Ventura Teen Finds Hope Through Juvenile Drug Court

by Susan Richardson

An estimated 130 young people arrested each year in Ventura County, California, are diagnosed with substance abuse or co-occurring mental illness problems. But there is good news for these teens and their families.

Ventura County’s juvenile drug court is turning young lives around with the help of Reclaiming Futures.

Our team recently worked with "JM" to access appropriate treatment and connect to a support system beyond treatment.   

Ventura County Reclaiming Futures is working to improve the quality of alcohol and drug treatment services by:

  • Implementing the Reclaiming Futures model in juvenile drug court
  • Increasing treatment services
  • Implementing the Seven Challenges program
  • Increasing gender-specific treatment
  • Increasing pro-social opportunities
  • Improving coordination with school systems 
  • Tailoring treatment to the developmental needs of youth

Learn more about the Reclaiming Futures model at http://www.reclaimingfutures.org/model.


 

Susan Richardson is national executive director for Reclaiming Futures. Formerly, she was a senior program officer in the health care division of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in North Carolina, where she led a three-year effort involving the state’s juvenile justice and treatment leaders to adopt the Reclaiming Futures model by juvenile courts in six North Carolina counties. She received her B.S. in Public Health, Health Policy and Administration, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

 

 

 

 

The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Teen Crime

by Shiloh Carter

Consistent and substantial evidence exists that supports the relationship between substance abuse and criminal behaviors in youth.[1] Youthful offenders demonstrate elevated rates of substance abuse in comparison to non-offending youth. [2] Substance abuse often increases recidivism and reflects a deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system.[3] Drug and alcohol use also increases the likelihood that a youthful offender will have prolonged interaction with the juvenile justice system. [4] In addition, substance abuse produces antisocial behavior in youth.[5] Severe substance abuse is associated with increased rates of offending and more serious offenses.[6] Furthermore, the younger the child is at the onset of substance use usually reflects greater probabilities for severe and chronic offending.[7]

For example, in 2010, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission found that twenty-five percent of all the juveniles referred were “frequent drug users.”[8] In 2009, forty-seven percent of children committed to the Texas Youth Commission were chemically dependent.[9] Less than half of these chemically dependent children received any type of substance abuse treatment. [10] The development of effective substance abuse treatment programs for juvenile offenders should be considered a “vital component” for overall rehabilitation efforts.[11]

Many jurisdictions have realized the prevalence of substance abuse among their youthful offenders and have taken action. In response, juvenile drug courts have become popular.[12] These specialty courts are designed to provide various services in order to promote intervention, treatment, and structure.[13] Despite mixed results of their effectiveness, juvenile drug courts have proliferated.[14] Some criticisms of juvenile drug courts include the lack of parental involvement in the treatment process.[15] Moreover, since every juvenile drug court is unique, many have yet to adopt and integrate comprehensive evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs.[16]

Juvenile drug courts that have successfully reduced recidivism of criminal behavior and substance abuse have utilized family-based intervention in order to improve caregiver supervision.[17] Increasing caregiver engagement in the treatment services creates better outcomes.[18] In the reverse, the caregiver’s substance abuse problem is considered a “key predictor” for a child’s non-responsive outcome to the juvenile drug court’s attempted interventions.[19] Success is also dependent on the juvenile drug court’s use of evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs designed specifically for youth.[20] Interventions that yield the most positive results are behavioral-oriented and include services for both the offending youth and their adult caregivers.[21] Some of the most successful intervention programs include Functional Family Therapy (FFT), Multisystemic Therapy (MST), and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).[22]

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is considered highly cost effective.[23] This program provides an in-home therapist to work closely with the youthful offenders and their family.[24] FFT’s primary goals are to engage and motivate parents.[25] The program focuses on improving family member interactions by teaching the entire family beneficial problem solving skills, enhancing emotional connections, and equipping caregivers with the skills necessary to provide appropriate structure for their children.[26]

