Juvenile Indigent Defense System Failing Kids It's Meant to Protect - Weekly Roundup
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - News and Research Updates
- How the confidentiality of patients who obtain substance abuse treatment will be handled under health reform (and electronic health records in particular) continues to be the focus of controversy, according to Join Together. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued a document covering "frequently-asked questions," and will hold a stakeholders' meeting on August 4th to provide more clarification. Last February, I posted that some health reform advocates want to do away with federal confidentiality regulations under 42 CFR in favor of relevant HIPAA regulations. They say they're concerned that the burden of complying will discourage mainstream doctors from screening patients and providing brief intervention for alcohol and drug issues.
- If you're like me, you can't wait to attend the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) this year. --Er, what's that? It doesn't fit your budget? Not to worry: you can apply for a need-based travel grant to attend JMATE 2010. Also, five recognition awards will be given to those furthering the cause of evidence-based treatment, and I bet you know someone who deserves your nomination. But hurry, because the deadline for the travel and recognition awards is July 28, 2010.
- Pop quiz: what happens if you mix youth who've committed low-level offenses with kids who've committed serious offenses? Correct! The youth with low-level offenses are much more likely to recidivate. Turns out the same principle applies to low-level drug users, according to TIME magazine (via Join Together). Putting casual users of drugs and alcohol into group therapy with heavy users makes them more likely to use again. But here's what I've always wondered: how do you act on this information when treatment agencies are understaffed and often underfunded? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.
- Related post: Check out these recommendations from the American Bar Association about representing youth status offenders in court.
- UPDATE Feb. 2, 2011: Despite research such as this, A&E's recent reality TV show, "Beyond Scared Straight," purposely increases teens' contact with adult prison inmates in an attempt to terrify them into “going straight." Turns out doing nothing is actually more effective than this strategy. Check out these facts about the program from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ).
- The real story with this University of Missouri study wasn't its conclusion, but its starting point. It's not a surprise that focusing on improving family relationships or a youth's religious involvement (broadly defined) can help teens in the justice system who have alcohol and drug problems. But the study focused on Native American youth because "the rate of illicit drug use among American-Indian adolescents age 12-17 is approximately 19 percent, significantly higher than rates for Whites, Blacks and Hispanics (around 10 percent) and Asians (6.7 percent), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." Talk about a horrifying health disparity! (Hat tip to Robert O. Ackley.)
- It's here! The new guide from SAMHSA to alcohol and drug programs around the country. (Hat tip to SAMHSA on Facebook.)
Juvenile Justice Reform - Related News
- A guest post on our blog this past week contained the surprising news that while many teens transferred to adult court commit more crimes than if they had remained in juvenile court, such transfers to adult court apparently cut recidivism for other youth. Overall, then, I found it a relief to learn from the Vera Institute of Justice that the number of teens transferred to adult court actually declined between 1994 and 2007. That was a surprise, too.
- Kids in the justice system have the right to a lawyer, regardless of their ability to pay for one. This was laid down by the Supreme Court in 1967, but 40+ years later, teens whose families can't pay for a lawyer receive less-than-adequate representation. Public defenders are underfunded, understaffed, and public opinion is against them. Who pays the price? Poor kids -- and, disproportionately, kids of color. Learn more in this paper from the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, "The Cost of Justice: How Low-Income Youth Continue To Pay the Price of Failing Indigent Defense Systems." (Hat tip to the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth.)
- Curious about what other information teens and their families may lack about the juvenile justice system? Want to know how to solve this problem? Check out this column on our blog for a discussion of the information gap and how to close it.