Blog: North Carolina

Reclaiming Futures SBIRT Implementation: Progress & Plans

Before sharing our accomplishments and expansion efforts, let’s take a moment to acknowledge numerous people and organizations that we have had the privilege of working with over the past few years to implement Reclaiming Futures’ version of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (RF-SBIRT).

NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic

Our small community has been deeply affected by bullying. Last year, two teenage girls committed suicide after being bullied. This school year, we’ve already had five students bring weapons to school to protect themselves from bullies. And two out of three students referred to our Teen Court program for simple assault, simple affray or disorderly conduct are there because of bullying-related incidents.

Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, our young people, police officers and community members decided to take a stand by creating a short movie. The movie was written and acted by students, many of whom have been involved in bullying.

Reclaiming Futures Forsyth County Lifts Teens

Kudos to the Reclaiming Futures team in Forsyth County, N.C. and Dave Moore, for reaching out to the community and lifting up young people: 

For several years now, Moore — the founder of Southside Rides Foundation — has opened his shop up to those in need of a second chance. Young men and women pass through his garage throughout the year as he works with the court system to get them community service hours and auto-body repair training or access to other career training opportunities. He even offers customized training at the shop through a Forsyth Technical Community College program.
Six teens are participating in the summer program at Southside Rides. Moore said the program has been a success so far, but now he is encouraging the community to get involved.
Moore is asking community members to bring their cars by the shop to let the teens wash them. A $5 or $10 donation will go toward a stipend Moore will disburse at the end of each week for the students to spend on items such as clothes or school supplies in preparation for the fall.
But Moore also sees it as a way to engage his students with the community. As they wash people’s cars, Moore hopes they can chat with folks and make positive connections. He is also encouraging police officers to stop by and meet the teens to “bridge the gap.”

At Reclaiming Futures, we believe young people must be connected with community resources and “natural helping” relationships in the community based on their unique strengths and interests.
Please call 503-725-8914 if you’d like to learn more about bringing Reclaiming Futures to your community.

Resources From 2013 Leadership Institute

Thank you to the community leaders and experts in juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance abuse treatment and mental health who contributed to a successful 2013 Leadership Institute in Asheville, N.C., May 7-9, 2013.
I'm pleased to share the presentations, plenary sessions and fellowship discussions that made up this working conference to help communities break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
Please take a moment to browse the topics and share the proven approaches and best practices for communities adopting, implementing and sustaining the Reclaiming Futures model as the standard of care in communities across the nation.
Here is a sample of the topics:

  • Behavior Change Drivers by Michael Clark, Center for Strength-Based Strategies
  • Rest Stop: Self-Care and Leadership Survival by Laura Nissen, Special Advisor, Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Portland State University
  • One Faith Community at a Time by Michael Dublin, Consultant, Faith Works Together Coordinator
  • Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN): An Introduction & Opportunity to Ask Questions, Michael Dennis and Kate Moritz, Chestnut Health Systems
  • How to Manage Yourself and Others Through the Stress of Change by Kathleen Doyle-White, Founder and President, Pathfinders Coaching

We'd like to hear from you. If you attended the Leadership Institute, what new skills, perspectives or strategies will you use? What insights will reinforce your efforts?
Please share ideas, photos and resources from the 2013 Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute, using the following hashtag via Twitter: #RFutures13

Juvenile Drug Court Uses Pineapples to Give System-Involved Youth Fresh Start

In Forsyth County (NC), District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield uses pineapples to offer system-involved teens a fresh start. She keeps the pineapples on the bench to remind teens of the court's role in their lives. Speaking to the Winston-Salem Chronicle, Judge Hartsfield explained:

“Since the pilgrims came in colonial days, the pineapple has been a symbol that means welcome,” she said. “I want everyone to feel welcome and to be very comfortable on this journey… There are going to be some slips – there are going to be some falls – but the pineapple tells us that we’re all welcome here and we’re all working together.”
Hartsfield likened the teens to the fruit, which she said has a “rough, prickly” exterior, but “what’s inside is fleshy, juicy, sweet and absolutely wonderful.” Hartsfield told the youth that many of the defendants who come before her – both young and old – land in her courtroom because of an alcohol or drug addiction.
“One of the goals that I would have is trying to make sure that you never have to see adult court,” she said. “…I anticipate that we’re going to have a great deal of pineapples in here, and we’re going to celebrate some folks.”