Another successful program is Multisystemic Therapy (MST).[27] MST provides similar services as Functional Family Therapy (FFT).[28] In addition, this program provides assistance in maintaining communication and working relationships with other systems that the child may be involved in such as foster care and school.[29] MST is a more intensive and expensive program than FFT, because it involves more comprehensive services.[30] Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been successful in treating youth who struggle with substance abuse. CBT seeks intervention through promoting structured goal setting, planning, and repetitive practice.[31] This program’s primary goal is to alter the child’s thinking processes.[32]

Across the different successful intervention programs, one constant exists. It is evident that the role of family is vital to the child’s success.[33] Programs that emphasize family interactions have proven to be more successful.[34] Caregiver involvement in the youth’s recovery process has been established as necessary throughout adolescent substance abuse treatment literature.[35] For the child to maintain long-term positive results, changes must be made to the primary home environment.[36] Caregivers must be provided the skills necessary to provide adequate supervision, support, and boundaries for the children under their care.

Substance-abusing children in the juvenile justice system usually exhibit a multitude of psychosocial and clinical problems.[37] These various problems can make youthful offenders a challenging subset to treat.[38] Many of these children come from economically disadvantaged homes.[39] Moreover, it is common for these children to struggle with a co-occurring psychiatric disorder.[40] Though treating youthful offenders for substance abuse can be challenging, the return on society’s investment is worth the effort. Investing in the rehabilitation of youthful offenders has been proven to be cost-effective.[41] Successful intervention programs will pay for themselves in the long term, because successfully rehabilitating a youthful offender will preserve precious public resources that would have otherwise been consumed by further law enforcement interactions and correctional costs.[42] Community based programs seem to be the most ideal, since they can be utilized to prevent the need for a residential placement.[43] It is important for communities to realize that failing to effectively intervene early in the lives of youthful offenders will most likely lead to a lifetime of costs associated with the offender’s recidivism.


[1]Stephen Tripodi and Kimberly Bender, Substance Abuse Treatment for Juvenile Offenders: A Review of Quasi-Experimental and Experimental Research, 39 J. Crim. Just. 246, 247 (2011) [hereinafter Tripodi].

[2] Id. at 251; Joan Neff and Dennis Waite, Male Versus Female Substance Abuse Patterns Among Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders: Comparing Strain and Social Learning Variables, 24 Just. Q. 106, 107 (March 2007) (“A number of studies have documented a link between substance use and delinquency.”); Craig Henderson et. al., Program Use of Effective Drug Abuse Treatment Practices for Juvenile Offenders, 32 J. Subst. Abuse Treat. 279, 279 (2007) [hereinafter Henderson] (“It has been estimated that over sixty percent of youths involved with the juvenile justice system need treatment for substance abuse problems.”); Douglas Young, Richard Dembo, & Craig Henderson, A National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment for Juvenile Offenders, 32 J. Subst. Abuse Treat. 255, 256 (April 2007) [hereinafter Young] (“A strong positive association between youths’ drug use and crime has been well established… Delinquent youths tend to be more drug involved than non-delinquent youths.”).

[3]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 251; Henderson, supra note 2, at 279 (“Left untreated, substance-abusing adolescents often show increasingly severe substance abuse and criminal activity over time.”).

[4] Young, supra note 2, at 255.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.; Tripodi, supra note 1, at 247.

[7] Young, supra note 2, at 255.

[8]Chris Cunico et. al., Protect Youth and Communities By Implementing Responsible Juvenile Justice Strategies Throughout Texas, 11 (Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, 2011) [hereinafter Cunico].

[9] Id. at 22.

[10] Id.; Tripodi, supra note 1, at 247.

[11]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 247 (“Incarcerated adolescents are approximately three times more likely to have substance abuse problems… than non-incarcerated adolescents and approximately fifty percent of incarcerated adolescents report using… when committing the act for which they were arrested.”).

[12]Scott Henggeler et. al., Enhancing the Effectiveness of Juvenile Drug Courts by Integrating Evidence-Based Practices, 80 J. Consulting & Clinical Psychology 264, 264 (2012) [hereinafter Henggeler].

[13] Drug Courts, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs 1 (May 2012), available at: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/197866.pdf.

[14]Henggeler, supra note 12, at 264.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id. at 265.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 247; Henderson, supra note 2, at 280 (“Family-based, multiple system-oriented treatments, have… demonstrated success.”).

