- Justice for an Awful Judge
Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes eloquently about the irony that one of the judges in the "kids-for-cash" scandal got what the youth who passed through his juvenile court did not get: due process.
- Positive Youth Development: Training Youth to be EMTs
A unique program in Alameda County, CA, trains young men in the juvenile justice system to become EMTs - could a program like that work in your community? (H/t Jennie Day-Burget.)
- Systems of Care That Serve Youth in the Juvenile Justice System - Funding and Sustainability
This report came out in September 2010 and a lot of things have changed since then, but its strategic approach is timeless. (Hat tip to Mark Fulop.)
- 9 Ways to Support Someone with Depression
Tips to share with parents, caregivers, and youth.
- Submissions Wanted for Journal of Juvenile Justice
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) continues to seek manuscripts for its inaugural issues of the Journal of Juvenile Justice, due out later this year.
What were our top three stories for 2010? You can pick from stories on juvenile justice reform ... juvenile drug courts ... adolescent substance abuse treatment ... positive youth development ... family engagement ... or the juvenile justice system in general?
What was most useful to you? What was the most intriguing? What did you pass on to your colleagues?
You can pick from any story we published here on the blog in 2010. But just to make it easy, I've listed 20 stories below that I'd expect to be on everyone's top-stories list. If you don't find your favorite below -- and I had to leave out a heck of a lot of good stuff -- feel free to vote for it anyway.
(By the way, they stories below are not listed in any particular order.)
- Substance Use and Delinquent Behavior Among Serious Adolescent Offenders - a new bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) discussing findings from the landmark Pathways to Desistance research. One of the few things that works to reduce recidivism in this population? Family-focused substance abuse treatment.
- What the heck is "parity," anyway? - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) gives a quick overview of one of the key recent legislative shifts affecting adolescent substance abuse treatment. (Hat tip to SAMHSA.)
Juvenile Justice News
- The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana put out the video below, "Trash to Triumph: New Orleans Juvenile Justice" showing the significant strides the city has made in reforming its juvenile justice system since Hurricane Katrina, when juveniles were housed with adult prisoners and herded onto a bridge without food or water for days on end. It's 10 minutes long, but well worth watching.
Juvenile Justice News
- It was a week of scathing editorials on juveniles in the justice system:
- A Huffington Post column quotes a Maryland study that shows that 68% of the time, youth sent to adult court are sent back to juvenile court -- but only after time spent either mixed in with adult prisoners or in 23-hour/day lockdown. (Hat tip to the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.)
Juvenile Justice System News and Speculation
For sheer breadth of coverage in the juvenile justice arena this week, you couldn't beat John Kelly of Youth Today.
- First, Kelly covered a year-long, national survey on the use of psychotropic meds in juvenile justice facilities. Sixteen states participated; 17 didn't reply; the remainder did not comply for a variety of reasons, although it appeared that many states did not track the drugs, or the diagnoses for which they were prescribed. Youth Today's coverage offered useful background on several of the most commonly-used drugs, and a point/counterpoint on whether they should be used as a first resort for behavior management, or whether their use helps make youth "treatment-ready."
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Research News and Resources
- An advisory group has recommended that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes on Alcoholism and Aclohol Abuse (NIAAA) be merged, along with all other addiction research efforts conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The group said that a new Institute of Addictions would integrate addiction research more effectively. The idea still has a number of hoops to jump through before it becomes a reality, but I was pleased to see that the working group's report recommended (see page 8) that adolescent substance abuse treatment should be prioritized. (Full disclosure: I wrote the post for Join Together that I've linked to here.)
Events - Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Substance Abuse
- September is National Youth Court Month, and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) has posted resources about them to celebrate. Also called "teen courts" and "peer courts," youth courts are an alternative disposition for youth who've committed low-level, first-time offenses in which teens hold each other accountable. (Hat tip to OJJDP.) UPDATED: Global Youth Justice is hosting a conference titled, "Establish or Enhance a local Teen Court/Youth Court Diversion Program," December 7-9, 2010, in Las Vegas. (H/t to John Kelly at Youth Today.)
- Don't miss out on the National Take Back Initiative, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Held on September 25, 2010, 10am-2pm (local time, I believe), law enforcement agencies are collaborating with the DEA to collect unused prescription drugs. Find a collection site near you. (H/t to @SPHEREproject.)
James Bell on Juvenile Justice Reform
- In the brief video below, James Bell, director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, sounds off on youth incarceration:
I am still, at 51, propelled by outrage. I am just p***d off that the greatest country in the world -- that the only way they can figure out to socially control teenagers is to put them in cages... But we don't do that to White people. That is the bottom line.
It's worth watching all 10 minutes of this video, because Bell is passionate, entertaining, and motivating. My only caveat (which I'm sure Mr. Bell would agree with) has to do with his urgent call to people of color to put pressure on vested interests and the White community to reform the justice system. It can't just be on people of color to change the system -- allies from all communities are needed so that the effort is not pigeonholed by skeptics. (Hat tip to the W. Haywood Burns Institute on Facebook.)
Adolescent Substance Abuse and Related Treatment News
- Is marijuana a "gateway" to other drug use? Not so much, according to new research, and "over-criminalizing" its use can contribute to young adults' use of other illicit drugs. According to the study, race and ethnicity are the best predictors of whether someone will use illicit drugs besides marijuana: non-Hispanic whites are more likely to use them than are (in order) Hispanics or African Americans. Furthermore, although marijuana use in one's teen years might lead to use of other drugs, youth apparently "age out" of that when they reach 21. Unemployment is a factor too, which suggests that, as one researcher concluded, "over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities." (Hat tip to Robert Ackley.) Related reading: Jeff Butts on "The Enduring Gateway Myth."
