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  • Reclaiming Futures Snohomish County Reports on Successes in 2013
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Reclaiming Futures Snohomish County recently released its 2013 Annual Report detailing its remarkable accomplishments over the last year. Also known as R-3 (Re-enter, Re-Engage, and Re-Claim), Reclaiming Futures of Snohomish County strives to provide comprehensive services for young people within and outside of the criminal justice system.

    In 2013, Snohomish County successfully implemented, or sustained, the following programs to further its mission to meet the needs of young people in the juvenile justice system and at-risk teens:

    • Youth Partner Program: a mentorship program that matches young people with positive adults who share similar interests.
    • Journey: a gender-responsive program that utilizes the One Circle Foundation Curriculum and focuses on relationships with peers, body image, and path to the future.
    • Promising Artists in Recovery (PAIR): a variety of eight-week art workshops for teens in recovery with the goal to exhibit the teens’ work at local venues.
    • The Seven Challenges Program: Snohomish County had its first fidelity visit—a day of training, reviewing of quality assurance documents and observing youth groups at each agency.
    • Music Futures: a performing arts program for teens actively involved in substance abuse treatment who are interested in attending guitar, percussion and song-writing workshops.

    Of these programs, PAIR had the most significant results with a 23.3 percent misdemeanor recidivism rate and a 10 percent felony recidivism rate. 


  • The Long-Term Effects of Abuse on Incarcerated Teens; News Roundup
    by ASHLEY HEINONEN

    Juvenile Justice Reform


  • JJIE.org Releases New Digital Magazine Featuring Stories of Key Juvenile Justice Issues
    by CECILIA BIANCO

    Last week the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange launched a new multimedia digital magazine in celebration of its fourth year of journalism. The new magazine will feature top stories in juvenile justice on key issues including mental health, substance abuse and disproportionate minority contact.

    This new magazine platform will combine video, text and photography to offer a multimedia picture of juvenile justice and the complex issues surrounding it. The first issue, released last week, includes the following feature stories:


  • How to Help Teens in Detention During the Holidays
    by BENJAMIN CHAMBERS

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2010, but we thought you might find it useful.juvenile-justice-system_scraggly-tree-with-one-christmas-bulb-institutional-setting

    We know that teens in the juvenile justice system generally have better outcomes when they're connected with their families while they're detained or incarcerated. During the holidays, their feelings of isolation and despair are magnified (and their family members often feel the same way). 

    It can make all the difference to have someone remember them during the holidays, and it can be a great opportunity to partner with community organizations. 

    Don't know what to do?  Then check out this excellent Holiday Toolkit from the Campaign for Youth Justice. (Be patient - I find the PDF can take a while to load.) It can help you plan:

    • a party or special event at the detention facility (or wherever the youth are locked up);
    • a holiday gift-giving event;
    • a walk-through of the facility by legislators or local policy makers; or
    • a holiday-card campaign.

    It's even got sample language for cards, invitations, and a media advisory.  Try it -- and let us know how it goes!


  • Supporting Systems Change in Reclaiming Futures Communities
    by LORI HOWELL

    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.


  • Statistical Briefing Book: A Place to Find Facts on Juvenile Justice Topics
    by JACLYN CHELF

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recently released a Statistical Briefing Book that offers statistics on various juvenile justice topics. The Book documents where states stand on a plethora of juvenile justice issues, with data analysis tools that will allow users to create custom analysis of juvenile populations, arrests, court cases and residential placement.

    The book displays documentation on the extended age of jurisdiction, how the courts classify status offenses, and administration of community supervision and aftercare services. Easy access guides to juvenile populations, juvenile arrest rates by offense, sex, and race, arrest statistics and the census of juveniles in residential placement are also featured.

    The national overviews include access to FBI arrest statistics including data through 2010 and National, State, and County arrest estimates. Access to Juvenile Court statistics including national estimates of the more than 30 million delinquency cases processed by the nation’s juvenile courts between 1985 and 2010 and sections devoted to Juveniles in Court and Juveniles on Probation.


  • Teen’s Criminal Career can Start by Age 5
    by FUTURITY

    By the time a juvenile is arrested, or referred to the juvenile court system, chances are he or she has already displayed a pattern of antisocial behavior.

    Red flags are easy to recognize in the days following a tragic event like a mass shooting—but it’s important to identify those early warning signs before they turn into a pattern of criminal behavior.

    In some extreme cases, children as young as 5 years old are committing crimes. So when that child becomes an adult, he or she may already have a lengthy criminal record.

    “With onset in criminal careers, the first sign of that problem behavior is an indicator of how severe it will be,” DeLisi says. “If you can help them, you save a ton of money and you save a lot of problems. But it’s just the issue of correctly identifying them and that raises a bunch of ethical and other issues.”

    The connection between the onset and the severity is similar to other ways children start to develop, either positively or negatively, at an early age.

    “If you have someone who is 3, or even 2, and is already reading it would suggest that the person is highly intelligent,” DeLisi says. “The reason is because the emergence or the onset of the behavior is usually inversely related to what they will become. The earlier something appears the more special they are or extreme.”


  • Kansas: Justice-Involved Teens can now Train for Career in "Environmental Water Technology"
    by TODD FERTIG

    Youth in a Topeka juvenile correctional facility will soon begin training in a field that could net them attractive career options in the future.

    Thanks to instruction from Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) and a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, students at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) now have the opportunity to gain skills in “Environmental Water Technology,” a field in which the median annual income in Kansas is $41,000.

    The Department of Labor has identified that a shortage of technicians in the field is looming, as the mean age of those in the industry is in the mid-50s. The agency’s grant is targeting trainees in the 18-21 age range, and FSCC is bringing the opportunity to those in the Kansas juvenile justice system.

    KJCC held an open house on Friday, Feb. 8, to introduce its new Environmental Water Technology course of study and encourage the youth at the facility to enroll in the program.

    Classes in Environmental Water Technology, which are offered to residents of KJCC who have received a high school diploma or a GED, will begin in March. Enrollees in the program will typically study in a classroom setting during the morning, then engage in hands-on lab work in the afternoon, said Megan Milner, deputy superintendent of KJCC.