[22]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 247; Crime and Public Policy, 103 (James Wilson & Joan Petersilia, ed., Oxford University Press 2011) [hereinafter Crime & Public Policy].

[23] Id.; Cunico, supra note 8, at 24 (“In 2010, the Texas Youth Commission implemented a pilot program called Functional Family Therapy (FFT), an evidence-based initiative which targets the needs of youth with substance abuse issues, among other needs.”).

[24] Crime & Public Policy, supra note 22, at 107.

[25] Id. at 103.

[26] Id. at 121-22.

[27] Id. at 108.

[28] Id.

[29] Id.

[30] Id. at 122.

[31] Id. at 109.

[32] Id. at 123.

[33]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 251.

[34] Crime & Public Policy, supra note 22, at 121.

[35]Henggeler, supra note 12, at 264.

[36]Tripodi, supra note 1, at 251.

[37]Henggeler, supra note 12, at 273.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Id.; Tripodi, supra note 1, at 246.

[41] Crime & Public Policy, supra note 22, at 101.

[42] Id.

[43] Id. at 104.


The post above is reprinted with permission from the Children and the Law Blog, a project of the Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center.


Shiloh Carter is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from the University of Texas with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. For the past two years, she has been a scholar for the Center for Children, Law, and Policy. She also volunteers as a guardian ad litem for Child Advocates. Shiloh has completed internships with Kids in Need of a Defense and the Crimes Against Children Section of the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. In 2012, she received the Robert Allen Memorial Student Excellence Award and the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award. Shiloh is interested in juvenile law issues and has dedicated her studies to gaining experience and knowledge in the areas of law that affect the lives of children.

 

 

 

 

*Photo at top by Flickr user Null Value

 

$400,000 Federal Grant to Study Minorities in Juvenile Justice and More; News Roundup

by David Backes

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Teens Get a Second Chance (SouthBendTribune.com)
    It is not mission impossible for the Juvenile Justice Center teens enrolled in the first year "Mission Possible" program at the South Bend Kroc Center. According to the Childrens and Youth Ministries Manager Jacqueline Davis, the mission is to try to give struggling teens a new direction.
  • Federal Grant to Help Study Minorities in Juvenile Justice (WyandotteDailyNews.com)
    U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom reported that a $400,000 federal grant to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority will help evaluate disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system.
  • ROCA Selected for New Social Investment Program (Chelsea Record)
    Massachusetts will be the first state to implement the ‘pay for success’ model of social financing through a Juvenile Justice contract and ROCA of Chelsea will help lead the effort with two Social Innovation Financing (SIF) contracted partners.
  • New Texas Juvenile Justice Priorities Could be in Jeopardy (PublicNewsService.org)
    Recent improvements to the long-troubled juvenile justice system in Texas are already in jeopardy, if a just-released survey of officials in 73 county youth probation departments is any indication.
  • Feds: Mississippi County Runs ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’ (CNN.com)
    Officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, have operated "a school-to-prison pipeline" that violates the constitutional rights of juveniles by incarcerating them for alleged school disciplinary infractions, some as minor as defiance, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.
  • Memphis Begins Reforms of Beleaguered Juvenile Court (TheCommercialAppeal.com)
    Shelby County, Tennessee court officials say they will move the juvenile defense system from Juvenile Court oversight and place it under the office in charge of defending adults.
  • Juvenile Justice Sets up Tip Line (The Augusta Chronical)
    The Atlanta, Georgia De­part­ment of Juvenile Jus­tice has a new investigative tool: a Web site where people can report suspicious activities at the state’s youth detention centers and court-services offices.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • 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!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Teens Fare Better at Substance Abuse Facilities With Comprehensive Mental Health Services (DrugFree.org)
    Teenagers who receive substance abuse treatment at facilities with comprehensive mental health services fare better one year later, compared with those treated at facilities with fewer such services, or none at all, a new study finds. 
  • Motivational Speaker Learned from Juvenile Drug Court (DailyPress.com)
    When Quwanisha Hines was arrested numerous times as a juvenile for crimes related to abusing alcohol and drugs, she could see her life going down the wrong path. One day, she said, she started imagining her future, and it wasn’t pretty. 
  • Area Teens, Battling Heroin Addictions, Face Obstacles to Sobriety (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
    Cameron awakens early each morning, leaves the comfortable suburban home he shares with his parents and drives across town to drink his methadone. It’s a vast improvement over the past few years, when the 19-year-old sometimes spent mornings panhandling for drug money.
  • Alcohol Ads Violating Industry Rules More Likely in Magazines Popular With Teens (DrugFree.org)
    Alcohol ads that violate industry guidelines are more likely to appear in magazines popular with teen readers, a new study finds. Ads violate industry guidelines if they appear to target a primarily underage audience, highlight the high alcohol content of a product, or portray drinking in conjunction with activities that require a high degree of alertness or coordination, such as swimming.

