Juvenile Justice in America: We Can Do Better; News Roundup

by Bridget Murphy

Juvenile Justice Reform Juvenile Justice in America: We Can Do Better (Huffington Post) “The juvenile court was invented in Illinois in 1899. Soon thereafter, recognizing that youthful offenders often had diminished culpability and unique potential for rehabilitation, every state in the Union created its own juvenile court system. Developed nations around the world emulated the […]

NCJFCJ Releases Guide to Trauma Consultation in Juvenile and Family Courts

by Susan Richardson

A growing body of research is constantly giving fuel to the issue of childhood trauma and toxic NCJFCJ Trauma Manual Coverstress—specifically, how they impact health outcomes in the future, and the critical need for juvenile and family courts to become trauma-informed in order to effectively treat these issues. The latest effort to make trauma-informed courts widespread is from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), which has released “Preparing for a Trauma Consultation in Your Juvenile and Family Court,” a guide for juvenile and family courts to become more trauma-informed.

The guide outlines why courts need to be trauma-informed and how they approach building a framework, including:

  • Elements of a comprehensive and successful trauma-informed framework
  • Questions to ask to determine if your juvenile or family court is ready for a trauma consultation
  • How to prepare for a consultation
  • What to expect during a consultation
  • How to put consultation recommendations into action

ACEs Too High, an online news site dedicated to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), regularly reports on the need for more trauma-informed courts that are reflected in this NCJFCJ guide. A recent article by writer Ed Finkel reports on local courts who are adopting models of trauma-informed care, and other tools available, such as the Think Trauma curriculum for staff members in juvenile correctional facilities.

Finkel also reported on the trauma-informed approach used by judges to administer sustainable solutions for at-risk youth. The article interviews several judges to gain their perspective on trauma-informed courts.

Most recently, Pediatrician and ACEs leader Nadine Burke Harris brought ACEs to the forefront once again on a national stage during her TEDMED talk emphasizing the health impact of childhood trauma, indicating that those who have experienced high levels of this kind of toxic stress are four times more likely to become depressed, and 12 times more likely to attempt suicide.

The NCJFCJ guide is more timely than ever, as more and more public health leaders are adding to existing evidence that emphasizes the need for trauma-informed care. A trauma-informed court can be a safe and effective point of intervention to vulnerable youth and families, and can help coordinate support or treatment to improve outcomes and get young people on a positive path.

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Christa Myers

Below you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post! Webinars A National Assessment Standard for Treatment Planning and […]

Cambiar Program Seeks to Transform the System for Incarcerated Youth in New Mexico

by Cecilia Bianco

logoCambiar, the Spanish word for change, was appropriately chosen as the name of a program in New Mexico that is attempting to transform the juvenile justice system and the young people in the system along with it.

Featured in a recent Daily Beast article “How to Curb Our Mass Incarceration Epidemic,” the Cambiar program at the J. Paul Taylor Center focuses on reform over punishment for inmates, who the center refers to as “clients.”

This transformation to reform, rather than punish, is modeled after Missouri’s juvenile justice system where most teen offenders are in prison schools or work programs, with access to family therapy. Reports indicate that 75 percent of Missouri’s youthful offenders get a year of education each year they are incarcerated—three times the national average. This has led to a startling improvement: 65 percent of offenders in that system are not rearrested within three years of release.

The Cambiar program is aiming for the same positive results—all of its clients have access to education and mentors, something that Reclaiming Futures champions, implements and sees results with:

“The staff here mentors students, teaches real high school classes, provides a clear system of rewards and punishments that excludes extreme approaches like solitary confinement—all tactics that resulted from a 2006 agreement with the ACLU that sheds light on systematic abuses endemic in juvenile systems.”

The Center also strives to provide an environment that nurtures positive peer culture, with the teens learning to do everything together as a unit. Having a support system, the Center believes, is key towards reforming young people:

“They [the Taylor Center] changed to smaller units where the kids were in groups of 12 rather than in large pods. They worked toward regionalization to try to get the kids closer to their families so they could have support from their families,” Sandra Stewart, director of Juvenile Justice Services in New Mexico, said.