  • Recognizing the Symptoms of Trauma in Justice-Involved Youth
    by SELENA TEJI J.D.

    Justice-involved youth have complex histories that not only contributed to their delinquency but present challenges for rehabilitation. They often experience poverty, violence, familial instability, exposure to drug use and gangs, and serial relocations. These compound factors exacerbate a lack of self-confidence, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and mental health issues.

    In the field of public health, these experiences are identified as traumatic: including a loss of safety, powerlessness, fear, hopelessness, and a constant state of alertness. In the video above, Christa Collins notes that exposure to trauma severely diminishes decision-making skills and the ability to cope with stress.


  • Kansas Juvenile Justice Graduate Turns Life Around
    by TODD FERTIG

    As Pomp and Circumstance played from a laptop computer, adults, some in prison staff uniforms, and a handful of teenage girls in gray sweat suits, stand in respectful silence.

    Finally, a solitary young woman in a red gown pushes her way through a heavy green security door, which slams with cold severity behind her. The door’s blast doesn’t faze her, however. She’s heard it before. She smiles sheepishly, but holds her head high, her eyes fixed straight ahead.

    Emily won’t celebrate her graduation with any parties at her home. She won’t be toasted at any restaurants by family and friends. Instead she’ll spend another night at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) in Topeka.

    But it will be her last. She’s going home for good the next day, to live with her mother, to start a new life.

    Emily enrolled in a Topeka area high school in the fall of 2011, ready for a senior year like most students experience – going to ball games, participating in activities, maybe even attending the prom in the spring.

    But Emily’s plans were interrupted. After several stints in foster care and juvenile facilities, and a short stay with her father in Mississippi, Emily was informed that her near future would be spent at the lock-down facility for juveniles in Topeka, serving time for previous convictions.


  • Boys and Books in Juvenile Lockup: It's Magic
    by LAUREN NORTON CARSON

    I teach literacy skills to boys in juvenile corrections settings. They range in age from thirteen to eighteen and have usually skipped, dropped out of, or been expelled from school. For them, school “sucks” and so does reading. They’re not thrilled to be in my class, considering they’ve lost their freedom and are forced to go to school—where they have to read a book.

    “Yo, Miss!” says Pete*, a thirteen-year-old who can’t seem to stop twitching in front of the bookcase. “I’m not reading no book!”

    But sustained silent reading is a requirement of the school day, and even Perpetual Motion Pete has to comply. I pull Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key from the shelf.

    “You might like this one, Pete. It’s about a kid who’s got wicked ADHD and gets in trouble all the time. His parents are whacked, too, and his grandmother’s worse than he is. It’s really funny. Joey’s a good kid and doesn’t mean to cause trouble. So he tries medication and all kinds of crazy things happen.”

    I pause for a minute. I turn to put the book back on the shelf.

    “Wait,” Pete mumbles. “Let me see.”

    I hand the book to him and start walking away, then throw a few well-aimed words over my shoulder.

    “Oh, yeah. And the guy who wrote that book, Jack Gantos, did time when he was 19. He went to jail for smuggling dope, but after he got out he became a children’s book writer. He even wrote a book about his jail time.” I turn around and resume walking.

    Pete’s hooked. “He did? Where’s that one?”


  • Child Sex Abuse in Female Adjudicated Youth
    by SAVENIA FALQUIST-DIONNE

    The last 15 years of my professional focus has been working with youth and families with an emphasis on child sex abuse prevention. While working as a Juvenile Officer in Jefferson County Oregon (2002-2006), I provided gender specific services for our department. My role was to assess, develop and implement gender specific services. Girls Circle(1) curriculum and training was the best practice service that our department implemented in 2003.

    We had eight female youth signed up for the class and averaged about five attending weekly. Within about 2 class sessions, I started to hear the girls talking about various types of sexual assaults. Unfortunately, there wasn’t specific group content that addressed child sex abuse and rape. With approval, I adjusted the curriculum to include an art project that would allow the girls to outline each other and color in their body outline with colors representing emotions. This was a very eye opening activity for myself and our department. The common theme in their color representations was scribbled hearts and black stomachs. The girls talked about feeling empty, numb and hopeless about their future. That was affirmation that child sex abuse was important for us to address with the female juvenile clients.

    This was what made me realize that so many of the females that came into our Department had experienced child sex abuse and many times additional sexual assaults into their teen years. OJJDP promotes publications that site anywhere from 70-90% of adjudicated female juvenile’s have been sexually abused. Unfortunately, the data on males is very limited but because of high profile cases, it appears that more resources are focusing on males.

    Lessons learned:

    • Child sex abuse is very real for a large percent of adjudicated juveniles
    • Grooming creates very deep seeded issues
    • JJO’s need child sex abuse training and assessment tools
    • Juvenile Officer’s have opportunities to address this root cause issue
    • Adult’s need education and training to talk about child sex abuse
    • Positive youth development activities really do work (especially child sex abuse focused)
    • Teens are very protective of the kids in their lives (they don’t want what happened to them happen to other kids)
    • Teaching ourselves and teens how to protect themselves and others from predators works

  • Setting Justice-Involved Youth on the Path to Success Through Career and Technical Training
    by CANDACE PUTTER

    In 2008, when Jose was released from his nine-month stay in a Pennsylvania residential placement for his auto theft adjudication and returned to Philadelphia, he had a 1 in 10 chance of graduating from high school, according to the Johns Hopkins study, “Unfulfilled Promise.” Without marketable skills, he was likely to join the ranks of the young unemployed, and his chances of landing in prison as an adult were significantly higher than his chances of landing in a family sustaining career.

    In four short years a great deal has changed. If Jose were released today from one of the 28 delinquent facilities (including State facilities) that have affiliated with the PA Academic and Career Technical Training Alliance (PACTT), his prospects would be considerably brighter. Indeed, if he doesn’t actually graduate on credits (or get his GED) while in placement, he is much more likely to return to his home high school with a higher literacy level, earned credits and documented career/technical skills aligned with industry expectations. His career/tech skills and earned certifications such as OSHA-10, ServSafe or Microsoft Certification have prepared him for further training and make him attractive to an employer, despite his delinquent record.

