“Recruitment, Re-engagement & Re-entry: Incorporating the Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform” Webinar
Teens and their families are often not included in important discussions on how to improve the juvenile justice system. Two programs with growing support are working to alleviate this void across the United States: the Raising Our Youth As Leaders Project (ROYAL) and the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice Youth Committee (WA-PCJJ).
On Nov. 21, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice held a webinar discussing the progress and future of these programs, “Recruitment, Re-engagement & Re-entry: Incorporating the Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform.”
The webinar addressed the benefits, steps to engage, and challenges of including young people in juvenile justice reform efforts with the help of two knowledgeable and invested presenters:
- Starcia Ague - Youth and Family Advocate Program Administrator, Juvenile Justice Rehabilitation Administration; Co-Chair Youth Committee, Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice
- Debra R. Baker - Project Director, The Raising Our Youth As Leaders Project (ROYAL), King County Department of Public Defense
Important takeaways from this informative webinar include:
- Young people representing the youth voice on juvenile justice reform serve as an effective advocacy tool and provide a perspective that moves leaders to implement change.
- Including teens in reform efforts empowers them to become the next generation of advocates, while also developing their leadership and life skills.
- Programs working with young people need to meet standards for organizational readiness to provide successful mentorship and support to teens involved or likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system.
For more information, watch the webinar in full:
Hocking County Ohio Juvenile Justice Fellow Recognized for Outstanding Service
Yessika Barber, Hocking County Ohio Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Justice Fellow, received the Hocking County Substance Abuse Prevention Award on Monday, October 28 at the Athens-Hocking-Vinton 317 Board (also known as Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board) annual meeting. Board member Erin Gibson nominated Yessika, and shared the following about her decision,
Yessika is very active in the community and is an excellent example of someone who puts children and the community first. She serves as a reminder that for us to raise healthy, strong children we, as a whole, need to work together to provide them with good examples and a safe community.
I am so very lucky to call Yessika a friend, and yes, she is a probation officer, but to the families she touches every day, she is a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, a shining light of guidance and a constant source of encouragement. We would like to thank you for all that you do Yessika, and please, keep up the good work!
Yessika has been an employee for the Hocking County Juvenile Court for almost six years, serving as a Juvenile Justice Fellow and Specialized Docket Probation Officer for most of that time. When I asked her what the award meant to her, she explained,
My hope was renewed. It means I have to work harder to move bigger mountains and I think receiving it as a probation officer says a lot in respect to how far we have come from the hammer to the strength-based aspect of this field where kids can really find hope in themselves and the system.
I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Yessika, on behalf of the National Program Office and the Reclaiming Futures network, for receiving this prestigious award. She truly deserves it!
If you know of any local Reclaiming Futures leaders receiving accolades for their work, please email me because it’s important to share the success stories and news with our national learning collaborative and the field. We love to show off your great work!
Growing Evidence for Link Between Experience in Detention and Recidivism in Teens
Young people in the juvenile justice system who have an overall positive experience are 49 percent less likely to continue committing crimes, according to arrest and/or return-to-placement reports.
Two recent research briefs, “What Youths Say Matters” [PDF] and “Reducing Isolation and Room Confinement,” [PDF] by the Performance Based Standards Learning Institute (PbSLi) suggest that there is a direct, and strong, link between the quality of a teen’s time in detention and their likelihood to commit new offenses:
The latest PbSLi brief, “What Youths Say Matters,” focuses on the recent study, Pathways to Desistance, which is regarded as the most comprehensive longitudinal study of youths in the juvenile justice system.
The Pathways researchers interviewed around 1,400 youths in Philadelphia and Phoenix over a seven-year period observing what makes youths continue—or stop—committing crimes.
This study demonstrated that teens’ experiences in custody impact their future choices. The two main conclusions of the report include the following:
- What youths say matters; youths tell us ways we can help prevent them from continuing to commit crimes; and
- Asking young people is a valid, cost-effective way to find out what we need to know to prevent future crime.
Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- [OP-ED] Economics Alone Supports Juvenile Justice Reform (TheNewsStar.com)
"Locking up a juvenile is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, while treating one at a community-based center is estimated by the Juvenile Justice Project to cost about $5,000."
- Talking Juvenile Justice: A Webinar with Photographer Richard Ross (JJIE.org)
On Monday, November 18th JJIE hosted a webinar with Richard Ross -- a photographer, researcher and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. Ross has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Fulbright, and the Center for Cultural Innovation.
- Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice System Addressed (TheMiddletownPress.com)
To illustrate the stark racial disparities in Connecticut’s juvenile justice system, think about this: While non-white kids make up 57 percent of the patients at Riverview Hospital, a youth psychiatric facility, non-white kids at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, a secure facility for delinquents, make up 86 percent of the kids serving there. It’s a reality that child advocates, city officials and roughly 100 residents gathered to discuss Wednesday.
- [OP-ED] Spotlight on Solano: Youth Thrive Through County Innovation (JJIE.org)
Today, juvenile justice reform and innovation is underway in California and nationwide. The Missouri and Washington models of juvenile justice programming are renowned, as they should be. They present a much-needed road map for other jurisdictions strategizing for systemic change. However, California may not need to look so far away to find the answers. With 58 counties, California is a hotbed of innovation, and Solano County is forging the way.
New JJIE Webinar: Talking Juvenile Justice with Photographer Richard Ross
JJIE recently hosted a webinar with Richard Ross, a photographer, researcher and professor of art based in Santa Barbara, California. Richard's most recent project, Juvenile In Justice, aims to expose conditions within the juvenile justice system. Via JJIE,
[Juvenile In Justice] turns a lens on the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist and, occasionally, harm them. Seven years in the making, the project includes more than 1,000 kids in juvenile detention and commitment facilities in 31 states. The project is a quest to make the lives of these forgotten kids visual and tangible.
Watch the webinar in full below:
[Video] What is Juvenile Indigent Defense? News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- [Video] What is Juvenile Indigent Defense? (JJIE.org)
On November 11th, JJIE rolled out the next section of our juvenile justice resource hub on juvenile indigent defense. To kick start the launch, JJIE led a compelling and informative live group video chat with key players in the Juvenile Indigent Defense reform movement—exploring youth’s rights and access to quality council and defense when they find themselves in court.
- Proposed Reforms to Juvenile Representation Stir Concerns in Colorado (The Denver Post)
Criminal justice experts are questioning whether proposed reforms requiring youth offenders to have attorneys are really necessary — or if the system can even afford it. Legislation on juvenile representation — including one provision requiring juveniles to have legal counsel at detention hearings — will be proposed in January when state lawmakers convene.
- Criminal Case Puts Focus on Bullying Laws (JJIE.org)
Once considered a teenage rite of passage, bullying is now the subject of hundreds of state laws and a rallying cry for pundits, parents and celebrities.
- Inside Heads and Cells of Juvenile Offenders: New Philly Art Exhibit Showcases and Helps Youth (Philly.com)
What was originally conceived as a locally-staged art exhibition highlighting the need for reforms to the nation's juvenile justice system has snowballed into something much more. At nonprofit arts organization and studio space InLiquid, housed inside Kensington's Crane Arts building, hundreds of youths will this month receive the opportunity to have their juvenile records expunged, while hundreds more will be provided with resources about diversionary programming that could potentially save them from having to face the issue, in the first place.
"Spotlight On Youth" Radio Segment Gives Unique Perspective on Fair Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System
There are 2,500 young people currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in the United States—the only country in the world that has enforced the policy of life behind bars for those under 18. In recent years, the Supreme Court determined the policy of no parole to be unconstitutional for minors—calling it a cruel and unusual punishment.