Almost 50 Percent Fewer Youth Arrested in Florida Schools; News Roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
    Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
  • Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
    It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
  • Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
    The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
  • Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
    In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
  • Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
    In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.

[Video] Examining the School to Prison Pipeline in North Carolina

North Carolina is 3rd in the country in school suspensions, which disproportionately affect African American boys. In the video below, host Deborah Holt Noel brings together Dr. Janet Johnson (EDSTAR Analytics), Chris Hill (Education and Law Project) and Barbara Fedders (UNC School of Law)  to discuss the problem and offer solutions.

Watch School to Prison Pipeline Pt2 on PBS. See more from Black Issues Forum.

The High Cost of Convicting Teens as Adults

The policy of trying 16- and 17-year-old nonviolent offenders as adults in criminal court has a damaging effect on the lifetime earnings potential of nearly 1,000 teenaged New Yorkers each year—costing them an estimated, cumulative total of between $50 million and $60 million in lost income over the course of their lives.
A Child Welfare Watch analysis demonstrates that the policy of trying 16- and 17-year-old nonviolent felony and misdemeanor offenders in adult criminal court has a high cost in foregone wages for each annual cohort of 16- and 17-year-olds that passes through the adult criminal courts, and also costs the government unknown millions in lost taxes.
The Watch reached its estimate using a method similar to that applied by researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice when they performed a 2011 cost-benefit analysis for a North Carolina state legislature task force. At the time, North Carolina was considering a legislative change that would have shifted cases of 16- and 17-year-olds charged with nonviolent crime to the state’s juvenile system.
Our analysis did not approach the full scope of the North Carolina study. Instead, we adapted one particular component—the cost of the current policy in lost earnings potential for young people tried in adult court who end up with a permanent criminal record. The authors of the North Carolina analysis calculated the loss in wages over a lifetime, finding that the average net present value of the earning differential between people with a record and those without totals $61,691 per person.

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | October 2012

Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of our most popular posts from October 2012.
10. [NEW REPORT] Community Solutions for Youth in Trouble
Over the past few years, Texas has shifted youth rehabilitation from large state-run facilities to smaller community programs. And they're seeing great results.
9. October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month
Last month, over 20 states are holding events to raise awareness about youth justice issues and the juvenile justice system.
8. 7 Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice
A new article from the New York Law School Law Review examines problems with the juvenile justice system and offers solutions for a more productive youth justice system.
7. NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic 
Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, young people in North Carolina partnered with police officers and community members to create a short movie against bullying.

Why I’m a Reclaiming Futures Advocate: Evidence-Based Practices and Community Engagement in North Carolina

Juvenile crime is decreasing nationwide. But here in North Carolina, our drop in teen crime is almost double the national average. In fact, violent crimes committed by teens 16 and younger have dropped by nearly 37%. So how did we accomplish this?
In 2003, we shifted our approach to focus on prevention and treatment. More recently, we’ve begun implementing the Reclaiming Futures model to coordinate care and improve drug and alcohol treatment for justice-involved youth.
When I first learned of Reclaiming Futures, my heart beat faster over the prospects of what it could accomplish. I immediately recognized early on what I’ve now come to describe as Reclaiming Futures’ “practice principles” – those elements of daily and organizational practice that make it work, and that improve or reform the system in which they are embedded.
These principles are of my own modification. Yet to me, they capture the essence of juvenile court reforms as catalyzed by Reclaiming Futures:

