Sheriff investigator makes a difference in kids’ lives and more -- news roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- South Carolina County Sheriff investigator makes a difference in kids’ lives
Richland County sheriff investigator Cassie Radford is working hard to get troubled kids the services they need and to keep them out of jail. The grant that funds Radford's position is in its third year and ends Sept. 30. Richland County prosecutors and judges hope Sheriff Leon Lott finds a way to keep Radford in her position.
- Missouri juvenile office to use electronic monitoring
The expense of sending Linn County’s juvenile offenders elsewhere, coupled with the strict criteria that must be met to detain a juvenile, has prompted the Linn County Juvenile Office to obtain electronic monitoring equipment. Without a juvenile detention center of its own, the Linn County Juvenile Office has been forced to pay the expense of transporting offenders as well as the cost for a bed in Kirksville’s Bruce Normile Juvenile Justice Center.
- New goal for Illinois juvenile center: Clear it out
Cook County’s Board President is advocating a new approach for the county’s juvenile justice system: empty the juvenile detention facility by putting children in group homes, monitored home confinement and other community-based programs where advocates say young people have better opportunities for counseling, job training and other life-skill instruction.
- Kentucky launches pilot program to decrease juvenile detentions
Henderson schools, law enforcement and court officials joined forces with the state to examine why so many teens were being incarcerated. They came up with a pilot program to combat the issue. It includes asking schools to deal with small offenses, instituting a mentor program and encouraging teachers and school officials to meet to review statistics on disciplinary action.
- Washington, DC’s juvenile justice system sees real change
As part of sweeping reforms, DC’s Oak Hill was closed in 2009 and replaced by a smaller and dramatically different facility named New Beginnings Youth Development Center. Youth Radio interviewed DC Lawyers for Youth executive director Daniel Okonkwo about Oak Hill’s impact on DC’s juvenile justice system.
- Wisconsin critics: Stop treating 17-year-olds as adults
Wisconsin is one of 13 states that automatically place 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system. In the past few years, almost one-third of states have passed laws to keep more young offenders in the juvenile justice system. Now officials and families are calling on the state to place 17-year-olds in juvenile facilities, mainly for their own safety.
- Benton County’s juvenile center nearly finished
Arkansas’ Benton County's Juvenile Justice Center is nearly complete, with part of the $6 million complex scheduled to open in January. The new facility is twice as large as the current one and will include classrooms and a courtroom in addition to holding cells.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- Two key questions are focus of new teen alcohol screener for pediatricians
A new alcohol screening tool that focuses on two key questions is designed to help pediatricians spot children and adolescents at risk for alcohol-related problems. The doctor asks about the patient’s own drinking, as well as his or her friends’ alcohol use.
Senate Committee Cuts Federal Juvenile Programs Deeply, But Would Fund All of Them
The committee broke up the $251 million in spending this way:
-$60 million for the missing and exploited children programs.
-$55 million for mentoring grants.
-$45 million for state formula grants, given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system.
-$30 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG), which go to state juvenile justice planning agencies based on the size of a state’s youth population.
Adolescent Substance Abuse: "Bath Salts" an Emerging Risk
Many of you have undoubtedly seen news about synthetic drugs that are marketed -- legally, in many places around the country -- as "bath salts" or "plant food." These "synthetic cathinones" are stimulants that usually come in powder or crystal form, and can be smoked, injected, or snorted. Emergency rooms and poison control centers have seen enough serious negative health effects that legislatures in a number of states have attempted to ban these drugs, and the constituent ingredients.
Use varies by locale. In Maine, police and hospitals have reported "a surge of people becoming delusional and violent after injecting, snorting or smoking so-called bath salts."
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) recently issued a situation report on bath salts (non-prescription synthetic cathinones), calling them an "emerging domestic threat." Users include teens.
Note to Juvenile Courts (and Juvenile Drug Courts in Particular):
Teens and others find bath salts attractive because:
- They are often sold legally in gas stations, head shops, skateboard shops, and on the internet; and
- Most routine drug screens will not detect the use of bath salts. (Though specialized drug screens will.)
The good news is, the Drug Enforcement Administration is considering scheduling them as a controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The bad news? The NDIC expects that abuse will grow over time, and that manufacturers will adjust the chemical make-up of their products when needed to keep them legal.
10-Step Guide to Recidivism Reduction for Probation Departments, and More: a Roundup
- Is Our Racial Gap Becoming a Generation Gap?
A provocative post from PolicyLink. Nearly half of the nation's young people are of color, but over 80 percent of America's seniors are white. "For the first time," the author argues, "America's seniors, business leaders, and elected officials simply do not see themselves in the faces of today's young. For many, this signals less obligation and commitment to the kinds of programs and resources that would help provide a boost for the next generation."
- Addiction: What Gets Us Hooked?
The title says it all. (H/t to Paul Savery.)
- OJJDP Seeks Nominations for Awards at October Conference
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is seeking nominations for awards in four categories, to be given out at its fall conference, scheduled for October 12-14, 2011. UPDATE August 18: Deadline has been extended to August 29, 2011.
U.K. Riots - Talking Points and Observations from Three Youth Advocates
One of the hot topics in the U.K. was Prime Minister David Cameron's about-face. In 2006, he gave a speech designed to "reposition his party as tough on the causes of crime, urging a greater focus on the family and on the social influences driving children to offend," rather than on police crackdowns. This became known as his "Hug a Hoodie" campaign (#hugahoodie suddenly became a very popular hashtag on Twitter last week). But in the wake of the riots, Cameron promised the rioters, "We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you." (You can see a fairly balanced AP story on Cameron's about-face and the politics of responses to youth crime in the Britain and the U.S. here.)
