Juvenile Justice System News (Mostly)
- Work in the juvenile justice system? Seen kids hammered for minor drug offenses because they occurred within 1,000 feet of a school? Well, those laws may not work very well. In 2008, the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) did a thorough analysis and critique in one Massachusetts community, called The Geography of Punishment: How Huge Sentencing Enhancement Zones Harm Communities, Fail to Protect Children. (Also, if you happen to have a used Mac laptop you want to give away as a tax-deductible gift, PPI could use one for its many volunteers. Just use the contact form on the PPI website to learn more.)
- Here's a sobering Washington Post editorial on the sexual violence and exploitation endured by young girls on the margins of our society. And guess where many of these girls end up? The juvenile justice system. (Hat tip to Nancy Gannon Hornberger and the Act-4-JJ Facebook page.) Corroboration comes from a new study for the National Institute of Justice showing that poly-victimization is pervasive among girls in the juvenile justice system, based on a sample of girls in South Carolina.
- How old is old enough? A New York Times editorial teases out the difficulties inherent in holding kids accountable for serious crimes when their brain development lags so far behind their physical development. In a separate editorial in the same paper, Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg, authors of Rethinking Juvenile Justice, argue that sentencing juveniles to life without parole is senseless. They point to research that shows that most juvenile offenders grow up to become law-abiding citizens, and that it's currently impossible to tell which ones won't.
- A comprehensive assessment like the GAIN will tell you surprising things about the rates and seriousness with which teens in the justice system are engaging in risky sex, but probation officers and service providers are rarely comfortable addressing it. And they're probably not alone, which might explain, in part, why sexually transmitted diseases are rising among adolescents in the general population.
- Because doctors are rarely well-prepared to deal with substance abuse in med school, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched new resources to help them fill the gaps in their education.
- We all want to be more strength-based in how we think about the teens in treatment and the justice system. And we know that labels do affect the way we see them; they are, after all, much more than their diagnoses or their latest offense. Now, some educators want to start calling "at-risk" kids "at-promise" kids. Is this a good idea? Tell us what you think.
Reports and Resources for Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) just released Adolescent Behavioral Health: States in Brief, a collection of 52 new reports on adolescent treatment in the United States that highlight important gender differences in substance use and mental health. These are "first-of-a-kind, state–by–state breakdowns by gender on substance abuse and mental health problems experienced by adolescents. In addition, the reports provide data on adolescent treatment facilities and admission factors for each state." Just follow the link and click on your state. (Hat tip to Christa Myers and Brandi Weathers, Reclaiming Futures project directors.)
- Want to promote teen courts? Check out Global Youth Justice, a new central resource.
- Here's an intriguing 2006 study showing that paying treatment counselors bonuses can increase client retention. The results also suggest -- though not definitively -- that incentives for counselors are more effective than incentives for clients. (Hat tip to Bryan Garner at Chestnut Health Systems for digging it up in response to a reader request.)
- And here's a ray of hope that technology may soon provide more support to teens in recovery: a new iPhone app has been developed to support 12 Steppers in recovery from addiction. Of course, not everyone has an iPhone. Anyone know if text messages are being used systematically for this purpose among teens anywhere?
Updated: February 08 2018