Blog: Evidence-Based Practices

Tough Times For Girls In Juvenile Justice System and More; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Kids Count Report Demonstrates New Jersey’s Successes In Juvenile Justice (NTToday.net)
    Advocates for Children of New Jersey today released a special juvenile justice Kids Count report entitled, “Measuring Change in New Jersey’s Treatment of Young Offenders.” The report details the successful reforms in juvenile justice since the implementation of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in New Jersey.
  • Tough Times For Girls In Juvenile Justice System (NPR.org)
    [AUDIO STORY] The number of boys locked up for crimes has dropped over the past decade, but the number of young women detained in jails and residential centers has moved in the other direction. Experts say girls make up the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice system, with more than 300,000 arrests and criminal charges every year.
  • Common Sense Discipline In Denver Schools (RightOnCrime.com)
    Between 2009 and 2011, enrollment in Denver schools rose six percent. But even with an increased number of students, expulsions dropped 44 percent, from 185 to 104. That’s because the school district has adopted alternatives to zero-tolerance, such as restorative justice and conflict resolution, which seek to defuse and resolve disciplinary issues before they rise to a level demanding expulsion.
  • South Dakota Counties Export Effective Juvenile Justice (RightOnCrime.com)
    Minnehaha and Pennington County, in South Dakota, have dropped juvenile detention rates by one-third and one-half, respectively, in just two years. Now the rest of the state is hoping to follow their lead.

7 Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice

A new article from the New York Law School Law Review examines the problems with the juvenile justice system and offers solutions for a more productive youth justice system. “When the Cure Makes You Ill: Seven Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice,” calls the extremity of youth justice to trial and shares statistics of the negative effects the system has on children.
Our current juvenile justice system is “iatrogenic,” says author Gabrielle Prisco. Being in the system worsens outcomes for troubled teens and more often than not, results in violence and recidivism -- the very same outcome it tries to remedy.
Prisco outlines seven core principles to change the course of youth justice:
Principle One: Treat Children as Children
Research shows children lack critical thinking skills and the ability to fully understand risk management. “The region of the brain that is the last to develop is the one that controls many of the abilities that govern goal-oriented, ‘rational’ decision-making, such as long-term planning, impulse control, insight, and judgment,” writes Prisco. Children who are incarcerated in an adult jail are thirty-six times more likely to commit suicide because they are not properly cared for in a youth facility, yet thirty-nine states in the United States presently allow juveniles to be tried in adult court and sentenced to life without the chance of parole (JLWOP). 

New Findings on Youth Brain Development and Decision Making

The National Juvenile Justice Network recently published new research exploring the significant differences in teens’ brains compared to adults’. The latest research, “Using Adolescent Brain Research to Inform Policy: A Guide for Juvenile Justice Advocates,” looks at specific areas of the brain and how they function when involved in particular activities and thinking. This has allowed researchers to learn a great deal about how teens and adults differ when using their brains.
Major findings from the report include:

  • Brain development takes place in stages and is not fully complete in adolescence. The frontal lobe, tasked with decision making, planning, judgement, expression of emotions and impulse control may not be fully mature until the mid-20s.
  • The limbic system, which helps to process and manage emotion, is also developing during adolescence. This causes adolescents to experience more mood swings and impulsive behavior than adults.
  • Levels of dopamine production shift during adolescence. As a result, activities that once were exciting to youth may not be so as they enter adolescence, and thus they may seek excitement through increasingly risky behavior.
  • When adolescents make choices involving risk, they do not engage the higher-thinking, decision-and reward areas of the brain as much as adults do. This can lead adolescents to actually overstate rewards without fully evaluating the long-term consequences or risks involved in a situation.

What's the Best Way to Train People to Use Evidence-Based Practices?

Psychologist Melanie Barwick is a co-author of “Training Health and Mental Health Professionals in Motivational Interviewing: A Systematic Review,” published in the September 2012 issue of the Children and Youth Services Review.
Barwick and her colleagues were curious about how evidence-based practices can be successfully implemented in service settings, including youth programs. The researchers reviewed 22 programs’ approaches to implementing an evidence-based practice called “motivational interviewing,” defined in their paper as “a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding [clients] to elicit and strengthen motivation for change.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barwick and her colleagues found that the practice is most successful when staff have in-depth, prolonged training on how to use it.
“Training that consisted of theory and discussion produced only a modest gain in knowledge,” they write.
“It was only when on-the-job coaching was added that large gains were seen in knowledge, ability to demonstrate the skills, and use of the new skills in the classroom.”

