After a decade of expensive reforms, California's youth detention centers could close
Henry Hernandez served half of his two years in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice at the Preston Youth Correctional Facility. The initial intake dorm he stayed in was overcrowded with more than 60 youth from rival gangs fighting everyday, he said. Fights of more than five guys at a time broke out almost every week. The guards would use pepper spray or gas bombs to get things under control.
“There would be so much tension,” Hernandez said.
Pictures of kids in cages at what was then called California Youth Authority facilities adorned the front pages of California newspapers in the early 2000s. Media stories in the first half of that decade charged the Youth Authority with a range of abuses, including unlicensed medical and mental health treatment, and extreme use of force and solitary confinement.
Reforms to the juvenile justice system then reduced the population of the Youth Authority, now called the Division of Juvenile Justice, by 88% over the past decade.
Today, DJJ handles less than one percent of the 225,000 youths arrested in California each year.
Almost all the youth left in DJJ, about 1,200 people, are serious violent juvenile offenders or serious sex offenders, according to DJJ reports.
Last Thursday Gov Brown suggested eliminating DJJ altogether in his proposed budget plan. If the Legislature passes the plan the responsibility for these youth would shift back to the counties.
But even if the budget doesn’t pass as proposed there is a possibility that DJJ will close, and these serious juvenile offenders will be sent to state prison with adults.
Kate Middleton’s new cause: addiction & recovery, plus more -- news roundup
- Behind California’s Governor’s plan to close state’s juvenile justice system
The Bay Citizen:
For the second time in one year, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed permanently closing the Division of Juvenile Justice, a move that would make California the first state in the nation to eliminate its youth prison system and shift responsibility for the most dangerous young offenders to counties.
- Kate Middleton’s new cause: addiction and recovery
Eight months after wedding England's Prince William, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton), has revealed she will become a patron of the British charity Action on Addiction, which supports research, prevention and treatment of addiction, support for addicts' families and the education and training of those working in the field.
- Data: OJJDP releases delinquency cases in juvenile court fact sheet
This new fact sheet from the OJJDP presents statistics on delinquency cases processed between 1985 and 2008 by U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction for public order, person and property offenses and drug law violations.
- Funding Award: Everychild gives $1 million to juvenile justice center
Centinela Youth Services, Inc. has been named the recipient of the $1 million 2012 Everychild Foundation grant. The funds will launch and sustain a restorative justice center across the street from three Los Angeles juvenile courts over a three-year period.
- Delayed by months, suicide-proof beds still not in cells at youth prison
An Illinois youth prison still does not have suicide-proof beds in rooms where kids on suicide watch are held. The installation has been plagued by delays.
- Some juvenile cases to revert to youth court after adult court sets penalty
A new law in Ohio will send juveniles convicted of a non-mandatory offense in adult court to juvenile court before any adult sentence is served. This will allow the juvenile court another opportunity to determine whether the offender can be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
- Assaults, crowding plague Maryland’s youth detention facility
Price George’s County youth detention facility remains plagued by assaults, security lapses, crowding and understaffing, according to a new report.
- Georgia lawmaker makes juvenile justice reform top priority
Rep. Wendall Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said one of his priorities for the session is to reform the state’s juvenile justice system. “Our juvenile code has not been really updated in 40 years,” Willard said. “I think we maybe lock them up too quickly instead of trying to find ways in the community to address problems they’re facing.”
- Op-ed: Keep teens out of adult criminal court
Chicago Times: Illinois needs to change the law so that children and teenagers cannot be charged as adults when the only evidence against them is an unreliable, uncorroborated confession. And when DNA evidence is available, it should be tested before any juvenile is transferred to adult court.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- Scarcity of ADHD drugs points to larger problem
In what the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls a "cause for alarm," abuse of prescription stimulants is also becoming more prevalent in high school. An institute survey of 45,000 students found abuse of stimulants had increased among high school seniors, from 6.6% to 8.2%, just in the last two years.
Locking up kids who have committed no crime could cost Georgia millions in federal funds
Every week, Georgia locks up juveniles who’ve committed no crime. A new study contends Georgia risks losing millions of dollars in federal funding if it continues doing so at the current rate.
They are runaways, truants, curfew violators, underage smokers and drinkers. They’re called status offenders because their actions are only an issue due to their status as juveniles; if an adult did the same thing, it wouldn’t be a crime.
Now, a report commissioned by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families warns that the practice could cost the state about $2 million a year in federal funding, particularly if Congress follows through with plans to tighten guidelines for placing status offenders in secure detention.
The report, authored by Anthony Simones, a criminal justice professor at Dalton State College, and Sandra S. Stone, the school’s vice president of academic affairs.
In 1974, Congress prohibited states from holding status offenders behind bars other than for the few hours just before and after a court hearing. An exception, though, allows states to lock up juveniles who violate a valid court order.
