One Week Left: Nominate a Young Leader by July 16, 2012
Do you know someone 40 years old (or younger) who is working to improve health and health care for the future? Please nominate that person for a Young Leader Award: Recognizing Leadership for a Healthier America
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is celebrating their 40th year by recognizing young people who are leading the way to improved health and health care for all Americans. Third party-only nominations are being accepted until July 16, 2012. Each winner will receive an individual award of $40,000.
Please read more about the characteristics for nominees at RWJF.org:
Juvenile Crime Dips in Iowa and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Youth Court: Students Dispense Justice to First-Time Juvenile Offenders (Tulsa World)
In the Youth Court program, student volunteers serve as the prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and bailiffs on cases involving first-time nonviolent juvenile offenders. The program operates in courts in Tulsa, Owasso and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
- Juvenile Justice: Courts Turn Focus to Rehabilitation (CoshoctonTribune.com)
In Coshocton, many first-time juvenile offenders are placed in a diversion program rather than having an official complaint filed right away. If a juvenile is caught stealing, for example, his diversion program might include a theft-specific counseling program along with a special class for him and his parents.
- Juvenile Crime Dips in Iowa (KCRG.com)
Juvenile crime is down in Iowa and officials are crediting research and justice system alternatives. Earlier this week, the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning released a report, showing a more than 20 percent decrease in juvenile arrests between 2007 and 2010. Juveniles also made up a decreasing percentage of the state’s total arrests during those years.
- The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth (Center for American Progress)
Though gay and transgender youth represent just 5 percent to 7 percent of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13 to 15 percent of those currently in the juvenile justice system. These high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system are a result of gay and transgender youth abandonment by their families and communities, and victimization in their schools—sad realities that place this group of young people at a heightened risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline.
Reclaiming Futures in Snohomish County, Washington: Using art to rehabilitate teens
This past fall, Washington state's Snohomish County juvenile court system ran a pilot project called Promising Artists in Recovery (PAIR), modeled after Reclaiming Futures. The program connected teens in the county's juvenile justice system with local artists who shared their craft and mentored the youth.
The Herald has a terrific feature story on PAIR, Reclaiming Futures and the teens and mentors who participated. Check out this video on the pilot:
Using art at a juvenile detention facility to teach teens about starting over
I am teaching writing and art in a six-week program at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. The workshop is a part of the National Reclaiming Futures Program. Reclaiming Futures helps young people in trouble with drugs, alcohol, and crime. The six-step model unites juvenile courts, probation, treatment and the community to reclaim youth.
The program being implemented by community members and artists in my community is PAIR–Promising Artists in Recovery. Our final week will be a trip to the new Schack Art Center where the kids will have an opportunity to blow glass in the hot glass shop.
This week, we taught a lesson called, “Clean Slate.” We began by handing out half-sheets of paper, and asked the kids to think of a time when they were “criticized or felt not good enough.” I used the example of how I always felt like I wasn’t smart in high school. High school was a bit of a challenge for me. I’d always done well in middle school, but when I got to high school, the rules seemed to change. In English class, I worked hard on my papers. My journalist Mom edited for me, and I typed–sometimes many times–before I turned them in. But, I’d still, receive low grades on those dreaded five-paragraph essays. It took until I was a teacher myself to understand all the dynamics of learning, and to see that some learning styles are different than others. Not bad or good–just different.
We also spent time talking to the kids about how constructive feedback is helpful to an artist, and it’s important to know how to find and receive that constructive feedback on a work in progress. I shared with the kids my recently edited manuscript, STAINED GLASS SUMMER (December 2011). I talked about how my editor helped me to find the inconsistencies in the story, and how she is helping me to clean up the wording so the sentences read smoothly. The whole process reminds me of my class in stained glass when we cleaned, polished, and shined our glass projects.
After our discussion, the kids wrote down words, images and phrases on their half sheet of paper about a time they felt “not good enough” or “criticized.”
Harlem Youth Court takes on juvenile justice
It’s a familiar courtroom scene: An advocate scribbling on a notepad prepares her closing statement. A judge presides, pounding her gavel to bring the hearing to order. She turns to the offender, a young man being tried for assault, and asks,
“Do you swear to tell the truth?”
“Yes,” he replies.
This is when things start to look different from a traditional courtroom. A juror stands, thanks him for attending, and says, “We just want to let you know we’re not here to judge you or criticize you.”
