Improving Mental Health Starts with Early Childhood Relationships; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Juvenile Offenders in the US Deported for Life (Al Jazeera English)
The Campaign for Youth Justice reports that 250,000 youth under the age of 18 are processed in adult criminal courts in the US each year. Once in adult court, minors are subject to the same punishments as adults, even if they are as young as 10 years old. In the past decade, the US Supreme Court has imposed limits on the types of punishments that can be imposed on juvenile offenders.
- Texas Lawmakers Consider Bill Restricting Solitary Confinement of Youths (TheRepublic.com)
Texas lawmakers considered a proposal Tuesday night that would restrict the use of solitary confinement in juvenile detention centers. In a hearing before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte presented a bill to limit the practice to four hours except in cases of six specific types of major rule violations including assault and attempted escape.
- Department of Juvenile Justice Expanding Civil Citation Process (WearTV.com)
Juveniles in Escambia County, Florida who commit a first time misdemeanor might be given a second chance. The Juvenile Civil Citation Expansion program will help give some a chance to keep a clean record. Juveniles with a first time misdemeanor could be given a citation and community service.
Vera Releases New Guide for Evidence-Based Practice
The Vera Institute of Justice recently released a handbook to help a wide range of social service practitioners, in juvenile justice and beyond. The new document, "Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice," breaks the process into three steps and offers an easy-to-follow methodology to measuring performance.
Vera offers guidance in determining who qualifies as evidence-based, which can be helpful for funding. Vera's announcement continues:
Demonstrating that a program accomplishes its stated goals is increasingly important for social service organizations—funders and clients want to see the evidence of successful outcomes. Although a full-scale evaluation can be a costly and overwhelming goal, adopting the information-gathering and self-reflective approaches that lead up to an evaluation can in themselves strengthen an agency’s focus and procedural fidelity.
Vera has worked with juvenile justice system service providers in many settings as they build and monitor their programs. It produced this handbook on the basis of experience in the field, and in collaboration with the Institute for Public Health and Justice at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.
While the guide grew out of requests from juvenile justice service providers for a roadmap toward becoming an evidence-based practice, its recommendations have applications beyond juvenile justice. “We believe the systematic approach to collecting information on goals, treatment methods, and outcomes can benefit other social service providers seeking to measure the efficacy of their interventions,” said Annie Salsich, director of Vera’s Center on Youth Justice.
Addiction Recovery: Getting Clean At 22; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Juvenile Justice Reforms Approved (PalmBeachPost.com)
The Dream Defenders, a youth group focused on juvenile justice issues, called this week for protection from arrests at school for minor incidents. The group also called for an end to pepper spray and solitary confinement in jails run by Florida counties and to stop putting teens in the juvenile justice system for misdemeanor first offenses.
- Juvenile Detention Alternatives Gain Ground in States, DC (JJIE.org)
“There is reason to think that we may, and I emphasize may, have reached a turning point in this era,” said Bart Lubow, director of the juvenile justice strategy group at The Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. He made the comments Wednesday at an AECF-organized three-day conference of some 800 professionals from juvenile justice and child welfare fields in Atlanta.
- Proposal Would Keep 17-Year-Old Felons in Juvenile Court (SJ-R.com)
Youths under the age of 18 charged with non-violent felonies will be handled at the juvenile court level, rather than being tried as adults, under a proposal passed by the Illinois House Tuesday.
- Your System, Your Choices: Teaching Youth the Juvenile Justice System (StrategiesForYouth.org)
Dr. Miner-Romanoff found that “100% had no idea” about the juvenile justice system and the potential for harsh sentencing before their arrest and incarceration. This, she says, indicates that for these young people severe sentencing did not act as a deterrent.
- Opinion: Reduce Teen Recidivism; Treat Kids Like Kids (SJ-R.com)
"Back in 2008, The State Journal-Register used this space to urge Illinois lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow 17-year-olds accused of minor crimes to be tried in juvenile court instead of adult court."
Kind Love vs. Tough Love – What’s A Parent To Do? News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Rehabilitated Life, Reformed Juvenile System (CitizensVoice.com)
A series of reforms spurred by a state panel that investigated the kids-for-cash case has transformed the handling of juvenile cases under the leadership of Ciavarella's successor, Juvenile Court Judge David W. Lupas.