juvenile-justice-system_David-BackesDavid Backes writes the Friday news roundup for Reclaiming Futures and contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. David works as an account executive for Prichard Communications.

 

 

 

 

 

King County, Washington Buys into Juvenile Justice and More; News Roundup

by David Backes

Juvenile Justice Reform

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • 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!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Few Local Treatment Options Exist for Teens Addicted to Heroin (SantaFeNewMexican.com)
    Committing a crime seems to be one of the few ways for a Santa Fe teenager to get into treatment for heroin addiction. “We see a trend that in order to get treatment, people have to get into trouble first,” said Michael Santillanes, the education director of YouthWorks, a job training and education nonprofit serving at-risk youths.
  • Peers Key in Fighting Drug Abuse (The Republic)
    The formation of a student group at Columbus East High School dedicated to fostering antidrug attitudes among their peers might not be precedent-setting, but the background to this particular group of young people is very definitely a positive sign.
  • Teen Survival Expectations Predict Later Risk-Taking Behavior (ScienceDaily.com)
    New research published August 1 in the open access journal PLOS ONE reports that, for American teens, the expectation of death before the age of 35 predicted increased risk behaviors including substance abuse and suicide attempts later in life and a doubling to tripling of mortality rates in young adulthood.

juvenile-justice-system_David-BackesDavid Backes writes the Friday news roundup for Reclaiming Futures and contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. David works as an account executive for Prichard Communications.

 

 

 

 

 

OJP Releases Fact Sheet on Drug Courts

by Brooke Preston

The Office of Justice Programs, in collaboration with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the National Institute of Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, has released the fact sheet, “Drug Courts.”

This fact sheet examines adult and juvenile drug court program models and OJP’s support of adult and juvenile drug courts. It also provides facts, research findings, and additional resources regarding drug courts.

The fact sheet is available online.

Resources:

Read the fact sheet, at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/238527.pdf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Blogging JMATE: The Juvenile Drug Court and Reclaiming Futures Models

by Mac Prichard

This afternoon we heard about an upcoming evaluation of six Reclaiming Futures juvenile drug courts. Bridget Ruiz, a technical expert on adolescents from JBS International, chaired the session and opened the panel presentation with a discussion of the history of juvenile drug courts and Reclaiming Futures and also outlined the important elements of each approach.

“Evidence shows that combining the two models has been effective in helping young people, “ said Ruiz, who formerly was an associate professor at the University of Arizona.

Erika Ostlie, a senior policy associate at Carnevale Associates, gave an overview of an upcoming evaluation supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) of six federally funded Reclaiming Futures sites.

“This is a multi-site four-year evaluation of the two models,” said Ostlie, who will help manage the evaluation. “We will identify factors, elements and services that perform best with respect to o outcomes and cost effectiveness.” Besides Carnevale Associates, the other members of the evaluation team include the University of Arizona and Chestnut Health Systems.

“This study will address a huge gap in the literature,” said Ostlie. “There are more than 500 juvenile drug courts in the US but few studies about them exist.”

John Carnevale, president of Carnevale Associates, discussed federal drug policy since the 1980s, especially as it related to drug treatment and drug courts.

“We have lots of evidence now about effectiveness about adult drug courts,” said Carnevale. “We need more information about juvenile drug courts.
 


