When Are Teens Screened for Substance Abuse in Your Legal System? -- Survey Results

Person writing on paperRecently, we asked you to take a survey, in order to address some basic questions:

  • At what point in the legal process do you screen youth for alcohol and drug use/abuse? 
  • What screening tool are you using? How well do you think it works?
  • If you perform pre-adjudication screenings, how do you make sure the results do not interfere with the rights of the child in court?

Thanks to all who participated, so we can present our extremely unscientific results.

Adolescent Treatment - Update on Two National Conferences

Normally at this time of year, we at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) are busily preparing for the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) – a national conference on teen substance abuse treatment. This would have been our 5th year for the conference, which has steadily grown in size and scope. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to hold the meeting this year, for reasons beyond our control. We do expect, however, to be able to have the meeting again in 2010. 
For those of you who may not be familiar with JMATE, you can still view the website from last year, where many of the presentations can be downloaded for your use. There are also links to the earlier meetings and their presentations.

Care about Juvenile Justice? Learn about the JJDPA

Act 4 JJ logo
What's the JJDPA or Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)?  
The JJDPA is perhaps best known for its “core requirements.” 
First passed in 1974, the JJDPA has for more than 30 years served as the principal vehicle for federal, state and local government to work in partnership on delinquency prevention and improvements in juvenile justice. The federal office devoted to juvenile justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), at U.S. Department of Justice, was established by the JJDPA.

High School Seniors as Likely to Smoke Marijuana as Cigarettes

Thumbnail of graph showing cigarette and marijuana use According to data culled by the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) from the University of Michigan's ongoing Monitoring the Future study, high school seniors are now about as likely to smoke marijuana as cigarettes: 19.4% reported using marijuana in the last 30 days, vs. the 20.4% lof seniors who reported smoking cigarettes. 
Both cigarette use and marijuana use by seniors have been declining since 1997 -- but cigarette use has dropped much more quickly. 
This is the first time since the early 1980s that cigarette and marijuana use have paralleled each other so closely. (Click on the image for a closer look at the numbers.)

Reclaiming Futures on Comcast Newsmakers

  • Want a quick orientation to Reclaiming Futures?
  • Work for a Reclaiming Futures initiative, and wonder how to do an "elevator speech" about it? 

Check out Dr. Laura Nissen, National Director of Reclaiming Futures, in this brief, 4-minute interview on Comcast Newsmakers. It aired in a break on Comcast's CNN Headline News in late December.

Take Our Survey: When Are Teens Screened for Substance Abuse in Your Legal System?

Judge BordersJudge Bettina Borders has some questions for you.
Judge Borders is first justice of the Bristol County Juvenile Court at the Reclaiming Futures site in Bristol County, MA. Her site is in the process of developing a uniform drug screening tool.* As part of the process, the judge would like to hear from other jurisdictions about the following:

Reclaiming Futures Anchorage Plays Role in Development of Anchorage United for Youth

Cover of Anchorage report
Reclaiming Futures focuses on teens with alcohol and drug problems who are in trouble with the law. A key component of our approach is to integrate the existing systems that work with youth, which can mean working on an even broader array of youth issues.
One Reclaiming Futures site that's done that very well? Anchorage, Alaska. Over the past two years, the Anchorage site worked to bring together all of the local coalitions working on youth issues into one effort, called Anchorage United for Youth, organizing around three common goals:

Roundup: Only 10% of U.S. High Schools Use Evidence-Based Prevention Programs, and More

  • Thumbnail of graph from Childrens' Defense Fund reportThe Children's Defense Fund has issued its State of America's Children Report for 2008, and it paints a stark picture, indeed. For example, see p. 49 for a graphic representation of how black youth are disproportionately arrested for drug offenses, even though other data indicates they use drugs at the same rate or less than most other teens.

Cocaine Still a Problem - Especially for White Teens

graphed data through a magnifying glassCharles M. Blow, in an Op-Ed in the January 9th New York Times, reported some scary data from the annual Monitoring the Future study:
...[T]he percentage of both black and white 12th graders who confessed to using cocaine in the past 30 days has essentially stayed flat since 2001. The major difference is that white usage outweighs black usage 4 to 1.
He goes on to add:

Round-up: State Budget Gaps, Research on Alcohol and Kids, Vulnerable Populations in Juvenile Justice

Even though it was a holiday week, I ran across a number of interesting stories and resources.

A Season of New Beginnings for Reclaiming Futures

Model of US Capitol at botanic gardens in D.C.In mid-December, we hosted our annual Project Director Fellowship in  Washington, D.C. (Click on photo at left to see a larger view of a model of the U.S. Capitol that I spotted at the botanic gardens.) Project Directors from our ten original sites, our first three expansion sites, and all ten of the sites that started this past fall attended. While everyone had gotten acquainted by phone to a certain extent, nothing matches the energy, creativity and momentum of getting together in person to reflect about lessons learned, and create strategy for moving the initiative forward both locally and nationally.

Our agenda included opportunities to: get overviews of each new community joining Reclaiming Futures; compare notes about progress made thus far in sites that begain in 2007; and assess long-term changes that have occurred in the our ten original sites.

Mentors for Youth in the Justice System - Seattle's 4C Coalition

4C Coalition logoHazel Cameron -- a Reclaiming Futures Community Fellow -- knows a thing or two about recruiting mentors for youth involved in the justice system.
Her 4C Coalition has partnered with the Reclaiming Futures initiative in Seattle for years now, successfully pairing youth with caring adults.
The Coalition just made a splash in the Seattle Times, too. (You can also find a PDF of the story here.) Congratulations to Hazel and all her colleagues!
UPDATE: The 4C Coalition recently joined the National CARES Mentoring Movement, which states that it has "mounted the largest mentor recruitment effort in the history of this nation aimed at securing the lives of our young black boys and girls." CARES has mentor-recruitment circles in 53 communities across the country, including several other Reclaiming Futures sites: Anchorage, Chicago, Dayton, and Greensboro (Guilford County). Is your community part of the movement?