Blog: Reclaiming Futures

Susan Richardson on Reclaiming Futures and What's Next

Background: On May 18 and 19, 2011, Reclaiming Futures hosted its biannual Leadership Institute for its participating sites. Held in Miami, the Institute featured presentations from leaders in the fields of youth work and juvenile justice. 

About This Archived Webcast: On Wednesday, May 18, Susan Richardson, Reclaiming Futures' new national director, gave a 30-minute presentation on her vision for Reclaiming Futures, the North Carolina experience and what to look forward to in the next six months.


Gordon Bazemore on Youth Development, Restorative Justice, and Social Capital and Restorative Decision-making

Background: On May 18 and 19, 2011, Reclaiming Futures hosted its biannual Leadership Institute for its participating sites. Held in Miami this year, the Institute featured presentations from leaders in the fields of youth work and juvenile justice. 

About This Archived Webcast: On Thursday, May 19, Dr. Gordon Bazemore, a leading expert in restorative justice and juvenile justice, gave a three-part presentation on youth development, restorative justice, and social capital and "restorative decision-making." >>Download the presentation slides.


Karen Pittman on Positive Youth Development and Teens in the Juvenile Justice System (Video)

Background: On May 18 and 19, 2011, Reclaiming Futures hosted its biannual Leadership Institute for its participating sites. Held in Miami, the Institute featured presentations from leaders in the fields of youth work and juvenile justice. 

About This Video: On May 18, 2011, Karen Pittman, a national leader in youth development work, gave a one-hour presentation on positive youth development—what it is, what it means, and how it can help communities make better decisions about their young people, including those in the juvenile justice system.  It was broadcast live and then posted as an archived video. 


Part two -- about the last three minutes of Karen's speech -- is below the break:

Is Medicaid Irrelevant? - Weekly Roundup

  • juvenile-justice-reform_state-trends-coverLegislative Victories Removing Youth from Adult Criminal Justice System
    The Campaign for Youth Justice released a report on the growing number of states changing their policies to keep more kids out of adult lockup.
  • Hardin County, OH Embraces Reclaiming Futures
    Reclaiming Futures Hardin County got great coverage in the March 26, 2011 issue of the Kenton Times. Random quotes: Scott Mitchell, treatment court graduate, said, “I did a complete 180." Judge James Rapp: "If we are there for [the kids], they will be successful.” Follow the link to learn more.
  • Do it YO Way - Mentors Guide Youth in Bristol County, MA
    After receiving training in anti-oppressive practices (follow link and scroll to find webinars, PowerPoints, and other resources), the Reclaiming Futures Bristol County team "developed 'YO', a pilot program which exposed seven young men from diverse ethnic backgrounds to the practices of oppressiveness and privilege."

    In an intense, 12-week program, they worked with adult mentors on "how to be successful in the face of the challenges they face in their daily lives."

    As Deirdre Lopes, director of the H.O.P.E. (Healthy Opportunities for Peaceful Engagement) Collaborative said, "We can tell them whatever we want, but there's no substitute for showing them. That's what really has an impact."

    Click the headline to see the April 5, 2011 story from South Coast Today.

Investing in Reclaiming Futures Webinar

juvenile-justice-reform_Investing-in-Reclaiming-Futures-documentWe're sponsoring a free one-hour webinar, “Investing in Reclaiming Futures,” on January 20, 2011 at 10:30 am PST / 1:30 pm EST. It's designed specifically for public agencies, policymakers, and foundations wanting to learn more about the Reclaiming Futures model and how the model has been adopted as a cost-effective juvenile justice reform initiative. 
The webinar will:

  1. review the need for system improvement for young people involved with juvenile justice and substance abuse;
  2. describe the Reclaiming Futures model;
  3. describe a statewide framework for Reclaiming Futures, and
  4. discuss the role of public policy makers and foundations in adopting Reclaiming Futures as a framework at the state level. 

Three More Communities Implement the Reclaiming Futures Model

juvenile-justice-reform_money-smartiesThree more communities will be implementing the Reclaiming Futures model, thanks to $4.1  million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). That brings the number of Reclaiming Futures communities to 29 in 17 states.
Each of the grantees will be implementing the model over four years in a juvenile drug court, with the aim of reducing substance abuse among youth in the juvenile justice system:

Congratulations! We look forward to working with them.
>>Read the complete news release, with statements from SAMHSA, OJJDP, RWJF.

JMATE 2010 Presentations from Reclaiming Futures

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_agenda-graffitiExcited about the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) conference 2010, coming up next week, December 14-16, 2010? I definitely am. It looks like a closer-to-complete agenda has now been posted, and I can tell you, just scanning it gives me goosebumps.
Just to pick an example at random: Laurence Steinberg [follow link and scroll to the second bullet down] will be doing a plenary session on "Why Adolescents Make Risky Decisions." Since it's primarily Steinberg's research that the Supreme Court has used in its recent decisions doing away with the death penalty for juveniles and life without parole, I don't think anyone will want to miss it.
To pick another example: John Roman of The Urban Institute will be talking about "effective juvenile drug courts." Another topic of wide interest.
But what I want to highlight today are the presentations that individuals in our Reclaiming Futures family will be making.  Here's a complete list:

Reclaiming Futures Relaunches Website

juvenile-justice-reform-adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_Reclaiming-Futures-web-siteIt's been nearly 10 years since Reclaiming Futures first launched its website focused on its six-step model promoting juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment.
A lot has changed since then. Which is why we've revamped our website at to help you find what you're looking for more easily.
For example, you can:

Job Announcement: Reclaiming Futures National Executive Director

juvenile-justice-reform_taking-applications-signBelieve in juvenile justice reform? Want to lead a national initiative to disseminate a proven six-step model that allows communities to help teens break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime?
Now's your chance.
Back in June, Laura Burney Nissen announced that she would be stepping down as national director of Reclaiming Futures. The job opening has now been posted, and a national search is under way for a new national executive director.  >>Download the application.
P.S. Please share with friends and colleagues you think might be interested. 
Photo: capturingJenna.

Reclaiming Futures Cited as One of Five Models for System Reform for At-Risk Youth

juvenile-justice-reform_stack-of-booksReclaiming Futures is featured in, "Models to Guide System Reform for At-Risk Youth," which appeared online July 4 in Child and Youth Care Forum. (Sorry -- I can only link to the abstract.)
The authors, Susan A. McCarter, Mason G. Haber, and Donna Kazemi, ransacked the research literature for reform models that could help policy makers. They noted that although youth in the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems have complex issues -- and coordinating multiple services to provide appropriate care for them is difficult -- there's actually very little guidance on how to do it well. They found five promising models, however, and I'm pleased to say that Reclaiming Futures (ahem) was one of them.

Roundup: Juvenile Justice Reform at a Crossroads

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TVJuvenile Justice Reform in Jeopardy, or Headed for a Golden Age? 

  • The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) may be in trouble, if Congress reauthorizes it without increased funding for states to comply. That could mean that cash-strapped states may opt out, despite its long success and the high marks given to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for the training and technical assistance it provides to support the JJDPA. What would happen in your state, if the federal allocation was reduced or stayed the same? 

Juvenile Drug Courts & Reclaiming Futures -- Evaluation Grant Opportunity

juvenile-drug-courts_abstract-shapesAre you a researcher with a background or interest in juvenile drug courts? Know someone who fits the bill?
Then check out a new grant solicitation from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to evaluate juvenile drug courts implemented with the Reclaiming Futures model. These sites have also been funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
This goal of this three-year grant is "to conduct an independent evaluation of the combined effects of the two interventions to determine what system-level changes may result in increased efficiencies and cost effectiveness."
Objectives(as listed in the solicitation):

  1. Assess the operations of juvenile drug courts/Reclaiming Futures model using established indices for performance, efficiencies, and cost effectiveness.
  2. Improve the empirical knowledge base about juvenile drug courts and the Reclaiming Futures model.
  3. Analyze the efficacy of combined efforts of juvenile drug courts and the Reclaiming Futures model.
  4. Conduct case studies using administrative, collaboration, and quality indices and the sixteen (16) key elements of juvenile drug courts.
  5. Evaluate the potential for replication of these models

Application deadline is August 20, 2010.

"Brain Cells. Trust Me, You Need Them," and More in Our Weekly Roundup


  • 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?

Making the Case for Your Program: Social Return on Investment

juvenile-court_calculations-on-graph-paperIs your program for youth in juvenile court worth it? 
Does it really make sense to spend all that money on treating a kid for his drug habit, or to provide 20 teens with job readiness skills? 
Chances are, it does. Your program probably saves the community a lot of money in avoided costs -- but can you prove it?  That's the tricky part.

Supporting Teens in Treatment and Beyond: Our Community Summit and Lessons Learned

community-involvement_people-working-at-tablesI’m sure you already know the Reclaiming Futures mantra for teens in the justice system who have alcohol and drug issues: “More treatment, better treatment, and beyond treatment!”
The hardest part of the mantra to bring to fruition is the third part of it – how can we help support youth in recovery once they’re done with treatment (or even the juvenile court)? Changing behavior for the long-term isn’t easy, and youth need positive activities and supportive adults to help them stay sober and crime-free.
To begin to tackle our own “beyond treatment” plan, Bristol County Reclaiming Futures recently hosted a “sustainability summit.” Our goal was to initiate conversation about how to better meet the needs of at-risk and justice-involved youth with substance abuse issues, and I’m happy to report that the project generated a lot of positive energy and even made the news! We generated a number of strategies to move forward, and a task force comprised of summit attendees and other interested parties soon begin working on implementing them. (Special thanks to Dan Merrigan of Boston University, our Reclaiming Futures coach, for facilitating the work group project.)
Some highlights:

Mentors for Teens in the Justice System - Reclaiming Futures in Dayton Issues Call to Community

juvenile-court-mentors_top-story-WDTN In June, Reclaiming Futures Montgomery County in Dayton, OH, held a successful event asking members of the community to mentor teens in the justice system struggling with alcohol and drug issues. (Dayton already has a great track record in this area, having already recruited and trained over 190 "natural helpers" for these youth.) 
The event garnered a news story in the Dayton Daily News, “Kids in Juvenile Court in Need of Mentors,” and it was the "top story" (see right) on the evening news, in a story called, "Helping Teens with Mentors
Great work, team!

Related Post: Reclaiming Futures sites in Bristol County, MA, and Forsyth County, NC, also recently reached out to the community for assistance in working with teens involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime.
Bonus Related Post: Having trouble organizing successful outreach? You may be missing a key element from the community: families with children involved in the juvenile justice system. Check out this post for tips on how to engage these families and others.

Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures Highlighted in Attorney General's Speech

The Department of Justice's ongoing work to integrate juvenile drug courts and the Reclaiming Futures model was highlighted by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder when he addressed the opening session of a conference held by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) on June 3, 2010. If you click on the video above, you'll see he speaks briefly about the administration's overall efforts to draw on innovative approaches to adolescent substance abuse around 14:40.
In the same segment, he indicates that three more juvenile drug court awards will be made this fall jointly with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) -- and he also mentions that a summit on adolescent recovery is planned for this fall. Looking forward to that! 

Juvenile Justice System - Reclaiming Futures Sites Appeal to Community

juvenile-justice-system_Judge-Reingold-Forsyth-County-TVReclaiming Futures sites have been appealing to their communities for caring adults to help teens with drug and alcohol problems who are in trouble with the law. A community event in Forsyth County, NC recently made the TV news (the Honorable William B. Reingold is pictured at left), the paper, and also netted a positive editorial from the Winston-Salem Journal.  [LATER: Reclaiming Futures Forsyth County also appeared in a second paper, the Winston-Salem Chronicle. To see it, follow the link, then click on "Archive" and choose the paper for June 17, 2010. Then navigate to page 3. The article is titled, "A Different Approach."]
And our Bristol County, MA site also made the paper a few weeks ago with a community meeting of its own on helping drug-involved youth
Great work, everyone!
P.S. Want to bring attention to juvenile justice reform in your community? Check out this communications toolkit for justice initiatives from the Center for Court Innovation and the Bureau of Justice Affairs.

Reclaiming Futures' National Project Director to Step Down in May 2011

Reclaiming-Futures_highways-crossing-in-sunriseAfter more than 10 years with Reclaiming Futures, I have decided to step down as national program director, in order to concentrate on teaching and research in my role as a faculty member at the School of Social Work at Portland State University. I will continue to serve as national director until my successor begins work.
The search for a new national director will begin soon, and our plan is to have a new leader in place at our next leadership institute in May 2011. We are forming a search committee of four to six people who are close to the project to advise us about the selection process. A job announcement is forthcoming soon.

Juvenile Justice Reform: What Happens When You Lose a Team Member?

juvenile-justice-reform_moody-picture-of-treesOn Monday, April 19th 2010, Nassau County’s Family Court Deputy County Attorney’s Office was advised that the county was restructuring the department. Our Juvenile Treatment Court prosecutors, Gregg Roth and Arianne Reyer, were advised their services were no longer needed as of Friday, April 30th. Arianne was later given a temporary reprieve, but Gregg is gone.
This move was devastating to the treatment court and to the Reclaiming Futures initiative here, which had built a cohesive working group over the last three years. Just as when I was younger and my brother left home for the military, it had never occurred to me that anyone would ever leave our team. I am left feeling abandoned and alone with Gregg’s departure, just like I did when my brother went off to the Army. Our Nassau County Juvenile Treatment Court/Reclaiming Futures Change Team is family, and one of us is no longer here.