Juvenile Justice: OJJDP at 35
- Almost all of the past administrators of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) gathered at a historic forum in Washington, D.C. to celebrate OJJDP's 35th birthday and reflect on their successes and challenges. The forum, held in November, was organized by Youth Today.
Teen Mental Health News
- The Texas Youth Commission has come under fire because of its policy of releasing youth when their severe mental health needs can't be treated in custody. The policy was intended to avoid warehousing juveniles without providing adequate services, but several cases where released youth subsequently committed murder have brought the policy into the spotlight.
- About half of U.S. youth with a mental health disorder receive treatment, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The results, published in Pediatrics, included youth age 8-15. The study also found that youth with lower socioeconomic status were more likely to have a disorder; African-American and Mexican-American youth were least likely to seek treatment.
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Congress attempted to address the disparate treatment of African-American youth in the juvenile justice system 20 years ago but little progress has been made, reports the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) in Critical Condition: African-American Youth in the Justice System. The report contains specific recommendations for state and federal legislators.
- This week, Charisa A. Smith, Esq., of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, posted a passionate blog entry, "Tackling New York's Juvenile Justice Crisis," in which she succinctly describes the problems in the system, and the Burns Institute's recomendations for reform. She goes further, however, calling for caring adults to get involved in the lives of kids in the justice system. She nails it when she writes:
"Court-involved children turn their lives around when surrounded by positive adults and peers, developmentally appropriate programming, and the chance to dream and find their way."
- Be sure to check out "Jailbirds," a 3-minute cartoon video about the U.S. prison system. Its focus is on the adult system, but it's a great lesson in how one can make grim statistics about the justice system both entertaining and educational. (Hat tip to Matt Kelley's Criminal Justice blog.)
- Wonder how your community's juvenile justice system is doing? Why not institute a juvenile justice report card, like the one recommended by Youth Today a while back? I've seen several different communities use these to successfully communicate with the public. (Seen a good juvenile justice report card? Leave a comment!)
Reclaiming Futures Sites in the News
- The Youth Services Bureau at the Reclaiming Futures site in Rowan County, NC made the Sunday paper when it put out a call for mentors for Reclaiming Futures and other programs.
- Chris Herren, a former NBA basketball star and recovering drug addict, was on hand to speak to recent graduates of the juvenile drug court in Bristol County, MA. Though Reclaiming Futures wasn't named in the news article covering Herren's visit, the initiative was the focus of a short article in the October 2009 issue of the Building Our lives Drug-Free (BOLD) newsletter, published in the same county (see p. 4).
- Crossroads Behavioral Healthcare highlighted Reclaiming Futures in its 2008-2009 annual report (see page 4). Crossroads serves Iredell, Surry, and Yadkin Counties in North Carolina. p. 4.
- The Maine Juvenile Treatment newsletter recommended (ahem) Reclaiming Futures Every Day (i.e., this blog) in its Fall 2009 newsletter (again, see page 4).
Youth Futures Reclaimed
- Watch four youth graduates give a filmed tour of their residential treatment program; it's pretty cool.
- Last but not least, here's an inspiring story of a young college graduate who spent most of her adolescence in secure custody. Her felony record currently stands in the way of her goal to work with kids in the juvenile justice system, but she's doing everything she can -- including making contact with a key state Senator -- to make it happen. To quote the news article about her:
"I've talked to a lotta lotta lotta people, and everyone's told me no," she said. Later, she added, "Somebody's going to have to budge somewhere."
You get the feeling it's not her.
Updated: February 08 2018