Blog: Juvenile Court

Roundup: No, Girls Aren't Getting Meaner and Kids Entering the Justice System Aren't Getting Younger

juvenile-justice-system-news_old-TVNews - Juvenile Justice System and Alcohol and Drugs

Tribal Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: 4 Grants from OJJDP

juvenile-justice-system-funding_Ute-Tribal-Police-decalI wasn't kidding when I said yesterday that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is putting out a lot of grant opportunities for kids in the juvenile justice system.  Here's four more, this time focused on tribal youth:

Juvenile Justice Reform: DOJ Report on Delays in Case Processing

juvenile-justice-reform_delays-in-youth-justice_skeletonDid you know that juveniles don't have the right to a speedy trial under the U.S. Constitution? (Adults do.)
But given teens' developmental need for a clear connection between their behavior and its consequences -- not to mention the importance of addressing the needs of victims -- it's important for their cases to be processed as quickly as possible. 
Yet the time it took juvenile courts to process cases went up by 10% between 1995 and 2004, even though the number of cases dropped eight percent during the same time period. Obviously, that's not good. 
What's going on? For answers, check out a new Department of Justice (DOJ) report, Delays in Youth Justice, by Jeffrey Butts, Gretchen Ruth Cusick, and Benjamin Adams. It was produced under the auspices of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Positive Youth Development: The World of Learning, Imagination, and Entertainment

juvenile-justice-system_book-artwork[The following post is by an attorney who works with the Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) program at the Reclaiming Futures site in Bristol County, MA. It's reposted with permission of the author and publisher from the CLTL Blog, Changing Lives, Changing Minds. You can learn more about Bristol County's experience with the program here. -Ed.]
A former colleague (an assistant district attorney) recently asked me if I was still involved with Judge Kane’s “bleeding heart book club.” We both laughed. In a more serious vein, he went on to ask whether I thought he might enjoy it, because he was approaching retirement and might have some time to – and it sounds like a cliché but really isn’t – “give back to the community.”

Juvenile Justice Reform Video: Reclaiming Futures Works

Click on the video above to hear the story of one teen struggling with substance abuse in juvenile court at the Reclaiming Futures site in Montgomery County (Dayton), OH, and how Reclaiming Futures made a difference in her life.
Watch it now and share it with your colleagues! It's moving, informative, and extremely well-done.
We're grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for making the video. Congratulations to Judge Anthony Capizzi and Reclaiming Futures project director Charlotte McGuire and their entire team for all of their great work. 

Families in Power: a Guide to Organizing on Juvenile Justice Reform

[The following column appeared in the February 2010 Campaign for Youth Justice e-newsletter, and is reprinted with permission. It has been edited slightly to incorporate hyperlinks into the text. - Ed.]
juvenile-justice-reform-family-organizing_CFYJ-GuideThe Campaign for Youth Justice recently released a guide for families who want to do something to change the foolish and ineffective practice of trying our children as adults. Our new guide is entitled, "Families in Power: Family Guide to Networking, Coalition Building, Organizing and Campaign Building."  The guide provides basic information about how families and allies can begin to organize themselves and others to change  transfer practices and other overly punitive policies that negatively affect our children and our communities. 

Here is one highlight from this new guide:

The first step in creating powerful families and organizing others is developing a way to talk about your issue with a wide variety of audiences.  Many organizers refer to this as your "rap."  Your rap about the transfer of children into the adult correctional and court systems should be your 30-second commercial that is designed to open up dialogue with others.  It should include: a fact or two about youth transfer in order to educate people who may not know about transfer laws, why this is issue is important to you, and what you need from the person you are talking to.  Be sure you have your facts down and that they are accurate.  There are several fact sheets on the Campaign's website that can help you easily identify important facts.  The best fact sheet to use summarizes the findings of CFYJ's Jailing Juveniles report and speaks to the danger children face in jails every day in this country.   

Roundup: Justice Department Launches Indigent Defense Program; Justice Policy Institute Slams Obama's Justice Budget; NIDA "Blending" Science and Service Conference; and More

juvenile-justice-system-news_old-TVJuvenile Justice System and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Representing Juvenile Status Offenders - A Guide from the American Bar Association

juvenile-court_juvenile-status-offenders-reportEvery year, thousands of kids (disproportionately girls and youth of color) end up in the juvenile justice system not because they've committed a crime, but because they're runaways, skipping school, or are simply hard to control. While these "status offenders" and their families need services -- and it can be tempting to detain them in order to protect them -- it's important to minimze their contact with the juvenile justice system, as research has shown that contact with the juvenile justice system can increase their risk to  recidivate.
But despite the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which has a core requirement focused on discouraging detention of juvenile status offenders, status offenders are handled differently by each state, and sometimes quite aggressively. Now, the American Bar Association (ABA) has published Representing Juvenile Status Offenders, an excellent resource for attorneys who represent them. 

BJA Grants for Collaborative Projects between Juvenile Justice and Mental Health

Want to address mental health issues in your juvenile court?
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications that demonstrate a collaborative
project between criminal justice and mental health partners from eligible applicants to plan,
implement, or expand a justice and mental health collaboration program.
Grants will be targeted at anyone -- juvenile or adult -- who:

  • Has been diagnosed as having a mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorder; and
  • Has faced, are facing, or could face criminal charges for a misdemeanor or nonviolent offense.

