James Bell on Juvenile Justice Reform
- In the brief video below, James Bell, director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, sounds off on youth incarceration:
I am still, at 51, propelled by outrage. I am just p***d off that the greatest country in the world -- that the only way they can figure out to socially control teenagers is to put them in cages... But we don't do that to White people. That is the bottom line.
It's worth watching all 10 minutes of this video, because Bell is passionate, entertaining, and motivating. My only caveat (which I'm sure Mr. Bell would agree with) has to do with his urgent call to people of color to put pressure on vested interests and the White community to reform the justice system. It can't just be on people of color to change the system -- allies from all communities are needed so that the effort is not pigeonholed by skeptics. (Hat tip to the W. Haywood Burns Institute on Facebook.)
Juvenile Justice System News
- Dublin, GA, has joined Flint, MI, and Riviera Beach, FL in passing an ordinance against saggy pants, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE). Activists and at least one juvenile judge are concerned that enforcing it will divert needed resources from more serious teen behavior, and have a disparate impact on youth of color and low-income youth. As the NAACP's Washington Bureau Director observed, "We should stop trying to criminalize everything we don’t like.”
- Speaking of which ... the Americans Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the City of New York over how its school safety officers mistreated five youth, including one who was reportedly beaten because he refused to be searched. The ACLU says the policies and practices in place are unconstitutional. (H/t to the JJIE.)
- Check out this excellent profile of Derrick Reed, a 17-year-old Illinois youth who ended up in the adult system for felony drug sales. (H/t the Campaign for Youth Justice.) The profile's particularly interesting because it examines Illinois juvenile justice policy in detail; it's one of the few states in the nation that prosecutes 17-year-olds with felony charges in adult court, but over 70% are there for non-violent felonies. One thing that jumped out at me: Derrick's grandfather's disappointment when Derrick pleads guilty instead of having a trial:
“These kids … they plead to get out of here. Who wouldn’t?” he said. “[What about] the long-term effect? What’s going to happen on the job hunt when he’s 25?”
Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery News
- Teens saving teens who've had drug and alcohol problems? It's happening now - teens drove the creation of this school-based recovery network, and continue to drive it. (H/t to Portland Prevention on FB.)
- Know anyone with a loved one who's struggling with addiction or who's in long-term recovery? Then make sure they know about this essay contest in honor of Recovery Month 2010, sponsored by The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network, Faces & Voices of Recovery, and National Family Dialogue. First place prize is $500! Submission deadline is October 15, 2010. (H/t to Christa Myers.)
- Stigmatizing drug users fails to scare people away from taking them -- in fact, stigma keeps people using drugs away from treatment. This is according to a new report from the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC), whose author observes:
“Some have argued that the stigma attached to problem drug users prevents others from taking drugs by example and that the shame of stigma pushes users into treatment. However, attempts to scare young people away from drug use have not proved effective. The evidence reviewed here suggests that stigma keeps users away from treatment.”
- The Addiction Technology and Transfer Center (ATTC) Network has released part 3 of its series on Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment model (SBIRT), which talks about how to implement SBIRT in the field. (You can find part one of the series here, sixth bullet down. Part two here, second bullet down.)
Two nuggets of info: 1) SBIRT isn't just for physicians. It's also for behavioral health clinics and criminal justice settings. 2) You can contact your regional ATTC for training and technical assistance on implementation.
Why all the fuss about "brief interventions?" Because they work, and can help a lot of people. Here's a slide taken from the ATTC newsletter aimed at (I believe) physicians:
You can get training materials and other information at the SBIRT Primary Care Residency Initiative. There, you can even see videos of brief interventions role-played with adult patients.
SBIRT has been developed for adults, and that's true of the tools and videos I just linked to. I post about it here because physicians are going to be an increasingly important source of adult referrals for substance abuse treatment providers. Because that's not only a good thing for public health, but it's also good for the bottom lines of treatment agencies -- which means, in turn, that they can afford to run youth treatment programs -- I post about it here.
But in the video I watched of a female clinician working with a 30-year-old male whose drinking was "risky" (follow the link and click on the left-hand photo near the top of the page), I couldn't help noticing how much she relied on a therapeutic approach and Motivational Interviewing -- the same techniques youth workers and probation officers use every day to help kids change. I'm willing to bet SBIRT can also be applied effectively in a lot of settings for kids in the juvenile justice system, where professionals have built some trust.
Anyone out there already adapting it for use with teens in the juvenile justice system?
Updated: February 08 2018