Blog: Research Updates

Census of Juveniles on Probation - Sneak Preview of OJJDP Data

juvenile-justice-system_drug-arrestsA few weeks ago, I announced here that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) had completed its first-ever "Census of Juveniles on Probation" (CJP). Since the report's not done, however, I didn't have any data to share.
The report still isn't done, but it turns out that some preliminary data from the juvenile probation census is available online from George Mason University, where the work is being done.
Curious about the survey? You download the 2009 survey sent to juvenile probation offices in PDF format here.  Next, you can review answers to some "frequently-asked questions," such as number of youth on probation by state, or the ratio of youth on formal probation to those on informal probation. 
In addition, you can also view graphs for 18 pre-set reports based on the juvenile probation data, like the one pictured here for drug offenses. You can see nationwide snapshots of juvenile probationers broken down by age, race/ethnicity, gender and offense category, and many more. Just bear in mind that the data isn't final and may change.  (Hat tip to Lore Joplin.)

Roundup: Marijuana "Gateway" Effect Less Important than Other Factors - and More

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_News-signAdolescent 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.


OJJDP Launches Journal of Juvenile Justice, Seeks Manuscripts

juvenile-justice-system_OJJDP-Journal-coverA New Journal Focused on Juvenile Justice

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will launch the Journal of Juvenile Justice in March 2011. It'll be published twice a year for researchers, clinicians, practitioners, administrators, policy analysts, educators, and students.
How to Submit

Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed; topics can cover what the journal's web site calls "the full range of issues in juvenile justice," including juvenile victimization. Prospective authors can find guidelines and more by logging on here.

Email the journal's managing editor, Monica Robbers, Ph.D.

Top Ten Tips from Teens for Adults

Here's a brilliantly simple, inspiring video designed to get adults involved in the lives of teens. What a great tool for recruiting mentors for youth in the juvenile justice system! (Hat tip to Lane County Prevention.)
As the video mentions, adults avoid teens because they think they want to be left alone.
But nothing could be further from the truth.

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 Indigent Defense System Failing Kids It's Meant to Protect - Weekly Roundup

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_old-TVAdolescent 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: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TVJuvenile Justice Reform and Related News

Effective Practice in Juvenile Justice - and More: Roundup

Teens in Lockup - a Documentary and a Photo Project about Juveniles in the Justice System

  • juvenile-justice-reform_screenshot-from-JuviesClick on the screen shot at right to check out four short clips from "Juvies," an award-winning documentary from 2004 focusing on youth in California's juvenile justice system who were tried as adults and received extremely harsh sentences (photo at right is of "Sandra). You might also be interested in the "syllabus" assembled by the filmmakers in response to frequent requests for additional classroom resources to supplement the film. 


How to Get Teens to Engage in Treatment, and More: Bonus Roundup

Last week, I received too many links and resources to put in last week's roundup of links related to the juvenile justice system and adolescent substance abuse treatment.
So here's a bonus roundup - there's something here for everyone!
Mentoring At-Risk Teens

Juvenile Drug Courts: Why You Should Avoid Using UA Levels in Drug Court Proceedings

If you are involved in running a juvenile drug court, do you ask any of the following questions when you get UA results back for your clients? And do these affect how you or the court sanctions the young person? 

  • "How positive is s/he?"
  • "Are his/her levels increasing or decreasing?"
  • "Does the result mean s/he just used?" 

juvenile-drug-court_NDCI-fact-sheetThose are the wrong questions to ask -- and are especially concerning if teens are being sanctioned based on the answers to these questions -- according to "Urine Drug Concentrations: The Scientific Rationale For Eliminating The Use Of Drug Test Levels In Drug Court Proceedings," by Paul L. Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at University of Missouri Health Care in Columbia Missouri. Though this fact sheet was published by the National Drug Court Institute in January 2004, it's still relevant today.
Here's my gloss of the article:

Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness - Find it on Facebook!

