Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project: Apply Now
I've written several times about the excellent work done by Dr. Mark Lipsey, his colleagues, and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown to help local jurisdictions do a better job of providing evidence-backed services in their juvenile justice systems. Here's your chance to benefit.
Then they partnered with Georgetown's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR), led by Shay Bilchik, to create the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP), which -- according to the official announcement from CJJR -- "embeds [those principles] within the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders as developed by Dr. James C. Howell and John Wilson. In doing so, the JJSIP provides a framework for improving juvenile justice practice throughout the entire juvenile justice continuum."
Is the Juvenile Justice System "Improving Lives or Devastating Them?" and More: a Roundup
- Is the Juvenile Justice System "Improving Lives or Devastating Them?" U.S. Attorney General Asks
Attorney General Eric Holder wants to see the juvenile justice system shift from prosecution and punishment to prevention and intervention, as he made clear in a March 7th speech to the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference. Among other things, he pointed to the evidence showing that "scared straight programs" are ineffective, and the high rate of sexual victimization of detained youth.
- States Try Fewer Youth in Adult Court
Only a few states -- New York and North Carolina among them -- continue to treat 16-year-olds as adults when it comes to the justice system. Money's an issue, because it's more expensive to try them in the juvenile justice system. However, a new analysis from the Vera Institute of Justice finds that the fiscal benefits outweigh the costs.
- States Back Away From Punitive Drug Laws
The high cost of imprisoning low-level drug offenders is adding momentum to efforts to reform punitive drug laws that incarcerate people without addressing their underlying treatment problem.
What is the Real Cost of Trying Teens as Adults?
The New York Times reported March 5 that the national trend of trying teens as adults in criminal cases is reversing. Almost all states have raised, or are raising, the age teens are tried as adults. The opposition to this trend argues that it is too costly to try teens as minors.
The generally accepted assumption is that states save money by trying teens in adult criminal court, rather than in juvenile courts. But is this assumption really true in the long run? What is the real cost of trying teens as adults?
Certainly, in the short-term, the more involved and supportive approach of juvenile courts may cost more than criminal courts. Juvenile courts emphasize treatment rather than punishment. That focus can mean that more people are employed in the care and rehabilitation of offenders in juvenile court than in the adult counterpart.
The National Parent Caucus; Meeting the Needs of Forgotten Families
Beginning in 1998, with my son's first arrest at the age of 12, I embarked on a journey that I was ill-equipped to handle. When I gave birth to my children, I had high hopes and dreams for them -- this arrest and the succeeding problems that lay ahead for him were never a part of those hopes and dreams.
I, like most family members who find themselves involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, was incredibly naive and made decisions based on what system professionals told me, never considering that it wasn't their job to help my son. Those decisions set a predictable course for my son, for those with knowledge and understanding, that would leave him emotionally and physically scarred for the rest of his life. I made those decisions without an understanding of what they meant for him or a conception of what it meant to have a "system-involved" child. For the next three years, I walked this path alone in confusion and isolation.
I sat through meetings where professionals talked about my son and I said nothing, because they presented themselves as the experts and seldom asked me anything. I sat in court rooms in front of a judge without an attorney or advocate, because I was told an attorney would only slow down my son getting the help he needed, and I believed this lie to be the truth. I sat outside the court house on the day my son was adjudicated as a delinquent and sent to a far-off facility because my legs would not carry me away from my baby, and still believed that I had done what was right. I sat by the phone for days, awaiting a call from the facility to inform me of where my son would be placed and when I would be able to visit.
Apply Now for NJJN Youth Justice Leadership Institute
"It's important that people really do understand that this void in [juvenile justice reform] leadership really is a hindrance ..."
-Diana Onley-Campbell, Program Manager, NJJN Youth Justice Leadership Institute
The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is seeking applicants for its new Youth Justice Leadership Institute. For a quick introduction to what the institute is and why it's critical to juvenile justice reform, check out my 6-minute interview with Ms. Onley-Campbell above, conducted in December, 2010. (Sorry the audio isn't quite in synch - I'm having extended technical difficulties - but I figured it worked well enough to get the point across.)
Justice for an Awful Juvenile Court Judge, and More: Roundup
- Justice for an Awful Judge
Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes eloquently about the irony that one of the judges in the "kids-for-cash" scandal got what the youth who passed through his juvenile court did not get: due process.