    The PACTT Alliance grew out of the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change aftercare initiative. Recognizing a significant need for reform of the academic and career preparation that delinquent youths receive in placement, and realizing that no government agency, not the Department of Public Welfare nor the Pennsylvania Department of Education, were monitoring the overall education and career preparation offered in these schools, the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers sponsored PACTT. I received a Stoneleigh Fellowship to direct this project, the balance of which was funded by grants from the MacArthur and PEW Foundations and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.


  • Preparing for the Models for Change Conference
    by ZERLINE HUGHES

    The Models for Change conference is just around the corner – and it’s not too soon to start participating online!

    This year, we are especially excited to engage with conference attendees and juvenile justice practitioners online through social media.

    We will live-tweet all three days of the conference and encourage you to follow along and join in by tweeting and retweeting with the hashtags #MFC7 and #Models4Change. (When you want to tell something specific about some issue or subject, you can prefix your subject with #. The more people that re‐tweet your message and/or use the same # with their own tweets, the # or subject acts like a keyword and becomes searchable and more popular.) For those not yet on Twitter (join here), this is the perfect chance to dabble in social networking to promote your organization’s issues and Models for Change. Images, graphs, quotes, workshops and photographs will be featured and we hope you share your own thoughts/tweets on this medium. And remember, when you tweet, make sure to include @models4change. Start following us there as well.


  • How to Use Language in Court that Youth Understand: Get the New Models for Change Guide
    by ROSA PERALTA

    As Shiloh Carter outlined in "Kid Courts Should Use Kid Friendly Language," it is no secret that when youth end up in court, they are often confused and uncertain about the purpose of the proceedings, and what's expected of them when they leave. Why? In spite of the fact that judges and other court professionals try hard to make sure youth know what’s expected of them, much of the language used in court goes right over their heads.

    TeamChild®—a nonprofit law office based in Washington State—recognized this problem and developed interventions to help youth understand more of what goes on when they appear in court. With the support of Models for Change, a national juvenile justice reform initiative funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, we worked with the Washington State Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN), to create a tool—the judicial colloquies—to train judges and other court practitioners on the use of developmentally appropriate language in court proceedings.

    We decided to focus our work on the court orders issued when youth are released prior to adjudication, and when they are put on probation. At these stages of the proceedings, a youth might face detention time if they violate their court orders.


  • Everett Herald Features Photos from Young Artists
    by LORI HOWELL

    The sixth step of the Reclaiming Futures model is "transition," which highlights the importance of creating opportunities for young people in the community based on teens' unique strengths and interests.

    Mentors in Snohomish County, Washington, are connecting with young people through Promising Artists in Recovery, a program created through Reclaiming Futures Snohomish County and the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett, Washington. 

    The Everett Herald is celebrating this very compelling photography in print and online. (Photo at right by student Jordyn Brougher.)

     

     

     

     


  • REPORT: School Exclusionary Discipline Policies Expensive, Ineffective
    by KAT SHANNON

    A new report, Breaking Rules, Breaking Budgets: Cost of Exclusionary Discipline in 11 Texas School Districts, by nonprofit Texas Appleseed shares the negative impacts of the exclusionary disciplinary methods in Texas schools. The study surveyed 11 school districts to discover the cost-benefit ratio of exclusionary discipline and how it affects students and communities. Exclusionary discipline includes out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to alternative education programs which leads to high human and financial costs.

    In 2011, the Council of State Governments released a groundbreaking report documenting the negative impacts suspension and expulsion have on students in Texas. With many schools utilizing discretionary sentencing for minor violations, the high costs and negative impacts of exclusionary discipline are hindering the Texas public school system.

    Excessive state money is being spent on out-of-school suspensions and school security rather than social work services. With 75% of violations strictly school code violations, the annual cost to educate one student through exclusionary discipline methods is three times the average cost of educating a student in the regular classroom.

    The Texas Appleseed report gives the following recommendations to help reduce the human and financial costs of exclusionary discipline:


  • Diverting At-Risk Girls Away from the Juvenile System
    by LIZ WU

    While the number of boys in the juvenile justice system has dropped over the past decade, the number of girls in the system has actually increased. But that doesn't mean we have more violent girls nowadays. Over half the girls in the juvenile justice system are detained for non-violent transgressions, including skipping school, breaking curfew or running away, reports NPR reporter Carrie Johnson. And most of the girls have family problems, trauma or a history of abuse. 

    So what can we do?

    At Reclaiming Futures, we believe that through treatment and pro-social activities, communities can reclaim their troubled young people. We agree with Minnesota prosecutor James Backstrom who told Johnson that, "if we're going to reduce crime in America in the long run, we have to start with our kids, with early intervention and prevention efforts." That's why we create teams of juvenile court judges, treatment providers, probation officers and community officers to coordinate efforts and intervene in the lives of troubled girls and boys. By devoting resources to our young people and connecting them with treatment and caring adults, we can turn their lives around while keeping our communities safe.


  • An Intriguing Look at Juvenile Justice in DC
    by REAGAN DALY

    The Urban Institute’s District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute recently released a report highlighting trends in youth placed in the custody of the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), the District’s cabinet-level juvenile justice agency, between 2006 and 2011. The goal of the report was to better understand how and why the number of juveniles committed to the agency as a court disposition—or sentence—has changed over the past several years. In particular, it explores changes that followed a series of reforms launched by the agency in 2006 to improve the conditions of secure confinement and expand community-based alternatives for youth.

    One of the most intriguing findings to emerge from the analysis of data collected by DYRS was a considerable increase in overall commitments (which include those placed in a secure facility and those served by DYRS in the community) between fiscal years 2006 and 2009, driven mainly by responses to youth adjudicated for misdemeanor offenses. Specifically, misdemeanor commitments accounted for 92 percent of the overall increase during this time period. They comprised a larger proportion of overall commitments in 2009 as well—at 44 percent of the total compared to 27 percent in 2006.