[NEW REPORT ] Underage Drinking: Practice Guidelines for Community Corrections

OJJDP’s October Juvenile Justice Bulletin examines underage drinking and offers evidence-based guidelines for screening and treating teen drinkers. OJJDP’s interest in promoting better treatment for underage drinking isn’t new--they’ve long understood the physical, neurological and legal consequences of underage drinking.
The Underage Drinking Bulletin series was created to help educate practitioners and policymakers about these issues and to provide evidence-based guidelines. Highlights from the 10 guidelines from this bulletin are included below:

  • Youth should be screened for alcohol problems regularly throughout their supervision. If they are found to be at risk for such problems, a substance abuse specialist should conduct a thorough assessment. Other assess­ments should identify youths’ risks, needs and assets.
  • Justice professionals should develop an individualized case plan for each youth.
  • Professionals should match interventions with a youth’s needs and assets. Youth’s progress and participation in programs should be monitored.
  • Family and social networks must support youth.
  • Youth should receive swift and certain sanctions for noncompliance with supervision conditions but should also receive positive reinforcement for constructive behaviors.

New Program Evaluation Report: What Works and What Doesn’t for Boys and Girls

Child Trends recently released two fact sheets examining practices that had positive, negative or neutral impacts on boys and girls: What Works for Female Children and Adolescents: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions and What Works for Male Children and Adolescents: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions.
Child Trends evaluated 115 random assignment intent-to-treat intervention programs for boys and 106 for girls, and published findings broken down in a number of outcome areas including Academic Achievement & School Engagement, Delinquency, Mental Health & Internalizing, Physical Health and Nutrition, Reproductive Health and Substance Abuse.
Overall, both boys and girls responded well to mentoring--this type of intervention showed positive results in academic achievement. However, boys and girls differed in several other areas. Via the boys’ report:

OJJDP Bulletin: Underage Drinking Still a Major Problem for Teens, Society

OJJDP posted findings from an underage drinking literature review in their September Juvenile Justice Bulletin. The review focuses on how drinking can affect teens’ mental and physical well being--highlights from the bulletin are included below (emphasis mine):

  • The human brain continues to develop until a person is around age 25. Underage drinking may impair this neurological development, causing youth to make irresponsible decisions, encounter memory lapses, or process and send neural impulses more slowly.
  • Underage drinking cost society $68 billion in 2007, or $1 for every drink consumed. This includes medical bills, income loss, and costs from pain and suffering.
  • In 2009, 19 percent of drivers ages 16–20 who were involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal adult limit (0.08).
  • Alcohol use encourages risky sexual behavior. Youth who drink may be more likely to have sex, become pregnant, or contract sexually transmitted diseases.

REPORT: “Boys Will Be Boys” (Unless They’re Black, In Which Case Lock them Up)

In “Criminalizing Normal Adolescent Behavior in Communities of Color: The Role of Prosecutors in Juvenile Justice Reform,” Kristin N. Henning focuses on the disparity of treatment of youth when race is a factor.
Youth have long held special status in the justice system. Teens tend to make questionable decisions which can lead to very negative outcomes, due to their difficulty weighing both short and long-term consequences. But, via the report:

As youth mature, they age out of delinquent behavior and rarely persist in a life of crime. Because children and adolescents are more malleable and amenable to rehabilitation than adults, the Supreme Court has recognized youth as a mitigating factor in the disposition of even the most serious criminal behavior by adolescents.

Director Appointed to Office of Adolescent Health

Evelyn M. Kappeler was appointed Monday from "acting" to permanent Director of the Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health.
Ms. Kappeler was first appointed in 2010 by the Assistant Secretary for Health to build and lead -- in an acting capacity --the newly funded Office of Adolescent Health (OAH). She established the office and implemented its signature $110 million grant program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy through the replication of evidence-based program models and research and demonstration projects.
Ms. Kappeler convened the Health and Human Services-wide Adolescent Health Working Group, a first of its kind collaboration among the many agencies and offices with interest in ensuring the health of adolescents and young adults.
The group focuses on their shared interests in promoting healthy social, emotional and physical development during adolescence to help teens grow into productive, healthy adults and reaching adolescents who are most in need of integrated, coordinated services and care.