Commenters in the United States have also been quick to pile on their scorn for "soft on crime" approaches, so I thought it would be useful to hear more thoughtful responses from youth experts familiar with youth in the juvenile justice system and common policy responses. Several were kind enough to email me their quick thoughts:
The Supreme Court Updates Miranda Warnings for Teens; Plus Six Conferences and 40 Years of Drug War: a Roundup
This week, I've got a monster roundup of news, grant opportunities, and conferences related to the juvenile justice system and (a little) about adolescent substance abuse treatment and behavioral healthcare for kids. Here goes:
- Reclaiming Futures Nassau County: Football Star Andrew Quarless Speaks to Juvenile Drug Court Graduates
- U.S. Supreme Court Says Age Matters When it Comes to Miranda Warnings
Miranda warnings must be given by police when a suspect is being interrogated in a custodial setting. What's considered custody or the degree to which a suspect is being restrained are what matters here: in this case, a 13-year-old in North Carolina was interrogated on school grounds by a police officer about alleged crimes committed off-campus. He was not read his Miranda rights; his lawyers argued that his subsequent confession was therefore inadmissible. North Carolina's Supreme Court said his age wasn't relevant -- arguing, as I understand it, that the youth was not in a custodial situation and could have left. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, writing that, “It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave.” (Hat tips to the Juvenile Law Center and the National Juvenile Justice Network.)
Does Your Youth Program Work? and More: a Roundup
- Does Your Youth Program Work?
An OJJDP publication. Dates from 2000, but it provides a great introduction to evaluating success. (Hat tip to Paul Savery.)
- Reclaiming Futures in the News: "Drug Courts Restore Addicts"
A great piece profiling the adult and juvenile drug courts and the accomplishments of Reclaiming Futures in Hocking County, Ohio. The article originally appeared in the Logan Daily News, but you can find the full article on the Reclaiming Futures website.
- Improving Educational Outcomes of Youth in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems Through Interagency Communication and Collaboration
Maybe you read that headline and thought to yourself, "Got it covered: we're already collaborating and communicating as well as we can." I can tell you from experience with multiple sites implementing the Reclaiming Futures model that there's always room for improvement -- and investing time and attention in this sort of collaboration pays off big time for kids, families, agencies, and service providers. So be sure to check out this comprehensive, 20-page "practice guide" put out in May 2011 by the (deep breath) National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and (don't forget to breathe) Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC). (Hat tip to Paul Savery.)
Juvenile Justice - What Works and What Doesn't (A Roundup)
British-based Prevention Action posted a series of three posts on evidence-based programs in juvenile justice (well -- three of them, anyway), what's necessary to encourage the adoption of evidence-based practices in the field, and barriers to their adoption:
- Juvenile Justice: what works & what doesn't
Glosses an article by Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) co-creator Scott Henggeler and Sonja K. Schoenwald summarizing the evidence base.
- Juvenile Justice: making "what works" a reality
Continues to gloss the article by Henggeler and Schoenwald, in which they make recommendations to researchers and policy makers on ways to foster the spread of evidence-based practices.
- Juvenile Justice: policy experts speak back
Several U.S. experts respond ["speak back"--?!] to the points raised by Henggeler and Schoenwald, talking about barriers to the spread of evidence-based practices in juvenile justice.
(Don't be too dazzled by these articles' insistent focus on MST, Functional Family Therapy (FFT), and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care. While these three have good research backing, Mark Lipsey and his colleagues have found that locally-grown programs, if well-implemented, can also achieve great results. And a while back, I also linked here to an excellent, broader-based international review of evidence-based practice in juvenile justice.)
UPDATE: Jeffrey Butts, Ph.D., left the following comment on Facebook in response to a link to the "Juvenile Justice: what works & what doesn't" post: "This summary of general principles is welcome, but the writers go too far when they imply that the programs they promote are the end result of some protracted, impartial search for effectiveness. Research on therapeutic programs like MST is just the beginning. We have a lot of work to do before we can say 'what works.' For now, all we can say is "this approach seems to work better than that approach." We should not imply that the hunt for effectiveness is over."
Juvenile Justice: Death-in-Prison Sentences Constitutional in Wisconsin, at Least for Now
The Straight Dope on Fake Dope
In Jordan Cox’s view, it was a waste of money. The high, he said, was more like the head rush he got taking his first drag off a cigarette in middle school; not at all like smoking weed.
Cox was smoking something his friends called “spice,” a mixture of dried herbs sprayed with a synthetic cannabinoid that mimicked the effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. At least, it was supposed to feel like smoking pot.
“It was fake and you could tell,” said Cox, a 22-year-old Georgia college student. “The high was delayed, but it was nothing intense or unmanageable.”
Spice is one common name for a whole range of products sold legally in head shops, gas stations, and smoking stores across the nation. The small, square pouches of dried plant matter bear names such as “K4,” “Spice Gold” and “Mojo.” Each package says the contents are incense, the absence of any scented ingredients notwithstanding. On the back of the pouch is a stark warning, the final brick in the wall surrounding the manufacturer from liability: “Not For Human Consumption.”