2011's top 10 stories on juvenile justice and adolescent substance abuse
Here are our top 10 stories on juvenile justice and adolescent substance abuse from 2011:
#10. School Superintendent to Governor: Please make my school a prison
A Michigan public school superintendent asked the state's Governor to classify his school as a prison in order to receive additional funding for his students.
#9. School-to-prison pipeline: Why school discipline is the key (video) and what to do about it
We took a look at school disciplinary policies and Connecticut's efforts to disrupt the pipeline and educate its kids.
#8. House Appropriations Committee eliminates most juvenile justice funding
John Kelly took a look at a bill before the House of Representatives that would eliminate most federal spending for juvenile justice activities.
#7. SAMHSA changes substance abuse and mental health block grants - your comments (still) needed!
SAMHSA revamped its block grant applications for substance abuse and mental health treatment and asked for comments on proposed changes.
#6. Adolescent substance abuse: "bath salts" an emerging risk
We warned about the emerging use of "bath salts" as stimulants and the DEA's reaction against them.
Generic anti-bullying classes found to be ineffective and more -- news roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- California counties to pay the state $125,000 to house juvenile offenders
California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state has to pull the trigger on a series of mid-year budget cuts due to low tax revenues. One of those reductions shaves $67 million from the state’s juvenile justice budget. The cut will force counties to foot the bill for Juvenile Justice wards in state custody, at a cost of $125,000 per youth. Alameda County could be put in a $6.2 million bind.
- Kentucky looks for better way to help young offenders
Kentucky officials are looking for better ways to deal with youth who commit noncriminal offenses such as skipping school or running away. Research shows that detaining status offenders is the least effective and most expensive option. State leaders admit the system needs improvement.
- Oregon will stop holding juvenile offenders in adult prison
After federal auditors questioned the practice, Oregon has stopped temporarily holding youth in adult prisons. The Partnership for Safety and Justice, which works on criminal justice issues, won legislation in the 2011 session to encourage local authorities to hold youth in juvenile facilities while they await trial.
- New Report: Generic anti-bullying classes found to be ineffective
OJJDP has issued a report in which bullying in schools is examined and recommendations are made for the best ways schools can provide support to bullying victims. The study found generic curriculum is an ineffective substitute for student-focused engagement strategies.
- Ohio Courts use internet for greater connectivity
Ohio’s Coshocton County’s Common Pleas Court, Juvenile and Probate Court and Municipal Court are using the internet to share information more easily with the public and other courts. The Common Pleas Court launched a searchable database for the public that features basic information on open and closed cases with the court.
- South Carolina law enforcement officers complete DJJ gang, violence prevention training
Recognizing that many kids face significant pressure to join a gang, the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice has partnered with the Gang Resistance Education and Training program in multiple communities across the state to bring the curriculum to local elementary and middle school youth.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- New government program aims to protect children from accidental drug overdoses
A new government program aims to protect young children from accidental drug overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the “Up and Away and Out of Sight” program, to teach parents how to keep medications out of the hands of young children.
Sheriff investigator makes a difference in kids’ lives and more -- news roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- South Carolina County Sheriff investigator makes a difference in kids’ lives
Richland County sheriff investigator Cassie Radford is working hard to get troubled kids the services they need and to keep them out of jail. The grant that funds Radford's position is in its third year and ends Sept. 30. Richland County prosecutors and judges hope Sheriff Leon Lott finds a way to keep Radford in her position.
- Missouri juvenile office to use electronic monitoring
The expense of sending Linn County’s juvenile offenders elsewhere, coupled with the strict criteria that must be met to detain a juvenile, has prompted the Linn County Juvenile Office to obtain electronic monitoring equipment. Without a juvenile detention center of its own, the Linn County Juvenile Office has been forced to pay the expense of transporting offenders as well as the cost for a bed in Kirksville’s Bruce Normile Juvenile Justice Center.
- New goal for Illinois juvenile center: Clear it out
Cook County’s Board President is advocating a new approach for the county’s juvenile justice system: empty the juvenile detention facility by putting children in group homes, monitored home confinement and other community-based programs where advocates say young people have better opportunities for counseling, job training and other life-skill instruction.
- Kentucky launches pilot program to decrease juvenile detentions
Henderson schools, law enforcement and court officials joined forces with the state to examine why so many teens were being incarcerated. They came up with a pilot program to combat the issue. It includes asking schools to deal with small offenses, instituting a mentor program and encouraging teachers and school officials to meet to review statistics on disciplinary action.
- Washington, DC’s juvenile justice system sees real change
As part of sweeping reforms, DC’s Oak Hill was closed in 2009 and replaced by a smaller and dramatically different facility named New Beginnings Youth Development Center. Youth Radio interviewed DC Lawyers for Youth executive director Daniel Okonkwo about Oak Hill’s impact on DC’s juvenile justice system.