  • Evidence-based (data driven) decision making – we should attempt with all intention to take our personal values and cultures out of the decisions we make regarding vulnerable youth. Reclaiming Futures drives this through evidence-based screening, assessment and the use of evidence-informed clinical interventions.
  • Judicial leadership and court management – that’s right, without the judges’ buy-in, nothing in the juvenile court flies. And I’ve found that Reclaiming Futures judges buy in because they become significantly better informed by the data collected, the teams giving input around the table, and clear options for kids under their supervision and care. This “stakeholder buy-in” includes a commitment from judges to regularly bring cases back into the courtroom for reviews to recognize both the positive and negative changes that may be occurring with youth.
  • Engaged communities with court staff having a primary case management function (if the youth is on supervision or an agreed-upon court plan) – sort of a corollary to the judicial leadership bullet, having a focal point in the juvenile justice system for coordinating services, engaging formal and informal helping systems, and balancing public safety with treatment, intervention and pro-social engagement makes perfect sense…and Reclaiming Futures sets up this organizational picture by virtue of the 6-step model. This does not mean that the court staff “control” the process; rather, they are the accountable hub in the wheel of collaboration and case management since they are required by law to be accountable for case outcomes to the juvenile court judges.
  • Continuous quality management and improvement – Reclaiming Futures is designed to be driven by constant monitoring, feedback, team meetings and data consideration. In my view, every juvenile court should be doing the exact same thing (with or without Reclaiming Futures). By necessity, these processes will require sharing of information and data within and across agencies and systems --- and after all, shouldn’t we be finding ways to do this so that the system adapts to the child/family and not the other way around? These principles drive excellence that the methodology for measuring both process and outcome.

NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic

Our small community has been deeply affected by bullying. Last year, two teenage girls committed suicide after being bullied. This school year, we’ve already had five students bring weapons to school to protect themselves from bullies. And two out of three students referred to our Teen Court program for simple assault, simple affray or disorderly conduct are there because of bullying-related incidents.

Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, our young people, police officers and community members decided to take a stand by creating a short movie. The movie was written and acted by students, many of whom have been involved in bullying.

Judging Children as Children: Partnering with Families for Our Children's Future

A resident of East Harlem used to be somewhat of a problem child. He was always running around and banging on cans and tapping on walls. His mother felt helpless. Finally, one of her neighbors suggested that she send her child to "drum school." She followed this advice. And the child grew up to become Tito Puente, the King of Latin Music.
There is a valuable lesson in this little story.
It is often the family and community that know best how to provide support and solutions for our "problem children." New York's Penal Law and related statutes, however, often undermine or fail to recognize the power of families to be effective, if not indispensable, partners in the solution.
New York is one of only two states in the nation (North Carolina is the other) that sets the age of criminal responsibility as low as 16. New York also tries children as young as 13 as adults when they are accused of the most serious crimes.

Juvenile Justice Aftercare Program Shows Success in Florida and Beyond

Youth exiting juvenile justice residential placements are often thrust back into their home communities without a support system leading to high rates of recidivism and likely pushing the youth deeper into the juvenile justice system. Eckerd recognized this missing link and funded Florida’s first aftercare service for youth in the 1990’s. This service was subsequently noticed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and instituted statewide. Since that time, Eckerd has expanded aftercare services throughout Florida and in other states to include North Carolina and Texas. Eckerd’s Juvenile Justice Aftercare services provide transition and case management support for youth and families prior to and upon exit of residential treatment programs. Millions in cost savings from subsequent residential and detention placements have been realized, and outstanding outcomes have been achieved to include:

  • Social Skills Improvements 85%
  • Mental Health Improvements 89% (NC and TX)
  • Youth Satisfaction 100%
  • Parent Satisfaction 100%
  • Recidivism 16% (FL)

A Look at Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

A report released this month takes an in-depth look at how girls are represented in North Carolina's juvenile justice system, how the numbers have shifted over the years and why females are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system despite the overall decrease in juvenile crime. Representing Girls In the Juvenile Justice System, released by the North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, looks at not only the characteristics and risk factors of girls in the juvenile justice system, but also offers several best practices to best serve the unique issues this population faces.
Since the early 1990s, due to policy changes, the number of girls in the juvenile justice system has been on the rise. Basically, the increased amount of girls in the juvenile justice system can be credited to the “relabeling of girls’ family conflicts as violent offenses, shifting police practices concerning domestic violence, processing of misdemeanor cases in a gender-biased manner and a misunderstanding of girls’ developmental issues,” according to the report.