Mac Prichard owns and operates Prichard Communications, a full-service public relations agency that works with philanthropies, non-profits and public agencies across the country. He previously served as the national communications director for Reclaiming Futures. Prior to that, Mac was a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, a speechwriter and deputy legislative director for former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, and a Portland City Hall spokesman for Earl Blumenauer, now a Member of Congress. Prior, he was legislative and media relations director for the Massachusetts State Office for Refugees and Immigrants, the first public information officer for Boston’s "Big Dig," and a researcher in former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy’s first Congressional campaign. He also served on the staff of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Mac has a master’s from Harvard University and a bachelor’s from the University of Iowa.

 

 

 

 

DC Superior Court Helps Teens with Mental Health Problems

by Liz Wu

A Superior Court in Washington, D.C., is redirecting minors with mental health problems from the juvenile system to treatment and rehabilitation. JM-4, a former juvenile mental health division court, is led by Magistrate Judge Joan Goldfrank, who is known for listening to families and dispensing wisdom and services to kids.

“The message I want to give them is that they are supported,” Goldfrank told the Washington Post. “The whole point of juvenile justice is rehabilitation. How could we not do it on the kids’ side?”

JM-4 is one of a dozen courts in the country that aims to help young people with mental health issues without incarcerating them.

From the Washington Post:

In the District, a minor charged with an eligible offense — mostly misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses such as attempting to flee a law enforcement officer or driving while intoxicated — can apply to have a case diverted to Goldfrank’s court if the youth has a mental health diagnosis, such as generalized anxiety disorder or social phobia.

Instead of facing incarceration, which can increase the odds that the juvenile will re-offend, juveniles in diversion must deal with their problem behavior. If they’re cutting school, they have to go back, or consider getting a GED or a job. If they’re doing drugs, they have to get tested and get treatment. If they need therapy, they have to see a psychologist.

If they succeed, they graduate from the program and have their cases dismissed. If they fail, they may find their cases back on the regular juvenile calendar.


Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.

 

 

 

 

 

Prescription drug use among teens can lead to criminal consequences

by Jerod Gunsberg

[Editor’s note: Reclaiming Futures is not endorsing Mr. Gunsberg’s services.]

Drug use among teens generally continues to decline, according to the annual survey released in December 2011 by the National Institute for Drug Abuse. The report entitled, “Monitoring The Future” shows the results of surveys completed by more than 40,000 students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. The survey was first conducted in 1975 and shows record-low levels of cigarette and alcohol use among teenagers.

The non-medical use of prescription drug use among teens, however, remains alarmingly high. Fifteen years ago, the non-medical use of prescription drugs by teens wasn’t perceived to be a problem by policymakers or law enforcement. Now, the non-medical use of Ritalin is approximately the same as teen use of cocaine, and less than half as prevalent as the use of some other prescription drugs. For example, between eight and ten percent of high school seniors reported that they have used either OxyContin or Vicodin in the past year for non-medical reasons.

Parents and their teens are often blind to the serious legal risks that come from misusing prescription drugs. Such drugs are often perceived as safer to use than illegal drugs because they can be obtained through a prescription. But that’s not how the law sees it.

OxyContin is legally classified as a narcotic; Vicodin is classified as an opiate, as is heroin. It is a criminal offense to use these drugs without a prescription and prosecutors have brought charges for the sale and distribution of such drugs to others. This is especially problematic for high-school seniors who may be charged as adults if they are 18 or older.

According to the report, approximately three-quarters of prescription drugs that are used for non medical uses are obtained from family or friends. Sometimes these drugs come right from the parent’s medical cabinet. The Survey results indicate that teenagers are much more likely to get prescriptions drugs for free from a friend or relative than buy it from a stranger or a dealer. For example, between 2009 and 2011, almost three quarters of high-school seniors who used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons reported that they received tranquilizers from friends or family for free at least once during the prior 12 months. By contrast, only a quarter of such students reported buying tranquilizers from a stranger or dealer. In fact, teens are more likely to buy prescription drugs from friends or family than from strangers.