    At the end of the report, the authors suggest a number of possible explanations for the increase in misdemeanor commitments, the two primary ones being an increase in the volume of misdemeanor cases and changing practices on the part of judges, who are responsible for deciding which youth should be committed to DYRS. Unfortunately, because of limited access to data they were unable to explore either explanation in great depth (the only trend data available were for overall arrests, petitions, and filings—not misdemeanors specifically).


  • Supporting Systems Change in Reclaiming Futures Communities
    by LORI HOWELL

    Reclaiming Futures has helped communities break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime for 10 years. But how exactly does Reclaiming Futures accomplish systems change? We sat down with National Executive Director Susan Richardson to learn about 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.


  • Youth Voices in Juvenile Justice [video]
    by NINA MEDEIROS

    It's hard to sum up a year's worth of work in four minutes, but that's exactly what a group of young people from the juvenile justice system did this summer when they participated in a film-making workshop with the Media Awareness Project. The project was created in partnership with Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS), an organization working to create a Texas where all youth have access to the resources, support and opportunities they need to thrive. TNOYS brings together people and organizations to promote youth advocacy, strengthen professional development and create youth engagement.

    Youth Voices in Juvenile Justice from Media Awareness Project on Vimeo.

    This project was a great fit for us at MAP, because we share the belief that teaching youth to advocate for themselves and for the issues that affect them is a strong foundation for helping them examine and process the intricate stories of their lives.


  • Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | September 2012
    by LIZ WU

    Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of the top 10 posts from September 2012.

    10. Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
    A recent Children's Defense Fund report looks at the cradle-to-prison pipeline and offers ways to disrupt the cycle.

    9. Phoenix House Uses the West Side Story Project to Disrupt the Cycle of Youth Violence
    By connecting law enforcement agencies and troubled teens through the West Side Story, Phoenix House is interrupting the cycle of violence and distrust and encouraging positive youth development.

    8. Pilot Juvenile Reentry Program in Illinois
    Right on Crime's Jeanette Moll looks at a program in Illinois working to slash recidivism rates by targeting the underlying issues, whether related to substance abuse or family problems.


  • Goldman Sachs Invests $10M in Social Impact Bond to Reduce NYC Teen Recidivism Rates
    by LIZ WU

    Goldman Sachs is investing almost $10 million in a government program to reduce recidivism rates among adolescent men.

    Earlier today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Goldman Sachs would provide a $9.6 million loan to pay for a new four year program to reduce the rate at which teen boys incarcerated at Rikers Island reoffend. Goldman Sachs is providing the financing through a social impact bond and will only be repaid if the program reduces recidivism rates by more than 10%. Currently, nearly 50% of the young men released from Rikers reoffend within one year.

    According to the New York Times:

    The Goldman money will be used to pay MDRC, a social services provider, to design and oversee the program. If the program reduces recidivism by 10 percent, Goldman would be repaid the full $9.6 million; if recidivism drops more, Goldman could make as much as $2.1 million in profit; if recidivism does not drop by at least 10 percent, Goldman would lose as much as $2.4 million.


  • Missouri’s Unique Approach To Rehabilitating Teens in Juvenile Justice System
    by MELANY BOULTON

    Missouri is changing the way it approaches rehabilitating teens in its juvenile justice system, and it’s working. With a focus on therapy and education rather than punishment, the state closed its training schools and large facilities with minimal schooling in the early 1980s. It also did away with prison-issued uniforms and isolation cells. Now in Missouri, youth who commit crimes usually spend up to 12 months in residential centers with various levels of security, depending on the severity of the crime. Lesser crimes result in teens living in group homes or visiting day treatment centers. Every facility offers the same educational and treatment opportunity, regardless of the crimes committed.

    (In this video from The Missouri Approach, young people talk about the success that Missouri’s juvenile justice system has had in their lives and share their positive plans for their futures.)

    In a summary published in the 2012 summer edition of American Educator titled, Metamorphosis: How Missouri Rehabilitates Juvenile Offenders, author Jennifer Dubin explains how completely revamping the juvenile correctional system has transformed the way that the state approaches rehabilitating youth for the better. For example, Missouri’s Division of Youth Service (DYS) runs the juvenile facilities in the state, which are completely separate from the court’s jurisdiction once a youth is sentenced to a DYS facility.


  • Positive Adult Role Models Central to Teens’ Success in Juvenile Justice System and Beyond, says Report
    by MELANY BOULTON

    A report released on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day details the extent to which traumatic events impact children and young people involved in the juvenile justice system. In addition, the report points out the importance of children and teens developing close relationships with caring adults soon after entering the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

    "Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Children and Youth Involved in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems,” examines the positive impact that the Children's Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) has had with children and youth by creating a “trauma-informed workforce.” Trauma-informed workplaces collaborate “to develop, implement, [and] evaluate effective trauma treatment and services. In addition, [they partner] with other community agencies to promote service delivery approaches so that trauma services are effectively implemented within local child-serving community service systems.”

    Despite the fact that it’s possible for some young people to experience traumatic events and come out virtually unscathed, studies show that victimization can often lead to life changing consequences and result in a multitude of issues later in life. According to an NCTSN study, children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events are at increased risk of being arrested in the future. In some cases, young adults who have experienced traumatic events are as much as five times more likely to go through the juvenile justice system.


  • San Francisco's Community-Focused "Wraparound" Approach Reduces Recidivism
    by EMILY LUHRS

    Last month, members of CJCJ’s Wraparound team had the honor of presenting to juvenile justice leaders from select California counties at the Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative (PYJI) Speaker Series. Juvenile Justice Clinical Supervisor, Margaret Hitchcock and Wrap Rehabilitation Counselor, Randell Lewis, were joined by CJCJ’s Executive Director, Daniel Macallair, San Francisco Deputy Director of Juvenile Probation, Allison Magee, and Statewide expert on EPSDT and Wraparound funds, Joseph Harrington. As one of California’s model counties, the San Francisco collaborative was invited by Sierra Health Foundation to discuss its community-based wraparound approach toward serving high-needs youth.

