Blog: Juvenile Justice Reform

Webinar Opportunity: Exercising Judicial Leadership on the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders

JudgeThe Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) will host a webinar on November 14 to address how judges can more effectively bring together family members, attorneys and advocates, and service providers to improve outcomes for non-delinquent youth in their communities.

Targeted to judicial leaders and juvenile justice practitioners, the webinar will offer actionable steps on how to convene stakeholders involved in the youth’s life, and will expand on the recently released CJJ tool relevant to judges in this area: “Exercising Judicial Leadership to Reform the Care of Non-Delinquent Youth: A Convenor's Action Guide for Developing a Multi-Stakeholder Process.”

The report explains,

“Juvenile judges and courts face complex challenges as a result of laws that allow youth, by virtue of their minor status, to be charged in juvenile court with ‘status offenses.’ Status offenses are actions that are not illegal after a person reaches the age of 18. They include curfew violations, possession of alcohol and tobacco, running away and truancy. All too often the court’s involvement in the lives of these youth and families does not yield the intended positive outcomes, particularly when youth charged with status offenses have their liberty restricted and lives disrupted by being placed in confinement, and are separated from their family, school and community.”

Register for this webinar to hear directly from two judges who have seen success and made a difference in the lives of status offending youths and families.

Webinar: Exercising Judicial Leadership on the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders
When: November 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Presenters: Hon. Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court of Delaware; Hon. Karen Ashby, Judge, Denver Juvenile Court
Register here.

Examining Collateral Consequence Laws: Do They Promote or Deter Recidivism?

isolationA recent report by William & Mary Assistant Professor Tracy Sohoni called “The Effect of Collateral Consequence Laws on State Rates of Returns to Prisons” examined whether collateral consequence laws effectively prevent crime or simply make it more difficult for past offenders to successfully re-enter society.

Collateral consequence laws are legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record, and Tracy Sohoni believes they are doing more harm than good.

The report states about 70,000 people are released from prisons annually and roughly two-thirds are rearrested within three years of release. Sohoni hypothesizes that this is due to the restrictions brought on by the laws, which can make it difficult for past offenders to get welfare, vote, obtain a drivers license, and find stable housing and employment.

“Ex-convicts need structural opportunities. They need jobs,” Sohoni said. “A lot of offenders come out and want to live a productive life but a lot of them find the opportunities just aren’t there.”

The research did not find statically significant relationships between collateral consequence laws and state returns to prison, but in specific cases where more data was available, Sohoni did link increases in rates of returns to prison to the restriction in question. Such was the case with her evaluation of restricted access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The report highlights that collateral consequence laws have often been called “invisible punishments” because they aren’t broadly publicized or well known—something that is beginning to change. In 2012, Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and the ABA Criminal Justice Section was appointed to do the necessary research and analysis to create a new online database.

Sohoni, as reported by the Chicago Bureau, acknowledged that the lack of wide data at this time and other factors make it impossible to draw absolute conclusions on the direct impact these laws have. However, the results can still serve as support for those advocating for “less severe punishments, a rollback of the harsh laws from 20 and 30 years ago and the relaxation of laws that haunt inmates after release, often precluding them from re-entering society in any meaningful way.”

Reclaiming Futures Featured on the Office of National Drug Control Policy Blog

In recognition of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, I had the honor to contribute to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s blog. Citing our Reclaiming Futures site in Snohomish County, Washington, I shared why we at Reclaiming Futures believe community involvement is critical to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment, and ultimately build stronger communities around prevention.

Read the full blog post here and contribute your thoughts below.

In Juvenile Justice, Community Involvement is Key to Substance Abuse Prevention

Local artists in Snohomish County, Washington, are contributing their time, tools, and studio space to mentor teens recently involved in their community’s juvenile justice system. For eight weeks, the youth will learn art and photography skills, then produce artwork documenting their lives, families, and communities. Some of their efforts will be featured in local art venues or the local newspaper.

The teens are participants in Promising Arts in Recovery (PAIR), part of Snohomish County’s local Reclaiming Futures program. The goal of PAIR is to establish social and job skills by connecting local artists with at-risk teens who are involved in the juvenile justice system and may be undergoing treatment for substance use or mental health issues. Through programs like PAIR that offer workshops, internships, or job-shadowing opportunities, local professionals are not only helping these young people develop skills necessary to be active citizens, they are helping to rebuild a community around prevention.