- Naoka Carey, Executive Director of Citizens for Juvenile Justice
- Sharletta C. Evans, Founder of Red Cross Blue Shield Gang Prevention
- Jody Ken Lavy, Director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing for Youth
- Xavier McElrath-Bey, Clinical Field Interview at Northwestern Juvenile Project
While each guest had a different background, they all agreed on one main idea:
Young people are fundamentally different than adults, and the justice system should take this into account when sentencing those under 18.
What Role Does Race Play in Juvenile Justice? News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Juvenile Justice Reform Pays, in Dollars and Sense (Ledger-Enquirer)
One eye-popping number: The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice says the state can save more than $90,000 for every child -- every child -- that doesn't have to be placed in a juvenile detention center. So said political, law enforcement and judicial officials in a town-hall panel discussion at the Augusta Library Headquarters.
- New Coalition to Focus on Juvenile Justice in Jacksonville (Jacksonville.com)
More than two dozen Northeast Florida elected officials, churches, advocacy groups and policy organizations are joining forces to put a stop to the criminalization of first-time juvenile offenders accused of committing misdemeanors.
- Georgia Closing Juvenile Prison With Nation’s Highest Rate of Sexual Victimization (JJIE.org)
A Georgia youth prison, recently found by a federal study to have the highest rate in the nation of sexual victimization of incarcerated youth, will close at the end of the year, the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced Monday.
- What Role Does Race Play in Juvenile Justice? Youth Forum Tackles Subject (Middletown-CT.Patch.com)
The Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and young people will explore solutions to racial disparity to promote equality for Connecticut young people in the system.
Upward Trend Lines in Juvenile Justice Reform
Isn’t it fun when policy is trending our way? Indeed, after reading State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth From the Adult Criminal Justice System released by the Campaign for Youth Justice I just want to celebrate.
State Trends identifies twenty-three states that enacted forty pieces of legislation to reduce the prosecution of youth in adult criminal courts and end the placement of youth in adult jails and prisons. They identify four important trends:
- Trend 1: Eleven states (Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Ohio) have passed laws limiting states’ authority to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
- Trend 2: Four states (Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, and Massachusetts) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
- Trend 3: Twelve states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Maryland and Nevada) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
- Trend 4: Eight states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults, allow for post-sentence review for youth facing juvenile life without parole or other sentencing reform for youth sentenced as adults.
OP-ED: Girls in the System Need More of Our Support; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- In ‘Vernon’s World,’ a Young Photographer Documents the Life of a Homeless Teenager (JJIE.org)
Unaccustomed to the cold, hard floor in his spot next to the door of the public bathrooms in Trenton, Missouri, Sam Wilson, 22, slept badly. In a stall next to him, Vernon Foster, 18, didn’t have the same trouble. By the time Foster woke, Wilson had been in a state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness for hours, apologizing to the morning walkers as they filtered through the bathroom, surprised to see two young boys asleep on the floor.
- Mandatory Sentencing 17 year-olds in Adult Court - Is There a Better Alternative for Wisconsin's Youth and Taxpayers? (MacIver Institute)
In the United States, there is a wide consensus that children differ from adults. The very fact that each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. have institutions designed to render judgment on cases and administer justice outside of the adult criminal court speaks to this critical distinction.
- OP-ED: Girls in the System Need More of Our Support (JJIE.org)
"I just returned from the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine, where Piper Kerman, author of the memoir 'Orange Is the New Black,' -- the inspiration for the wildly successful Netflix series of the same name -- gave the keynote address to the 400 or so attendees all with some connection to the offender population."
- Florida's Juvenile Justice Department Seeking Reform Suggestions (WJHG.com)
Gulf County residents sat quietly as Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters talked about a major change, focusing more on prevention programs. "These problems that allow people to become violent and so disregard authority and commit crimes and know that they're committing crimes, these things don't happen in a day," said Secretary Wansley Walters of the Department of Juvenile Justice.