The juror, named Milagros, is a high school student. Everyone participating– judge, jury, advocate, clerk and offender – is under 18. At the Harlem Youth Court, kids who have committed low-level offenses can avoid formal prosecution and instead tell their side of a story to a jury of their peers.
The U.K. Riots and How to Help Youth in the Justice System Use Their Powers for Good (VIDEO)
In the wake of the images and footage we've all seen coming out of the U.K. this week, as teens and young adults rioted and looted in London and other cities, it will be hard for the general public to remember that young people who commit crimes have strengths -- and have something to offer.
Youth should, of course, be held accountable for their actions. But youth workers in Britain understand that fear of teens as a result of the riots may well set the field back by years (e.g., "Youth charities blast riots as disastrous for image of young people"), especially if the only response is a punitive, nail-'em-and-a-jail-'em-response that neglects to provide appropriate supportive services that will help young people be successfull.
And I expect that fear of young people will rise in the United States, too. Which is why this brief, two-minute video interview (below) with Connie Flanagan, a national expert on engaging troubled youth in civic life, is timely.
A professor of Youth Civic Development at
Penn State University the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ms. Flanagan speaks about the importance of giving youth in the juvenile justice system the opportunity to work together with adults on projects that benefit their communities. Only then do they get a chance to see that what they do can change their communities for the better -- they can use their powers for good, in other words.
(I should point out that Ms. Flanagan was interviewed in May, well before the riots, and was addressing a general question about how to help youth in the juvenile justice system. I just happen to think that what she said is a helpful reminder about how we can work to make sure that youth feel that they matter, and that they're invested enough in their communities so that they don't engage in riots.)
Watch the video after the jump:
Working with Teens in the Juvenile Justice System on Racism and Oppression (VIDEO)
I know from experience how hard it is to get a group of adults to sit down and talk productively about issues of systemic oppression and racism -- acknowledging these issues, with the goal of addressing them. I also know that the resulting conversations, if well-facilitated, can create and deepen relationships between co-workers, friends, and people who've never met before.
But imagine doing it with kids on your probation caseload.
I was impressed, proud, and full of admiration when I learned that the Reclaiming Futures site in Bristol County, Massachusetts had done exactly that, and still is. In fact, the program got written up in their local paper.
So when I got a chance to sit down with Estella Rebeiro, senior juvenile probation officer in Bristol County, to talk about the group for youth on probation that she ran with Deirdre Lopes, director of the H.O.P.E. (Healthy Opportunities for Peaceful Engagement) Collaborative, I grabbed it. Here's a brief video interview with Ms. Rebeiro, done at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute held in May 2011:
Youth Courts 101: A How-to Video Primer and Manual
Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation in New York City (seen at right), gives an excellent overview of how youth courts work in this video interview with JJIE.org. The courts are completely teen-driven, with teens as judges, attorneys and juries who hear actual cases either referred by the police or the courts. Each teen judge, attorney or juror gets 30 hours of training and has to pass a “bar exam” to be able to serve.
In the youth courts Berman’s center helps oversee, the kids running the courts come from a variety of backgrounds, so the offenders are being judged by their real peers. In fact, kids who once came before the court often come back later to serve as judges, attorneys and jurors, so Berman says it can be “a life changing experience.”
Kids sent to the court have already admitted guilt and are at the mercy of their peers to design the sanctions that will be administered.
The kids ask great questions, Berman says, and have “great BS detectors.” They listen to the individual cases and then the jury delivers a sanction that, according to Berman, tends to emphasize restoration.
The outcome might be a letter of apology, public service work or links to anger management. It turns peer pressure on its head, he says, making it a positive rather than a negative and that is the nub of the youth court idea.
Watch the video below for more details. You can download the manual on Recommended Practices for Youth Courts published by the Center for Court Innovation.
School-to-Prison Pipeline: Chicago Youth Calling for a Dollars and Sense Policy
The report offers a compelling argument that that the current practices are not financially or educationally effective:
Webinar: Reclaiming Gang-Involved Youth
"One of the absolute best workshops I have attended in 36 years of youth work."
"Very knowledgeable, coupled with true passion for the work!"
"Good speaker. Answered questions well. Good use of video and other ways to engage the group throughout the presentation."
"Great session. Strong ideas."
"Amazing presenter and presentation. Powerful."
So we're offering it now as a webinar on July 19, 2011 at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT. Hurry up and register, though: we only have 125 slots!
Read on for more info >>