Multnomah County, Oregon, Stays “Smart on Crime”

The Office of National Drug Policy Control promotes a “smart on crime” approach that emphasizes prevention and access to treatment over incarceration in order to break the cycle of substance abuse, crime and re-arrest—especially among youth.
Programs like Reclaiming Futures Multnomah Embrace are furthering the goals of the smart on crime approach by engaging the right people to improve services for youth in the justice system and positively impact the community.
In 2006, the program partnered up with Write Around Portland and local mentoring agencies to publish “When You Were Fifteen,” a collection of stories from adults and youth about what it was like to be 15—the average age of youth in the local juvenile justice system. This book continues to raise awareness of the need for caring adult mentors in the lives of youth caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
More recently, Multnomah Embrace hosted a spring meet and greet fair to connect young people with services and activities available in their community.  The meet and greet also offered a panel of four teens from Lines for Life—a 24-hour teen-to-teen crisis, counseling and referral line. The teen panel members discussed the importance of healthy activities and shared personal stories of how these activities positively impacted their lives.

The meet and greet had a successful turnout—about 90 people attended—with the support of several local organizations that provide mental health and substance abuse treatment programs:

The unique services offered by Multnomah Embrace are engaging teens and helping them become involved in their community. The program works to reduce recidivism and place youth on the right track—which carries forward the notion of being “smart on crime” rather than “tough on crime”.
With programs like Multnomah Embrace, youth in the justice system have a much better chance of avoiding re-arrest and finding healthy alternatives to negative habits in their lives.
What “smart on crime” programs and services are available in your community? Please Share with us in the comments section below. 

Cecilia Bianco is the social and digital communications intern for Prichard Communications and Mac’s List. She contributes to the Reclaiming Futures blog regarding topics of juvenile justice reform and substance abuse prevention.

Updated: October 28 2013