News from the National Executive Director, October 2016

by Evan Elkin

Reclaiming Futures National Executive Director Evan ElkinIn this month’s Reclaiming Futures newsletter, we reflect on President Obama’s proclamation
which, for the second year in a row, makes October National Youth Justice Awareness Month. President Obama’s focus on juvenile justice has been impressive, but it is important that the field does not become complacent as we contemplate what the future holds for juvenile justice reform.

These past several years have seen something of a perfect storm for those involved in improving youth justice policy and practice; we cannot assume this will continue into the next administration. At Reclaiming Futures we are cognizant of the fact that we’ve been operating in a very favorable political climate, driven by a president who advocates for reform in the strongest terms; we have had policy makers like OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee, who puts scientific evidence first, and has been a voice for humanism and equity for the field; and more than ever before, the research evidence – both from adolescent brain science and the program evaluation literature – supports the view that our juvenile justice systems must stop over relying on the detention and incarceration of adolescents, in favor of community-based alternatives that reflect what we know about adolescent development and that address the treatment needs of youth.

As the field prepares for the next chapter in the juvenile justice reform story, we draw your attention to an important new report co-authored by Annie E. Casey Foundation President Patrick McCarthy, Harvard University’s Vincent Schiraldi and Miriam Shark that reminds us all of the work still to be done and makes a strong case for continuing to invest in community alternatives for young people who touch the justice system.

Click here to read the report. 

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

October 2016 is Youth Justice Awareness/Action Month

by Bridget Murphy

Reclaiming Futures is proud to support Youth Justice Awabridget's blog postreness Month. As such, we asked Mr. Brian Evans, the State’s Campaign Director at Campaign for Youth Justice to tell us about its history and purpose. Mr. Evans told us:

Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) started back in 2008, when Tracy McClard, a mother from Missouri who lost her son to suicide in an adult jail, organized a 5K race in October to raise awareness about the harmful practice of treating children as adults in the criminal justice system. Each October since then, YJAM has seen more activities and more events highlighting what is wrong with trying kids as adults. Film screenings, panel discussion, art exhibitions, and more ambitious endeavors like Tracy’s bike ride across the state of Missouri last year, have all drawn attention to and helped build a growing consensus that we need to reform the way we approach youth justice.

As President Obama said this year in his second annual proclamation of Youth Justice Awareness Month: “When we invest in our children and redirect young people who have made misguided decisions, we can reduce our over-reliance on the juvenile and criminal justice systems and build stronger pathways to opportunity.”

Since the first YJAM in 2008, we have seen increased awareness lead to concrete action. Over the past decade around 30 states have passed legislation keeping young people out of the adult criminal justice system. So this year, we YJAM is being re-branded as Youth Justice Action Month. More and more it has become apparent that we know what the problems are. Now, it is time for advocates, legislators, and governments to take action.

Out of grief, a mother took action that has turned into awareness and presidential acknowledgement. The re-branding of the “A” in YJAM is very appropriate – as Ms. McClard has demonstrated. We ask, what are your local communities doing this month to demonstrate a commitment to youth justice?

Maya Angelou said: “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” Reclaiming Futures recognizes and celebrates Ms. McClard and the committed staff at Campaign for Youth Justice. We ask our Reclaiming Futures partners to consider bringing local awareness and action to YJAM by:

  • Hosting a local town hall meeting on the issues of detention, out-of-home placements, recidivism, racial and ethnic disparities and costs that includes community stakeholders such as education, behavioral health, justice, healthcare, commerce, and political leaders
  • Writing a blog or an opinion post on these issues
  • Collaborating with the local juvenile justice administrators to develop one or a series of in-service trainings
Bridget Murphy

About

Ms. Bridget Murphy understands behavioral health issues from personal, familial, and professional education and experiences. She joined the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office (NPO) as the Program and Policy Analyst and supports Reclaiming Futures sites by translating research into practice through training and technical assistance. She has more than two decades experience in the behavioral health field. Ms. Murphy has worked as a provider, project director/principal investigator, evaluator, consultant, and federal contractor. She has a particular interest in improving access to and quality of behavioral health services and its workforce through evidence-based practices, participant protections, peer and family recovery supports, integrated care, and participatory evaluation methods. Ms. Murphy has a master’s degree in education.

 

News from the National Executive Director, September 2016

by Evan Elkin

Reclaiming Futures National Executive Director Evan ElkinAs Reclaiming Futures enters its 16th year of operation, we reflect on our unique contributions to the juvenile justice reform efforts of the past couple decades. What is most concretely evident to the field is our public health oriented approach and the creation of an accessible stepwise model, designed for juvenile justice settings, to organize the way they identify treatment need and then deliver developmentally appropriate and evidence-based treatment responses that are then sustained by community supports. In order to make our six-step approach work at the local level, we partner with jurisdictions to break down silos and build authentic collaboration across a number of systems that serve youth.

In creating and disseminating this approach, Reclaiming Futures sets a higher standard for treatment practice in youth justice settings. Our recent OJJDP-funded national evaluation shows that, in the case of juvenile treatment courts, the Reclaiming Futures approach may make the difference between a treatment court that doesn’t consistently meet the treatment needs of its participating youth and one that not only improves treatment access and treatment matching, but then produces significant cost savings.

What is much less apparent to the field is the “collective impact” strategy that has been the bread and butter of the Reclaiming Futures practice for the past 15 years: Reclaiming Futures operates a national multi-disciplinary learning collaborative consisting of jurisdictions across the country. This collaborative functions as a peer support network, a resource bank, a communication and learning platform, but more than anything else, as a space to build a common reform agenda and shared mission.

This past year, Jeffrey Butts, Director of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center, released a report: Reclaiming Futures and Organizing Justice for Drug-Using Youth. The report examines the role our collective impact strategy plays in the jurisdictions where we’ve worked. In this month’s Reclaiming Futures newsletter we highlight a new blog post by our own Bridget Murphy who reviews Dr. Butts’ report.

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

News from the National Executive Director, August 2016

by Evan Elkin

Reclaiming Futures National Executive Director Evan ElkinIn the current Reclaiming Futures newsletter we focus our attention on Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). SBIRT is a public health-oriented framework revolutionizing the way we think about behavioral health and substance use screening and prevention. Buoyed by strong evidence from the adult research literature, there has been a surge in national interest in translating the successes of the adult SBIRT model for youth populations.

The process of developing an SBIRT framework for youth is in its very early stages and the interest in the approach is currently outpacing the presence of either a body of research evidence and a set of best practices to guide the field. However, with a significant strategic investment by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (CNHF), the field is making strides. Among other elements of a multi-pronged strategy, CNHF is supporting the field to develop and pilot innovative approaches to youth SBIRT, to look at workforce training, and to explore appropriate settings for implementation. The result has been to challenge a number of youth-serving systems like schools and juvenile justice systems to view their work with youth through a public health lens.

Reclaiming Futures is a grantee of CNHF and has been tasked with developing a new adaptation of SBIRT for juvenile justice system involved youth populations. See a recent blog post by Reclaiming Futures Program and Policy Analyst Bridget Murphy for an update on our SBIRT pilot. Reclaiming Futures has also just embarked on a project to collaborate with a number of tribal communities, beginning with the Yurok Tribal Community of Northern California, to develop a cultural adaptation of our SBIRT approach for tribal youth. We look forward to reporting on the progress of that work in an upcoming newsletter.

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

News from the National Executive Director, June 2016

by Evan Elkin

Reclaiming Futures Data Brief Image

It is widely known that arrest rates for adolescents have steadily declined over the past two decades. During this time, we’ve also seen a gradual shift in the nation’s juvenile justice practices away from the use of out-of-home placement for minor, non-violent offenses and toward more treatment-oriented, trauma-sensitive and community-based responses.

This, unfortunately, has not been the story for girls involved in the juvenile justice system. In fact, the proportion of girls involved at all stages of the juvenile justice continuum increased over this time period. Experts and policymakers agree that the system remains insensitive and ill-equipped to serve the needs of girls – particularly girls of color – at all levels of juvenile justice continuum.