    (Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative - Applying a Community‐Based Wraparound Approach from Youth Empowerment Studios on Vimeo.)

    This wraparound model would not be effective without the collaboration between the San Francisco Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, other county departments and community-based nonprofits. As a result of this collaboration, San Francisco has seen a dramatic reduction in recidivism since implementation of the Wraparound program in 2009.


  • Washington: Music-Therapy Helps At-Risk and Troubled Teens
    by LIZ WU

    In Snohomish County, Washington, troubled teens attend music classes and transform from "youth offenders" to "musicians." This is part of a partnership between the Snohomish County Music Project and Reclaiming Futures Snohomish County.

    The Music Project is a nonprofit organization that came into being after the Everetty Symphony fell on hard times. The Symphony board decided to change its mission from an arts organization to a human service organization with music-therapy programs.

    From the Daily Herald:


  • Supreme Court Rules Mandatory Life Without Parole Unconstitutional for Juveniles
    by LIZ WU

    In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) today ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder are unconstitutional. Justice Elena Kegan wrote the majority opinion, which focused on the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

    Writing at the SCOTUSblog, Tejinder Singh elaborates on the decision:

    The Court’s opinion brings together two strands of precedent to hold that a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment. The first strand holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits punishments that enact a mismatch between the culpability of a class of offenders and the severity of the penalty. Citing, among cases, Roper and Graham, the Court explains that juveniles have always been regarded as less culpable because the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest penalties on juvenile offenders, even when they commit severe crimes. The second line of precedent holds that life without parole shares key characteristics with the death penalty, and thus raises similar Eighth Amendment concerns, most notably that defendants are entitled to individualized consideration when facing such a severe sanction.

    Weaving these two lines of precedent together, the Court held that mandatory life without parole violates the Eighth Amendment. Such sentencing regimes, the court explained, “preclude a sentence from taking account of an offender’s age and the wealth of characteristics and circumstances attendant to it,” including “immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences,” as well as the juvenile’s “family and home environment,” and the circumstances of the offense, including “the extent of his participation in the conduct and the way familial and peer pressures may have affected him.” By eliding these key factors, mandatory life without parole “poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment.”


  • Punishment vs. Rehabilitation and the Effects of Trauma on High-Risk Youth
    by SHANNON KLUSS

    Studies show that 75 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events; 50 percent have endured post-traumatic stress symptoms. Additionally, system-involved youth who have been exposed to trauma are more likely to face overt behavioral and academic challenges.

    Exposure to child trauma can lead to high-risk behaviors such as fighting, running away, and substance abuse, as well as the inability to focus in class, overreacting, and poor self-regulation. These behaviors ultimately increase their chances of entering the juvenile justice system or returning to juvenile courts for a repeated time. This vicious cycle has many officials within the juvenile and education systems concerned about how to handle these troubled and vulnerable adolescents. 

    The National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships examines this critical issue in their recent report Responding to Students Affected by Trauma: Collaborating Across Public Systems. The report examines the long-term effects child trauma, particularly for those served by public agencies.

     


  • San Bernardino Rethinks Approach to Juvenile Justice, Focuses on Education and Jobs Training
    by ALEXANDRA BJERG

    An Inland Empire-based program launched in 2008 is proving that new thinking about keeping juvenile offenders out of state and county facilities can lead to dramatic results within just a few years.

    In California, San Bernardino's Gateway Program takes each juvenile offender, or "ward," and tailors a specific program to match each of them. Every single one who passes through contributes to a database that allows the county to conduct quarterly reviews and change course where ncessary.

    "The Gateway Program focuses on education and vocation, combined with quarterly assessment of outcomes," said Brenda Perez, the program's director.

    The numbers speak for themselves. The program's flexibility and constant evolution has made it incredibly efficient, slashing taxpayer costs by 20 percent compared to housing the same wards in state facilities.


  • New Leadership in Kentucky's Department of Juvenile Justice
    by RYAN SHANAHAN AND MARGARET DIZEREGA

    Vera’s Family Justice Program sat down with Hasan Davis, acting commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), to discuss the influence of family in his life and his work.

    Vera: How has your family helped you get to where you are today?

    Davis: Growing up as a black male with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and a hearing and vision impairment, I realized life for me would be a constant series of challenges to overcome or it would be nothing at all. My parents divorced when I was six. and we went on and off of food stamps. I attended six elementary schools and can remember 10 different permanent and temporary living addresses before I began high school.

    When I was 11, I got arrested, and I remember waiting at the police station for my mom. As I saw the other mothers arrive, I could see the fear, frustration, and embarrassment that comes with having a child get caught up in this system, which came out as anger and threats. “I had to leave work to come here. I am going to let them keep you next time. I have three more kids to raise.” So as I waited for my mother, I was getting my speech ready. It was going to start with something like, “I’m a black man, and I am going to do what I have to do to survive, so you need to just back up off me.” When she showed up, she was really calm. I figured she didn’t want to show herself in front of the police, and I thought she’s going to lose it when we get in the car, but instead there was deafening silence. Halfway home I finally found the courage to look up at her, and she was crying these huge tears. She looked down at me and said, “Baby, if you could see what I see every time I look at you, you would know how great you are.”


  • Children’s Law Center Releases Two Publications on Ohio Youth in the Criminal Justice System
    by BROOKE PRESTON

    The Children’s Law Center (CLC) recently released a report titled “Falling Through the Cracks: A New Look at Ohio Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System” and an accompanying publication called “In Their Own Words.” The report focuses on youth in Ohio who are transferred to the adult court system or held in adult jails and prisons, while the second document highlights the stories and experiences of eight individuals – four family members and four youth – who have been personally affected by Ohio’s policy of transferring (or binding over) youth to the adult system.

    In recent decades, changing Ohio laws have caused more youth to come into contact with the adult criminal justice system. Although the state has more recently taken steps to change this, the current process has resulted in over 300 youth placed in adult courts or adult jails and prisons each year throughout Ohio.