- Teen use of alcohol and drugs can be significantly reduced with brief, school-based interventions by mental health therapists or even by teachers given minimal training, according to a new study from the U.K. Researchers evaluated their use of alcohol and drugs at six months post-intervention, so it's not clear if the effects would need to be repeated on a regular basis.
Last year, we posted about a hugely important study by the Center for Court Innovation. In it, young people reported that they did not receive a clear explanation of the juvenile justice system when they entered. Nor did they -- or their parents and guardians -- learn how their actions affected what happens in juvenile court.
Our Reclaiming Futures site in Orange/Chatham Counties, North Carolina is trying to change this and created the video above for parents/guardians of youth entering juvenile court. Congratulations! (They're also working on a handbook for youth; I'll share it when it's available.)
Has your jurisdiction done something similar? Leave a comment or drop me an email and we'll be glad to post it!
Resources for the Juvenile Justice System
- The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has completed its first-ever "Census of Juveniles on Probation" (CJP), which it says "provides critical data on the characteristics of youth on probation, the nature of their offenses, and how they are served." Initial findings were presented at the American Probation and Parole Association's Annual Training Institute on August 17, 2010. I can't find a report on line, but I expect it'll be out shortly. If I've just overlooked it, let me know where I can find it and I'll post it here.
- Work with Native American youth, or for a tribe? You might be interested in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Tribal Youth Program Web site. There, you'll find funding opportunities, resources on culturally appropriate prevention and intervention strategies, and federally-recognized tribes can request "web-based resources, individualized technical assistance, or on-site training or technical assistance."
- Families and teens often need a quick orientation to the juvenile justice system -- but there's never one there when you want one. YouTube is changing that, though. Above is a 9-1/2-minute video from a Florida teen court that provides a thorough overview of how things work there (although it is, unfortunately, cut off prematurely.) Anyone have other examples they want to share?
Juvenile Justice News
- Does Maryland really need a new juvenile detention facility? Not without a new population forecast, says the National Council on Crime & Delinquency (NCCD). (Hat tip to Policy for Results.)
- I’ve written before about “sexting” – when minors send sexually explicit pictures via cell phone - so it’s good to see that the Youth Online Safety Working Group has released recommendations on how education and legal professionals should handle sexting and work to prevent it.
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - News and Research Updates
- How the confidentiality of patients who obtain substance abuse treatment will be handled under health reform (and electronic health records in particular) continues to be the focus of controversy, according to Join Together. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued a document covering "frequently-asked questions," and will hold a stakeholders' meeting on August 4th to provide more clarification. Last February, I posted that some health reform advocates want to do away with federal confidentiality regulations under 42 CFR in favor of relevant HIPAA regulations. They say they're concerned that the burden of complying will discourage mainstream doctors from screening patients and providing brief intervention for alcohol and drug issues.
Juvenile Justice Reform and Related News
- The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention wants your input by August 9, 2010 on federal policies and practices in these areas:
- education and at-risk youth
- juvenile reentry and transitions into adulthood
- racial/ethnic disparities in juvenile justice and related systems
- tribal youth and juvenile justice.
The Council has published a detailed request and guidelines in the Federal Register.
Here's the tricky part: to submit your comments, type "Juvenile Council" into the search box here labelled "Enter Keyword or ID." You'll likely get more than one search result, but look for the one that says, "Request for Public Comments - Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention." Don't click on it if you're ready to comment; instead, look over to the right, where you'll see a "Submit Comment" link. Click on that, and you'll be able to type in your comments. You can also scan other comments already submitted to the site. (If you can't submit your comments electronically, there are instructions in the guidelines for how to mail them in.)
- Juvenile justice reform may finally be coming to New York state, where governor David A. Paterson has proposed a bill that would radically change the state's juvenile justice system by sharply limiting the kinds of crimes for which youth could be committed to youth prison, and setting up an independent office to oversee those prisons. Unfortunately, increased mental health and substance abuse treatment for youth in the system are not in the bill. (See this post for background on New York's broken juvenile justice system, and the opportunities it could provide for reform.)
- A program in Boston Lenox, MA diverts youth in the justice system to a 10-year-old, five-week program called "Shakespeare in the Courts, " according to The Boston Globe. Their sentence? Rehearsing Shakespeare four afternoons a week, with the goal of putting on a performance. What's great about the article is how well it displays the power of such a program to help kids change, as well as their uncertainty in the face of such an unconventional response to their behavior. (Related story: the National Endowment for the Arts recently funded performances of Shakespeare for youth in the juvenile justice system -- follow the link and check out the third bullet. )
- Related post: The Bard wrote his share of sonnets and other poems, and writing poetry can also be beneficial and therapeutic to teens in the juvenile justice system. Follow the link for more information.
Juvenile Justice-Related News
- The Chicago Public Schools' innovative anti-violence program appears to be working. It uses data to target services to those most likely to be the victim of a shooting -- appears to be working. (Hat tip to @piper.)
- Washington D.C.'s new juvenile justice facility, designed along the lines of the "Missouri Model," has had some serious setbacks, but may also be working. Click through for story in USA Today and for a video about young teens learning to weld using seized firearms for their raw materials. (H/t to Christina Weeter, via our discussion group on juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse.)