Team Offers Positive Choices for Teens in Hocking County, Ohio
Thanks to the teamwork of Hocking County Reclaiming Futures, many teens in Southeast Ohio are receiving the support they need to break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
- Hiked trails with a soil & water conservation education specialist,
- Created art from recycled and reclaimed items, and
- Learned to identify trees and shrubs in the Hocking Hills
Reclaiming Futures teens are learning to give back too. By donating art objects for programming at the Bishop Educational Gardens, they are creating goodwill in the community.
Kudos to Hocking County Reclaiming Futures for building educational partnerships for court-involved young people. Together, they are connecting teens to positive activities and caring adults.
Lucas County, Ohio, Using $1.32 Million Grant to Help System-Involved Teens
Since receiving a $1.32 million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Lucas County, Ohio, has moved quickly to implement the Reclaiming Futures model. Per the model, teens will be screened for substance abuse and mental health issues directly after arrest and receive treatment as needed.
The Toledo Free Press reports:
Reclaiming Futures will be used as a model with 25 teenagers in the Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court. There is a goal set to increase the capacity to 30 teenagers who will receive treatment each year. This would mean 120 teenagers will be helped by the grant during the four years.
“It’s great for our county,” [Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court Coordinator LaTonya] Harris said. “This is going to allow us to serve as a model for other counties and other sites when we get our results.”
Harris said there is no end for Reclaiming Futures in sight, even if the funding from the grant runs out. Once it is implemented and the staff is fully trained, the program will stay intact for as long as the community wants it to be.
Ohio Leaders Brave Blizzard to Help Teens
Despite snow, ice, fog and temperatures around 15 degrees on January 25, nearly 70 leaders interested in juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance abuse treatment, public policy and philantropy gathered at the Columbus Foundation in Columbus, Ohio, to learn about Reclaiming Futures, a proven model for helping teens break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
We were joined by Harvey Reed, Director of Ohio Department of Youth Services, to discuss how to unite probation officers, judges, substance abuse treatment professionals and community members to help teens in the justice system.
The following counties expressed interest in the technical assistance, training, webinars, leadership institutes, fellowship support and coaching available to members of the Reclaiming Futures community:
Teens Learn Teamwork and Patience by Building Gingerbread Houses
Hardin County Reclaiming Futures was recently invited to speak to a local church group about their Recovery School (Hardin Community School) and Hardin County Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Drug Court. The church members loved hearing about the community initiative and wanted to reach out to the local youth by donating funds for a gingerbread house project.
The project began on December 10, 2012 for the Recovery School students who had a week to complete their houses. Now that the houses are finished, we are holding a contest on our Facebook page for the best houses. Hardin County’s Reclaiming Futures Fellows are also invited to come in for judging and awarding prizes. Almost the entire student body at the recovery school turned out to participate in the project.
Most students anticipated doing their own gingerbread house, but quickly realized that the task was not as easy as one would think and most began working together as teams to build the walls and the roofs. The houses were made of graham crackers and held together by a special icing to help hold the structure together. Decorations were available as multiple assortments of candies.
Right-Sizing Virginia’s Juvenile Justice Facilities
There are a few immutable functions of government—and public safety is paramount amongst them. We expect our state and local governments to use our tax dollars to keep the public peace, to punish those who do wrong, and ensure streets remain safe for prosperous economic development.
But as with all uses of taxpayer dollars, we expect Virginia to accomplish these goals effectively and efficiently.
Outdated juvenile justice systems present an excellent example of the inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. For decades, juvenile justice systems have over-relied on secure confinement of juvenile offenders in state facilities. Unfortunately, this process of seeking to rehabilitate juvenile offenders is the most expensive and, typically the least effective option.
Juvenile justice systems are unique from other public safety agencies as juveniles are treated differently than adult offenders, largely due to their age and capacity for change. Therefore, rehabilitation is an even more important goal for juveniles. The public benefit and cost savings that result from diverting a youth from a lifetime of crime, and putting them on the right track to a law abiding and productive life, are immense and should be prioritized.
Regrettably, the evidence suggests that Virginia is falling short of this goal. More than 700 youths are in state lockups on any given day. Taxpayers pay $221 per day, per juvenile, and at an average time spent in the facility of 14 months, the resulting tab is almost $100,000.
