Should 24-Year-Old Offenders be Considered Juveniles? This Story and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Youth Crime's Decline (NewsObserver.com)
The new approach to juvenile crime hasn’t just worked. It has worked spectacularly. A report last Sunday by The News & Observer’s Thomasi McDonald said that the number of young people under 16 charged with violent crimes has dropped by nearly 37 percent. The arrests in that same age group for property crimes are down 40 percent.
- Georgia Considers Juvenile Justice Reforms (The Augusta Chronicle)
After overhauling its adult criminal justice system to provide alternative sentences for nonviolent offenders and reduce skyrocketing prison costs, the state of Georgia is turning its attention to the juvenile justice system.
- DJJ Launches Roadmap to System Excellence (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) invited the people of Florida today to participate in a conversation about the Roadmap to System Excellence. The Roadmap builds on reforms already underway at DJJ and guides Florida on the path to becoming the national model for juvenile justice administration.
- Should 24-Year-Old Offenders be Considered Juveniles? (JJIE.org)
When the National Partnership for Juvenile Services annual symposium opened in Las Vegas, Jason Bowser, a youth service director from Columbus, Ind., told an executive committee that one of the standing committees was focusing on the question of “What is a juvenile?”
- Counties Push to Bypass State Youth Lockups (Statesman.com)
Counties in Texas might soon be allowed to incarcerate all their teenage lawbreakers locally rather than send them to state-run lockups that have been plagued by violence, high recidivism rates and gang activity in recent years, officials confirmed Wednesday.
- Juvenile Justice and the Campaign (TheCrimeReport.org)
California's second largest county is coping with widespread gang violence and prescription drug abuse among youth. But as election day nears, juvenile justice remains a whisper in a monsoon of economic rhetoric.
- [Opinion] Adolescents in Grown-Up Jails (The New York Times)
The practice of confining young people to adult jails and prisons is both counterproductive and inhumane. Adolescents who are locked up with adults are more likely to be raped, battered or driven to suicide than young people who are handled through the juvenile justice system. After the trauma of doing hard, adult time, young people often return home as damaged individuals who are more likely to commit violent crimes and end up back inside.
- Florida To Completely Privatize Juvenile Correctional Facilities (HuffingtonPost.com)
In an effort to reduce costs, Florida's state-run residential programs for juveniles will soon be completely privatized. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced Monday that the state will relinquish control of the five remaining public youth residential centers by October 2013.
- Dog Trainer Teaches Empathy at Tehama Juvenile Hall (Redding.com)
When dog trainer Gary Watts faces a group of kids detained in juvenile hall, he's focused on his mission. With a Labrador retriever named Abby in tow, he puts her through her paces and methodically demonstrates the fine points of canine obedience.
Morgan State Forum Illuminates Justice System's Racial Disparity and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Memphis Seeking Alternatives to Locking up Wayward Youths (The Commercial Appeal)
National experts arrived in Memphis to help guide juvenile justice officials, law enforcement and community leaders Tuesday on reforming a system that has been cited for disparate treatment of black youths.
- Departing Georgia Juvenile Boss: Crisis Passed (JJIE.org)
After serving for nearly one year, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner announces her departure, with a parting message for the agency, “the crisis stage is passed and we’re on to better opportunities.”
- Mayor Highlights "Close To Home" Juvenile Justice Program (NY1.com)
Juvenile offenders are now living within New York's five boroughs and attending schools here after years of serving time upstate. The Close to Home initiative transfers the majority of young offenders to the city's control from the state. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Brooklyn Thursday to highlight the program. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
- Morgan State Forum Illuminates Justice System's Racial Disparity (The Baltimore Sun)
Nearly every juvenile housed in Baltimore's adult prison in August — 41 of 42 — was black, an issue that brought more than 300 stakeholders together Wednesday at Morgan State University to discuss racial disparity in the criminal justice system.
- New York to Try Again to ‘Raise the Age’ (JJIE.org)
New York state 16- and 17-year-olds go to adult court, a practice nearly unique to the state. But that may change, as the New York legislature is expected to take another look at proposals to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
- Number Of Juveniles Behind Fences At South Carolina Department Of Juvenile Justice Drops Dramatically (WJBF.com)
The number of juveniles behind the razor wire at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has dropped to 95, down from 175 two years ago. DJJ Director Margaret Barber says there are a number of reasons why, including the fact that juvenile crime overall is down nationwide and in South Carolina.
