Blog: Juvenile Justice Reform

Our Top 10 Stories on Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Substance Abuse - Part 1

reclaiming-futures-turns-1-birthday-cakeThe Reclaiming Futures blog turns one year old today!
To celebrate a great first year of sharing news, conversation, and resources related to juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance abuse, and (of course) Reclaiming Futures, I've pulled together a list of our top 10 most popular stories.
Today, I'll post five of them, in reverse order of popularity:
#10. Six Tips for Engaging Families in Juvenile Justice System Reform and Advocacy - Involving families is always a struggle for juvenile justice systems. So in this post, Grace Bauer, Field Organizer for the Campaign for Youth Justice, tells you how you can get it done. 

CSG Justice Center Launches National Reentry Resource Center

juvenile-justice-system-reentry-resource-center-logoOn October 1, 2009,the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center launched the National Reentry Resource Center—an unprecedented initiative to advance the safe and successful return of individuals from correctional facilities to their communities.
What is the CSG Justice Center?

The CSG Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies--informed by available evidence--to increase public safety and strengthen communities.
The National Reentry Resource Center will continue the CSG Justice Center's commitment to collaboration and will draw on the experience and expertise of its many valued partner organizations, as well as its own work in the field. Among CSG's past contributions is the 2005 landmark report of its Reentry Policy Council—the result of work by 100 of the most respected workforce, health, housing, public safety, family, community, and victim experts in the country.

Roundup: Reclaiming Futures in Action; California Mulls Legalizing (and Taxing) Marijuana; and More

juvenile-justice-reform-adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment-news-TVJuvenile Justice Reform Stories

Free Webinar: Anti-Oppressive Practice Basics

What is "Anti-Oppressive Practice"?

It's an emerging framework to advance attention to diversity and social justice in the way community systems and services operate.
In this free webinar, Dr. Laura Nissen and Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens will explain the evolution of cultural competence frameworks and their impact on the fields of substance abuse treatment, justice and others.
The presenters will identify how concepts of oppression, privilege and disparities impact the way in which services are constructed and successes are measured. And finally, the presenters will identify selected tools to increase anti-oppressive practice specific to the Reclaiming Futures initiative.

Nearly $3.7 Million in Federal Funds Awarded to Help New Reclaiming Futures Sites Turn Teen Lives Around

New federal funding has been awarded to expand the Reclaiming Futures model into three more juvenile drug courts across the country over the next four years.
The nearly $3.7 million federal investment was announced by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF is providing approximately $1 million in additional technical assistance to implement the Reclaiming Futures model.

Juvenile Justice Reform: Most Minor Delinquents Diverted from the Juvenile Justice System Avoid Reoffending

[Full disclosure: I used to work for Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice (DCJ), where the study Jason writes about below was done. I'd be very interested in posting about data and studies done on youth in the juvenile justice system in other jurisdictions. --Ed.]

juvenile-justice-reform-recidivism-data-informal-slideDiverting Youth with Low-Level Offenses Reduced Crime

New research out of Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice (DCJ) shows that most young people who are kept out of the formal juvenile justice system do not reoffend. Among 271 young people, nearly eight out of ten who received no formal supervision did not reoffend within a year.
Of this group, two years out, 75 percent had not been referred by police or the district attorney for a criminal offense. When they did reoffend, it was for less serious offenses most of the time.  

Roundup: Possible Nominee for OJJDP Chief; Chicago's Unusual Anti-Violence Plan; Heritage Foundation Study Challenges Juvenile LWOP Stats

juvenile-justice-adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment-news-TVJuvenile Justice Reform and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Juvenile Justice Reform: Fixing the Information Mismatch

[This topic of this column is so critical to reform of the juvenile justice system, we've reprinted it in its entirety from the Criminal Justice blog of with their kind permission. It originally appeared under the title, "Fixing the Information Mismatch in Juvenile Justice." --Ed.]
In 2007. I met a soft-spoken young man whom we will call “Ivan.” Almost everyday, he wore a large sweatshirt with cats and dogs on it. When I asked him if he liked animals, his face lit up and he told me that his dream was to become a veterinarian. He really loved taking care of animals, he said, and he was especially good with dogs. 
I knew Ivan because he was in the Bronx Family Court on a delinquency proceeding for allegedly throwing water on his teacher’s laptop at school. Ivan said it was an accident, although his teacher didn’t think so.
While awaiting a finding in his case, Ivan was successfully attending Saturday community service events, he was going to his counseling appointments, and he was present at school when his probation officer checked on him. Unfortunately, Ivan’s mom didn’t quite have her act together, so Ivan would find himself breaking up fights between her and her boyfriend, or taking care of her when she was too high to do it herself. Eventually, the court recognized that Ivan’s mom was not in a position to mother him as required by law. Without other family members or friends to take him in, Ivan was put into a juvenile jail to await the finding in his case.

88 Seconds with Reclaiming Futures in 2014

Ever wonder what juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment will look like in 2014?
We do.
That's why a group of Reclaiming Futures' leaders and allies took time out a couple of weeks ago to ponder how things would look in the juvenile justice system, the adolescent treatment system, within Reclaiming Futures, and in the world at large five years from now (follow the link for more info).  Here's a fun, 88-second video recapping our meeting:

Reclaiming Futures in 2014

Reclaiming-Futures-2014-scenario-planning-meeting-dotsWhat Will Reclaiming Futures Look Like in 2014?

