Almost 50 Percent Fewer Youth Arrested in Florida Schools; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
- Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
- Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
- Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
- Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.
The Court's Role in Reclaiming Our Children's Futures
Relying on negative reinforcement and punishment to rehabilitate a troubled teen is not effective, writes retired juvenile court Judge William Hitchcock in a Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) op-ed. While teens should be held accountable for their offenses, courts should also help them get back on track and away from a life of crime. One way to do this is by building on their strengths.
Judge Hitchcock explains:
Despite the fact that the vast majority of offenders commit nonviolent property crimes, we still detain too many of these youth in the guise of managing misbehavior by consequences. Most of the disposition reports that I would read as a juvenile court judge contained only references to the negatives, rarely highlighting the assets that the young person may have.
Where is the other side of the coin? With rare exception, these youthful offenders have assets that can be built upon by an intentional approach to managing their probation. Yet most probation officers are not trained in strength-based planning.
Recognizing the role that courts can play in rehabilitating youth, Reclaiming Futures uses assessments to determine teens' needs and builds a plan around them. According to Judge Hitchcock:
Teens Learn Teamwork and Patience by Building Gingerbread Houses
Hardin County Reclaiming Futures was recently invited to speak to a local church group about their Recovery School (Hardin Community School) and Hardin County Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Drug Court. The church members loved hearing about the community initiative and wanted to reach out to the local youth by donating funds for a gingerbread house project.
The project began on December 10, 2012 for the Recovery School students who had a week to complete their houses. Now that the houses are finished, we are holding a contest on our Facebook page for the best houses. Hardin County’s Reclaiming Futures Fellows are also invited to come in for judging and awarding prizes. Almost the entire student body at the recovery school turned out to participate in the project.
Most students anticipated doing their own gingerbread house, but quickly realized that the task was not as easy as one would think and most began working together as teams to build the walls and the roofs. The houses were made of graham crackers and held together by a special icing to help hold the structure together. Decorations were available as multiple assortments of candies.
Rethinking Juvenile Justice: Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Crossover Youth
There are many reasons to be concerned about systemic failures that impede the promotion of healthy lifestyles for youth growing up in America’s economically challenged communities. Among the most notable are diminished academic institutions, lack of access to quality health care, limited exposure to the world of work, and trauma-induced behavioral and physical health effects associated with victimization and exposure to violence. And concerned we should be, as a growing body of research provides compelling evidence that these experiences persist far beyond adolescence.
As research linking childhood and youth experiences to adult health status has evolved, two subpopulations—youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems—have become the primary focus of policy and practice reform. Recent research, however, suggests we may be paying too little attention to a third and perhaps more vulnerable group—youth with histories in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Increasingly referred to as “crossover youth,” a recent path-setting report funded by the Conrad Hilton Foundation found “membership in the crossover group to be a strong and consistent predictor of less desirable [adult] outcomes,” including heavy use of public services, high likelihood of criminal justice involvement, lower educational attainment, and extremely high use of outpatient mental health treatment (Culhane et al. 2011).
Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | September 2012
Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of the top 10 posts from September 2012.
10. Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
A recent Children's Defense Fund report looks at the cradle-to-prison pipeline and offers ways to disrupt the cycle.
9. Phoenix House Uses the West Side Story Project to Disrupt the Cycle of Youth Violence
By connecting law enforcement agencies and troubled teens through the West Side Story, Phoenix House is interrupting the cycle of violence and distrust and encouraging positive youth development.
8. Pilot Juvenile Reentry Program in Illinois
Right on Crime's Jeanette Moll looks at a program in Illinois working to slash recidivism rates by targeting the underlying issues, whether related to substance abuse or family problems.
Phoenix House Uses the West Side Story Project to Disrupt the Cycle of Youth Violence
In September 2011, Phoenix House, one of the nation’s leading non-profit providers of substance abuse treatment, received a two-year grant from the Department of Justice to address the issue of youth violence using a curriculum called the West Side Story Project. For the past year, Phoenix House has been working with young adults at six of our program sites to deconstruct cultural stereotypes, build relationships with members of law enforcement, and promote peaceful conflict resolution – using themes and content from the musical West Side Story.