PODCAST: Early Trauma, Teen Aggression and the Juvenile Justice System

In a recent podcast, Natalie Katz of Sage Publications interviewed Julian D. Ford, one of the authors of “Complex Trauma and Aggression in Secure Juvenile Justice Settings.” This study, written by John Chapman, Daniel F. Connor and Keith R. Cruise in addition to Ford, examines the relationship between trauma experienced by young people and aggressive behavior, especially in youths in the juvenile justice system.
Below you’ll find Natalie Katz’s main questions in bold, followed by my summary of Ford’s answers. You can also listen to the full podcast here (it’s about 15 minutes long).
What kinds of trauma are most often experienced by youths?
Most youths experience one traumatic event sometime in their childhoods. These events are very seriously threatening and fall into a few different categories:

  • Violation of bodily integrity
  • Violent trauma creating serious physical harm
  • Accidental trauma (driving collisions, falls, etc)

 

San Francisco's Community-Focused "Wraparound" Approach Reduces Recidivism

Last month, members of CJCJ’s Wraparound team had the honor of presenting to juvenile justice leaders from select California counties at the Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative (PYJI) Speaker Series. Juvenile Justice Clinical Supervisor, Margaret Hitchcock and Wrap Rehabilitation Counselor, Randell Lewis, were joined by CJCJ’s Executive Director, Daniel Macallair, San Francisco Deputy Director of Juvenile Probation, Allison Magee, and Statewide expert on EPSDT and Wraparound funds, Joseph Harrington. As one of California’s model counties, the San Francisco collaborative was invited by Sierra Health Foundation to discuss its community-based wraparound approach toward serving high-needs youth.

(Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative - Applying a Community‐Based Wraparound Approach from Youth Empowerment Studios on Vimeo.)
This wraparound model would not be effective without the collaboration between the San Francisco Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, other county departments and community-based nonprofits. As a result of this collaboration, San Francisco has seen a dramatic reduction in recidivism since implementation of the Wraparound program in 2009.

New CASA Columbia Study Reports Inadequate Treatment for Addiction

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) released a new five-year national study on addiction treatment, finding that despite overwhelming evidence that addiction is a disease, treatment options don’t follow the same methodologies that we currently use to treat other diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions. Treatments for each of these diseases of course differ, but doctors still use the same process of evidence-based diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment.
Although addiction to nicotine, alcohol and other substances affects over 40 million Americans--more than cancer, diabetes and heart conditions--most medical professionals aren’t qualified to treat addiction. The study found youth who begin smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before the age of 21 are at higher risk for addiction. In 96.5 percent of cases, addiction originated with substance use before the age of 21 when the brain is still developing. Via the press release:

“The report finds that while doctors routinely screen for a broad range of health problems like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, they rarely screen for risky substance use or signs of addiction and instead treat a long list of health problems that result, including accidents, unintended pregnancies, heart disease, cancers and many other costly conditions without examining the root cause.”

A Regional Approach to Helping Native Youth Beat Substance Abuse Addiction

The Indian Health Service funds 11 regional centers across the country that treat Native youth with substance abuse problems. We spoke to Skye Bass, an Indian Health Service (IHS) public health specialist, about the culturally specific approach used by the Youth Regional Treatment Centers.
NCFY: What do the IHS-funded Youth Regional Treatment Centers offer Native youth that can’t be found in other substance abuse treatment centers?
Bass: The Indian Health Service-funded treatment centers are unique due to the fact that emphasis on American Indian and Alaska Native culture is a central component of treatment.
This emphasis is reflected in most, if not all, aspects of programming, including the design and location of the centers; Indian preference in staff hiring; holistic program components, such as family involvement, spiritual ceremonies, and a focus on healing and coping with grief; and finally, the affirmation of cultural identity, norms of sobriety, and personal responsibility to one’s Tribe and community.

Join the 6/26 Twitter Chat on Bullying

On Tuesday, June 26th, the Advancement Project, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Alliance for Educational Justice are hosting a Twitter chat on bullying. In particular, they will explore strategies that schools can take to end bullying. They will also discuss zero-tolerance and school-to-prison pipeline policies.
The three organizations are also releasing a policy report on bullying and zero-tolerance disciplinary measures.
To join the conversation, use the #bullychat hashtag on Twitter and RSVP on Facebook for the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time.

