This report on adolescent substance abuse and mental health issues in the federal legislation governing the juvenile justice system is reprinted, with permission, from the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of The Link: Connecting Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare, published by the Child Welfare League of America. The final fact sheet, suitable for printing, can be found on the Act-4-JJ website.
The second part, below, contains recommendations for strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; the first part lays out the justification and the key issues.
Recommendations for Strengthening JJDPA Mental Health and Substance Abuse Provisions
- Call for and provide federal funding for collaboration between state and local agencies, programs, and organizations that serve children, including schools, mental health and substance abuse agencies, law enforcement and probation personnel, juvenile courts, departments of corrections, child welfare, and other public health agencies. Juvenile justice agencies should involve families whenever appropriate.
- Identify vulnerable youth with mental health and substance abuse disorders, both pre- and post-adjudication, through consistent use of evidence-based screening and assessment as needed to ensure comprehensive treatment, supports, and services.
- Divert youth from detention and incarceration into home- and community-based treatment as often as possible, while utilizing evidence-based and promising practices demonstrated to be less costly and more successful than treatment provided in confinement settings.
- Make training and technical assistance available for law enforcement officers, juvenile and family court judges, probation officers, and other decisionmakers, about the signs and symptoms associated with mental health and substance abuse needs among juveniles; the benefits and availability of screening, assessment, and treatment for mental health and substance abuse needs; and effective home- and community-based treatment and other mental health supports and services.
- Develop an individualized discharge plan for each youth upon admission to a juvenile detention or corrections facility designed to link them to appropriate aftercare services, including mental health and substance abuse services and supports for the youth and his or her family.
- Implement programs and services that have been proven through research to prevent entry into the juvenile justice system, reduce recidivism, and improve outcomes for juvenile offenders, such as positive behavioral supports, cognitive behavioral therapy, functional family therapy, multidimensional treatment foster care, and multisystemic therapy.
- Ensure equity and competence in provision of mental health and substance abuse services for youth and families in the juvenile justice system, including competence in gender-specific approaches and approaches appropriate for diverse racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups.
- Compel the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to increase training and technical assistance related to mental health and substance abuse, including best practices for law enforcement and probation officers, detention/ corrections and community corrections personnel, court services personnel, and others.
- Require the administrator of the OJJDP to report annually on the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders among juvenile justice populations served by all U.S. states and territories, including the prevalence of various types of disorders and whether mental health disorders develop or are exacerbated by confinement, as well as descriptions of the manner in which psychotropic drugs are prescribed and used in treatment plans for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
- Compel the OJJDP to study the prevalence, duration, and types of mental health and substance abuse disorders found among youth in the juvenile justice system, providing evidence of practices, policies, and approaches shown to be rehabilitative. Compel the OJJDP to study the prevalence and types of disabilities found among youth in the juvenile justice system.
- Include mental health and substance abuse experts in the Federal Coordinating Council and in the composition of the State Advisory Groups.
Return to first part of report, which contains the justification and key issues.
Click for the references for this post.
The report was prepared for ACT 4 JJ by the American Psychological Association, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Mental Health America, National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, and National Disability Rights Network. ACT 4 JJ, or Act for Juvenile Justice, is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition.
Updated: February 08 2018