Read the full story.

40 Stories for 40 Years: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 11.41.03 AMThis month marks 40 years since the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) transformed youth justice. The JJDPA, considered one of the most important pieces of legislation for youth justice, established four core protections for young people in the system and set basic standards for state systems:

  1. Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO);
  2. Adult Jail and Lock-Up Removal (Jail Removal);
  3. Sight and Sound Separation; and
  4. Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC).

The JJDPA allows states, which meet these four requirements, to do the following:

  • Fund innovations and reforms that keep more kids out of jails and detention facilities and connected to safe, proven supports in their communities.
  • Modernize and improve their programs to give kids the supports they need to get their lives back on track and help make communities safer.

In celebration of the JJDPA’s 40th Anniversary, SparkAction, the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), and local organizations across the country are coming together to collect 40 short videos that “use real lives and real voices to illustrate the policy and systems impact of the JJDPA.”

Throughout the fall, catch 40 new personal stories covering the impact of the JJDPA, ways it can be strengthened and improved, and how you can get involved!

The goal for the “40 stories for the 40 years of the JJDPA” campaign is to mobilize support for a Congressional reauthorization that improves and strengthens this landmark law to support states in designing fairer, more effective local approaches.

Webinar: Increasing Family Voice in the Juvenile Justice System

Why is a family voice significant in the juvenile justice system? I’m addressing this question in aOlivia September 19 webinar, along with Sandra Spencer of the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.

We’ll discuss why family voice is crucial to the success of and support of youth involved in the juvenile justice system. As an advocate for substance abuse and mental health treatment for teens, Reclaiming Futures helps families connect to the community support resources needed for adolescents to stay clean and sober, and become a productive member of society.

Here are three takeaways you’ll gain from attending this webinar:

  • Understand and discuss why family and youth voice is critical
  • How to incorporate family voice into practice in the juvenile justice system
  • Learn how Reclaiming Futures sites have successfully integrated family voice

Details:

  • What: Webinar—Increasing Family Voice in the Juvenile Justice System
  • When: Friday, September 19, 3-4 p.m. EDT
  • Presenters: Sandra Spencer, Executive Director, National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health; Susan Richardson, National Executive Director, Reclaiming Futures;
  • Register: Register here
  • Cost: Free
  • Contact: If you are unable to listen from your computer and need to call in, please email theinstitute@ssw.umaryland.edu

Media for a Just Society 2014 Award Winners Announced: Spotlight on Juvenile Justice Media

National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s (NCCD) announced the winners of its 2014 Media for a Just Society Awards. These awards are the only national recognition of media whose work furthers public understanding of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and child welfare issues.

More than 150 entries from 50 different outlets contended to win the categories of book, film, magazine, newspaper, radio, TV/video, web, and youth media. Each of the winning entries was recognized for “[telling] the stories we need to hear to help us create social change and right injustice.”

The winners are as follows:

Book: Men We Reaped: A Memoir, Jesmyn Ward, Bloomsbury USA

Film: Gideon’s Army, Dawn Porter, Trilogy Films

Magazine: “With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business,” Liliana Segura, The Nation

Newspaper: “Split the Baby: Two Sides of an Adoption Battle,” Olivia LaVecchia, City Pages

Radio: “Going to Rikers Island,” Maria Hinojosa, Latino USA (NPR)

TV/Video: “Our Turn to Dream,” Brittany Washington, Jordan Melograna, and Jesse Lava, Brave New Films

Web: “The Fight for Black Men,” Joshua DuBois, The Daily Beast/Newsweek

Youth Media: “Life Under Suspicion: Youth Perspectives on NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk Policy,” Raelene Holmes-Andrews, Educational Video Center

Distinguished Achievement Award in Film: Fruitvale Station, written and directed by Ryan Coogler

Leading up to the Oct. 15 awards ceremony, the NCCD will publish blog posts going behind the scenes with this year’s finalists and winners. For more information on this year’s Media for a Just Society Awards, visit the NCCD website.

Watch the youth media submission in full here.

 
Life Under Suspicion full documentary from JODML on Vimeo.

Study Reveals Stronger Link Between Childhood Trauma and Juvenile Offenders in Florida

2A recent study conducted by Florida’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the University of Florida revealed that juvenile offenders in Florida have significantly higher rates of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) than the population as a whole.