Celebrating Our “Natural Helpers” Who Work With Justice-Involved Teens
We are so thankful for our youth mentors! On October 22, 2012, over 100 people came together at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center to celebrate our “Natural Helpers.” Natural Helpers are mentors who have been trained and matched with Court involved youth to provide “whatever works” types of support to youth and their families. Judge Nick Kuntz and Project Director Michelle White, recognized our Natural Helpers in three categories: Years of Service, Special Recognition and Distinguished Service. It is truly amazing to see people giving of themselves for the care of others.
The program included a fantastic dinner followed by a selection from a local vocalist, Billi Nicol. The attendees were then treated to the words and encouragement of motivational speaker, Alfred “Coach” Powell. Coach Powell shared personal stories with the group that included how he was mentored by one of our current Natural Helpers.
Hocking County, Ohio, Celebrates Recovery Month
In beautiful Hocking County, Ohio, about an hour southeast of Columbus, Juvenile Court intake numbers are high due to drug-related offenses. The court has seen the kinship population grow (grandparents and other relatives taking over care of youth) mainly due to the increase in drug abuse and drug-related offenses.
Like all of the 29 Reclaiming Futures sites, Hocking County is partnering with courts, treatment providers, juvenile justice, communities and families to meet the urgent needs of young people in the juvenile justice system.
Judge Richard Wallar says it best in a Recovery Month letter in the Logan Daily News:
Please do not lose hope because there is good news. Many local people, including neighbors, relatives and friends, are receiving help and are in recovery from mental health or substance abuse disorders. They are contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community. But if we want more people to join them on a path of recovery, we need to take action — now. Too many people are still unaware that treatment works, and that these conditions can be alleviated, in the same way that other health disorders, such as diabetes and hypertension, are being treated. We need to work together to make recovery the expectation.
Juvenile Justice Reform with Tyler the Poodle and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Summer Work Program Brings Change; Teens Congratulated for Personal Growth (JacksonSun.com)
Jackson, Tennessee Mayor Jerry Gist’s Gang Prevention Task Force gave jobs to 43 "at-risk" youth between the ages of 15 and 18 at different locations across Madison County. The young people worked and received mentoring. The county has seen a much lower juvenile arrest rate during this same period.
- Project to Help Juveniles Make Successful Transition (CarmiTimes.com)
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission on Tuesday announced the start of a demonstration project to reduce the recidivism and improve the outcomes of juvenile offenders. The project will provide intensive reintegration services to help youth transition back into their communities.
- Prosecutors Share Details of Juvenile Justice System (EnidNews.com)
Juvenile justice is one of the most difficult parts of the law, but a necessary one designed to do what is in the best interests of the children involved.
- Kids in Court Have a Friend in Tyler the Poodle (PNJ.com)
Tyler [the poodle] is one of thousands of certified pet-therapy dogs nationwide, but rather than visiting people in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, schools or libraries, he helps kids in the juvenile court system.
- Ohio Delegation Visits NJ To Study Juvenile Detention Reform Efforts (NJToday.net)
A delegation from the state of Ohio including judges, court administrators, representative from the Ohio Department of Youth Services, and other stakeholders, are in New Jersey to attend a two-day working session designed to help Ohio replicate New Jersey’s success in juvenile detention reform.
Scrapbooking Connects Troubled Teens With Family
A group of volunteers is helping young people improve communication skills and build better family relationships in Juvenile Court in Kenton, Ohio. We are mentors, recruited by Reclaiming Futures Hardin County.
For the past year, scrapbooking workshops have provided a conversation-starter for the families of our court-involved young people. On Thursday evenings, mothers and children gather and assemble "Life Books" that help them tell their personal stories. Families open up and get to know one another better. The results have been amazing!
Ohio: Treatment is the Goal in Juvenile Justice System
Some see the juvenile justice system as a way for youth to "get off light" for serious crimes. Those who work in the system see it as a way to preserve the futures of Marion, Ohio's troubled youths.
"The juvenile justice system is based on the idea of treatment," Marion Family Court Judge Robert D. Fragale said. "The idea is that as juveniles we have the ability to work with these children and do whatever we can to provide the opportunity to change their behavior to become productive members of our community.