Mental Health and Safe Communities Act Introduced in the U.S. Senate; News Roundup

Every week Reclaiming Futures rounds up the latest news on juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance use treatment, and teen mental health. 

Mental Health and Safe Communities Act Introduced in the U.S. Senate (The Council of State Governments Justice Center)
On Wednesday U.S. Sen. John Cornyn introduced the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015, which is designed to improve outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The hope is that this bill will address the prevalence of mental illness in jails, the exacerbation of disorders while incarcerated, as well as the resulting cost to taxpayers.

DOJ: St. Louis court discriminates against black children (PBS NewsHour)
The U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division reports that the St. Louis County juvenile justice system discriminates against black children. The federal report finds that black children in St. Louis County are more likely than white children to end up in family court in the first place, more likely to be detained before trial, and more likely to be held in custody after trial if convicted. The investigation began in 2013, and the report was released last Friday, July 31st.

Cop Handcuffs Boy With ADHD, & Here Are 3 Other Ways Kids With Disabilities Are Mistreated And Misunderstood Every Day (Bustle)
On Tuesday a video of a police officer in Kentucky, handcuffing an elementary student with ADHD, quickly circulated across social media; bringing acute attention to the mistreatment of students with disabilities in schools. The Covington, Kentucky child not only has ADHD, but also a history of trauma. Unfortunately, restraining kids with disabilities for "misbehaving" isn't a rare occurrence; many children with disabilities are put in "prisonlike" rooms; and school teachers often don't know how to respond appropriately to students with disability.

Juvenile Justice System Failing Native Americans, Studies Show (North Carolina Public Radio)
According to a 2015 Indian Law and Order Commission report, disproportionately high numbers of Native American youth are in juvenile detention facilities across the United States. A 2015 report by Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Tribal Law and Policy Institute finds that state courts are twice as likely to incarcerate Native teens, more than any other racial or ethnic group, for minor crimes such as truancy and alcohol use. Reports also provide proof that prevention, treatment programs, and case workers are far more effective than incarceration for Native youth.

Schools Start Too Early, Federal Officials Say (TIME)
A new federal report released this week by  the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that most U.S. middle schools and high schools start too early in the morning, not letting young people get enough sleep for development and academic success.

Teen Social Media Use Tied to Mental Health Issues (Psychiatry Advisor)
A comprehensive new study was released on Monday, casting doubt on the idea of marijuana use, even when long-term, being associated with physical and mental health problems later on in life. On the other hand, research from the Department of Epidemiology at Ottawa Public Health finds that teens who frequently use social media are more likely to struggle with unaddressed mental health concerns, as opposed to teens who use social media infrequently.

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Updated: September 23 2020