Looking Back: Top Five Juvenile Justice Blog Posts of 2013
We're a third of the way through 2013 and found it to be a good time to reflect on stories that caught our readers' eyes. Below you'll find the top five blog posts so far this year, and we're excited to continue to build on our momentum throughout the rest of 2013.
- Reclaiming Futures Hiring in Portland, Oregon
Do you support juvenile justice reform and want to help communities break the cycle of drugs, alchohol and crime? Join our staff in Portland, Oregon, where Reclaiming Futures is improving the experience for teens in the juvenile justice system by providing adolescent substance abuse and mental health treatment in 37 communities around the country.
- Q&A: Trauma, Young Men of Color and Transformational Healing
Ahead of the Reclaiming Futures webinar with the National Compadres Network (NCN), I (Liz Wu) had the pleasure of chatting with Jerry Tello and Juan Gomez about trauma, young men of color and transformational healing.
- The Role and Purpose of Juvenile Detention in the 21st Century
Across the nation, perspectives on juvenile detention are changing. Several experts share how they believe modern juvenile justice is implementing more rehabilitative models and what the ultimate dividends may be for both young people and U.S. society as a whole.
- A Community Approach to Juvenile Justice
This Fall, the Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) and its partner organizations with the Cook County Juvenile Justice Task Force published a concept paper (PDF download) outlining community-based, trauma-informed, restorative solutions to youth crime and conflict in Cook County, Illinois. The report provides guiding thoughts on how the juvenile justice system can better support young people while making communities safer. It also recommends alternatives to existing centralized juvenile detention approaches in Cook County.
- Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits for 62 Million Americans
According to an issue brief released Feb. 20 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act will extend mental health and substance use disorder benefits to 32 million and federal parity protections to an additional 30 million Americans.
[VIDEO] The Ethics of Solitary Confinement
Al Jazeera English recently released an Inside Story 30-minute video examining the state of solitary confinement, including teens, in United States prisons. The discussion includes the following:
Amongst those in solitary confinement today are juveniles as young as age 16, with one study suggesting that in 2012, 14 percent of adolescents in the New York City prison system had been held in isolation at least once. So, why does the United States put more people into solitary confinement than any other country in the democratic world?
We've reported in the past about the particularly harsh negative affects that solitary confinement has on teens, and while this video offers a broader look at solitary confinement, its themes are still relevant to our work in the juvenile justice system. Watch the full program below:
Juvenile Justice Overhaul Coming; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Georgia House Passes Juvenile Justice Reform Bill (RightOnCrime.com)
Advocates say the changes could save taxpayers $88 million over five years by diverting the less dangerous juveniles into community-based programs instead of locking them up at a cost to taxpayers of $247 a day or $90,000 a year for each detained juvenile.
- Juvenile Justice Overhaul Coming (Walb.com)
The Georgia state Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Wendy Willard of Sandy Springs, and was based on recommendations from the Governor.
- A Partnership for Sensible Juvenile Justice Reform in California (JJIE.org)
California’s youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF), continues to grapple over long-standing difficulties with rehabilitative programming, youth safety, aging facilities and high operational cost. With these challenges, policymakers and juvenile justice stakeholders increasingly recognize the need for substantial reform.
- Pioneering Educator Retires After 40 Years; Reformed Education in Juvenile Justice (TCDailyPlanet.net)
It is said that a society (or a person) shall be judged by what it (or he or she) has done for the least of its citizens. If in fact that is the case, then Larry Lucio shall be looked upon with much favor. The veteran educator, with more than 40 years of shaping young minds to his credit, has dedicated his career – and in many ways, his life – to serving students who were previously given little chance to succeed.
- Getting Tough on Juvenile Justice (TheSocietyPages.org)
Within the last thirty years the presence of adolescent offenders tried in criminal court has become increasingly commonplace. Scholars critical of this growing phenomenon have documented that the number of youth transferred to adult (criminal) court has gradually risen since the mid-1970s.
- Robert Listenbee Jr. Assumes Leadership of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Justice.gov)
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced that Robert L. Listenbee Jr. has assumed the role as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). A highly respected public defender and juvenile justice system reformer, Listenbee began as OJJDP administrator Monday. Melodee Hanes, who has served as acting administrator since January 2012, will become OJJDP’s principal deputy administrator.
Lucas County, Ohio, Using $1.32 Million Grant to Help System-Involved Teens
Since receiving a $1.32 million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Lucas County, Ohio, has moved quickly to implement the Reclaiming Futures model. Per the model, teens will be screened for substance abuse and mental health issues directly after arrest and receive treatment as needed.