While we are pleased to see the recent report by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, meaningful reform focused on girls in the system is long overdue. In this month’s Reclaiming Futures Newsletter, we focus our attention on girls in the juvenile justice system and feature a new blog post by Bridget Murphy as well the latest Reclaiming Futures Data Brief, focused on gender trends in juvenile drug arrests.

Read the second Reclaiming Futures Data Brief here.

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

Talking About Addiction

by Kate Knappett

On June 1, 2016, our Reclaiming Futures national executive director Evan Elkin spoke at Red Emma’s in Baltimore for Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s second event in their “Talking About Addiction” series. Elkin was accompanied on the panel by Dr. Hoover Adger from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and by Carin Callan Miller, who founded Save Our Children Peer Family Support. The conversation was moderated by Scott Nolen, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Drug Addiction Treatment Program. A full room of community members joined them for the evening, including families affected by adolescent addiction.

Youth, Addiction and the Juvenile Justice System

Whereas the first “Talking About Addiction” event explored alternative law enforcement approaches to addiction, this event focused on youth, addiction, and the juvenile justice system. Despite public acknowledgment of the failures of the “War on Drugs,” and an increased understanding of addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, OSI-Baltimore recognizes that research and policy around adolescent addiction are slow to reach the mainstream. Indeed, during the discussion, some attendees expressed frustration with how long addiction treatment reform is taking; OSI moderator Nolen suggested reassurance that the addiction paradigm is finally shifting.

The conversation was reported on by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and OSI-Baltimore and includes these takeaways:

  • Inequitable healthcare makes for inadequate healthcare infrastructures
  • Race plays a significant role in adolescent substance use treatment
  • The stigma surrounding addiction is an obstacle for treatment
  • Teens need access to substance use treatment in their communities, rather than the system
  • Youth treatment should consider the whole family and not take a punitive approach

If you missed the discussion, but would like to know more, you can listen to this WEAA Marc Steiner Show podcast which includes an hour-long talk with Elkin and Nolen recorded on the morning of the event.

Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

Youth Justice News Roundup

by Kate Knappett

We round up the latest news on youth justice reform and national public health.

  • OSI-Baltimore hosts their second “Talking About Addiction” event. Open Society Institute-Baltimore hosted the second event in their “Talking About Addiction” series on Wednesday. The discussion was focused on youth justice and addiction; the panel of speakers included Evan Elkin (Reclaiming Futures), as well as Dr. Hoover Adger (Johns Hopkins Children’s Center) and Carin Callan Miller (Save Our Children). [Open Society Institute-Baltimore]
  • For new events, webinars, jobs, and grants visit the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board.
Kate Knappett

About Kate Knappett

Kate Knappett is a member of the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office.

 

News from the National Executive Director, March 2016

by Evan Elkin

-sad-tears-cry-depression-mourning-2A critical element of the juvenile justice reform narrative in the past decade has been our elevated understanding of the role that trauma plays in the experiences of young people – particularly those involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. With traumatic events and victimization affecting millions of youth each year, childhood trauma has genuinely become a pressing public health issue.

Our heightened awareness of the impact of trauma, the development of screening practices to help identify young people who are suffering from symptoms associated with trauma and the advent of so-called trauma-informed strategies at nearly every step of the juvenile justice continuum have all been positive developments. In January, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) released a comprehensive publication on trauma. Yet, there is still significant work to be done. The overuse of detention and incarceration and an under-appreciation of the impact that persistent racial and ethnic biases in youth-serving systems have on young people and their families remains a major blind spot in our nation’s approach to youth justice and to trauma.

At Reclaiming Futures we seek to support youth justice systems around the country as they take the next big leap in reforming their systems by not only integrating effective and trauma-informed treatment practices but by building a public health-informed and equitable justice system that partners with families and communities to deliver genuinely healing and restorative response to youth who run afoul of the law.

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

News from the National Executive Director, February 2016

by Evan Elkin

Maria Hernandez, a Santa Cruz Reclaiming Futures participant, with her mom.