  • New York Prepares New Group Homes for Young Lawbreakers
    by LIZ WU

    In and around New York City, the Bloomberg administration is setting up new group homes for young people aged 15 and under who have been sentenced for crimes. The group homes will be operated by 11 nonprofit providers, with some homes opening as soon as September.

    Each group home will house 4 to 24 young people, allowing more than 300 troubled kids to serve their time in the city instead of in upstate juvenile facilities. This will make it easier for them to stay in contact with their families and support networks, which will reduce the likelihood of recidivism. 

    Residents will live in the group homes for an average of seven months and will attend Department of Education schools during the day. As they get close to completing their sentence, many will return to their former public schools. 

    From Child Welfare Watch:


  • Breaking the Barriers: Texas Teens Use Sledgehammers to Break Through Negative Influences
    by LEE CAMACK

    Many of the youth who enter the Samuel F. Santana Challenge Academy have barriers that contributed to their negative behavior. Without overcoming those barriers, many of our youth will continue their negative behavior long after they are out of the juvenile system.

    While working at the Challenge Academy, I came up with an idea for a way our challenge youth could identify their own barriers and move forward. On the track, there was a 4x4 cement slab that was used for Challenge's flag pole. That slab was not being utilized and had to be removed for a future project. I had a vision for the concrete slab that involved giving the teens an opportunity to write down barriers that they wanted to break on the slab and then literally breaking them.

    In their own words, each teen had a section of the concrete to write and draw their barriers down. One section of the concrete was dedicated for all of the juveniles to trace their right hand in a promise to make a commitment to break their barriers. Once the entire slab was complete, on May 7th at 5:00 pm, a Break the Barriers ceremony was conducted.


  • New York Considers Legislation to Raise Juvenile Justice Age
    by LIZ WU

    In New York and North Carolina, 16 and 17 year old teens are automatically sent to adult criminal court for criminal offenses, including nonviolent charges. 

    Lawmakers in North Carolina are already working to raise the juvenile age to 18 and now New York is following suit.

    Writing at Child Welfare Watch, Alec Hamilton explains:

    The effort to keep nonviolent 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult court has moved to the state legislature, which is considering two new juvenile justice bills. One, based on a proposal by the state’s chief judge, would establish permanent youth courts that prevent those tried for nonviolent offenses from picking up permanent criminal records—but would have little impact for thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds charged each year with violent felonies.

    The second would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for all but those accused of the most serious offenses, sending them automatically through the juvenile justice system...

    Legislative observers say the bill that is most likely to move forward is a compromise that reflects the desire of youth advocates, legislators and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to raise the age of adult criminal prosecutions to 18 for nonviolent offenses, but will not overload the Family Court with thousands of new cases. In fact, the new youth courts would be located in and managed by the adult Criminal Court system.


  • May 9: Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
    by LIZ WU

    On May 9, 2012, the OJJDP and SAMHSA will observe National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to promote recovery and resilience for young people in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The two agencies will support efforts to help the public recognize signs of chlid trauma, promote treatment for children's traumatic experiences and promote trauma-informed social services and supports. 

    Why is this important?

    As we learned at this year's JMATE conference, childhood mental health problems increase the risk of substance use and addiction (because many teens are self-medicating) and substance use increases the risk of developing mental health problems. Trauma (especially when experienced at a young age) severely affects a child's ability to cope and affects brain size (NOT intelligence). And 92% of incarcerated kids have experienced one or more traumas during their childhood.

    To learn more about National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day and to plan an activity, visit www.samhsa.gov/children.


  • In Texas, Parents are Partners in Juvenile Justice
    by REBECCA GARZA

    In a recent survey of youth at a Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facility, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition heard from youth that staying connected to their families is more difficult at state facilities as compared to county detention centers, and that they would like more contact with their families. In my role as the TJJD family liaison coordinator, I have been working on several ways to establish and enhance family partnerships.

    In 2007, parents, youth, advocacy groups and agency staff worked together to create the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which establishes that “parents are partners with correctional staff, educators, and treatment providers in their child’s rehabilitation and are encouraged and assisted to actively participate in the design and implementation of their child’s treatment, from intake to discharge.”

    With the Bills of Rights as its guide, TJJD offers a number of opportunities for families to learn about the agency, participate in youth’s treatment, and spend time together:

    • Parents are invited to participate in person or by phone in monthly meetings to discuss the youth’s progress in education, behavior, and treatment.
    • Monthly Family Orientation sessions help families learn how to navigate the system.
    • Family Seminars keep families informed about agency changes.
    • Open houses allow families to meet staff and tour the school, dorms, and other buildings.
    • Facilities have flexible visiting times and frequent phone calls.
    • Quarterly family days encourage families to participate in activities including cook-outs, board games, photo sessions, and celebratory dinners.

  • Juvenile Justice in New Orleans: LGBT issues, School-to-Prison Pipeline and More
    by MAGGIE CALMES

    On March 22nd, 2012, The Lens welcomed five panelists and over 100 attendees to its third salon at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, which focused on the status of the juvenile justice system in the New Orleans area.

    Panelists were queried by the moderator on issues surrounding the new French Quarter youth curfew, LGBTQ youth issues in juvenile facilities, the rebuilding of the Youth Studies Center, the school to prison pipeline, and the new Orleans Parish Prison. Audience members were then invited to pose their own questions to the panel. 


  • Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Youth Sex Offenders to Register for Life
    by LIZ WU

    Earlier today, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down part of a law mandating certain youth sex offenders to register for life, because the punishment is cruel and unusual.

    Under Ohio's Adam Walsh Act, teens classified as the most dangerous sex offenders must register - for the rest of their lives - with law enformencement and have their photos, addresses and criminal histories distributed to neighbors and schools.

    In a 5-2 opinion, Ohio's Supreme Court ruled the punishment violates both Ohio and US constitutions because it is cruel and unusual and because it violates a defendant's right to due process. 

    From the Associated Press:

    Not only is the requirement unconstitutional, it also defeats the purpose of the juvenile court system, Justice Paul Pfeifer said, writing for the majority.

