks it down for Leading Edge guest host Rob Wiercinski in Toledo, Ohio.

    Watch this video to learn how they are decreasing recidivism and increasing drug court graduation rates. They will make even greater strides with more mentors to provide positive activities for teens:


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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • The Sting of Juvenile Detention (JJIE.org)
      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 (KIIITV.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (KPBS.org)
      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.

  • Report from the Field: Hardin County, Ohio
    by SUSAN RICHARDSON

    Despite the fact that synthetic marijuana use is soaring around areas like Hardin County, Ohio, we continue to successfully break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime using our proven six-step model. At a recent site visit, we found that Reclaiming Futures Hardin County has: 

    • Strong, committed teamwork that uses a holistic, seamless, coordinated system of support for teens
    • Effective, solid partnership with Ohio Northern University – good evaluation and site analysis with the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) data, and impressive internship development
    • Cohesion: Probation, Behavioral Health Services and Recovery School all under one roof
    • Superb GAIN rates, particularly upon follow up
    • Many Evidence-Based Treatment options
    • Well-implemented service coordination, with many positive pro-social activities (fishing, scrapbooking, archery, 4-H club, and community service opportunities) 
    • Great local partnerships, for example, teen financial literacy training with the local credit union 
    • Strong sustainability strategy
    • Good representation at Juvenile Treatment Court staffing/team meeting, with input from many partners around the table
    • Good communication with parents, evident by their attendance at the Juvenile Treatment Court hearing and positive interactions during family updates and high school graduation celebration at court
    • Excellent feedback from youth and parents during interviews after court
    • Wonderful community activities and exceptional fundraising events

    Kudos to the Reclaiming Futures team in Hardin County, Ohio!


  • Empowering Young Leaders for Juvenile Justice
    by AVERY KLEIN

    Nearly 120 teens and young adults from 27 different states met in Washington, D.C. last week to participate in the annual Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s summit, Empowering Young Leaders for Juvenile Justice Reform.

    The Summit, which seeks to cultivate and empower young juvenile justice advocates, invited 16-30 year olds passionate about juvenile justice advocacy to a weekend filled with youth advisory meetings and presentations on topics such as disproportionate minority contact and the school-to-prison pipeline.

    During one session discussing youth organizing and advocacy, Rashad Hawkins, Youth Organizer at Just Kids Partnership, urged participants to think strategically about how they want to effect change. Additionally, Hawkins walked through the steps of how to organize and advocate, advising participants to:

    • Set short-term, intermediate and long-term goals
    • Create resource pools of money, in-kind goods and space
    • Identify primary and secondary target individuals that can help implement change sought
    • Use the media to promote causes
    • Use tactics, such as events, public hearings or strikes that make sense to the audience.

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

    Juvenile Justice Reform

    • Juvenile Jails Being Reworked (WVMetroNews.com)
      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 (ClarionLedger.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      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 (Fox2Now.com)
      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 (JJIE.org)
      "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."