No one knows, of course, not for certain. But a group of people passionately interested in juvenile justice reform and improving adolescent substance abuse treatment -- many of whom were involved in the creation and implementation of Reclaiming Futures -- met recently in Washington, D.C. to make some educated guesses about what's in store.
They also offered their hopes and opinions about what it should look like in five years.

Roundup: Four Inspiring Programs for Teens in the Justice System, Cocaine Vaccine on Horizon, and Much More

juvenile-justice-adolescent-substance-abuse-news-TVAdolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Juvenile Justice-Related News

How the Juvenile Justice System Criminalizes the Poor

juvenile-justice-reform-criminalization-of-the-poor-Justice-Policy-Institute-signHow the Juvenile Justice and Criminal Justice Systems Criminalize the Poor
Check out this brief, eloquent piece from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity site by Tracy Velázquez, Executive Director of the Justice Policy, on the ways that the criminal and juvenile justice systems disproportionately swallow up the poor -- for the same or similar crimes committed by more affluent people.

Juvenile Drug Court in Greene County, MO Graduates its First Youth

Reclaiming-Futures-juvenile-drug-court-team-Greene-County-photoThe recipe necessary to reclaim the lives of youth that have penetrated the juvenile justice system begins in our own kitchens. One part parents, one part community, a dash of judicial intervention (to taste) and we have a life that is once again shining and full of promise. 
Case in point: on September 10, 2009, the Greene County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC) -- click on the photo at left for a larger view of our team1 -- successfully graduated one of our youth, due to the engagement of the youth and family, the commitment from the JDTC team, and the overall support from the community in Greene County. This commencement represented a very important milestone for a young man who continually demonstrated a willingness to make positive changes in his life.

Roundup: Half of all U.S. Kids are Assaulted Each Year; Pitting Pre-Schoolers Against Teens in Budget Fights Is Bad Policy; and More

Four Things You Can Do for Juvenile Justice Reform

There are rumblings throughout the country about racism right now. People are wondering what the implications of racism are, if it still exists, how much it affects and to what extent. These are the kinds of discussions we should be having as a nation. They are long overdue and the results of such discussions would be a welcome change to the silence and the ability of this country to ignore what is plain and evident. Yet it seems they're slow to begin and could go on for decades before we see any real change.
Now there are some in this country that can afford to wait as the discussion begins; on the other hand, those that are most affected by and involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems do not have the luxury of waiting. We must take action today, at every opportunity in the future, and be prepared to create opportunities on the days when there are none!
We're lucky in that we have the facts that are indisputable to serve as the starting point for this work. Our country has an addiction to incarceration and based on the staggering statistics of that addiction, it's one we can no longer afford. Secondly, the criminal and juvenile justice systems are inundated with the appalling history of racism in the US. The focus of our discussion should be, "What are we going to do about it?"
If we assume we can no longer wait for the leaders in our field and in our communities to spearhead the work, then the answers we seek lie within us. Are you waiting for change to come or are you willing to roll up your sleeves and push for the change? If you were waiting for the right time, I believe we are there.

Juvenile Justice Reform: National Parent Caucus Call is Today

juvenile-justice-reform-parent-caucus-CFYJ-telephoneKnow any kids in the juvenile justice system with parents who're interested in juvenile justice reform?
The Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) is hosting its National Parent Caucus call today, October 2nd, at 2pm EST / 11 am PST. Interested parties should call 1.866.670.5105 and enter the code 448194#.
The call will focus on ways you can spend an hour or less helping to "get the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA) moved out of committee and passed." The call wlil also provide a "brief training on wealth and power and what this has to do with us and our work."
Apologies for the late notice on this - but this is a great opportunity to involve parents in juvenile justice reform. (Photo by seychelles88.)

Roundup: Too Much Candy for Kids Leads to Violent Adults; Prescription Drug Deaths Outnumber Car Crash Fatalities in Some States; and More

The Juvenile Justice System: Which Risk Assessments are Right for Girls?

juvenile-justice-system-risk-assessments-for-girls-myirha-portraitCurious about whether the risk assessments used in the juvenile justice system are appropriate for girls? Wonder if the one used in your jurisdiction measures up?
The Girls Study Group, set up by The Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), recently examined 143 juvenile risk assessment instruments with those very questions in mind, and compiled their results in an online database.
This is timely, given that a recent study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency indicated that risk assessments have gotten less effective in recent years, and an article in a journal last year that argued that juvenile risk assessments lagged behind research on how best to use them. (Photo by Thuy Pham.)

Kids in NY's Juvenile Justice System Talk about How Treatment Changed Them

"I really didn't even have a clue what a goal was, but to just get high. And now I have real goals ..."
So says David, age 17, one of five residents in this 10-minute video about New York City's Outreach House, a residential treatment center aimed at helping youth in the justice system change their behavior.
It's an eloquent testimonial to the fact that youth can and do change and an example of good storytelling to make a point about youth in the juvenile justice system.

Juvenile Justice: Updated National Youth Gang Survey

juvenile-justice-national-youth-gang-survey-NYGC-logoCurious about the presence, extent, or characteristics of local youth gang problems?
No worries - the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has your back. An updated version of OJJDP's National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) is now available on the web site of the Institute for Intergovernmental Research. Available data include annual numbers of gangs and gang members from 1996 through 2007, the change in the number of gang-problem jurisdictions from 2002 to 2007, and gang member demographics.