A Leadership Institute for Juvenile Justice Advocates

juvenile-justice-reform-leadership-institute_NJJN-logo[UPDATE: According to the NJJN, the Institute must be postponed until 2011. If you want to participate -- or be involved in the planning -- email Annie Balck. - Ed.] 
Anyone who has worked in the juvenile justice knows how hard it is to recruit, organize, and train advocates from the community to implement juvenile justice reform. But we also know they're out there. 
Fortunately, the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is here to help.
This summer, the NJJN is offering its first ever Juvenile Justice Leadership Development Institute. They want to

create the foundation for a more effective juvenile justice reform movement by developing a strong base of well prepared and well trained advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies, with a particular focus on cultivating and supporting leaders of color, youth and family members.

The Institute will be held in New Orleans July 11-16, and will include a year of distance learning and being mentored.  Applications are due March 12, 2010. NJJN will pay transportation to and from New Orleans for those who get accepted to the program.

Juvenile Courts: Working with the Media - Lessons from the CJJ Southern Regional Conference

juvenile-justice-reform-media_media-guruWant to get some expert pointers on how to talk to the media about juvenile justice issues? 
Then check out the presentations from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice's(CJJ) Southern Regional conference. Held January 29-31 in Charleston, SC, the conference focused on working with the media to promote juvenile justice reform and to strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act's (JJDPA) four core requirements.
On the conference web page, you can find:

  • the conference agenda;
  • a presentation from Judge Steve Teske of Clayton County, GA, offering pointers on working with the media;
  • a presentation on how Jefferson County, AL successfully worked to reduce court referrals from Birmingham schools by a whopping 84% (this collaborative effort also had a media strategy);
  • a presentation from Linda O'Neal of the Frameworks Institute on how framing the message correctly is necessary to get members of the public to care about teens in the juvenile justice system; and
  • an overview by Tara Andrews, deputy director of CJJ, of key talking points with regard to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

Involvement in Juvenile Court - the ABA's Collateral Consequences Project

The American Bar Association (ABA) Criminal Justice Section's on-going effort to catalog the far-reaching effects of juvenile adjudications or convictions continues apace, with a large body of research already completed, and more data being collected every day. 
What Are "Collateral Consequences?

"Collateral consequences" are adverse results stemming from an arrest, prosecution, or conviction, but are not part of the sentence.
For example, although a juvenile who was adjudicated delinquent at 14 may have completed her sentence, she may be unable to gain admission to a professional school later on in life, or have difficulty finding public housing. Often, collateral consequences can impact a juvenile's family members; depending on the child's offense, for example, an entire family may be evicted from public housing.

National Mentoring Month, Plus a Positive Youth Development Policy Platform

juvenile-court-mentors_mentor-plus-youth-photoNational Mentoring Month in Reclaiming Futures Hocking County

Last Thursday was Thank Your Mentor Day, and the Reclaiming Futures site in Hocking County, OH was featured in the Logan Daily News for promoting it. Their goal is to promote mentoring for youth involved with juvenile court who have alcohol and drug issues.
Like many other juvneile courts, Hocking County has found a lack of local mentors and mentoring programs serving court-involved youth. So they've allocated $10,000 in grant money to promote one-on-one mentoring with teens in the justice system. The grant is from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
But if you missed Thank Your Mentor Day -- I'm afraid I did -- it's not too late. The whole month of January is National Mentoring Month. Check out the website for ideas and information. 

2010 Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference: Call for Presentations

juvenile-justice-reform-conference_CJJ-logoThe 2010 Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) conference is fast approaching: it'll be held April 9-13, in Washington, D.C. The theme? "Ensuring School Engagement and Success for Youth At-Risk."
Interested in presenting? CJJ will be selecting twelve 75-minute presentations for the breakout sessions. You can learn more here. Deadline for presentation proposals is February 19th. 
Also, we've created a web page about the conference that you can bookmark. It will be updated as more information about registration and the conference agenda becomes available.

Juvenile Justice: OJJDP and BJA Grants for Reentry Demonstration Projects

juvenile-justice-system-reentry-grants_handwritingGrants Available for Juvenile Reentry Projects

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance are requesting applications for adult and juvenile reentry demonstration grants under the 2007 Second Chance Act.
Grants may be made for either adult or juvenile reentry projects, may amount to as much as $750,000, and could last anywhere from one to three years, depending on a variety of factors. The emphasis will be on providing comprehensive services to offenders vs. a single program; collaboration between agencies will be favored.
The deadline to apply is March 10, 2010.

Image by JKim1.

Confidentiality for Teens in Drug Treatment

juvenile-justice-confdientiality-consent-privacy-guidebook.jpgSuppose you provide alcohol and drug treatment to teens.
What do you do if the mother of an adolescent patient is demanding to see her son’s treatment records, but the son doesn't want your program to discuss his treatment with his mother or to share any records with her?
How do you deal with the relapse of a young teen-age patient? Can your program contact the patient's parents?  Must you?

Strength-Based Focus, Positive Youth Development and Rekindling Hope

strength-based-positive-youth-development-hope-mailbox.jpg"Strength-based” and “developmentally appropriate” models are frequently mentioned and often encouraged throughout justice and treatment programming for young people. But between managed care mandates, budget cuts and staffing reductions, the reality is that one’s strength-based mindset and focus on youth development can sometimes be lost. So as we build and protect improved systems of care and opportunity for young people (as Reclaiming Futures tries to do), how do we assure that we maintain a rigorous focus on strength-based approaches for diverse groups of youth, families, organizations, and communities?

Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) just released a new report entitled America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice.
The report examines the most recent information available about Latino youth in the justice system, with a particular focus on youth tried as adults. The report finds that Latino youth are treated more harshly by the justice system than white youth, for similar offenses, at all stages in the justice system -- and it has recommendations for policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. 
Representatives from the NCLR and CFYJ will discuss this report on Latino teens and the justice system and take questions from the public in a podcast to be held on Thursday, May 21st, airing at 4:30pm EST/ 1:30 pm PST.