Blog: Juvenile Justice Reform

Roundup: Video Testimony on Life without Parole; SAMHSA Public Health Alert; NJ Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile Right to Counsel; and More

Concerned about the kids in the juvenile justice system? Then check out the video above of a 29-year-old woman given life without parole at 16 for killing her pimp. I found it on this blog, without a lot of information about where or when the video was made. But man oh man, it's sure moving.
Other stories:

How Juvenile Court Turned Tim's Life Around

Tim, a youth on probation in Multnomah County, Oregon, testifies to County commissioners about how the juvenile justice system helped him get off alcohol and drugs, learn job skills, and begin giving back to kids in the community. (His testimony begins at 8:08.)
Related Post:

Funding Opportunity from Threshold Foundation

Threshold Foundation is a donor-based fund that seeks to ensure human rights for youth impacted by the criminal justice and drug policy systems, and political rights for those in historically  disenfranchised communities. The foundation's Justice & Democracy Committee is accepting letters of intent (LOIs) no later than September 25 from non-profit organizations working in the following focus areas:

Nassau County Juvenile Drug Court Celebrates First Graduation

[This article on the juvenile drug court in the Reclaiming Futures site in Nassau County, NY originally appeared, in a longer form in the Spring 2009 issue of the Nassau News, the newsletter of the 10th Judicial District, Nassau County.]
juvenile-drug-court-Warren-and-GeralynOn March 4, 2009, Nassau County, NY held its first Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JTC) graduation. Three teenagers successfully completed the program.
It was a little overwhelming to think we already had three graduates. When we first talked about creating the program, it had seemed like a logistical impossibility.
And after we got our first participant, there were immediate doubts: What were we thinking? How do we expect to help this kid get off drugs? We’re not equipped. This is never going to work.

Roundup: Hospitals May Be Required to Deal with Addictions; Teens Say Easier to Get Pot than Cigarettes; and More

Juvenile Justice Reform: Why It's Hard for Juveniles to Use Lawsuits to Fight Maltreatment in Prison

juvenile-justice-reform-photo-we-are-brothers-keeperAnyone interested in juvenile justice reform should check out this opinion piece from The Boston Globe by David Fathi of Human Rights Watch, "An Unfair Prison Litigation System."(Link courtesy of the National Juvenile Justice Network.)
Fathi is making a larger point about the burden on all prisoners, adult and juvenile, but his sample case is focused on a juvenile:

Roundup: Juvenile Justice Reform in the Spotlight

"Missouri Model" on ABC "Primetime" Tonight 10pm EST / 7pm PST

Friday, September 04, 2009 ABC Television Network
There are nearly 100,000 kids in America's juvenile justice system, most in orange jumpsuits, locked behind bars and under constant guard. But the state of Missouri has cast aside the familiar model of juvenile jails in favor of a radically different approach - therapy and rehabilitation.

Juvenile Justice: National Report Calls on President, Department of Justice and Congress to Strengthen Federal-State Partnership

First-of-its-kind Report Uncovers Successes and Challenges of State Compliance with the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

juvenile-justice-coalition-JJDPA-reportOn the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) released the results of a groundbreaking report, A Pivotal Moment: Sustaining the Success and Enhancing the Future of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

The release was anchored by a panel of speakers providing expertise from a variety of backgrounds in the field of juvenile justice.

Roundup: Meth Now Easier to Make; 1 in 5 Teens Share Prescription Drugs; and More

  • teens-share-drugs-news-old-TVSomething to think about the next time you drug test a youth: one in five teens share prescription drugs (and so do 40% of adults). 
  • Making methamphetamine is now easier, thanks to the growing popularity of an alternate, "shake and bake" method. It's easier for addicts to make in small batches and requires only a small amount of pseudophedrine to manufacture -- well under the mandatory limits set in place several years ago to halt meth's spread.  

Juvenile Justice Reform: Judges Train Judges on Reclaiming Futures and Judicial Leadership

  • juvenile-justice-reform-judicial-training-Judge-MartinShould judges in the juvenile justice system use their position and influence to get people to come to meetings?
  • Is it the judge’s obligation to take direct action – outside the courtroom – to fill gaps in the service continuum? 

Judges from eight Reclaiming Futures sites debated the ethics of these statements last week, at a workshop on August 28th in Greensboro, NC.
Being good jurists, they paid close attention to the wording of the statements, and disputed the idea that judges “should” get people to come to meetings, or were “obligated” to take “direct action” – and what was meant by “direct” action, by the way?

Improving Rhode Island's Juvenile Justice System: a Collaborative Approach

During the past few years, Rhode Island has been in the news regarding its approach to the juvenile justice system. In June of 2007, the General Assembly passed a law that required that 17-year-olds be tried as adults for any crime, and incarcerated at the adult prison.
The initial rationale for the change was that it was a cost-saving measure because the average cost of incarceration at the adult prison was thought to be less than incarceration at the Juvenile Training School. However, it was then determined that the 17-year-olds would have to be incarcerated in the high security wing of the adult prison to separate them from the adult population, which was costlier than housing them at the Training School. Despite this finding, the law was passed and put into effect.

Roundup: Calls for Juvenile Justice Reform to Stop New York Abuses; ADHD Drug Abuse Up 76%

Juvenile Justice Reform: Dispatches from Juvenile Hall

juvenile-justice-reform-dispatches-from-juvenile-hall-coverHeated discussions arise over the societal factors that lead to juvenile criminality and the ways that public institutions fail to curtail them. A team of experts with decades of collective hands-on experience presents a book that cuts through the hype and paranoia to offer real solutions. Dispatches from Juvenile Hall – Fixing a Failing System, cuts through the war between “soft on crime” and “tough on crime” to deliver an alternative that is “smart on crime” – a progressive approach, based on the latest findings that incorporate corrections responses, treatment, and family-focused interventions.

Roundup: Juvenile Justice System Teens in D.C. Mow Lawns for Elderly; Juvenile Court Privacy Disappearing; and More

juvenile-justice-adolescent-treatment-roundup-oldTVWhen it comes to the juvenile justice system and adolescent substance abuse, there's always something cooking. Check out this week's bonanza of resources and new stories:

The Juvenile Justice System: a Research Update

juvenile-justice-system-adolescent-substance-abuse-journal-coverAdolescent substance abuse in the juvenile justice system is the subject of Laurie Chassin's excellent article in the Fall 2008 issue of The Future of Children.
But I urge you to check out the entire issue, whose theme is "juvenile justice." Edited by Laurence Steinberg (whose recent book, Rethinking Juvenile Justice, we gave away last March), the journal brings together research from a number of scholars connected with the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

Teens in Your Juvenile Justice System Have Nothing to Do? They Can Help

juvenile-justice-system-adolescent-substance-abuse-resources-community-youth-mapping-logoOne of the key parts of the Reclaiming Futures model is "beyond treatment":  connecting kids in the juvenile justice system with a network of positive adults, services, and activities that will sustain them when they leave probation, incarceration, or treatment.
No problem, right? Well, as anyone who's ever wrestled with this problem knows, it's a huge problem. It can be hard for probation officers and treatment counselors to keep up with what's available. Then, too, there's the always-tricky issue of what services or activies are appropriate for which kids. 
So here's an idea from Community YouthMapping (CYM): ask the kids to help you map the services; together, you can canvass neighborhoods in search of places to go and things to do. It's a great opportunity to harness their energy, given them skills, and model pro-social behavior, and you'll often find resources you wouldn't find otherwise. 

Roundup: Juvenile Justice Reform Supported by The New York Times; Addiction Parity Law May be Thwarted; and More