This conclusion from the study—The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in the Lives of Juvenile Offenders—is compared to the previous study by the CDC, which discovered a link between childhood adversity and the adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, violence and becoming a victim of violence.

The 10 adverse childhood experiences measured in the Florida research and the CDC’s ACE Study were the same:

  • Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Emotional and physical neglect
  • Witnessing a mother being abused
  • Household substance abuse
  • Household mental illness
  • Losing a parent to separation or divorce
  • Having an incarcerated household member

Half of the Florida juveniles reported four or more ACEs, compared with 13 percent of those in the CDC’s ACE Study. Young people with four ACEs are twice as likely to be smokers, 12 times more likely to attempt suicide, seven times more likely to be alcoholic, and 10 times more likely to inject street drugs.

The Department of Juvenile Justice incorporates trauma-informed practices into many of its programs due to the higher rates of certain individual types of trauma among juvenile justice-involved youth.

This study provides further evidence to support these practices that create safe environments for young people to avoid re-traumatizing them and to facilitate participation of trauma survivors in the planning of services and programs.

Former Incarcerated Youth Speaks Out: “Why Your Worst Deeds Don’t Define You”

tedrfpostBy 19, Shaka Senghor had been shot three times and killed a man. After going through his darkest times in prison, leading to solitary confinement, Senghor had an awakening that led him to where he is today. In a March TEDTalk: Why Your Worst Deeds Don’t Define You, Senghor shared his powerful story of incarceration, rehabilitation and transformation.

After receiving a meaningful letter from his son, Senghor started to truly examine his past and the decisions he had made. This began his transformation, and these four key things kept his recovery moving forward:

  1. His mentors, who forced him to look at his life honestly and challenged his decision-making.
  2. Literature: While in prison, Senghor was inspired by many black poets, authors and philosophers whose words helped him heal. Senghor references the autobiography of Malcolm X as significant in shattering the stereotypes he believed about himself.
  3. Family: Senghor knew he couldn’t truly heal without his father by his side, and he thanks the mother of his children for teaching him how to love himself.
  4. Writing opened Senghor’s mind to the idea of atonement and helped him start to forgive himself. It also ignited a spark to share his reflections to help other incarcerated men and women begin to heal.

Senghor believes that rehabilitation is the most important element missing from the juvenile justice system, as not everyone has the support system around them that he did. He claims that it is our responsibility to change the tide to ultimately improve our society as a whole:

“The majority of men and women who are incarcerated are redeemable. Ninety percent of [incarcerated men and women] will return to the community, and we have a role in determining what kind of men and women return to the community.”

The ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ mentality, as Senghor calls it, is the main mindset he claims needs to change. Instead, he calls for society to embrace a more empathetic approach to allow more incarcerated youths and adults redeem themselves from past deeds and not be “held hostage to their past.” He believes each person needs the support to do three things that will begin recovery:

Two-Part Webinar Series Identifies Principles to Reduce Recidivism

Last week, we highlighted two new white papers that provide strategic recommendations for instigating systemic change to reduce recidivism among youth in the juvenile justice system. Next month, the National Reentry Resource Center, with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, will host a two-part webinar series sharing highlights from these white papers.

Aimed at juvenile corrections leaders, probation officers, judicial staff, policymakers and other key stakeholders in the juvenile justice space, these webinars will provide quick summaries of what is working, along with tangible, actionable recommendations.National Reentry Resource Center

Webinar #1: Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice Systems

Webinar #2: Measuring and Using Juvenile Recidivism Data to Inform Policy, Practice, and Resource Allocation

  • September 11, 2014 at 2-3:30 p.m. ET
  • Register here
  • “The second webinar summarizes the issue brief, "Measuring and Using Juvenile Recidivism Data to Inform Policy, Practice, and Resource Allocation," and its five recommendations for improving juvenile justice systems’ approaches to the measurement, analysis, collection, reporting, and use of recidivism data. Participants will learn the essentials on measuring recidivism in an accurate and comprehensive way, and how to use such data to guide system decisions and hold agencies and providers accountable for results.”

10 Twitter Accounts to Follow for Juvenile Justice News

To stay up to date on juvenile justice news, consider using Twitter. There are several accounts twitter
that will keep you up to date on all the news and events you need to know about!

Here are ten of the best, most informative accounts for juvenile justice news:

  1. @JJIE: The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is the only U.S publication that features daily coverage of juvenile justice and related issues around the nation.
  2. @JusticeforYouth: The Campaign for Youth Justice advocates for juvenile justice reform by providing support to federal, state, and local campaigns.
  3. @JusticeReform: The Justice Fellowship works to reform the criminal justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected and offenders are transformed.
  4. @JuvenileCrime: The Global Youth Justice Organization are “juvenile crime champions” that work to prevent the escalation of juvenile crime and incarceration rates around the world by advancing the global expansion of quality youth justice and juvenile justice diversions programs.
  5. @SentencingProj: The Sentencing Project has been working for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system since 1986.
  6. @JuvLaw1975: The Juvenile Law Center is a nonprofit law firm working nationally to shape and use the law on behalf of children in the child welfare and justice systems.
  7. @AntiRecidivism: The Anti-Recidivism Coalition strives to improve outcomes of formerly incarcerated individuals and build healthier communities. ARC is a support network and advocate for fair and just policy.
  8. @NCJFCJ: The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges works to ensure justice for every family and every child in every court throughout this country.
  9. @VeraInstitute: The Vera Institute of Justice focuses on making justice systems fairer and more effective through research and innovation.
  10. @CourtInnovation: Center for Court Innovation is a nonprofit that helps courts and criminal justice agencies aid victims, reduce crime, and improve public trust in justice.

And don't forget to follow Reclaiming Futures!

Watch: PBS Documentary “15 to Life”

A new PBS Documentary “15 to Life” takes a close look at one man’s story to combat his life sentence after being convicted at age 15. Though Kenneth Young was convicted more than a decade ago for armed robbery, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled four years ago that a life in prison sentence without parole for a juvenile offender in a non-homicide case was unconstitutional.

The documentary follows Young’s journey to secure a resentencing under the Supreme Court ruling, addressing along the way his developments in maturity and education gained in prison.

"I'm not sure if Kenneth Young knew the consequences, quite frankly, at that time. At that age, they really don't," explains interviewee and chief of the Pinellas County sheriff's office.

Not only does the story bring to light current issues around juvenile courts and impact on life sentences, it reinforces the need to provide treatment services and community support to at-risk youths early on to prevent more stories like Young’s.

Watch the documentary and share your thoughts below.

The Story of “Jane Doe:" A Claim for Rehabilitation, Not Incarceration

janedoeimageAlmost 70,000 teens are incarcerated on any given day. Among incarcerated young girls with a life sentence, 77 percent have reported sexual abuse. Author Nicholas Kristof gives insight into this issue in a recent New York Times article, referencing the story of “Jane Doe” who has spent her life in and out of the juvenile justice system.

Both at home and in the juvenile system, Jane suffered years of sexual abuse and violence. After two months of isolation in an adult prison, Jane was moved to a girls’ detention center in Middletown, Conn., with the goal to provide her care that will ideally lead to placement in a loving foster-care family, which is what those around her know she needs:

“All I wanted was someone to tell me they loved me, that everything would be all right,” Jane says in the affidavit. “But that never happened.”

Kristof emphasizes that Jane’s story is a prime example of a larger issue within the juvenile justice system:

“We systematically over-rely on the criminal justice toolbox to deal with youths, rather than on social services or education. The United States incarcerates children at a rate that is 10 or 20 times higher than in some other industrial countries.”

Kristof, among other experts, believe stories like Jane’s can be prevented through programs that provide stability, education and safety to at-risk children from a young age. Programs that focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Programs like Reclaiming Futures.