- Positive Youth Development: Training Youth to be EMTs
A unique program in Alameda County, CA, trains young men in the juvenile justice system to become EMTs - could a program like that work in your community? (H/t Jennie Day-Burget.)
- Systems of Care That Serve Youth in the Juvenile Justice System - Funding and Sustainability
This report came out in September 2010 and a lot of things have changed since then, but its strategic approach is timeless. (Hat tip to Mark Fulop.)
Hip Hop for Prevention and Therapy: Are There More Examples from the Juvenile Justice System?
Maybe it's just me, but I don't hear very often about hip hop in services aimed at youth in the juvenile justice system or in prevention programming. If it is rare, that's strange, since hip hop matters to a lot of youth, not least because it's a key avenue for self-expression.
So here's a couple examples I'm aware of, where hip hop is a key part of the intervention.
First, you may have heard about H.Y.P.E. hip hop therapy (Helping Young People Thru Empowerment), a curriculum in which a mental health therapist in Stone Mountain, Georgia, incorporates hip hop into counseling sessions with African-American teen males. Her approach -- which has been turned into a book you can buy for $20 (click on the image on the far left)-- has been featured in JET magazine, on NPR, and on television. I'm not certain if it's been evaluated. (Hat tip to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.)
Second, when I was at the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) in Baltimore in December 2010, I I saw a presentation on a substance abuse and HIV prevention curriculum that was built around hip hop. Aimed at middle-school youth, the Hip-Hop to Prevent Substance Abuse and HIV (H2P) curriculum has been listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), run by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Anyone aware of any other interventions for teens -- particularly for youth in trouble with the law -- that build on hip hop in a significant way? Drop Drop me an email, leave a comment below, leave a comment in our discussion group on LinkedIn called "Juvenile Justice Reform and Adolescent Substance Abuse", and I'll post what I learn.
[Update March 3, 2011: Check out the comments below for at least two resources. Also, it looks like we'll be able to post a lot more information here soon. Stay tuned.]
JMATE 2010: Advancing Evidence-Based Programs in Juvenile Justice with Mark Lipsey
When I was at the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) in 2010, I interviewed Dr. Mark Lipsey about a new tool he and several other colleagues developed to improve the implementation of evidence-based juvenile justice programs. Dubbed the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP), the tool uses a massive meta-analysis of nearly 700 evaluations to help local jurisdictions identify what they're already doing that's working, and to improve on what they've got.
I asked Dr. Lipsey the following questions:
- Why did you do the meta analysis and develop this tool to improve effective programming in juvenile justice? (:20)
- How is the new tool different from simply implementing evidence-based programming? (2:35)
- How do I get my hands on it? Can I just download it? (6:36)
- How do I access the assistance I need to implement the SPEP? (8:57)
Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference: Call for Presentations
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) is seeking presentation proposals for its May 20-24, 2011 national conference, “Fair & Equal Justice: Alternative Sentences and Sanctions for Youth.”
Each spring, CJJ hosts a national conference focused on improving juvenile justice and delinquency prevention systems, services, practices and policies. This conference is expected to draw more than 250 juvenile justice practitioners and advocates from across the United States and its territories.
CJJ will select a maximum of six (6) proposals for presentations lasting up to 90 minutes. Workshops must address one or more of the following subject areas:
The Bond Market and Public Safety
[The following column on using social impact bonds to promote effective programs in juvenile justice (and adult criminal justice) has been republished with permission from The Urban Institute website. --Ed.]
At least 40 states face swelling budget deficits. Likely targets for reductions include the discretionary social programs that protect public safety. Rather than jeopardize the public's safety and well-being with imprudent cuts, a different and better way out of the financing crunch is explained by two criminologists: the social impact bond.
State and local governments are in trouble. At least 40 states face swelling budget deficits. While few details of next year’s budgets are available, likely targets include the discretionary social programs that protect public safety.
Often, programs that serve criminal offenders, at-risk youth, people with mental illness and drug addictions, and prisoners returning home are the first to get hacked when budgets are cut. In a preview of what is likely to come, governors in Virginia, Texas, and New York have proposed cutting funding for at-risk youths, increasing the chances of future crime increases.
Rather than jeopardize public safety and well-being with imprudent cuts, here’s a different and better way out of the financing crunch: the social impact bond (or SIB).