    The mandatory registration "undercuts the rehabilitative purpose of Ohio's juvenile system and eliminates the important role of the juvenile court's discretion in the disposition of juvenile offenders and thus fails to meet the due process requirement of fundamental fairness," Pfeifer wrote.

    He also said it defeats another goal of the juvenile court system: cloaking children in confidentiality and allowing them to avoid stigma once they have served their time in the juvenile system and become adults.

    "Confidentiality promotes rehabilitation by allowing the juvenile to move into adulthood without the baggage of youthful mistakes," Pfeifer said. "Public exposure of those mistakes brands the juvenile as an undesirable wherever he goes."


  • Changing Young Lives in Massachusetts
    by LIZ WU

    The Reclaiming Futures model is used in 29 communities (in 17 states) across the country. As National Executive Director Susan Richardson often says, "if you've seen one court, you've seen one court," meaning that while every Reclaiming Futures court implements the same six step model, there are often differences in the program based on what works in each community. In Snohomish County, Washington, troubled teens work with local artists to learn glass blowing and creative writing. In Oklahoma's Cherokee Nation, youth learn about their heritage and partake in cultural events. And in Bristol County, Massachusetts, the focus is on building teens' self-esteem and self-worth. One model with many different approaches -- and all with great results. 

    The South Coast Today recently wrote about the success of Reclaiming Futures in Bristol County. From the article:


  • Q&A: Lawanda Ravoira of the National Girls Institute on Helping Girls Steer Clear of the Juvenile Justice System
    by NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE ON FAMILIES AND YOUTH
    Lawanda Ravoira

    Lawanda Ravoira

    Each year thousands of young women run away from home. To survive, some girls steal. Some sell their bodies for money or a place to stay. Many use drugs and alcohol to cope with life on the streets. Eventually, many girls end up in the juvenile justice system.

    The National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth recently spoke with Lawanda Ravoira, director of the National Girls Institute, about how to keep homeless young women out of trouble, out of jail and engaged with programs that provide support.

    NCFY: Which girls are most at risk for becoming involved in the juvenile justice system?

    Ravoira: Girls become involved in the system from all over, but one of the first predictors is school failure (uneven grades, suspensions and expulsions). The other big thing is trauma. We know that 92 percent of girls entering juvenile justice have been victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Girls coming into the system have much higher rates of trauma and victimization than boys.

    NCFY: How do girls respond to trauma differently from boys?


  • From a Violent Childhood to the MLB: Joe Torre on Need to Reduce Children's Exposure to Violence
    by LIZ WU

    Baseball fans know Joe Torre as a former MLB catcher and MLB manager. But they may know not that he was exposed to violence as a child, an experience that played a major role in shaping his life. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald, explaining why preventing children's exposure to violence is so important to him.

    He writes:

    I was the youngest of five kids who grew up in an abusive home. My father, a New York City police officer, physically abused my mother and emotionally abused us all. My older siblings protected me from the violence, but they couldn’t shield me from the fear. Baseball became my shelter — the place to which I escaped to feel safe.

    I didn’t know until decades later how much the way I felt about myself had been shaped by that fear. More than just fear, though, I felt shame, as well. As a kid, I was embarrassed by the belief that my house was the only one where things like this were happening. I worried that I had done something to cause the problem, and felt ashamed that I couldn’t stop it. As an adult, it took counseling for me to see myself as the innocent child I really had been, and to understand how deeply the violence I had witnessed affected me.

    Because of these traumatic experiences, Joe and his wife founded the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which provides education and safe rooms in middle schools for kids caught in an abusive environment. Joe also serves as co-chair of Attorney General Eric Holder's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, which is part of the DOJ's Defending Childhood Initiative.


  • Applications Available for Youth Justice Leadership Institute
    by BENJAMIN CHAMBERS

    Know any professionals of color who want to lead efforts to help youth in trouble with the law?

    Then you should encourage them to apply to the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. The Institute, offered by the National Juvenile Justice Network, is a robust, year-long, distance-learning program that includes leadership development, training in juvenile justice system policies and practices, theories of change, and advocacy skills development. Now in its second year, its goal is to expand the base of advocates and organizers in the field who reflect the communities who are most affected by the way the juvenile justice system operates.

    Past fellows have described the Institute variously as a great opportunity, a place that helped them see the national context for their work, connected them to colleagues and peers across the country and which helped them bring back useful information to their communities. But see for yourself what they have to say -- check out the video above.


  • Join us for a Juvenile Justice Discussion with Shay Bilchik in Portland
    by LIZ WU

    For those in the Portland, Oregon area: We're joining PSU's School of Social Work in hosting Shay Bilchik for a lecture and discussion on the juvenile justice system. He'll address ways to improve systemic coordination and outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. A local panel of experts will react to Shay's remarks and Dr. David Springer (incoming Dean of the School of Social Work) will moderate.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012
    4:30 - 6:00 pm (doors open at 4)
    Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 327/328
    Portland State University

    Shay is the founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute.  Prior to joining the Institute in 2007, he was the President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America. Previously, he headed up the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he advocated for and supported a balanced and multi-systems approach to attacking juvenile crime and addressing child victimization. Before coming to the nation's capital, Shay was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami, Florida from 1977-1993, where he served as a trial lawyer, juvenile division chief and Chief Assistant State Attorney. Shay earned his B.S. and J.D. degrees from the University of Florida.

    RSVP here and let me know if you're going. I hope to see you there!


  • Reclaiming Futures Every Day Word Cloud
    by LIZ WU

    Earlier today I created a word cloud to visualize the most common words and themes of this blog. This is what popped up:

     

    What do you think? Is that an accurate representation of our discussions on this blog?


  • EMT Training Program Builds a Pipeline from Jail to Job
    by CALLIE SHANAFELT

    About two years ago, the director of an Alameda County’s juvenile justice residential program known as Camp Sweeney asked the County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency to come to career day at the camp. The agency pulled out some stops to impress the kids: they flew in a helicopter. Firefighters and paramedics volunteered to talk to the 70 or so youth serving time.