But that is not how prosecutors in Southern California tend to view it. They tend to err on the side of charging teens with possession of prescription drugs with an intent to sell such drugs. There are several scenarios in which this takes place. For example, a kid gets his or hands on a bunch of Adderall, Ritalin, or Oxy and stores it in improper packaging – a ziploc baggie or a pill bottle with the prescription label peeled off. When the police find it, they arrest the kid on suspicion of possession for SALE of a controlled substance. Most District Attorney’s in juvenile court file the case accordingly. This also happens when kids “trade” pills with each other – so a kid can get caught with a mini-pharmacy of sorts (a few Ritalin, some Oxy, some Vicodin, etc.). This will also likely be charged as possession for sale.

In either scenario, the quantities of pills don’t have to be that high. Juveniles have been charged with an intent to sell drugs even if, at the time of the arrest, the police found as few as a dozen pills. Even though the reality is that these kids ARE using it for personal use, the District Attorneys don’t see it that way. They will look at the number of pills, the fact that they are separately bagged, that there’s a variety, and if they find ANY amount of money on the kid – even a hundred bucks–they will allege that the money was proceeds from narcotics sales and use it to bolster the charge.

While every drug-related conviction has potentially serious consequences for teens, this is particularly true if the conviction involves possession for sale. Once someone is convicted of such a charge, they are branded by the courts and probation department as a drug dealer. This in turn makes it much more difficult to get off of juvenile probation.

 


The post above is reprinted with permission from Los Angeles Juvenile Defense.


Jerod Gunsberg is a criminal defense lawyer who regularly represents children and teens accused of crimes in California. He has defended juveniles in connection with a wide array of charges, including drug cases, sex offenses, and violent crime with gang allegations. Jerod is an alumni of The Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School. He is also the author of the blog, Los Angeles Juvenile Defense.

 

 

 

 

 

Youth court: where teenagers hear from the people they respect the most: their peers

by Stephen Hammill

Tina Rosenberg, writing in the New York Times’ online Opinionator column in a piece published last week, voiced support for the Youth Court of the District of Columbia, while also dissecting public misconceptions surrounding it:

While most commenters praised youth courts for taking a humane approach, reader Beliavsky from Boston wrote, "Letting young criminals (excuse me, ‘troubled youths’) be judged by other young criminals does not seem right to me. There should be a real, non-criminal, adult, judge." 

Beliavsky is assuming that Youth Court is the soft option. It’s often not so.  As reader Andrew Rasmussen of New York said:  "The appropriate comparison would be kids who do something and are taken home by the cops to their parents."

Rosenberg contends the DC Youth Court is about more than just bypassing a broken system:

There is evidence that youth courts do more than simply divert teenagers from juvenile justice: they actively create pro-social behavior.  The Urban Institute study  found a clue:  the courts that give the most autonomy to the teenagers themselves work best … Youth court is one of the few places where teenagers hear disapproval of their behavior from people whose respect they crave the most: their peers.

You can read the entire post here.

 

Juvenile Drug Courts: Free Online Incentives and Sanctions Training

by Jessica Pearce
 
juvenile-drug-courts_grass-behind-barsIncentives and Sanctions in Juvenile Drug Courts
 
Effective incentives and sanctions are essential tools in motivating youth to change their behavior. What can we learn from behavioral research and what can we learn from the experience of others? This two-part highly interactive online workshop will help you discover and put into practice the key components of a system of incentives and sanctions that can help bring about and sustain behavior change.
 
Part I:              June 28, 2011 – 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. (EST)
Part II:             July 6, 2011 – 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. (EST)

 
Please plan to attend both Part I and Part II. This is a web and telephone based training, and you will need to have access to BOTH a computer and a telephone. In addition, because of the nature of the training design, each person participating will need to have a computer and telephone. If you have a group that would like to register, please sign up each individual.
 
Please contact Jessica Pearce at (775) 784-1661 to register and participate in this exciting online training opportunity. Hurry! Space is limited to 20 participants.
 
Related Post:

 


Jessica Pearce is Associate Projects Coordinator in the Juvenile and Family Law Department of the National Council of Juvneile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).

 

Photo: Joost J. Bakker |JMuiden, under Creative Commons license.