- Reforms Credited for Driving Juvenile Crime Down in North Carolina (NewsObserver.com)
In the last couple of decades, combating teen crime and gangs in North Carolina attracted the attention of legislators, policymakers and a governor. Now there’s evidence that their solutions are working. While overall violent crimes have declined by nearly 14 percent in the state since 2002, the number of teens under 16 charged with violent crimes has dropped by nearly 37 percent.
- Georgia Judge: Schools--Not Courts--Should Handle Truancy (RightOnCrime.com)
Truancy cases are increasingly referred to courts across the country rather than handled between schools and the parents. This process is expensive, ties up court resources from more pressing public safety priorities, and is ineffective in addressing chronic absenteeism.
Focusing on Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care
King County Reclaiming Futures is aligning their recovery work with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's revised definition and vision of recovery:
“A process of change through which individuals work to improve their own health and wellbeing, live a self-directed life, and strive to achieve their full potential.”
Please take a moment to review the new "performance indicator" report, released by the King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) Mental Illness, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division (MHCADSD).
A few highlights from the summary:
- Successful grant applications
- High quality programs
- A wide range of services
- Strong policymaker outreach
Despite difficult fiscal times, King County also made significant progress transforming to a Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC). They continue to focus on evidence-based practices throughout their system and increase provider capacity to use evidence-based service models.
Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Does the Juvenile Justice System Really Work? (TheCrimeReport.org)
A five-month-long investigation spearheaded by Ashley Luthern of The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio examined the successes and tragedies produced as local courts, probation and schools struggle to address “disproportionate minority contact rates.”
- Frequency Of Kids Sent To Detention Varies Widely (Courant.com)
Juveniles in the Hartford, Connecticut judicial district who break the law are far more likely to be locked in a pre-trial detention center following arrests or referrals than juveniles from the state's other districts, an analysis of data from the judicial department shows.
- 12 Investigates: Can Brain Injury Lead to Prison? (NBC12.com)
Are more kids ending up in jail because of a traumatic brain injury? A study underway of Virginia's Juvenile Justice system recently revealed as many as 20% of the children incarcerated right now have a traumatic brain injury.
- Juvenile Justice System Youths Express Themselves in Play (OregonLive.com)
Over the summer, a group of youths in the Clackamas County, Oregon juvenile justice system prepared a performance that was central to who they are. They received a standing ovation for their show, "Choices," and for their courage in telling their stories.
Hocking County, Ohio, Celebrates Recovery Month
In beautiful Hocking County, Ohio, about an hour southeast of Columbus, Juvenile Court intake numbers are high due to drug-related offenses. The court has seen the kinship population grow (grandparents and other relatives taking over care of youth) mainly due to the increase in drug abuse and drug-related offenses.
Like all of the 29 Reclaiming Futures sites, Hocking County is partnering with courts, treatment providers, juvenile justice, communities and families to meet the urgent needs of young people in the juvenile justice system.
Judge Richard Wallar says it best in a Recovery Month letter in the Logan Daily News:
Please do not lose hope because there is good news. Many local people, including neighbors, relatives and friends, are receiving help and are in recovery from mental health or substance abuse disorders. They are contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community. But if we want more people to join them on a path of recovery, we need to take action — now. Too many people are still unaware that treatment works, and that these conditions can be alleviated, in the same way that other health disorders, such as diabetes and hypertension, are being treated. We need to work together to make recovery the expectation.
King County, Washington, Celebrates Recovery Month
Many of the 29 Reclaiming Futures sites helping communities break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime celebrate Recovery Month, hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) each September. They, along with our King County site, which includes Seattle, Washington, are spreading the positive message that prevention works, adolescent substance abuse treatment is effective and people do recover.
King County convenes a multi-disciplinary planning committee (chemical dependency, mental health and community mobilization) to reach people across cultures and disciplines to reduce the stigma for people in recovery.
They actively develop the Recovery Oriented System of Care model, starting with mental health and gradually including substance use disorders. This year, King County is working with their County Council to include substance abuse disorders in the recovery ordinance so that it becomes a behavioral health recovery oriented system of care. (The recovery ordinance ensures that the publicly funded mental health system in King County is grounded in mental health recovery principles.)