North Carolina Teens Join Together Against Bullying

In North Carolina, teens are joining together to stand up against bullying. As part of the Salisbury Police Cadet Program, teens are joining youth court participants in making an anti-bullying video. 
The Salisbury Police Cadet Program is for young people ages 13 to 21 who are interested in a career in law enforcement. As cadets, they learn about the criminal justice system while gaining life skills and mentoring. This year, they are partnering with local teen court participants and Reclaiming Futures Rowan County.
Teen Court is a program that allows first-time teen offenders to be "tried" by their peers for misdemeanors. Teens serve as attorneys and jurors, while local attorneys serve as judges. Sentences given out through teen court often consist of restitution and community service, with a focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment.
From the Salisbury Post:

Updates from Reclaiming Futures North Carolina

It has been an exciting few months for Reclaiming Futures in North Carolina. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Local Fellows from each of the 6 sites along with state partners from North Carolina attended the National Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute in San Antonio. This year’s theme was “Implementing and Sustaining Change: Empowering Youth” and provided training and discussion around implementation plans, family and community engagement, and DATA, DATA, DATA.
  • The six current sites are busy with implementation planning, including how to apply learning from the Leadership Institute and developing sustainability strategies.
  • The Request for Proposal was released for the new expansion sites being funded by The Duke Endowment. We’ve been fielding questions and hosted a webinar with 33 participants from across the state on June 14th. Applications will be due July 13th.
  • Project directors, community fellows, and mentoring program representatives had the opportunity to participate in a full day session focused on best practices on mentoring. The session, facilitated by Charlotte McGuire, consultant for the National Program Office also provided an opportunity to connect the Reclaiming Futures sites with state-level contacts supporting mentoring programs for youths and families, including representatives from DJJ Community Programs, NC Families United, and Communities in Schools of North Carolina.

The Crime Report Looks into Practice of Trying Teens in Adult Court

Over at The Crime Report, Cara Tabachnick takes a look at the practice of trying teens in adult court. She writes:

Nathan Jordan is serving a 170-year sentence at Sterling Correction Facility in Colorado for aggravated robbery, motor vehicle theft and possession of a weapon.
But most of his crimes, which did not result in anyone’s death or injury, took place in in the late 1990s, before he was 18 . According to Colorado law, he was a juvenile offender.
So how did Jordan end up with the kind of sentence that might be meted out to serial killers or career criminals?
The answer is devastatingly simple: he was tried in adult court.

New York Considers Legislation to Raise Juvenile Justice Age

In New York and North Carolina, 16 and 17 year old teens are automatically sent to adult criminal court for criminal offenses, including nonviolent charges. 
Lawmakers in North Carolina are already working to raise the juvenile age to 18 and now New York is following suit.
Writing at Child Welfare Watch, Alec Hamilton explains:

The effort to keep nonviolent 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult court has moved to the state legislature, which is considering two new juvenile justice bills. One, based on a proposal by the state’s chief judge, would establish permanent youth courts that prevent those tried for nonviolent offenses from picking up permanent criminal records—but would have little impact for thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds charged each year with violent felonies.
The second would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for all but those accused of the most serious offenses, sending them automatically through the juvenile justice system...
Legislative observers say the bill that is most likely to move forward is a compromise that reflects the desire of youth advocates, legislators and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to raise the age of adult criminal prosecutions to 18 for nonviolent offenses, but will not overload the Family Court with thousands of new cases. In fact, the new youth courts would be located in and managed by the adult Criminal Court system.

North Carolina Funding Opportunity: Become a Reclaiming Futures Site!

The Division of Juvenile Justice and The Duke Endowment are pleased to release this request for proposals for four additional Reclaiming Futures sites in North Carolina. With funding from The Duke Endowment, this opportunity furthers the efforts of the North Carolina Reclaiming Futures Initiative to ensure that court-involved youths are screened for substance abuse problems, connected with assessment and treatment, as necessary, and have access to long-term, community-based supports to ensure positive outcomes. To learn more about the Reclaiming Futures model, visit www.reclaimingfutures.org.

For more information on this request for proposal, a bidders’ webinar will be offered on Thursday, June 14th at 11:30 to provide additional information and answer questions. To register for the webinar, click here.

The deadline to apply is July 13, 2012 by 5:00 p.m. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at jessica.jones@ncdps.gov or 919-743-8115.

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