Blog: Resources

Restorative Justice Reduces School Violence and Suspensions

restorative-justice-in-schools-teens-yellingHow do you reduce school violence?
It's easy: you get serious about restorative justice.
At least that's the conclusion I draw from an excellent report, "Improving School Climate: Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Justice."  The report, from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), provides intriguing data from six U.S. schools and four Canadian and British schools showing significant drops in school suspensions and "behavioral incidents."  
*Image by spunkinator from Flickr (CC License).

Childrens' Bill of Rights - Some Resources

rights-of-teens.jpgA few weeks back, I posted a "parents' bill of rights" from Texas, so it's only fitting that I also post a strength-based bill of rights for youth in the justice system (see p. 3 of the linked document) created by Laura Nissen, the National Director of Reclaiming Futures.
Now there's a model bill of rights for children in the justice system from the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, and a list of states introducing it as legislation this year: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. 

Keeping Kids Out of the Justice System Saves Money and Cuts Crime - But Prevention & Intervention Monies Dry Up

Looking for a succinct, convincing brief to support your case that keeping teens out of the justice system actually cuts crime and saves money?
Look no further than the Justice Policy Institute's (JPI) new brief, The Costs of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense. For example, check out the charts on pp. 10-11. They show that the 10 states that lowered youth populations the most in juvenile justice facilities between 1997-2006 saw violent offenses go down 9%, and non-violent offenses dropped by 16%. 
Yet the 10 states who put the most kids into juvenile justice facilities during the same time period saw their violent offenses go up by 8%. While their non-violent offenses did decline, they only declined by an average of 10% -- a 6% smaller drop than was seen in states who locked up fewer kids.

Social Media Webinar - Register Now

Maybe you're still wondering, like me, how we got from rotary phones to "social media." Or maybe you're wondering if tools like Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, and the like are relevant for juvenile justice or alcohol and drug treatment for teens.
Well, you're in luck: the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, in partnership with Reclaiming Futures, invites you to attend a free Webinar on the ever-growing world of social media. The event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 2, 2009.

Upcoming Webinars - "Bridges Out of Poverty" & Treatment of Adolescents Using Opiods

Reclaiming-Futures-webinarsWe've still got a few spaces left in two great webinars. Both will be closed at 75 participants, so register now!
[UPDATE: the "Bridges out of Poverty" webinar has come and gone, but there's still space in "Treatment of Adolescents with Opiod Use Disorders." Scroll down for more info!]
Here's the details:

Philip DeVol on Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities
When: Thursday, May 21st, 10:30am-12:00pm PDT / 1:30-3:00pm EDT
To Participate: scroll down to "How to Sign Up."

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Today is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It's intended to raise "awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrate how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and show how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities." 
This year's theme -- "Thriving in the Community" -- is appropriate for anyone working with kids in the justice system, since it emphasizes "how high school youth who receive the services they need are more likely to have positive outcomes, such as better grades, and less likely to have negative outcomes, such as involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems."
Check out the SAMHSA site for more info - there's a short report on how systems of care help teens stay in school and are better-behaved, and there's also a Family Guide to Systems of Care for Children With Mental Health Needs.

Roundup: Mississippi Private Firm Denies Abuse in Juvenile Detention; New Tool from NIDA for Physicians; Micro-Trainings in Juvenile Drug Courts; and More

  • newspaperMississippi Security Police, the private company that runs the juvenile detention center for the Missisippi county sued earlier this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center, held a press conference yesterday vigorously denying all allegations. The lawsuit charges that youth offenders were physically and emotionally abused and kept in verminous, unsanitary living conditions without access to mental health care. Here's video of the press tour of the juvenile detention facility and details of the company's responses to the suit. (It should be noted that the county is the defendant in the lawsuit; the private company is not named.)
  • The St. Petersburg Times has thorough coverage of decades-old horrors and abuses at the Florida School for Boys that came to light late last year, when former students at the reform school, now in their 60s, found each other on the internet and went public with their accusations. UPDATE: In its weekly roundup, Youth Today reported that an investigation is "going nowhere," according to the former Florida state employee who pushed for an investigation into the scandal and the school's 32 unmarked graves.

