'Supper Club' Brings Stable Connection; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- For Juvenile Detainees, 'Supper Club' Brings Stable Connection (The Baltimore Sun)
The one-year-old Supper Club program is designed around a time-tested principle — that sharing regular meals with caring grown-ups provides young people with a sense of stability and connection. It's an experience that teens inside these walls may be only passingly familiar with.
- [OPINION] Juvenile Justice System Broken, Needs Oversight (JournalStandard.com)
"No child should ever be subject to mistreatment, and this report will hopefully incentivize our policymakers to ensure that incarceration is truly the last resort, used only for the safety of the child and the public."
- Forum Focuses on Juvenile Justice (RegisterStar.com)
For the second straight month, the Time and Space Limited theater in Hudson hosted a meeting on juvenile justice in conjunction with the newly formed Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. At Wednesday’s event, TSL co-Director Linda Mussman welcomed moderator and sociologist Richard Smith, and a panel of local legal experts to discuss issues facing Hudson youth in the juvenile justice system.
- OP-ED: Families: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice (JJIE.org)
"In 2006, the mother of a teenage daughter involved in the juvenile justice system in Hawaii contacted a small, non-profit in Lake Charles, La., more than 4,000 miles away. The mother was seeking support from someone who could understand her plight in navigating the juvenile justice system and possibly help her find the treatment and services her daughter desperately needed."
The Affordable Care Act: Changing Mental Health Treatment in America
One aspect of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act that’s often overlooked in the media is its attention to mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Overall the landmark legislation hopes to bring near universal health insurance to the United States when the last round of its major provisions goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. These provisions include the controversial individual and employer insurance mandates.
But the law goes further though than just getting people insured, it aims to improve the American health care system, especially in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.
Mental health and mental health policy have been favorite topics in the news these last few years with the tragedies in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. Pundits from all sides have found a new pastime in discussing and arguing over how the system should be changed.
Opinions aside mental health and substance abuse are serious issues in America. About one in every four adults can be expected to experience a mental illness during the course of a given year, according to stats from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI). That’s nearly 55.7 million people, no small number for a nation of 315 million.
That number of adults rises to one in 17 when talking about more serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. For younger Americans the rate continues to climb with one in 10 children living with a serious mental or emotional disorder, according to NAMI numbers.
Substance abuse is estimated to cost the United States over $600 billion annually. A 2012 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that among teenagers alcohol and cigarette use has declined in recent years but the use of illicit drugs is on the rise.
So it’s no wonder that the Care Act looks to extend coverage and improve treatment of mental health and substance abuse. Let’s take a look at some of the ways it aims to do that.
A Conversation Starter for Mental Health
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new online resource full of information on mental health. The site includes guides to warning signs of mental illness, how individuals can find help and how communities can host conversations about mental health. MentalHealth.gov seeks to launch a national conversation on illnesses, recovery and hope.
SAMHSA supports the website with a Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health with the first section released on June 3, 2013. The Toolkit is a component to rally support and conversations in the community about mental health with features like an “Information Brief,” a “Discussion Guide” and an “Organizing Guide.”
The website and SAMHSA’a Toolkit confront some of the greatest challenges people face including: Anxiety disorders, Eating disorders, Mental Health and substance abuse, Mood disorders and Suicidal behavior. There is space for story sharing and support groups, along with an abundance of information about the prevention and treatment of mental health to help communities work together.
Past Traumatic Experiences Common Among Detained Juveniles; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Efforts Sought to Rehabilitate Troubled Youth (Tribune-Democrat.com)
While there have been drastic changes in the juvenile justice system in the wake of the “Kids for Cash” scandal, some advocates believe Pennsylvania has so far failed to widely embrace efforts to fully focus on rehabilitating troubled young people. One of the more innovative efforts in Pennsylvania involves the use of youth courts, in which young people themselves mete out justice for their peers.
