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.”

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.
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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
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Digging Deeper: Report on Justice-Involved Youth with Mental Health Needs
by DAVID BACKES

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

The key takeaway from the report explains:

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

View or download the report in full [PDF].

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New Report Details Effects of Mentoring on Teens
by DAVID BACKES

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

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

View or download the report and executive summary.

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Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals; News Roundup
by DAVID BACKES

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Massachusetts Begins Juvenile Justice Initiative (WAMC.org)
    Massachusetts has launched an initiative to reduce recidivism by signing a contract for the largest pay-for-success financial investment in the country. The goal is to improve the lives of nearly 400 at-risk youth in western Massachusetts, reduce crime, and save taxpayers money.
  • Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals (DemocracyNow.org)
    This special on "kids for cash," details the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities.
  • The JJIE Interview: Bart Lubow, the Man Behind JDAI (JJIE.org)
    JJIE asked Lubow, 66, to talk about his tenure and legacy at Casey, particularly JDAI, the nation’s most widely replicated juvenile reform effort, now operating at more than 250 sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Edited excerpts of the interview are included.
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