Tracking Adolescent Substance Use and Abuse in North Carolina

map of North Carolina with dataDuke University has just launched a great website that allows policymakers and others to get information about teen alcohol and drug use in North Carolina.  It pulls from multiple public information sources about teen arrests for possession by drug, emergency room visits, and much more. County data can be compared to state data, data can be examined by county on a map of North Carolina ... and that's just the start.
The amount of information and possible permutations to explore on the Substance Abuse Among North Carolina Adolescents site are both impressive. Every state should have a tool like this.
Know of others? Let me know!
UPDATE: I've been informed that Duke created the website in partnership with the Center for Youth, Family, Community Partnerships at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, with a grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).Additional partners are listed on the splash page.

Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - More Resources for Your Toolbox

logo of wrench
Here's several useful tools and resources on best practices in juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and juvenile brain research:

Reforming the Juvenile Justice System – Four Lessons from an Expert

Below are four lessons in reforming the juvenile justice system that I gleaned from a recent interview with Bart Lubow, Director of the Programs for High Risk Youth at the Annie E. Casey Foundation (pictured below). He’s best known for his pioneering work leading the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), which helps jurisdictions safely reduce unnecessary reliance on juvenile  detention and stimulate other reforms, notably reducing disproportionate minority confinement. --Ed.

photo of Bart Lubow
Lesson #1: Be Specific About What You’re Changing
"The biggest reason why system reform efforts fail is that they don’t provide system players with an alternative set of policies and programs. Instead, they provide a lot of vague talk, such as, 'We’ve gotta collaborate,' or 'We’ve got to be different,' etc.  Without providing the guts of the new, re-engineered system, the status quo prevails. Though people are often critical of initiatives that are relatively prescriptive in terms of laying out the elements of the system reform, it’s a naïve proposition to expect the status quo to be overcome without a lot of operational detail. There can be lots of room for local adaptation, but within a fairly prescriptive framework."

Youth Leadership Curriculum - Recommendations?

Kelly Graves has a question for you.
Kelly, who is Associate Director & Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is a Community Fellow associated with the Reclaiming Futures site in Guilford County, NC. Her agency will be offering a youth leadership series for teens in the justice system with alcohol and drug issues and is beginning its planning now.
So: any advice for Kelly on a good (ideally evidence-based) youth leadership curriculum aimed at youth with substance abuse issues who are also in trouble with the law? 
Feel free to contact Kelly directly, or leave a comment below. 
I'll share anything I learn.

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act - Update

As those of you who care about juvenile justice no doubt know already, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which sets standards for juvenile justice systems throughout the United States, is overdue for renewal.
The good news is that the JJDPA was reintroduced last week in the U.S. Senate, although Youth Today wondered about the JJDPA's fate in the House of Representatives. Even better: you can hear Nancy Gannon Hornberger, Executive Director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), explain the JJDPA and its core principles in a podcast posted by the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Need to Talk to Your Teen-Aged Children about Alcohol and Drugs?

Man talking to teen boyThink your teen is using drugs? Or maybe you just want help having "the talk" with your children about drugs and alcohol.
Here's two great multi-media websites for parents, sponsored by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

  • Time to Talk - For parents seeking to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Time to Act - For parents who know (or suspect) their child is already using. It was developed collaboratively with the Treatment Research Institute and includes information on spotting the signs and symptoms of abuse.

Sources: Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free and the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR)

Juvenile Justice and Information-Sharing: Two Webinars & Privacy Guidelines

Person on top of building shouting to someone on top of anotherWant to have your juvenile justice agency share information with adolescent substance abuse treatment providers? Worried about protecting youth privacy? Then I've got good news and bad news.
The good news? The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Information Sharing To Prevent Juvenile Delinquency Project has two free webinars on the subject:

Roundup: New Drug Czar Confirmed; Rethinking Drinking; Money for Mentoring; and More

  • As expected, R. Gil Kerlikowske has been officially named America's "Drug Czar", according to Join Together. While the former Seattle police chief seems to be a good choice, the "drug czar" positoin will no longer be part of the President's Cabinet. Though this might suggest that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will have reduced influence on policy, apparently Vice President Joe Biden will also be working on the issue. (See coverage in The New York Times and The Washington Post.)