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_JMATE-on-Facebook-profileThe Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) - the only national conference specifically devoted to adolescent substance abuse treatment -- is coming up in December. JMATE has issued a call for papers, registration opens June 1st, and now you can follow JMATE on Facebook.
Reclaiming Futures is one of the co-sponsors, but even if it weren't, I'd be encouraging you to go. I've been to several JMATEs and they were all excellent, informative events. (Also, it's great to be at a treatment conference and never have to ask after a presentation, "Say, does your research apply to teens as well as adults?")

The Importance of Literacy for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

juvenile-justice-system_literacy-brief-coverIt's not news that teens in the juvenile justice system often have trouble in school. But you might be interested in this issue brief from NDTAC*, which summarizes the relevant research on the link between low literacy and delinquency -- and on the probable positive impact that literacy programs have on reducing recidivism. (The research to date, unfortunately, is more suggestive than conclusive.) The brief makes a forceful case for addressing the educational needs of youth in the justice system.
You might also be interested in NDTAC's Transition Toolkit 2.0. Here's what NDTAC says about it:
[The] second edition of NDTAC’s Transition Toolkit brings together strategies, existing practices, and updated resources and documents on transition to enable administrators and service providers to deliver high-quality transition services for children and youth moving into, through, and out of education programs within the juvenile justice system.
Simple communication efforts and the implementation of basic transition processes, such as timely records transfer, can have a dramatic impact on a student’s engagement in school and avoidance of further incarceration. As such, the focus of the Toolkit is on the administrative processes, coordination efforts, and communication practices within the juvenile justice system. The Toolkit offers ideas and tools that administrators can use to improve the basic functioning of their treatment and institution-based programs, with a primary focus on programs related to the educational needs of youth and those who directly provide education services. 

Juvenile Justice System Research: Introducing the Pathways to Desistance study

[Last December, I posted a bare-bones summary of the groundbreaking "Pathways to Desistance" study on serious juvenile offenders underwritten by the MacArthur Foundation, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and eight other funders. This is the first in a series of posts by the two researchers overseeing the study that describes their results with more precision and in more detail. --Ed.]
juvenile-justice-system-research_Desistance-report-coverThe Pathways to Desistance study is a multi-site, longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders as they transition from adolescence into early adulthood. Between November, 2000 and January, 2003, 1,354 adjudicated youths from the juvenile and adult court systems in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (N = 654) and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (N = 700) were enrolled in the study. The enrolled youth were at least 14 years old and under 18 years old at the time of their committing offense and were found guilty of a serious offense (predominantly felonies, with a few exceptions for some misdemeanor property offenses, sexual assault, or weapons offenses). These are the types of serious adolescent offenders that often drive debate about how well the juvenile justice system works to control crime and rehabilitate youth. 

Roundup: No, Girls Aren't Getting Meaner and Kids Entering the Justice System Aren't Getting Younger

juvenile-justice-system-news_old-TVNews - Juvenile Justice System and Alcohol and Drugs

Roundup: Justice Department Launches Indigent Defense Program; Justice Policy Institute Slams Obama's Justice Budget; NIDA "Blending" Science and Service Conference; and More

juvenile-justice-system-news_old-TVJuvenile Justice System and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Roundup: Labeling Kids as Delinquent Increases Recidivism; Sports Improve Life Outcomes for Girls; How to Increase Collections from Insurance Companies, and More

Juvenile Justice Reform and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Roundup: Possible Nominee for OJJDP Chief; Chicago's Unusual Anti-Violence Plan; Heritage Foundation Study Challenges Juvenile LWOP Stats

juvenile-justice-adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment-news-TVJuvenile Justice Reform and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment News

Roundup: Too Much Candy for Kids Leads to Violent Adults; Prescription Drug Deaths Outnumber Car Crash Fatalities in Some States; and More

Roundup: Video Testimony on Life without Parole; SAMHSA Public Health Alert; NJ Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile Right to Counsel; and More

Concerned about the kids in the juvenile justice system? Then check out the video above of a 29-year-old woman given life without parole at 16 for killing her pimp. I found it on this blog, without a lot of information about where or when the video was made. But man oh man, it's sure moving.
Other stories: