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)

Roundup: What's Working (and Not) in Juvenile Justice; More Children Insured; Drug Czar's #2; and More


  • Nice article in The New York Times on the Missouri Model (getting kids out of detention and lock-up and into small group homes that focus on treatment and actual behavior change). Santa Cruz, California (and former Reclaiming Futures Justice Fellow, Scott MacDonald) are mentioned.
  • TIME magazine weighed in on the state of the juvenile justice system, noting the need for more accountability to prevent abuses of various kinds. Also noted that most teens in the system who need mental health and addiction treatment don't get it.

Federal Funding for New Reclaiming Futures Sites

moneyRunning a juvenile drug court? Interested in adopting the Reclaiming Futures model?
Good news: there's $3.675 million available to help you do it, thanks to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), acting in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

"Whatever It Takes" Book Giveaway - Winner!

book cover
We have a winner! Earlier this week, I announced that we'd give away a copy of "Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, by journalist Paul Tough. 
To choose a winner, I took all of those who entered the contest and I numbered their entries. Then I entered the first and last numbers in the Random Number Generator, and pushed the button. The generator picked a number at random, and we had our winner: Shawn Billings, Probation & Field Services Supervisor for the Family/Juvenile Court in the Reclaiming Futures site in Greene County, MO. (FYI, you don't have to work at a Reclaiming Futures site to enter or win; Shawn just got lucky.)
Congratulations to Shawn! For the rest of you, we'll have more giveaways coming up. Stay tuned!

Can Computer Games Help Teens in Treatment?

video game controllerAsk teens in the justice system what they like to do in their spare time, and one of the most popular answers is usually, "Video games." It can be frustrating for youth workers, who want to see teens out in the real world, interacting with real, positive peers and adults.
But what if we could use video games to help teens practice refusal skills while in treatment? Or to engage them in treatment in the first place? That time may not be far off. 

Young Inmates Make a Film

Want to do something positive with teens in the justice system? Give them a camera. Teach them how to use digital media.
Who knows? They might make a movie about the danger of making false assumptions about  other people -- passing judgment on themselves, for example.
Don't believe me? Check out the trailer for a film made by nine young inmates in jail in Westchester County, NY (right next door, by the way, to the Reclaiming Futures site in Nassau County, NY). According to The New York Times, their movie, "Judgement," was recently screened before "a packed house." Two of the young men were able to attend in person; several more, still incarcerated, attended by video feed. (UPDATE: the film is available at YouTube in two parts - thanks to Youth Today's blog for the tip!)
Hint to Reclaiming Futures sites: having youth in the justice system tell their stories is a great sustainability tool, and it helps inspire community members to get involved in their lives. 

Youth Mentoring: $97.5 Million Available From OJJDP

money raining on man Youth mentoring for teens in the justice system will get a huge boost, thanks to the stimulus plan. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will be awarding $97.5 million (-!-) in  two categories. Info from the website: 
Recovery Act Local Youth Mentoring Initiative
In an effort to reduce juvenile delinquency, violence, gang participation, school failure, and drop-out rates, OJJDP is issuing this solicitation to support local organizations that develop, implement, or expand local mentoring programs leading to measurable, positive outcomes for at-risk youth.
Recovery Act National Youth Mentoring Programs
This solicitation invites applicants to propose initiatives ready for implementation that will assist in the development and maturity of community programs to provide mentoring services to populations that are underserved due to location, shortage of mentors, special physical or mental challenges of the targeted population, or other such situations identified by the community in need of mentoring services.
Applications are due April 20.

What Does it Take to Change the Lives of Poor Children in Big Numbers? -- Book Giveaway

book coverWant to change the system -- not just the juvenile justice system, but entire neighborhoods -- to reclaim the futures of the kids who live in your community?
Then dream big.
To help you, we're giving away a copy of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, by journalist Paul Tough.  "This is a dispatch from inside the most daring and potentially transformative social experiment of our time."
Here are the rules: drop me an email (sorry, posting a comment doesn't count) with the subject line "WHATEVER IT TAKES," and please include your name and full mailing address. We'll take all entries until 12:00 pm PST/3:00pm EST on Thursday, March 27th  March 26th and then the Random Number Generator will make its merciless decision. Good luck to all entrants!
(Please note: I will add all entrants' e-mail addresses to our mailing list to receive our weekly email digest unless you request otherwise.)

Roundup: A&D Prevention Saves Money (Lots); Study Shows Providers Can Safely Cut Paperwork (Lots); Treatment Fellows Meet, and More


  • A new Iowa State University study shows that $1 invested in prevention saves $10, according to JoinTogether.
  • JoinTogether also reports on a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment that treatment providers can cut up to 6 hours of paperwork per client, without compromising quality of care. Interestingly enough, the researchers teamed up with the director of the Delaware agency overseeing alcohol and drug treatment to survey and work with all substance abuse treatment programs statewide on reducing their paperwork burden. The six-month effort yielded significant positive results - not least an improved relationship between providers and the state.

Integrating the GAIN ABS System with an Electronic Record System like WITS

[As adolescent treatment providers invest in eletronic medical record systems, a natural question arises: how do we integrate our assessment tool into our new record system? Dr. Michael Dennis, creator of the GAIN, has some answers. --Ed.]
This post is a little technical, so here's the bottom line: we will be happy to work with individual treatment providers or with vendors to customize their systems to integrate GAIN data into their electronic medical records. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for contact information.)
During the past 3 years, Chestnut Health Systems has collaborated with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and over 30 agencies to revise the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) instrument and software to allow it to better integrate with the growing number of electronic medical records systems. Several people have asked us to give a brief update on the status of what we have done so far in this area.

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.)

Recommendation: Mandate Treatment for Juvenile Offenders

The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) just released its annual report, which sums up its review of state progress with core requirements of the federal Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act.
Among its key recommendations: mandate mental health and substance abuse treatment for youth in the justice system
Here's what it says:

Positive Youth Development: Yoga for Teens in the Justice System

person doing yogaLooking for something positive to do with youth in the justice system that's inexpensive, gives them useful skills, and they can continue doing when they leave detention or a residential program? Consider yoga, as this juvenile justice program in San Mateo, CA did. (The Reclaiming Futures program in Portland, Oregon also invested in yoga for teens in the secure residential alcohol and drug program run by the County, so I can attest to its benefits -- and the teens, after initial grumbling, found they liked it.) By focusing youth on being emotionally and physically aware, yoga provides teens with better skills for managing their emotions and behavior. 

Better Treatment Outcomes for Teens - Training, Monitoring, and Supervision are the Key

Randy Muck headshotRecently, I visited a community where approximately 30-40 adolescents and their caregivers had shown up just to tell me what they thought of an adolescent substance abuse treatment program funded by the agency I represent, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). They’d been invited, true, but I was still nervous, since folks tend to show up for town hall meetings and the like only when they have something to complain about.

"Rethinking Juvenile Justice" Giveaway - Winner!

book coverWe have a winner! Earlier this week, I announced that we'd give away a copy of "Rethinking Juvenile Justice," by Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg. To choose a winner, I took all of those who entered the contest by leaving a comment or dropping me an email, and I numbered their entries. Then I entered the first and last numbers in the Random Number Generator, and pushed the button. The generator picked a number at random, and we had our winner: "Sandy".  (Sandy, send me an email with your full name and mailing address, and we'll get the book mailed out to you next week.)
For the rest of you, we'll be giving away a copy of Paul Tough's inspiring book, Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and Americain a week or two. Stay tuned!

Roundup: Most Teens Who Need Treatment Don't Get it, Rockefeller Drug Laws May be Repealed, and Much More

Unsurprising news for those of us in Reclaiming Futures: a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that only about 10 percent of adolescents who have substance abuse problems actually enter treatment, partly because the nation lacks sufficient teen-only treatment services. Furthermore, of the adolescent treatment programs that are available, very few receive "high marks for quality." You can find the actual study in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
More news:

"Youth News" Launched by Hocking County, Ohio

NewsletterReclaiming Futures Hocking County launched “Youth News”, a quarterly newsletter, in February. The first issue includes an interview with Natasha Cook, a young woman helped by the local juvenile court; a story about the difference positive relationships with family, community and church made in the life of Juvenile Probate Judge Richard Wallar when he was a 15-year-old – the average age of a young person in the juvenile justice system; and lists of volunteer, educational and recreational opportunities for teenagers in the area. The seven-page publication is edited by Gretchen Gregory with help from writers Christa Myers and Rev. Mark Daniels.

Great job, Hocking County!