- Bad Food, a Bible, and a Blanket: 24 Hours in Juvenile Solitary Confinement (Wired.com)
As a photographer, how far would you go to get in the heads of your subjects? For Richard Ross, it meant 24 hours in solitary confinement at a juvenile detention center. Over six years, Ross has photographed hundreds of detention centers and interviewed more than a 1,000 children for a project called Juvenile-in-Justice that aims to educate people about the juvenile justice system. He’s as familiar as any outsider with the subject, but he decided it wasn’t enough.
- Past Traumatic Experiences Common Among Detained Juveniles (JJIE.org)
Most young people placed in detention have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, according to a new report from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). “PTSD, Trauma and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth,” released Tuesday, included findings culled from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, which assessed more than 1,800 young detainees in Chicago between 1995 and 1998.
- Nebraska Gov. Heineman Signs Juvenile Justice Reform Bill, Focusing on Youth Rehabilitation (TheRepublic.com)
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has signed a juvenile justice reform bill into law. The measure by Sen. Brad Ashford, of Omaha, is designed to shift the state's focus toward rehabilitation for youths who break the law. Heineman approved the legislation on Wednesday during a news conference.
- Gov. Heineman Signs Juvenile Justice Reform into Law (Omaha.com)
The state embarked on a new approach in dealing with troubled juveniles Wednesday. Gov. Dave Heineman signed into law a major reform bill that shifts the focus from incarceration to treatment for youthful offenders and puts state probation officers in charge of that rehabilitation work instead of state social workers.
Justice Reform Paying Off Sooner than Expected; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- [AUDIO] Juvenile Justice System Overhaul Signed into Law (NebraskaRadioNetwork.com)
Nebraska will shift how it treats juvenile offenders under a bill signed into law by the governor. Gov. Dave Heineman has signed LB 561e, juvenile justice reform approved by the legislature. Heineman, during a news conference in his Capitol office, called the bill complex. Still, he has hopes for a simple outcome.
- Dramatic Reform of Juvenile Justice Takes Shape in Legislature (NorthPlatteBulletin.com)
Juvenile criminals would be rehabilitated at home, with help from probation officers, under a bill advancing in the state Legislature.
Lawmakers advanced LB 651, aiming to overhaul Nebraska’s juvenile justice system. The bill would transfer responsibility for the state’s roughly 3,000 juvenile offenders from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Office of Probation Administration.
- Nebraska Governor Vetoes $200K in Golf Tournament Funding (SFGate.com)
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman used a line-item veto Tuesday to strike $200,000 from a budget bill that was approved to promote the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament in Omaha. The Republican governor said the budget item was unjustified, given the state's other spending priorities on education and reforms to the state's juvenile justice services.
- Justice Reform Paying Off Sooner than Expected (Ledger-Enquirer.com)
When Gov. Nathan Deal prompted the Georgia General Assembly to undertake sentencing reform for the adult criminal justice system (to be followed the next year by juvenile justice reform), he acknowledged that he didn't expect to see any substantial changes for a few years. In terms of the state prison population, that's certainly the case so far. In fact, the state inmate count actually rose slightly from the end of 2010 through last year.
- Massachusetts House Votes to Move 17-Year-Olds into Juvenile Justice System (WickedLocal.com)
The House unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that would move 17-year-old offenders into the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts, ending the practice of routinely incarcerating 17-year-olds in adult corrections facilities.
Juvenile Justice Shows Progress; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Juvenile Justice Shows Progress (Illinois Times)
When the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice was created in 2006, the state’s youth prisons held 1,500 juvenile offenders. Today, there are fewer than 900 kids behind bars in Illinois juvenile justice system. It’s one sign of progress for the relatively new department, which was previously part of the adult-oriented Illinois Department of Corrections.
- Forsyth County Clerk of Court Wants to Turn Old School into a Juvenile Court (MyFox8.com)
Forsyth County, N.C., Clerk of Court Susan Frye wants to see the now closed Hill Middle School in Winston-Salem turned into a one-stop shop for the more than 1,300 offenders who come through juvenile court each year. Frye says the courthouse is out of space and can not house the services the young offenders are often sentenced too. Hill closed last year after consolidating with Philo Middle School.