- Report Suggest Changes for Juvenile Justice Health Services (TimesDispatch.com)
A recent review of medical services provided to youths by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice found care adequate but makes numerous recommendations. Among other things, the American Correctional Association suggests that the juvenile centers adhere to regular sick call times, establish effective infectious-disease control plans and require less administrative work for nurses.
- [Slideshow] Juvenile Justice Center Groundbreaking (Macon.com)
Bibb County, Georgia Commission Chairman Sam Hart speaks at the groundbreaking for Bibb County's new Juvenile Justice Center on Friday morning.
Juvenile Justice Overhaul Coming; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Georgia House Passes Juvenile Justice Reform Bill (RightOnCrime.com)
Advocates say the changes could save taxpayers $88 million over five years by diverting the less dangerous juveniles into community-based programs instead of locking them up at a cost to taxpayers of $247 a day or $90,000 a year for each detained juvenile.
- Juvenile Justice Overhaul Coming (Walb.com)
The Georgia state Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Wendy Willard of Sandy Springs, and was based on recommendations from the Governor.
- A Partnership for Sensible Juvenile Justice Reform in California (JJIE.org)
California’s youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF), continues to grapple over long-standing difficulties with rehabilitative programming, youth safety, aging facilities and high operational cost. With these challenges, policymakers and juvenile justice stakeholders increasingly recognize the need for substantial reform.
- Pioneering Educator Retires After 40 Years; Reformed Education in Juvenile Justice (TCDailyPlanet.net)
It is said that a society (or a person) shall be judged by what it (or he or she) has done for the least of its citizens. If in fact that is the case, then Larry Lucio shall be looked upon with much favor. The veteran educator, with more than 40 years of shaping young minds to his credit, has dedicated his career – and in many ways, his life – to serving students who were previously given little chance to succeed.
- Getting Tough on Juvenile Justice (TheSocietyPages.org)
Within the last thirty years the presence of adolescent offenders tried in criminal court has become increasingly commonplace. Scholars critical of this growing phenomenon have documented that the number of youth transferred to adult (criminal) court has gradually risen since the mid-1970s.
- Robert Listenbee Jr. Assumes Leadership of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Justice.gov)
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced that Robert L. Listenbee Jr. has assumed the role as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). A highly respected public defender and juvenile justice system reformer, Listenbee began as OJJDP administrator Monday. Melodee Hanes, who has served as acting administrator since January 2012, will become OJJDP’s principal deputy administrator.
Much Ado About Sizzurp; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Age-Old Issue Persists about Justice (NWHerald.com)
Illinois treats a 17-year-old who shoplifts an iPhone as an adult criminal: held with adults in jail, tried in adult criminal court, sent to adult prison if incarcerated, and issued an employment-crushing permanent criminal record, according to a recent report by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.
- Overhauling Juvenile Justice (RockdaleNews.com)
Georgia is on the brink of the most sweeping overhaul of the juvenile justice law in three decades and Rockdale is on the leading edge of those trends. “It’s going to be a new world,” said Rockdale Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider.
- School Policies Must Adjust for Juvenile Justice System to Improve (EdWeek.org)
Changes in school policies will go a long way to dealing with some of the problems with the juvenile justice system, new recommendations for Congress and President Barack Obama say. In particular, the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition says schools rely too heavily on law enforcement to handle behavior problems students, resulting in arrests for behavior that doesn't threaten the safety of other students or staff. The arrests can trigger a chain of contact with the juvenile justice system with a lifetime of repercussions.
- Addressing Girls' Health Needs at Juvenile Detention Centers (Los Angeles Times)
L.A. County health and probation officials are trying to better identify and treat problems of girls in custody that often go undiagnosed and untreated.
Senate Committee Approves Changes in Juvenile Justice System; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Advocates for Juvenile Justice Reform Rally at Hearing for Bel Air Teenager Accused of Killing Father (DaggerPress.com)
Friday’s demonstration came ahead of a motions hearing in Robert Richardson’s case, and was the latest organized by a group which seeks to have his case—and Richardson himself—moved back into the juvenile criminal justice system.
- The Crucial Role of Prosecutors in Juvenile Justice (JJIE.org)
The role and responsibilities of the juvenile prosecutor are plentiful and extend well beyond the courtroom. In fact, in cases involving juveniles, much of the work can and should be done outside the courtroom. Working collaboratively with other youth-serving agencies in their communities, prosecutors often play a leadership role in these efforts.
