Piper Kerman, author of the memoir "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison" and executive consultant to the Netflix series by the same name, has a unique perspective on what teens in prison need to be successful.
In this three-minute video, Guy, a well-known graffiti artist in Snohomish County, Washington, describes his transformation as a Promising Artists in Recovery (PAIR) participant.
Now is the time to help young people struggling with drugs, alcohol and crime. Partner with us to bring Reclaiming Futures to your community!
Our model unites juvenile courts, probation, adolescent substance abuse treatment providers and the community to reclaim youth. Together, they work to improve drug and alcohol treatment and connect teens to positive activities and caring adults.
“Reclaiming Futures is not a program. Rather, it is an organizational change and system reform that uses a six-step model...to interact with the community and improve outcomes for youth in the justice system.”

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. 

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The Great Hidden Secret: How ‘The Anonymous People’ is Changing Recovery Culture
by DARYL KHAN

Note: this article originally appeared on JJIE.org and is reprinted with their permission. 

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — On a recent grey Saturday morning, a quiet fell over the sparse audience seated in a vocational school assembly hall as Kimberly Beauregard stepped up to the stage. She was introducing the movie to a small audience of three dozen, who had endured a brutally cold morning and a wicked ice storm.

After a few words greeting the crowd and thanking them for their intrepid spirit braving the treacherous conditions to make it to the screening, she praised the movie they were about to see. After that Beauregard, the president of InterCommunity, an East Hartford-based health organization that provides addiction and mental health care, bowed her head and collected herself for a moment. And then she told the crowd something she had never spoken of publicly before: She was one of the Anonymous People.

“I have never said that before in public,” she said, her voice cracking. “And after you see the movie you will understand why I am.”

The movie was “The Anonymous People,” a spunky profile of the burgeoning grassroots drug and alcohol recovery movement by a 30-year-old first time feature length filmmaker named Greg Williams, who himself has been in recovery since he was 17-years-old.

After a few moments, the lights dimmed and the movie began.

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New SAMHSA Grants to Expand Treatment Drug Courts
by DAVID BACKES

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2014 Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment in Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and Juvenile Treatment Drug Courts. SAMHSA anticipates $4,550,000 in total funding.

The purpose of this program is to expand and/or enhance substance abuse treatment services in existing adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts (which are the tribal version of adult drug courts) and in Juvenile Treatment Drug Courts (tribal or non-tribal) which use the treatment drug court model in order to provide alcohol and drug treatment (including recovery support services supporting substance abuse treatment, screening, assessment, case management, and program coordination) to defendants/offenders.

Grantees will be expected to provide a coordinated, multi-system approach designed to combine the sanctioning power of treatment drug courts with effective treatment services to break the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and/or drug use, and incarceration or other penalties.

KEY INFO

  • Anticipated Number of Awards: Up to 14
  • Anticipated Award Amount: Up to $325,000 per year
  • Length of Project: Up to 3 years
  • Application Due Date: Monday, March 17, 2014

More information is available at SAMHSA.gov >>

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News Roundup
by DAVID BACKES

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Los Angeles Juvenile Justice System Overhaul Pondered (JJIE.org)
    Los Angeles County supervisors are considering an overhaul of the county's system for defending juveniles accused of crimes. Under-age criminal defendants who can't afford a lawyer are generally represented by someone from the county public defender's office. But when that office is already representing another defendant in the case or a special circumstance arises, lawyers from a separate panel step in to remove the potential conflict of interest.
  • Multnomah County, Oregon, Taps Federal Dollars for New Juvenile Justice Program (The Oregonian)
    A new Multnomah County initiative to keep wayward kids with their families and out of jail could spur big changes to the youth corrections system statewide. On Tuesday, leaders from the county's Department of Community Justice announced plans to tap into federal money to help at-risk youth stay at home or in foster care while they are on probation, instead of shipping them to a youth home or correctional facility.
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How Laura Nissen is Changing the World
by SUSAN RICHARDSON

Congratulations to Reclaiming Futures founder and former national director Laura Nissen on her appointment as dean of Portland State University's School of Social Work.

Laura is a tireless advocate for vulnerable people and works especially hard on behalf of communities helping teens overcome mental illness, drugs, alcohol and crime.

Do you have a fond memory of Laura or kudos to share? Please add your congratulations in the comments section below.

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Obama Wants to Stop "School-to-Prison Pipeline" for Minorities
by DAVID BACKES

A recent Los Angeles Times article reports, "President Obama plans to launch an initiative aimed at improving the lives of young black and Latino men by bringing businesses and foundations together with government agencies to change what an administration official called the 'school-to-prison pipeline.'" In addition:

The initiative, which Obama calls "My Brother's Keeper," is to be unveiled Thursday, the official said. It will mark the latest in a series of efforts by the president to spur social change outside the stalemated legislative process.
The move also represents an escalation of Obama's efforts to directly target the problems faced by young men of color.

During the last five years, Obama has met privately with groups of minority teenagers and young men in their communities and at the White House. But in his State of the Union speech, Obama pledged to go further, saying he would bring more of his resources as president to bear on the social problems that get in the way of success for minority youth.

See our past reporting on the school-to-prison pipeline here >>

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What You Need to Know About Heroin Addiction; News Roundup
by DAVID BACKES

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • White Paper: Need to Reform Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Youth (JJIE.org)
    National mental health organizations and experts are calling for reforming mental health services for incarcerated youth after recent reports revealed startlingly high numbers of mental health disorder in the population.
  • Documentary Confronts Bias In Conn. Juvenile Justice System (CTLawTribune.com)
    By most accounts, Connecticut has made tremendous progress in reforming its juvenile justice system. But there's one serious problem remaining: racial disparities in the youths who are sent to juvenile lockups. That's the thrust of a recent Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network documentary, a production sponsored by the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and paid for with federal funds.
  • SCREENING: JUST US Shines Light on the Epidemic of Generational Imprisonment (Just Us)
    JUST US, a documentary from filmmaker Nyjia Jones, carefully examines one of the biggest problems plaguing the justice system — the epidemic of generational imprisonment.
Read More »

Juvenile Treatment Drug Court Grant: Apply by March 17
by SUSAN RICHARDSON

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is accepting applications to expand and/or enhance substance abuse treatment services in existing adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts (which are the tribal version of adult drug courts) and in Juvenile Treatment Drug Courts (tribal or non-tribal) which use the treatment drug court model in order to provide alcohol and drug treatment, including the following, to defendants/offenders:

  • Recovery support services 
  • Screening
  • Assessment
  • Case management
  • Program coordination
Read More »