    Afterwards, the kids were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

    “Historically, they said police or probation officers, because those were the adults they had positive experience with,” said Alex Briscoe, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency.

    But this time, 15 young men said they wanted to be Emergency Medical Technicians.

    The result has been an unusual collaboration that is changing the lives of many troubled youth.

    Responding to that initial interest, a few EMS staff volunteered to provide a free first responder training at the camp. When that program was successful, they offered free EMT training classes Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Health Care Services Agency building. The classes were open to anyone in the community, and many graduates of the program at Camp Sweeney got involved.


  • Looking at the Lives of Teens Serving Life Without Parole
    by LIZ WU

    In the United States, there are more than 2,500 people serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes committed as children (known as JLWOP). A new report from The Sentencing Project analyzes the findings of a first-ever national survey of JWOPers inmates, some of whom were sentenced at 13 years old. 

    “Most juveniles serving life without parole sentences experienced trauma and neglect long before they engaged in their crimes,” explained report author Ashley Nellis. “The findings from this survey do not excuse the crimes committed but they help explain them. With time, rehabilitation and maturity, some of these youth could one day safely re-enter society and contribute positively to their families and their communities.”

     Among the findings:

    • Teens sentenced to life without parole are 97% male and 60% African American.
    • 79% of JLWOPers were exposed to high levels of violence in their homes.
    • Nearly half experienced physical abuse.
    • More than a quarter had a parent in prison and 60% had close relatives in prison.

  • Reassessing School Safety in Light of Monday's School Shooting Tragedy in Ohio
    by JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE

    As policymakers and the general public grapple with responding to and making sense of Monday's tragic shooting in Ohio, the Justice Policy Institute, which has studied school violence prevention for more than a decade, emphasizes that communities should increase the use of practices proven to keep schools safe, and avoid ineffective policies that would lead to worse outcomes for youth and communities.

    "Yesterday was a tragic day in Ohio, and for all of us who want safe schools, and safe communities for our young people," stated Tracy Velázquez, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute. "As we all try to understand how and why an event like this happened, we need to soberly reflect on what really works to reduce school-violence and help at-risk kids before something goes wrong, and resist the temptation to seek solutions that sound tough, but are ineffective."

    Based on recent research conducted by JPI and leading educational researchers, practices proven to improve school safety include the following:

    • Implement evidence-based initiatives proven to improve safety in schools: School districts should work toward abandoning zero tolerance and law enforcement responses to student behavior and begin relying on evidence-based programs that include peer mediation, mentoring and peaceable education.
    • Hire more counselors: Guidance counselors and school psychologists are trained to be mentors and work with youth, and are a positive investment in schools. However, schools are not fully staffing according to accepted standards. The American School Counselor Association says that school counselors should consider their roles to include skills in conflict-resolution particular to schools, to intervene in cases of bullying and harassment, and to prevent and intervene in cases where there might be substance abuse issues or the potential for violence. Fully implemented guidance counselor programs have also been found to promote feelings of safety in both poorer and wealthier schools.
    • Invest in education over an increased justice system responses to student behavior: With the array of negative collateral consequences associated with involvement in the juvenile justice system, it is important that policymakers and administrators focus efforts to better our education system as opposed to relying on increased justice system interventions. Some ways to both improve student achievement and promote safer schools include increased hiring of quality teachers, staff, counselors, and other positive role models; building safe, clean schools; and providing training and supports for teachers and staff related to behavior management.
    • Avoid policies that will make schools less safe, and harm kids: Unnecessary referrals to the juvenile justice system disrupt a student's educational process - practices that can lead to suspension, expulsion, or other alienation from school. These negative effects set youth on a track to drop out of school and put them at greater risk of becoming involved in the justice system later on, all at tremendous costs to the youth themselves, their families, their communities and to taxpayers. More police in schools, including School Resource Officers (SROs) have not been shown to create more safety, and can have negative impacts both on school environment and on youth, as schools rely on arrests rather than school-based responses, pulling youth into the justice system.

  • 'Peer Contagion' Influences Criminal Recidivism Among Youth
    by KIM FISCHER

    Location, Location, Location...That’s been a mantra within the business community for years.

    Now, new research from Temple University finds that location also plays a role in youth behavior.

    Jeremy Mennis, associate professor of geography and urban studies, and Philip Harris, associate professor of criminal justice, examined how “peer contagion” — the influence on juveniles by other juveniles — within a neighborhood setting affects the probability that a youth who has committed a crime will commit another one.

    Their findings, reported recently in the Journal of Adolescence, suggest that "spatial contagion" may be at work as well. In fact, the rate of recidivism among youth living nearby a juvenile's residence not only increases the likelihood that youth will re-offend, it can also cause teenage boys to "specialize" in certain types of crime.

    "It turns out that contextual forces from a kid's social network create spatial patterns of crime in terms of re-offending rates as well as specializations," said Mennis.

    In the past, ideas about dealing with delinquency focused on the individual kids and their particular family situations, said Mennis. "Our work is part of a growing trend across the social sciences to look at how place and context impact individual behavior," he said.


  • Work with Reclaiming Futures in North Carolina
    by LIZ WU

    The North Caroline Department of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention has an opening for a Reclaiming Futures Trainer who will provide training and technical assistance to existing and newly developed sites to help build statewide capacity for Reclaiming Futures. 

    Description of Work

    This position provides training and technical assistance to existing and newly developed Reclaiming Futures sites to help build statewide capacity for the program. Curriculum-based training, adaptation of the national RF curriculum to North Carolina, planning and further meeting the training needs at each site will be required. Must be able to conduct quality field research (raining methods, subject matter), have strong consultation and collaboration skills and work well as a team player.

    Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    Effective methods/models of adult learning; multi-media tools and methods for delivering training; strong research skills (evaluating subject matter, lesson plans, curricula, etc); excellent oral and written communication skills; strong experince in delivering adult education/adult learning training using multiple methods and modes; strong coordination and management skills (multiple priorities and tasks); skills in evaluating training and quality improvement.