Judge Anthony Capizzi & Montgomery County Ohio Reclaiming Futures Day

This past Sunday, we recognized the inspiring work of the Montgomery County Ohio Reclaiming Futures site and the leadership of Judge Anthony Capizzi. Their tireless work to reclaim our youth serves as an example to communities across the country. This is truly a group effort, supported by community leaders, treatment providers, court staff, faith community, parents' advisory board and the youth.
Over the past two months, the team has recruited 30 new natural helpers, with another 22 currently in the application process. Sunday's event was a huge success, bringing together local pastors and churches, and helped spark even more interest! Roma Stephens, Reclaiming Futures community fellow, said of the event, "The interesting thing about this type of event is that the total effect is actually immeasurable and ongoing beyond the day of the event. I believe the pastors who were there will cause a tsunami effect."
The proclamation below serves as a reminder of how important our natural helpers and supporters are in this effort.
Proclamation
June 29, 2014
Whereas, Judge Anthony Capizzi has led the Montgomery County Ohio Reclaiming Futures team for over a decade, an exemplary and leading site among the Reclaiming Futures initiative,
Whereas, Judge Capizzi serves as the Judicial Faculty and Trainer for Reclaiming Futures across the country,
Whereas, Judge Capizzi serves tirelessly on a national level with several organizations including the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the United States Department of Justice’s Global Justice Information Sharing Committee, and on the state level with the Ohio Judicial College, as the chair of the Ohio Juvenile Judges Curriculum Committee, and as the former President of the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Juvenile Court Judges Association,
Whereas, Judge Capizzi has held leadership positions in various government, civic, and professional organizations that focus on family and children’s issues over the past 35 years,
Whereas, Judge Capizzi has empowered his team to share their expertise with other courts and communities across the country to reclaim the lives of youth,
Whereas, the entire Reclaiming Futures Montgomery County Ohio team has significantly contributed to the development and spread of Reclaiming Futures across the country as a model for the nation,
Whereas, we believe we can reclaim youth in Montgomery County, Ohio, with your help, in any way large or small, as natural helpers or supporters,
We therefore declare June 29, 2014 as Judge Anthony Capizzi and Montgomery County Ohio Reclaiming Futures Day in recognition of their outstanding and dedicated work to children and to the outstanding county-wide community that supports their efforts.
Duly adopted this 25th day of June 2014
- Susan J. Richardson, National Executive Director

[VIDEO] The System of Care in Clayton County (Atlanta Metro), Georgia

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently published a short video detailing the system of care in Clayton County, Georgia, designed to support young men of color from dropping out of school and becoming involved with the juvenile justice system. From RWJF: “[Clayton County has] partnered with local organizations, juvenile courts, and school districts to provide comprehensive services to help young males achieve in the classroom, develop career goals and make healthy decisions.”
This system of care aligns well with the Reclaiming Futures model, focusing on engaging the community at large, and the services available within, to help teens make better decisions and develop into healthy adults.
See the video below for more:

Center of Juvenile Justice Reform Welcomes Applicants for the 2014 Multi-System Integration Program

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University‘s McCourt School of Public Policy has announced that applicants will now be accepted for the 2014 Multi-System Integration Program through July 25, 2014.
The Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Multi-System Integration Certificate Program is a weeklong program of intensive study designed for those who want to improve outcomes for crossover youth—defined as children and youth who are known to multiple systems of care, particularly juvenile justice and child welfare.
The Multi-System Integration Certificate Program was created to achieve the following goals:
•Bring together current and future leaders to increase knowledge about multi-system reform efforts related to crossover youth
•Improve the operation of organizations in serving this population
•Provide an opportunity for the development of collaborative leadership skills
•Create a mutually supportive network of individuals across the country committed to systems reform
The Crossover Youth Practice Model, developed by the CJJR in response to the growth in knowledge of crossover youth, will be used throughout the program to illustrate specific values, standards, evidence-based practices, policies, procedures and quality assurance processes that must be in place within a jurisdiction in order to implement or improve practices that directly affect the outcomes for crossover youth.

New Online Database Monitors Juvenile Justice System Change

The National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) and Models for Change —a MacArthur Foundation initiative—have released a new online database that will allow policy makers, advocates, researchers and the media to chart nationwide change in juvenile justice policy, practices, and statistics.
This powerful new tool, called the Juvenile Justice GPS (JJGPS - Geography, Policy, Practice & Statistics), is a website that monitors juvenile justice system change by examining state laws and juvenile justice practice, combined with the most relevant state and national statistics.
The JJGPS is the first of its kind and will provide a much fuller national and historical overview of the juvenile justice system. It was created with the purpose of increasing clarity on critical issues and encouraging reform.
Director of the NCJJ Melissa Sickmund believes the JJGPS will prove to be an invaluable resource in the years ahead:
“We hope that policy makers will use the information to see where they stand, and when they realize what other states have accomplished, be inspired to make improvements in their own systems.”
The JJGPS will be organized in six main sections, starting with the jurisdictional boundaries section, which includes all laws that transfer juvenile offenders to the criminal court to be tried as adults:

Keeping Teens Out of Facilities: “Supervision Strategies for Justice-Involved Youth”

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency recently released the brief “Supervision Strategies for Justice-Involved Youth [PDF],” which reports on improved supervision strategies for young people on probation or parole by juvenile departments to help keep them out of facilities.
The brief is based on a field survey of more than 140 juvenile justice system leaders around the country, and found that the following three supervision strategies are working effectively:

  • Systems Are Improving Practice by Reducing Supervision for Youth Who Do Not Need It: The overall approach to supervision relies on risk assessments, screening instruments, and other tools to help systems shift youth to the lowest form of supervision needed to meet their needs and, in some cases, to divert youth from the system entirely;
  • Justice Systems Are Working to Reduce Revocations: Juvenile departments are engaging in training with line staff to encourage different responses to behaviors to avoid revocation, clarifying which rules may no longer result in revocation, and problem solving with the youth and families around the right response;
  • Systems Are Working to Build Stronger Supervision Partnerships With Families and Service Providers: Strategies include clearly articulating roles for each member of the supervision team in the work and their relationships to each other, shared access to information systems, joint trainings, reliance on models that seek to place families at the center of the process, hiring people to work with families in the system, and developing family orientation programs.

New Program Strives to Reduce Crossover Between Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice System

Lane County, among 13 other jurisdictions across the nation, has been selected to implement a new juvenile justice program created by Georgetown University. The program, “Crossover Youth,” is designed to reduce the number of young people who crossover between child welfare and the juvenile justice system.
Staff from Lane County Youth Services, as well as former juvenile delinquent Denise Ramirez, share what this program means to Lane County in the clip below.
 

National Prevention Week 2014: “Our Lives. Our Health. Our Future.”

May 18-24 is National Prevention Week 2014, and the theme this year focuses on the important role each one of us has in maintaining a healthy life to ensure a productive future: Our Lives. Our Health. Our Future.
National Prevention Week 2014 is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. National Prevention Week begins near the start of summer each year due to the increase in recreational activities and events that tend to spark substance use among young people.
SAMHSA urges us all to take part in National Prevention Week this year and help ensure a safe and healthy summer season!
There are many different ways to get involved:
•Take the Prevention Pledge to add your own “brick” to the wall, and share it among friends.
•Host your own awareness event using the National Prevention Week 2014 Participant Toolkit.
•Attend an awareness event and spread the word among your personal networks.
•Share National Prevention Week 2014 information with friends and family using the provided promotional materials from SAMHSA.
•Submit an entry to the National Prevention Week “I Choose” Project.
However you decide to participate, SAMHSA looks forward to observing National Prevention Week 2014 with you!

New York City Teens Get a Second Chance Through Theater

This week, I’m excited to report on an uplifting and innovative program in New York City designed to give justice-involved teens a second chance. The program, Stargate Theatre Company, was recently featured on NationSwell.com, so we got in touch with its co-designer, Evan Elkin. Mr. Elkin has extensive experience in juvenile justice and previously served as the director of the Department of Planning and Government Innovation at the Vera Institute of Justice.
On the Stargate Theatre Company, Mr. Elkin writes:

With the rapid advancement of reforms in juvenile justice systems across the United States has come an expanded understanding of what court-involved young people need in order to succeed. Some have described the past decade of juvenile justice reform as a gradual “paradigm shift” away from a largely punitive philosophy to one that places greater emphasis on the innate ability of youth to turn their lives around with the help of their communities and families.
This emerging new sensibility which the researcher Jeffrey Butts has termed “positive youth justice” has challenged long held assumptions about the role of incarceration in changing behavior, about how resiliency and coping with chronic trauma must be considered, how privilege and access to opportunity fit into the picture.
The Stargate Theatre Company is an example of this new paradigm in action through a project I had the privilege of co-designing with NYC’s Manhattan Theatre Club. Stargate is simultaneously a paid job, a work readiness training, a literacy program, a therapeutic experience and, of course, a theatre program for court-involved youth. Stargate begins its second season this summer.

Watch the video from NationSwell.com for more on the Stargate Theatre Company: 

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