Blog: Public Policy

Teen Suicides in Justice System Often Unknown to State Regulators

Youth Today reports that the number of juveniles in the justice system who commit suicide while confined is higher than anyone thought -- worse yet, their deaths often go unreported to state authorities.
We know this because the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) commissioned a report, Characteristics of Juvenile Suicide in Confinement. Though the report was completed in 2004, it was only released yesterday. The author blames former top OJJDP administrator, J. Robert Flores for the delay. 
One takeaway: youth entering detention should be given mental health assessments as soon as possible. Over half of the youth who killed themselves in detention did so within the first six days, and only 35% had received a mental health assessment by then. Stands to reason that a youth's alcohol and drug use should also be assessed at the same time.

Juvenile Justice and Teen Substance Abuse Treatment - News Roundup

  • Teen alcohol and drug treatment is often paid for with funds from the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds. So it was especially good news to hear that 4 million more children will be covered by the federal program.
  • No word on who the permanent new Drug Czar will be. In the mean time, an interim Drug Czar was named by Obama.
  • Even alcohol and drug policy groups at the state level can be subject to politics: in New Jersey, the State Comptroller audited the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse for the first time in its 20-year existence, and said its $10 million budget would never produce "measurable results."

Care about Juvenile Justice? Learn about the JJDPA

Act 4 JJ logo
What's the JJDPA or Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)?  
 
The JJDPA is perhaps best known for its “core requirements.” 
 
First passed in 1974, the JJDPA has for more than 30 years served as the principal vehicle for federal, state and local government to work in partnership on delinquency prevention and improvements in juvenile justice. The federal office devoted to juvenile justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), at U.S. Department of Justice, was established by the JJDPA.
 

Cocaine Still a Problem - Especially for White Teens

graphed data through a magnifying glassCharles M. Blow, in an Op-Ed in the January 9th New York Times, reported some scary data from the annual Monitoring the Future study:
...[T]he percentage of both black and white 12th graders who confessed to using cocaine in the past 30 days has essentially stayed flat since 2001. The major difference is that white usage outweighs black usage 4 to 1.
He goes on to add:

Round-up: State Budget Gaps, Research on Alcohol and Kids, Vulnerable Populations in Juvenile Justice

Even though it was a holiday week, I ran across a number of interesting stories and resources.

How to Educate Your Representatives about Teen Treatment in Four Easy Steps-Part 2

Oregon Capitol Building[This is the second part of a two-part post. See first post here.]
3. Be prepared for the unexpected. You can't plan for every contingency, but plan for the worst, so you'll be as prepared as you can be.

  • What happens if someone you were counting on to testify comes down with pneumonia?
  • What if one of your partners adds an extra speaker you didn't plan for?
  • What if several legislators on the committee you were scheduled to testify before are unable to attend the hearing, due to family emergencies and other crucial commitments? 

How to Educate Your Representatives about Teen Treatment in Four Easy Steps-Part 1

Oregon Capitol Building(This is the first part of a two-part post. Read the second post here.)
Last week, Laura Nissen of Reclaiming Futures and other experts on drug and alcohol treatment were invited to testify at a hearing by the Oregon State Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Legislators rarely get the chance to learn about adolescent substance abuse in depth, and this was a great opportunity to help them understand the problem -- and possible solutions.
You can do this, too. Here's how organizers made it happen in Oregon:

Teens to Talk Treatment to Oregon State Senators

microphoneThis Thursday, two youth advocates will talk about the importance of treatment and services for teens.
No big deal -- except they'll be talking to the Oregon Senate Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The youth will testify as part of a scheduled hearing about adolescent substance abuse treatment statewide.
It all started last January, when Reclaiming Futures co-sponsored a state summit on the subject. Our co-sponsors

National Juvenile Justice Policy - the Road Ahead?

Over at Youth Today's the excellent blog, I ran across a link to a video of a "town hall meeting" on national juvenile justice policy sponsored by the American Bar Association and held at Georgetown Law School. I recommend that you check out Youth Today's summary of the event for highlights and policy recommendations for the Obama administration before heading over to see the video, which is nearly three hours long -- but the snippets I've seen so far made me want to watch the whole thing.

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