Imprisoned Teens Found More Likely to Re-offend and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Illinois to Improve Conditions at Youth Prisons (St. Louis CBS Local)
Illinois is promising to improve safety at its youth prisons and offer inmates better educational and mental health services. The Department of Juvenile Justice agreed to the improvements after the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois threatened to sue.
- U.S. Families Fret at Juvenile Justice System in Crisis (The Raw Story)
Relatives of jailed young Americans called Tuesday for reform of a juvenile justice system they say fails to help young people and is biased against youth of color. “More than two million children are arrested every year in the United States and the numbers continue to rise, despite the decreasing incidence of true criminal offenses,” according to the study released by the Justice for Families program at the research organization DataCenter.
- Imprisoned Teens Found More Likely to Re-offend (Jacksonville.com)
A new report shows that children and teenagers locked up for breaking the law have become 6 percent more likely to commit another crime than they were in 2003. The figures come from a study conducted by the Pew Center on the States at the request of a commission appointed to propose an overhaul to the juvenile-justice system in Georgia.
- GIVING BACK - Troubled Youths get Chance to Serve Community through DJJ Initiative (TheTandD.com)
A group of local youths spent Friday morning working with officers at the Orangeburg County, SC Department of Juvenile Justice as part of Restoring Carolina Through Youth Service. The program is a statewide initiative that gives young people who have made poor choices an opportunity to give back through community service.
- Juvenile Court Records can Follow Kids to College (The Morning Call)
Juvenile court records could begin following youthful offenders to college after a state appeals court decision in the child pornography case of a Whitehall Township teen. The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a Lehigh County judge's decision to notify the boy's university that he had admitted looking at and trading child pornography over the Internet.
- Michael Griffiths: The TT Interview (The Texas Tribune)
Michael Griffiths never really retired after 15 years as head of juvenile services for the Dallas County Juvenile Department. He taught online courses at his alma mater, Sam Houston State University, and consulted on juvenile issues, and he even handed out programs at Texas Rangers games. On Monday, Griffiths will become the new executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Celebrate Recovery Month
For the 29 Reclaiming Futures sites using evidence-based practices to break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime, September holds special promise. This is the 23rd year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has designated September Recovery Month to promote the message that prevention works, treatment is effective and people recover.
This year's Recovery Month theme is "Join the Voices for Recovery: It's Worth It." The theme emphasizes the benefits of preventing and overcoming mental and/or substance use disorders and the importance of involving everyone in these efforts.
Please visit Recovery Month on SAMHSA.gov to find events, planning tools and other resources to help your community participate. Involvement can be as simple or robust as you choose.
A few ideas include:
- Send an e-card to someone in recovery
- Customize a public service announcement
- Use use the hashtag #recoverymonth to find and promote information on Twitter
- Issue an official proclamation in your community
How do you celebrate Recovery Month? We appreciate hearing from you. Please share your ideas and comments below.
After Treatment: The Role of Community-Based Partnerships in Substance Abuse Recovery
In honor of Recovery Month, I'm sharing the Road to Recovery's latest video on the importance of community-based organizations. Reclaiming Futures is a huge believer in connecting young people with long-term community supports so that teens don't find themselves in the same situations that got them in trouble.
From the Road to Recovery:
Idaho Screening for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Problems in Juvenile Justice System
As many in the juvenile justice community sadly know, a focus on diagnosing and treating mental health and substance abuse problems in detained juveniles developed relatively late nationally. This is particularly true in the State of Idaho, which did not have systematic, routine mental health and substance abuse screening occurring in its 12 juvenile detention centers (JDCs) until 2008. Since the inception of the Clinical Services Program (CSP), a collaborative effort funded by the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho has made dramatic strides in screening for mental health and substance abuse problems in juveniles entering its JDCs, and recommending and (and sometimes coordinating) treatment for these juveniles upon their return to their communities.
Starting in 2008, my colleagues and I at Boise State University’s Center for Health Policy have performed annual, multimodal assessments of the CSP. One of the main components of our evaluation has involved documenting the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse problems. What we’ve found is that juveniles entering Idaho’s JDCs should be considered to have at least one of these types of problems unless demonstrated otherwise; in other words, having a mental health or substance abuse problem, or both types of problems, is the rule rather than the exception to it.