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Next Week: James Bell, National Juvenile Justice Leader, to Speak at Portland State University

James Bell, a founding member of the Reclaiming Futures National Advisory Committee in 2001, will be speaking at the Native American Student and Community Center at Portland State University on April 17. See the description below from the event announcement:

The remanding of youth to adult criminal court is a social justice issue of national significance. Mr. James Bell of the Haywood Burns Institute will speak on a campaign soon to be launched in California called "Reclaiming Childhood.” This initiative will stand up against the forces that move youth (and disproportionately youth from low income communities and communities of color) into the adult system. Mr. Bell has worked closely with juvenile justice advocates in Oregon and his comments will be directly relevant to the work being done in our state.

This event is free and open to the community. Light refreshments will be served. To register, visit the PSU website.

Illinois Supreme Court Makes Landmark Ruling Retroactive

In a pivotal case this March, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Illinois prisoners serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were under 18 will receive new sentence hearings. This case arose after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that life without parole for crimes committed by people under the age of 18 was unconstitutional. The next question in line became whether this ruling would apply only to future cases or to those already serving their sentence. Individual states are now figuring that piece of the equation out.
This decision brings hope to the eighty juveniles in Illinois currently serving life without parole sentences and forces judges to take a closer look at who these young offenders really are as their cases are reopened. There has been significant research leading up to this on the principle that “children are different” from adult offenders and that placing life sentences without parole or imposing the death penalty on juveniles is “cruel and unusual.”
A similar decision was reached in California in August 2012 with the Supreme Court ruling in People vs. Caballero. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that life without parole was unconstitutional and could be applied retroactively to defendants who were sentenced as juveniles for a non-homicide offense. The Washington Legislature also passed a bill this year that would allow juvenile offenders serving life sentences to be eligible for a chance at release after 20 years.

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Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

Below you'll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

OJJDP Seeks Applicants for New Funding Opportunity to Reduce Recidivism

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is accepting applicants for the FY 2014 Second Chance Act Comprehensive Juvenile Reentry Systems Reform Planning Program. This program will support state efforts to reduce recidivism and improve positive outcomes for teens returning to their communities after out of home placement.
The Second Chance Act of 2007 was established to promote community safety through recidivism prevention in response to the increasing number of incarcerated adults and youth released from prison, jail or juvenile facilities.
This new grant program provides funding for state or local-level juvenile justice agencies to assemble a reentry task force and develop and finalize a comprehensive statewide juvenile reentry systems reform strategic plan. Goals of the funding include the following:
•Developing comprehensive, evidence-based plans to reform their juvenile reentry systems
•Improving assessment policies and practices
•Enhancing program/policy monitoring, quality assessments, implementation supports, accountability practices, and youth outcome data collection
•Supporting an integrated approach to prerelease services and planning, and post-release services and supervision to improve youth outcomes

The Long-Term Effects of Abuse on Incarcerated Teens; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries, to Speak at 2014 Leadership Institute

Each year, Reclaiming Futures fellows from each of the 39 sites are invited to convene for two and a half days to share experiences, exchange information and learn from national experts.
In just one week, Father Greg Boyle, known for being the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the United States, will speak at the 2014 National Leadership Institute. We couldn’t be more excited!
Father Greg is the author of the New York Times best seller, "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion." He’s been nationally recognized over the past 25 years for his devotion to our most vulnerable populations. In his words:

There is an idea that has taken root in this world, that is at the root of everything that is wrong with this world, and that idea is that some lives matter more than others. At Homeboy Industries, the most important thing that we do is to say: you matter, you count, you are worth something.

The theme of this year’s Leadership Institute, "Embrace the Vision, Advance the Mission, Leave a Legacy," builds upon Father Greg’s inspiring words. At Reclaiming Futures, we’re looking forward to coming together next week to further advance our mission of helping teens overcome drugs, alcohol and crime.
For those who are unable to attend this year’s Leadership Institute, you can follow along on Twitter using #RFutures14. Also, subscribe to the blog and newsletter to stay up-to-date on presentation materials as they become available.

Upcoming Webinar to Announce Recommendations for Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a critical problem for youth in the juvenile justice system. An upcoming webinar, Preventing Suicide Among Justice-Involved Youth: Newly Developed Tools, Recommendations, and Research, will describe a comprehensive set of nine new resources from the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force.
In addition to outlining these new resources, the webinar will also discuss the Juvenile Justice Task Force’s research findings and recommendations for staff working with this vulnerable population, which advance from the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
Alarming facts from the Juvenile Justice Task Force about suicide with youth in the justice system include:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth in confinement.
  • Over half of youth in the justice system were considering suicide.
  • One-third of youth in the justice system had a history of suicidal behavior.
  • Risk factors for suicide are often more common among youth in the juvenile justice system.