Funded via the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the West Side Story Project got its start in Seattle in 2007, with the goal of increasing the capacity of law enforcement agencies to positively interact with at-risk kids through community partnerships. Phoenix House is fortunate to have had the project’s creator, Anna Laszlo, guiding our implementation of the grant across the country. Our work would not be possible without the participation of police departments in Arlington, Virginia; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles and Santa Ana, California; and New York City and Suffolk County, New York.
The High Stakes of Child Poverty
I met Amber at a tutoring program for inner city children. It was 1966, my senior year in high school, and the war on poverty was on, a war we’ve failed to win.
At nine years old Amber looked like a scarecrow, an old scarecrow at that, bird-picked, weather beaten. She was stick thin. None of her clothes fit, hand-me-downs from her sister Bunny who quickly outgrew her clothes while her younger sister didn’t seem to grow at all. Her eyes were dark circled; her hair, straw and falling out.
Saturday mornings she was one of the first kids through the church basement doors. My friends and I weren’t naïve. We knew that that gaggle of children who showed up each week wasn’t there for the mandatory hour of instruction. They put up with our drilling them on the timestables or helping them parse a paragraph. They were really there for the cookies and milk, and the tables spread with art supplies and games. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that they may have been just as eager for our attention, our reliability, and perhaps even our youthful faith in the future as for those treats.
I worked with Amber all that year. She didn’t progress much. But that didn’t seem to matter. She was always there. Besides, there was something else going on: I was being tutored in what poverty was really all about.
From Incarceration to Fighting Fires: Teens Preparing to Reintegrate into Society
Driving into the wooded campus of Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp feels like arriving at a summer camp – until you see the road signs warning that you are entering a correctional facility.
The mint green office, school, kitchen and dorm buildings are relics from their Civilian Conservation Corps days. The only hint that something unique is happening here is the large garage with red and white ambulance-looking vehicles marked CAL FIRE parked inside.
At this camp, about 60 young men aged 18-25 serve the last year of their sentence with the California Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) fighting wild land fires and responding to other emergencies on a CAL FIRE crew. There are no fences, the doors are unlocked and wards are regularly left unsupervised.
“We give them opportunities to screw up,” says Camp Superintendent Mike Roots. “We hope they don’t—but sometimes it takes a while.”
The main goal of the camp is to prepare wards to return to their communities with a work ethic and job skills that will help them be productive members of society. But after a decade of juvenile realignment, Roots says that goal is getting harder to achieve.
King County, Washington Buys into Juvenile Justice and More; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Opinion: A Broken Juvenile Justice System (The Baltimore Sun)
Youthful offenders at Baltimore Detention Center won't be better off if the state builds a new $70 million juvenile jail; the whole policy of charging minors as adults needs rethinking.
- Times Editorial: Voters buy into Need for New Juvenile-Justice Center (The Seattle Times)
Voters rightly grasped that this proposal was not about new jail beds, but about a critical investment in a public service. The alternative, sinking an estimated $40 million into repairing the current buildings, was not the answer.
- Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Many Minors May Stay in Prison for Life (ProPublica)
Under the Supreme Court's ruling, minors can still get life without parole sentences — just not automatically after a conviction; instead a judge will need to decide, taking into account the minor's youth.
Nation's First Philanthropic Initiative Targeting Black Male Youth in the Juvenile Justice System Begins in Los Angeles
In November 2011, the California Community Foundation implemented a new $5 million, five-year initiative, BLOOM, aimed at helping Black male youth, ages 14-18, who are or have been involved with the L.A. County probation system, to find new paths to education and employment and away from the juvenile justice/delinquency system. BLOOM, which stands for "Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men," is the only major philanthropic initiative in the nation that is focused specifically on Black male youth in the justice/delinquency system. BLOOM's ultimate goal is to contribute to a 10 percent reduction in Black male youth supervised by the county probation system - approximately 480 youth.
Why This Initiative
The Community Foundation developed the BLOOM initiative in based on several underlying factors:
- The persistent poor outcomes for Black male youth related to economic opportunities, housing, education and emotional support;
- The strains caused to economic and social systems as a result of these poor outcomes;
- A growing awareness both locally and nationally among philanthropy, human and social service professionals and policy experts about the need to address the ongoing crisis facing Black men and boys; and
- An understanding that there are sufficient counter examples to suggest that the life chances of this population can be positively altered through effective policies and direct service interventions.