- Senate Committee Approves Changes in Juvenile Justice System (AJC.com)
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved proposed changes to the juvenile justice system Wednesday after making some adjustments to address concerns of judges. House Bill 242, which has passed the House, is designed to send fewer juveniles to state facilities for committing felonies and to divert kids who are not dangerous — especially so-called status offenders such as truants, runaways and the unruly — into less expensive community-based programs.
Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits for 62 Million Americans
According to an issue brief released Feb. 20 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act will extend mental health and substance use disorder benefits to 32 million and federal parity protections to an additional 30 million Americans.
The HHS report explains that to do so, the Affordable Care Act will build upon the existing federal parity law, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Applying to group health plans and insurers, this law requires that when provided, coverage for mental health and substance use conditions be comparable to that for medical and surgical care. However, gaps in coverage currently leave millions either without such benefits or without parity protections.
In surveying coverage before the Affordable Care Act, the report finds:
- One-third of those currently covered in the individual market have no coverage for substance use disorder services, and nearly 20% have no coverage for mental health services. Even when individual market plans provide these benefits, the federal parity law does not apply to these plans.
- More common than in the individual market, about 95% of those with small group market coverage have substance abuse and mental health benefits. Again, the federal parity law does not apply.
- 47.5 million Americans lack health insurance coverage altogether, and 25% of uninsured adults have a mental health condition or substance use disorder or both.
With Synthetic Pot, You Don't Know Where it's Been; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Legislator Wants to Change the Culture of Juvenile Justice System (NebraskaRadioNetwork.com)
A leading state legislator says the state juvenile justice system must move from a culture of incarceration to a culture of treatment. Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, says his committee will spend a couple of days hearing legislation that aims at nothing short of the transformation of how Nebraska deals with juvenile offenders.
- In Kentucky, Juvenile Offenders’ Names Could be Shared After Adjudication (JJIE.org)
On Monday, members of the Kentucky House passed a bill that would allow victims in juvenile court trials to discuss a case once a verdict is rendered, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. House Bill 115 swept through the House with unanimous approval earlier this week, garnering a 93-0 vote in Kentucky’s lower legislative body.
- [VIDEO] Nation Honors Center on Front Lines of Juvenile Justice (Northwestern.edu)
The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) at the Northwestern University School of Law has received a $750,000 award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in recognition of the Center's exemplary advocacy for children caught up in the harsh realities of Illinois’ juvenile and criminal justice systems.
- Inquirer Editorial: Juvenile Justice that Leans Toward Mercy (Philly.com)
The Luzerne County cash-for-kids scandal revealed the potential for tragedy when locking up juvenile defendants becomes routine. Thousands of young people were harmed by the scheme hatched by two disgraced judges, who took millions of dollars in kickbacks to place young offenders in for-profit detention centers.
"If Not Now, When?" Survey Finds Scant Police Training in Juvenile Justice
A recent survey of the state of training about juveniles in police academies reveals deficits in quantity and quality, with most state police academies devoting less than 1% of total curriculum time to teaching about juvenile justice. The nationwide survey conducted by Strategies for Youth (SFY) reports that the limited training that does exist emphasizes legal issues rather than skills and best practices for working with youth.
This is problematic, considering the growing body of research establishing the developmental and psychological differences between youth and adults. At the same time, police presence in the lives of youth has increased in recent years, with officers deployed in public schools and responding to disputes involving juveniles. A wealth of scientific information has informed best practice and effective strategies for interactions with youth, but goes neglected in police training at this juncture.
Highlights of the survey’s results include:
- Only 9 states provide new officers any training on adolescent mental health issues, and only 2 training on adolescent development and psychology.
- Only 8 states provide information on the federally required obligation to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC) in their juvenile justice curriculum.
- 5 states require no juvenile justice training in the academy at all.
- 40 states’ juvenile justice curricula focus primarily on the juvenile code and legal issues and provide no communication or psychological skills for officers working with youth.
Of the 2.1 million juvenile arrests each year, only 12% are for serious or violent felonies. According to SFY this number shows the consequences of this training gap, as lacking other strategies, police quickly resort to arrests in youth interactions. Beyond being costly, arrests negatively impact youth, their communities, and officers alike. Said SFY Executive Director Lisa Thurau in a press release,
“There’s a big disconnect in the American juvenile justice system. While reformers and system stakeholders are working to reduce reliance on the arrest, detention and incarceration of juveniles, police are being ignored as an integral part of these efforts. We’ve got to share this information with them and make them partners in reform.”