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

Below you'll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It's free to browse and post!

Jobs Releases New Digital Magazine Featuring Stories of Key Juvenile Justice Issues

Last week the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange launched a new multimedia digital magazine in celebration of its fourth year of journalism. The new magazine will feature top stories in juvenile justice on key issues including mental health, substance abuse and disproportionate minority contact.

This new magazine platform will combine video, text and photography to offer a multimedia picture of juvenile justice and the complex issues surrounding it. The first issue, released last week, includes the following feature stories:

Juvenile Justice Bill Clears Ky. Senate; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

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Montgomery County, Ohio Juvenile Court Gets Creative in the Snow

Last month, Montgomery County, Ohio Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi found himself trapped in the heavy Washington, D.C. snowstorm right before a drug court docket of 41 teens and families expected to see him back home.
The story below, from the Montgomery County, Ohio Drug Court Gazette, details how Judge Capizzi and the drug court staff came up with a creative solution to ensure that the teens could continue their recovery without disruption.

On February 12, 2014, Judge Capizzi called his drug court team with bad news: The February 14th docket was at risk of being canceled due to him being stranded in Washington, D.C. The city had shut down due to a snow storm and all flights were canceled. The drug court team desperately searched for a solution, knowing that if the drug court docket had to be canceled, 41 families would have to be rescheduled.
The Montgomery County juvenile drug court team set out to find an alternative to having the cases continued. "Our families already dedicate so much of their time to supporting their youth by taking them to counseling sessions and bi-weekly court hearings, I do not want to further inconvenience them by canceling and having them reschedule,” commented Judge Capizzi.
When presented with the idea of using Skype to bring the Judge to the courtroom, Judge
Capizzi was thrilled with the idea. Working with the court’s data services staff, a plan evolved for the Judge to hold court using Skype through his iPad, and the system was quickly tested. The drug court team was concerned as to whether the Skype program could be set up and operating smoothly with such short notice. Holding court through Skype had never been done in this court before. The pressure was on.
A total of 48 cases, which consisted of 41 drug court youth and seven other cases, were heard by the Judge through Skype. The families were impressed with Judge Capizzi’s willingness to sit in a hotel room in Washington, D.C. and conduct all of his cases through Skype so that they would not have to take additional time off work for a new court date. The attorneys and other court personnel were also happy that court could be held as scheduled.
”Rescheduling a docket this size and trying to ensure that all parties involved with each case are notified is a huge deal. I am very excited that Judge Capizzi was open to trying out this technology. It was cool. All the kids loved it,” commented Katie Brower, Case Manager.
Special thanks to Josh Kirkendall and Ramona Wilson from Data Services for assisting with this event.

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New Research Finds Excessive Discipline Harms Student Achievement

In a report by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative, discrepancies in school discipline are found to be a serious problem that result in a wide range of negative student outcomes, including lowered academic achievement, increased risk of dropout, and increased likelihood of contact with the juvenile justice system.
Funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Societies Foundations, the Collaborative consists of 26 researches, educators, advocates, and policy analysts that spent nearly three years working to develop and support a policy agenda for reform to improve students outcomes in school discipline and encourage effective interventions.
Some of the key points discussed in the briefing papers include:

  • Removal from school for minor rule breaking happens too often and increases dropout risks, juvenile justice involvement, and can severely impair the economy.
  • Excessive disciplinary exclusion harms some groups more than others, including black males and Latinos.
  • There are effective and promising alternatives to exclusionary discipline and interventions, which can improve learning conditions for all students.