It took decades and a mountain of research evidence showing that incarcerating adolescents does little to prevent recidivism before policymakers took notice and began supporting measures to reduce incarceration and invest in community-based alternatives that prioritize treatment and support for youth and their families. Increasingly, over the past 15 years, we have seen the field come together around the common goal of creating a system for justice-involved youth that is more therapeutic, less punitive, less reliant on detention and incarceration, and more thoroughly grounded in research evidence and best practice. The catalyst for this paradigm shift has been a series of significant strategic investments by federal agencies and by major foundations like Annie E. Casey with its Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the MacArthur Foundation and its Models for Change, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) investment in Reclaiming Futures. These investments have all paid off in different ways to drive the field forward.

This month we are pleased to learn that investments in Reclaiming Futures made by RWJF, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) are now showing significant returns. A new report from the recent federally funded multi-site evaluation of Reclaiming Futures conducted by the University of Arizona shows evidence that implementing Reclaiming Futures in a treatment court setting reduces recidivism and produces significant cost savings. The report looked closely at five of our sites around the country and demonstrated that these sites saved more than $11 million in just one year, largely due to reductions in crime among youth participating in Reclaiming Futures programming.

As the field moves beyond the question of whether or not to invest in court diversion and alternatives to incarceration, the question becomes how best to implement and sustain strategies proven to reduce recidivism and improve both public health and public safety; Reclaiming Futures offers a compelling blueprint.

Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

 

Reclaiming Futures Cuts Crime, Saves Money

by Evan Elkin

NEWS RELEASE: January 26, 2016

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jenna Cerruti
503-517-2773 x4
jenna@prichardcommunications.com

Reclaiming Futures Cuts Crime, Saves Money

National evaluation shows that Reclaiming Futures generated $11 million in cost savings over one year; promoted better outcomes for teens and communities.

Portland, Oregon — Five communities using the Reclaiming Futures model — a national public health and juvenile justice reform framework that promotes effective treatment practices — saved $11 million in one year. The national evaluation showed that juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model saw significant reductions in crime and delinquency, which drove these notable fiscal savings.

Conducted by the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women and funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress, research examined cost savings over a 12-month period at five juvenile drug courts around the country where the Reclaiming Futures model was implemented. Results show that the savings from implementing Reclaiming Futures are more than double its cost; net savings amounted to $84,569 per teen. Serving a total of 139 teens over the year of the study, these five communities saved more than $11 million in total. Further, average savings were even greater among participating teens with severe clinical problems, amounting to $232,109 in savings per teen.

“This research reinforces that Reclaiming Futures is successful at getting effective treatment to court-involved youth, especially those with more significant treatment needs, preventing recidivism, and all the while saving money that can be reinvested into community-based programs” says Evan Elkin, Reclaiming Futures’ executive director. “This is good news for both the economic health and the well-being of our communities.”

Though researchers looked at several factors to determine savings, such as days of missed school or work, days of physical health problems and days of mental health problems, the primary driver of savings was a reduction in crime and delinquency, showing that pairing Reclaiming Futures with juvenile drug courts reduces recidivism and supports positive outcomes for teens.

“Our analysis did not isolate the specific factors contributing to the reduction in criminal activity that generated the greatest savings from juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model. My impression, however, is that the coordination of care and interagency collaboration that Reclaiming Futures adds to juvenile drug courts may be a key factor in reducing crime and delinquency among this group,” says researcher Kathryn McCollister, Ph.D. at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, a consultant on the national evaluation.

The five communities that implemented Reclaiming Futures are diverse both geographically and regarding the populations they serve. Two communities are located on the West Coast, two in the Midwest, and one in the Great Lakes region. All are funded as part of a multi-million dollar effort by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Read the policy brief here.

About Reclaiming Futures

Reclaiming Futures, founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a national public health and juvenile justice reform framework that promotes effective treatment practices. The model offers an effective approach to keeping court-involved teens safely in the community and getting them the services and supports they need to succeed. In 42 communities across the nation, Reclaiming Futures has received investments to spread its model from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, The Duke Endowment and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The national office of Reclaiming Futures is housed in the Regional Research Institute, School of Social Work at Portland State University. http://www.reclaimingfutures.org.

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Evan Elkin

About

Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.