Stewart also emphasized that the transformation of the Taylor Center is due to its focus on learning, mental health counseling, and mentoring over lockdowns and punishments.

The author of this article, Soledad O’Brien, interviewed several clients at the Taylor Center as part of her documentary film “Kids Behind Bars,” which airs Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. PST on Al Jazeera America:

“’Honestly, like, I’ve always liked to learn. It was always there but I never actually took the time to sit down. I never had the will. I never had someone to push me and when I came here, like I said, some staff here helped me out with that,” he said. Since I interviewed him, he got out and has completed a 90-day probationary period.”

Learn more about the Cambiar program on the State of New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) website.

Trauma-Informed Judges Take Gentler Approach, Administer Problem-Solving Justice to Stop Cycle of ACEs; News Roundup

by Christa Myers

Juvenile Justice Reform Trauma-Informed Judges Take Gentler Approach, Administer Problem-Solving Justice to Stop Cycle of ACEs (SocialJusticeSolutions.org) Most judges in the United States are unfamiliar with the ACE Study and the research on the neurobiology of toxic stress that has emerged over the last 15 years. But that’s beginning to change in courtrooms across the […]

Reclaiming Futures Names Evan Elkin as New National Executive Director

by Jim Carlton

Susan Richardson has recently announced her plans to leave the position of national executive director of Reclaiming Futures to return to her home state of North Carolina, and we are grateful for her years of excellent leadership. Yesterday, Reclaiming Futures appointed Mr. Evan Elkin as national executive director, effective May 11, 2015. We are sad […]

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Bridget Murphy

Below you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post! Webinars A National Assessment Standard for Treatment Planning and […]

Alcohol Awareness Month 2015: How to Get Involved

by Cecilia Bianco

unnamedThere are 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths worldwide every year. Approximately nine percent, or 320,000 of those deaths, are among young people aged 15-29.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and there are many ways to get involved to help create awareness and encourage individuals and families to get help for alcohol-related problems.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month every April since 1987 and provides all the information and resources you’ll need to support this cause.

The theme for this year’s 2015 NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month was chosen to highlight the pervasive impact that alcohol, alcohol-related problems and alcoholism have on individuals, on families and children, in the workplace and in our communities: “For the Health of It:  Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction.”

The NCADD provides many resources that help bring light to this issue and we are all encouraged to share them widely:

Drinking Too Much Too Fast Can Kill You

NCADD’s Self-Test for Teenagers

Facts About Underage Drinking

“I Wasn’t Having Fun Anymore”

Stories of Recovery

Underage and College Drinking

Ten Tips for Prevention

Family History and Genetics

Alcohol Energy Drinks

Local NCADD Affiliates as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations will sponsor a host of activities to support this cause.

Many organizations have already joined in and are doing their part to raise awareness, including the following:

If you’re interested in hosting an event or spreading the word, NCADD also has an “Organizer’s guide” to make it easy and effective in your community! The Organizer’s guide includes:

  • Theme, History, Stigma and Links to Additional Resources
  • Sample Proclamation
  • Sample Media Advisory and News Release
  • Sample PSA scripts
  • Sample Op-Ed Newspaper article
  • Sample Letter to Editor
  • Suggested Grassroots Community Activities:  States, Communities, Schools,
  • Students, Colleges, Media, Religious Organizations and Parents

For more information, visit the NCADD website.

Toward a Positive Youth Justice System; News Roundup

by Christa Myers

Juvenile Justice Reform Toward a Positive Youth Justice System (Chronicle of Social Change) Today, we officially conclude “Positive Youth Justice: Curbing Crime, Building Assets,” a series that imagines an entire juvenile justice system built on the positive youth development (PYD) framework. Central to this series were profiles of five PYD-oriented programs that serve youth at different points along […]

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Kate Knappett

Below you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post! Webinars A National Assessment Standard for Treatment Planning and […]