Find the full briefing papers from the Discipline Disparities Series here >>

National Institute of Justice Announces Funding Opportunity To Increase School Safety

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has announced the fiscal year 2014 funding opportunity, Investigator-Initiated Research: The Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. The goals of this initiative are to improve the knowledge and understanding of school safety and violence, and enhance school safety programs through social and behavioral science research.
Under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, NIJ will allocate approximately $15 million for multiple grants to fund research that will address school safety issues directly and strive to achieve the following:

  • Examine the root causes of school violence
  • Develop new technologies
  • Apply evidence-based practices
  • Test pilot programs to enhance school safety

As a starting point, Congress has identified a number of factors and issues related to school safety programs that investigators might consider for research and evaluation:

  • The school-to-prison pipeline
  • Gaps in the nation’s mental health system
  • Exposure to violence in the media
  • Bullying prevention programs or other violence prevention programs/initiatives
  • Crisis/emergency management
  • Efforts to address disparate treatment of students (based on race, disability, sex, etc.)
  • School discipline alternatives and restorative justice

The Important Change to Juvenile Justice You Have Not Heard About; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

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Words Unlocked Continues to Inspire Incarcerated Teens

Last year, we reported about a new poetry initiative designed to introduce young people involved with the juvenile justice system to the therapeutic power of writing, give them hope, and inspire them to persevere in overcoming challenges posed by addiction and crime. Developed by the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS), Words Unlocked is a month-long poetry curriculum culminating in a nationwide competition open only to incarcerated teens.
We’re excited to see that Words Unlocked is happening again this April, this year with the theme “Boundaries.” Via Words Unlocked:

Boundaries exist in all shapes and forms; boundaries can be physical, social, emotional, or personal. Through Words Unlocked we hope to encourage thousands of students who are locked up to explore this theme and not let the boundaries prescribed by their locked rooms or the razor wire that they see every day limit their creativity, seriousness, or passion for writing and expression.
Far too many young people are locked up around the country. Through this initiative, we intend to ensure that their words are not.

Report Finds Family Visits Improve Behavior and School Performance of Incarcerated Teens

A report from the Vera Institute of Justice, Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Public Welfare Foundation underscores the importance of family involvement for incarcerated youth. The Families as Partners: Supporting Youth Reentry Project’s findings reveal the positive correlation between family visitation and behavior and school performance, and suggest juvenile correctional facilities should change their visitation policies to promote more frequent visitation with families.
In the study, teens who were never visited earned the lowest GPA scores and had three times as many behavior incidents as those who saw their families at least once a week. Conversely, youth who had regular family visits experienced the lowest levels of behavioral incidents and earned the highest GPAs.
Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Youth who were visited regularly committed an average of four behavioral incidents per month, compared to six among those visited infrequently and 14 among those who were never visited.
  • Youth who had never received a visit exhibited the highest rates of behavioral incidents.
  • Average GPAs for youth who never had a visitor was 80.4, compared to 82 for those who had visits infrequently and 85 for youth who had frequent visits.

Find the full report from the Families as Partners: Supporting Youth Reentry Project.

Upcoming Webinar on Building Relationships with Policymakers to Help your Community

Mark your calendars! This Wednesday, March 19, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is hosting, “Show Policymakers How Your Court Helps Your Community: Five Steps for Building Relationships that Last.”
This webinar will provide insight on how building relationships with policymakers can help your community, including by raising public attention for your issue, building new community support, or even increasing funding. It can take time to establish the strong relationships necessary to reach these results.
Guest speakers Mac Prichard and Jessica Williams of Prichard Communications will share lessons learned and tips from their experiences helping juvenile courts and nonprofits in Washington, DC, and across the country, focusing on three learning objectives:

  • Understand the benefits of building relationships with policy makers.
  • Share strategic principles for working with elected officials in your
  • community.
  • Review case studies of juvenile courts in Dayton, Ohio, and Seattle.

To register for Wednesday’s webinar, email Jessica Pearce at jpearce [at] ncjfcj [dot] org.

Washington State Passes Law Sealing Juvenile Records; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Changes Sought in Parole Hearings For Ex-Juveniles (The Boston Globe)
    A dozen Massachusetts inmates sentenced as juveniles to life sentences for first-degree murder have received invitations to appear before the state Parole Board, the first time such offenders have had a chance to seek freedom. But just how these unprecedented parole hearings will be structured is causing its own challenges.
  • Washington State Passes Law Sealing Juvenile Records (
    A measure restricting access to juvenile records passed the Washington state Legislature Wednesday. As JJIE reported March 6, the bill, HB 1651, restricts access to all juvenile records except the worst felony offenses, such as violent crimes and sexual assaults.
  • "Kids For Cash" Captures A Juvenile Justice Scandal From Two Sides (NPR)
    Kids for Cash chronicles the story of Judge Mark A. Chiavarella, who was convicted in 2011 for sending thousands of children to a juvenile detention facility from which he'd received a "finder's fee."

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