- Pennsylvania Finds 20 Percent of Juveniles Re-offend Within Two Years (JJIE.org)
A new report issued by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission finds that among juveniles whose cases were closed in 2007, one-in-five recidivated within two years. The Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Recidivism Report found juvenile recidivism rates to be as high as 45 percent in some counties, with the average length between case closure and recidivism to be 11.5 months.
Guest Post from the Flawless Foundation: Knowing and Doing!
Last week at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, I attended the Criminalization of Mental Illness Symposium. National experts shared fourteen presentations in an effort to make sense of hundreds of statistics and research studies on such topics as recidivism, gun violence, juvenile justice, homicide, suicide, Aurora, Tucson, Newtown and VA Tech. Do you think this sounds overwhelming? Actually, it wasn’t.
Over and over, members of this Think Tank who are advising our nation’s leaders on public policy, mental health and criminal justice reform repeated, “We know what to do, we just need to do it.”
So what do we need to do? We need to take a stand for prevention, compassion and love. Doesn’t it make sense to advocate for education, preventative mental health and programming for youth instead of simply waiting until it is too late? Too often in our current system, we are sending those in need straight into the justice system, especially our children who often fall into the “school to prison pipeline.” We all know that the system is broken but the beauty is we can and are fixing it.
I am very fortunate to spend my days at the Flawless Foundation witnessing miracles over and over again. Our grantees and partners are visionary leaders who have created programs that are not just thinking about these issues but they are actively addressing them through relationship, promoting connections and healing on every level: body, mind and soul. We know what to do and we are doing it.
[VIDEO] The Ethics of Solitary Confinement
Al Jazeera English recently released an Inside Story 30-minute video examining the state of solitary confinement, including teens, in United States prisons. The discussion includes the following:
Amongst those in solitary confinement today are juveniles as young as age 16, with one study suggesting that in 2012, 14 percent of adolescents in the New York City prison system had been held in isolation at least once. So, why does the United States put more people into solitary confinement than any other country in the democratic world?
We've reported in the past about the particularly harsh negative affects that solitary confinement has on teens, and while this video offers a broader look at solitary confinement, its themes are still relevant to our work in the juvenile justice system. Watch the full program below:
Encouraging Trends in Children's Mental Health Services
Twenty years ago, only about 10 percent of people under 18 years old who were identified to have mental health problems received any kind of treatment. Today, about 50 percent of these children and teens will receive the treatment they need. The growing number of young people getting treatment is partially thanks to a national trend toward coordinated health services. Below is an excerpt from The Boston Globe's report on Massachusetts' growing number of pediatric offices sharing space with psychologists.
Children who go to a Wellesley pediatrician can, if needed, see a psychologist in a nearby exam room. At a medical office in Peabody, boys and girls with anxiety issues can simply go upstairs to see a social worker. And at a Newton pediatric clinic, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are able to see an on-site nurse practitioner specializing in mental health.
These are among a growing number of Massachusetts pediatric practices that are sharing space with mental health professionals, a move aimed at improving access to hard-to-obtain psychological services and at sending the message that treating children’s depression and behavioral issues is as important as following their asthma and diabetes.
Roughly one in four pediatricians in private practices in Massachusetts works in a setting that now includes some type of mental health service, according to a preliminary survey of members of the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In the last two or three years, there’s significant growth in this kind of collaborative care,” said Dr. Ellen Perrin, a developmental behavioral pediatrician with Tufts Medical Center who conducted the survey with a colleague. “There is a recognition that the nation’s mental health system is broken, especially for children, and we have to do better.”
This model is one example of a national trend toward more coordinated services, which centers on primary care doctors working closely with specialists to keep patients healthier and, ideally, to lower overall costs. Getting different clinicians in the same space is not practical in every case, but many pediatricians believe it is the best way to address children’s behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders, which are being diagnosed at far higher rates than ever before.
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.