- Wisconsin critics: Stop treating 17-year-olds as adults
Wisconsin is one of 13 states that automatically place 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system. In the past few years, almost one-third of states have passed laws to keep more young offenders in the juvenile justice system. Now officials and families are calling on the state to place 17-year-olds in juvenile facilities, mainly for their own safety.
- Benton County’s juvenile center nearly finished
Arkansas’ Benton County's Juvenile Justice Center is nearly complete, with part of the $6 million complex scheduled to open in January. The new facility is twice as large as the current one and will include classrooms and a courtroom in addition to holding cells.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- Two key questions are focus of new teen alcohol screener for pediatricians
A new alcohol screening tool that focuses on two key questions is designed to help pediatricians spot children and adolescents at risk for alcohol-related problems. The doctor asks about the patient’s own drinking, as well as his or her friends’ alcohol use.
Are you eligible for a Second Chance Act grant? And more -- news roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Mississippi officials say more youth rehab facilities are needed
Government officials in Mississippi say that a growing number of youth arrested for crimes are becoming repeat offenders because rehabilitation is not available.
- Iowa Governor visits state’s largest child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agencies
Governor Terry Branstad is interested in the concept of providing children and families with treatment, utilizing a long-term, comprehensive approach, rather than the standard short-term solution.
- Detroit tackles dropout crisis by engaging students and parents
Over the next 18 months, PBS NewsHour is examining the consequences of, and solutions for, one of this country's most pressing education issues.
- Wyoming’s Natrona County earns recognition for juvenile justice progress
The State Advisory Council on Juvenile Justice and Gov. Matt Mead's office honored Natrona county officials for developing a system that offers alternatives to detention for low-risk offenders, cutting its use of secure detention for status offenses like underage drinking by 99%.
- Feds: Florida’s youth prisons are “dangerous”
Florida’s youth-corrections system is so poorly administered and conditions are so severe that the U.S. Department of Justice said that they violate the Constitution.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- Massachusetts theatre company receives federal grant to work with youth
The Salem Theatre Company was recently awarded a grant from the Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project, a program of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to work with local youth. They plan to create three short plays focused on healthy choices with regards to nutrition, substance abuse and youth violence.
New guide helps identify youth at risk and more -- news roundup
- OJJDP launches DMC virtual resource center
This online forum provides Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) coordinators, state advisory group members, and other juvenile justice professionals with tools to exchange ideas, share trainings and communicate about new practice standards.
- Treatment Center alters schedule in response to adolescent sleep data
Because sleep can affect a teen's mood and emotional self-control, Rosecrance Health Network, the largest adolescent treatment center in Illinois, restructured their program to reduce patients’ sleep deficit. Outcomes are encouraging.
- Update: Illinois juvenile prisons
Conditions in Illinois juvenile prisons are improving, according to a report by the John Howard Association on Illinois, but problems of overcrowding, lack of education and inadequate staffing linger.
- New guide helps identify youth at risk for alcohol-related problems
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has released Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. This free tool can help healthcare professionals identify youth at risk for alcohol-related problems, counsel or advise them, and connect them to external sources of treatment. It contains a risk assessment survey and links to motivational interviewing resources.
Improving State Juvenile Justice Systems and More -- News Roundup
- Why Are All the Black Kids in Special Ed?
Minority students (and especially Black students) are disproportionately diagnosed with disabilities and placed in special education or lowest-level courses. The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia makes the case for seeking a second opinion.
- Lasting Drop in Smoking, Delinquency, Drug Use
Study shows that tenth-graders in towns using Communities That Care, a prevention system developed by University of Washington researchers, are less likely to have tried drinking or smoking compared with teens living in towns that had not adopted the system. Delinquent behavior, including stealing, vandalism and physical fights, decreased too.
- Kids-for-Cash Sentencing Set for November 4
Robert J. Powell, the former co-owner of two juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania who testified he paid kickbacks to two judges, may serve 21 to 27 months in prison for failing to report a felony and abetting tax evasion.
Scholarships, Data and More: Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Treatment News Roundup
- Scholarships for Judges Managing Challenging Family Law
This training is co-sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National Judicial College, October 24-27, 2011, in Reno, Nevada. The scholarships would cover the $985 tuition fee and the participant would be responsible for the $245 conference fee as well as their own travel expenses.
- National Geographic Examines the Teenage Brain
Excitement, Novelty and Risk: A strength-based look at adolescence as a highly functional, even adaptive period.
- OJJDP Bulletin Examines State Juvenile Transfer Laws
In the 1980s and 1990s, legislatures in nearly every state expanded transfer laws that allowed or required the prosecution of juveniles in adult criminal courts. This bulletin, which is part of the Juvenile Offenders and Victims National Report Series, provides the latest overview of state transfer laws and practices and examines available state-level data on juveniles adjudicated in the criminal justice system.