The Toledo Free Press reports:
Reclaiming Futures will be used as a model with 25 teenagers in the Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court. There is a goal set to increase the capacity to 30 teenagers who will receive treatment each year. This would mean 120 teenagers will be helped by the grant during the four years.
“It’s great for our county,” [Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court Coordinator LaTonya] Harris said. “This is going to allow us to serve as a model for other counties and other sites when we get our results.”
Harris said there is no end for Reclaiming Futures in sight, even if the funding from the grant runs out. Once it is implemented and the staff is fully trained, the program will stay intact for as long as the community wants it to be.
Robert Listenbee to Lead Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Last Friday, President Obama announced his intent to appoint Robert Listenbee, Jr. as Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
From the announcement:
Robert Listenbee, Jr. is Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, a position he has held since 1997. He has also been a trial lawyer at the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 1986. Previously, from 1991 to 1997, Mr. Listenbee was Assistant Chief of the Juvenile Unit. He is a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which advises the Governor of Pennsylvania on juvenile justice policy. Mr. Listenbee serves on the policy committees of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the National Center for Juvenile Justice. He serves on the advisory board of the National Juvenile Defender Center and is a board member and former President of the Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania. Mr. Listenbee received a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.
Listenbee has agreed to join the administration and will replace acting Administrator Melodee Hanes.
Innovation Brief: Juvenile Justice and Mental Health: A Collaborative Approach
Models for Change recently published an innovation brief, “Juvenile Justice and Mental Health: A Collaborative Approach,” [PDF download] that reports the benefits of a collaborative model for juvenile justice and mental health. Although teens with mental health problems used to be handled outside of the juvenile justice system, a shift in the 1990s placed “rehabilitation” responsibility to the juvenile justice system. From the report (emphasis mine):
High crime rates [in the 1990s] led to get-tough measures, including zero-tolerance policies in schools and criminalization of normal adolescent behaviors, that put more youths in the system. The closing of psychiatric hospitals, a trend that began in the 1970s, continued apace, while the community mental health system, initiated with such optimism in the 1960s, was being downsized. As a result, youths with mental health problems frequently ended up in the juvenile justice system, which could not refuse to serve them.
To better serve teens with mental health troubles, Models for Change recommends a framework for multi-system change, including (via the report):
[Video] Producing Positive Outcomes in Justice-Involved Youth in Illinois
How can we help justice-involved youth? In the video interview below, Michael Rohan (director of Juvenile Probation and Court Services) and Judge George Timberlake (chair of Illinois Juvenile Justice System) discuss alternatives to sentencing, the mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of system-involved youth, coordinating care and trauma.
Almost 50 Percent Fewer Youth Arrested in Florida Schools; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Courts making strides in protecting children, vulnerable adults (Lincoln Journal Star)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Heavican thanked lawmakers for passing legislation last session to enhance the Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project, which is designed to keep children involved in the juvenile justice system from becoming repeat offenders. The project aims to keep children from being jailed while they receive services or treatment.
- Changes made in laws affecting youths (Midland Daily News)
It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court. “The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”
- Almost 50 percent fewer youth arrested in Florida schools (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice)
The number of youth arrested in Florida’s public schools declined 48 percent in the past eight years, from more than 24,000 to 12,520, according to a study released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The decline corresponds with a downward trend in juvenile delinquency in all categories across the state.
- Building their future: Youth offenders learn woodworking, life skills in lockup (Waco Tribune-Herald)
In a small shop building at the state youth lockup in Mart, teenage boys who have gotten into trouble with the law are learning woodworking skills that officials hope can be put to good use for the community.
- Best Of 2012: Juvenile Justice Desk (Youth Radio)
In 2012, Youth Radio's Juvenile Justice Desk followed some major changes to youth sentencing in California and the nation.
[Video] The Importance of Trauma Informed Care in Juvenile Justice
"Over 75% of youth in the juvenile justice system have been exposed to some form of trauma," says Christa Collins of the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ). This can affect their ability to handle stress and to make decisions.
In the video below, Christa explains what a trauma-informed approach to juvenile justice is and how it can decrease costs while improving safety.
Educational Needs of System-Involved Youth
I am pleased to share with you the second edition of “Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems.” Due to the popularity of the first edition, CJJR is re-releasing this publication with updated material. The updates include references to guides that the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC), which is housed at the American Institutes for Research, has developed to elaborate upon the principles this paper presents. Since the time this paper was originally released, two guides have been published:
- “Providing Individually Tailored Academic and Behavioral Support Services for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems” (2012)
- “Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems Through Interagency Communication and Collaboration” (2011)
These guides draw on both general research and on the experiences of the NDTAC authors to provide concrete strategies for adopting this paper’s principles and practices and achieving the type of comprehensive education system the authors describe. Both of these guides are described in the epilogue of this paper.