New Financing Tool for Social Programs Opens Doors for Juvenile Justice

Identifying the best programs for solving serious social problems is challenging for governments in the best of times, and all the more so in a constrained fiscal environment where every dollar must count. This is particularly true in areas like juvenile justice where the most effective interventions may involve combining approaches that governments currently support through separate funding streams—and where politicians’ personal views may steer disproportionate amounts of funds to programs that sound good on paper but don’t deliver results.
But an innovative new financing tool called Social Impact Bonds may help solve some of these challenges. Social Impact Bonds, or SIBs, take traditional government funding structures and turn them on their head. Instead of paying costs upfront for a prescribed set of services, SIBs allow governments to define outcomes they want to achieve—and not pay a dime if those goals are not met.
At their core, Social Impact Bonds are a straightforward concept. A SIB is an arrangement between one or more government agencies and an external organization where the government specifies an outcome or set of outcomes they want to achieve and promises to pay that external organization a pre-agreed sum if it is able to accomplish the outcome(s). For a SIB agreement to work, the contracting agencies must place few, if any, controls on how the external organization seeks to achieve the outcome. This allows the external organization to use a combination of approaches to achieve the outcome.

Liveblogging Shay Bilchik at PSU: Improving Systemic Coordination and Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

Shay Bilchik (founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute) is at Portland State University this afternoon to discuss the juvenile justice system. I'll be liveblogging his talk here, so tune in!
"If We Knew Then, What We Know Now: Implications for Juvenile Justice Policy in America"
4:45pm Dr. David Springer (upcoming Dean of PSU's School of Social Work): I've had the pleasure of serving with Shay on a juvenile justice panel in Austin about a year ago, and we're all in for a real treat.
4:50pm Bilchik: We're launching work with Multnomah and Marion counties' juvenile justice systems...
Oregon has demonstrated a vision that shows the possibility of serving children and families in a great way. The multi-system juvenile justice system here is the best in the country. 
4:55pm Bilchik: We're primed to build a better and smarter juvenile justice system. It's no longer just the juvenile justice field, youth development field, education fields.. we're now working across systems. As Dr. Laura Nissen says, "these are boundary founders" who are working across multiple fields. To put it simply, we want to provide love, opportunity and hope to the children who come in contact with the juvenile justice system.
5:05pm Bilchik: We need to make sure that none of our children fall through the cracks and too often we don't do that. Too often these kids are without power (living in impoverished communities) and kids of color.
So what would we have done differently if we knew then what we know now?

Takeaways from Oklahoma: Cultural Sensitivity and Evidence-Based Practices Matter

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Reclaiming Futures Cherokee Nation site in Oklahoma. I am especially impressed by how committed the team members are to not only serving the youth of the Cherokee Nation, but also to helping them connect with their cultural heritage.
I had a couple of key takeaways:

  • Cultural sensitivity is key: As Treatment Fellow Lori Medina mentions in her video, the Cherokee Nation site has unique cultural challenges in working with local teens. Being able to fully understand and relate to Native American culture has allowed the site to truly connect with troubled kids and make sure they are on the path to rehabilitation and success. There is a particular focus on learning how to make Native American crafts and participating in cultural events, which not only teaches the kids a marketable trade, but also helps them to connect to their heritage and community.
     
  • Evidence-based practices are crucial: Project Director Jennifer Kirby is a big supporter of using evidence-based practices to improve treatment for troubled teens. As Jennifer explains in her video, the Reclaiming Futures model provides them with the tools to better assess troubled youth at intake. This allows them to make better-informed recommendations for treatment and services, which leads to stronger outcomes.

 

Felony: A response to cigarettes & cell phones in Georgia youth detention

Juvenile Justice Reform

Adolecscent Substance Abuse Treatment

New National Poll: Strong Support for Youth Rehabilitation Over Incarceration and More -- News Roundup

  • New National Poll: Strong Support for Youth Rehabilitation Over Incarceration
    Poll highlights critical and timely information on youth in the justice system, showing overwhelming public support for treatment and rehabilitation of youth over incarceration and automatic prosecution in adult criminal court. This survey, a sample of 1,000 American adults, was commissioned by the Campaign for Youth Justice.
  • Sustainability: Impact Beyond Grant Programs
    These slides and guides from Pennsylvania State University are very helpful for juvenile justice programs and prevention work. (Hat tip to Paul Savery)
  • Feds Tell California Marijuana Dispensaries to Shut Down
    U.S. attorneys say they will prosecute landlords who rent space to operators of medical marijuana dispensaries. The attorneys said they suspect these dispensaries of using the state’s medical marijuana law to profit from large-scale drug sales.

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.

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