In 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.… Read More »
Reclaiming Futures is proud to support Youth Justice Awareness 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.”
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As 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.… Read More »
Researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (John Jay) have been involved in evaluating Reclaiming Futures since its inception. Beginning in 2002, Jeffrey Butts, PhD and colleagues began studying the relationship between the Reclaiming Futures’ system-level change approach and the way stakeholders across all the inter-connected systems in juvenile justice settings perceive the effectiveness of their system of care and the delivery of services to youth. In his approach, Dr. Butts examined variables in key domains like administration, collaboration and quality. While no evaluation is perfect, the work Butts and colleagues did to begin to quantify system-level change variables in a meaningful way was quite original and generated useful information for Reclaiming Futures and the field. The initial evaluation results were also helpful in guiding subsequent evaluations by The University of Arizona, Chestnut Health Systems, and Carnevale Associates, LLC.
In Reclaiming Futures and Organizing Justice for Drug-Using Youth (Butts, Tomberg, Peirce, Evans & Irvine, 2016), John Jay researchers begin by reviewing Reclaiming Futures history and previous evaluations: the strengths and shortcomings and then report findings from a survey of Reclaiming Futures sites around the country that served as a follow up to the original community networks analysis conducted a decade ago (Butts and Roman, 2007). While there are numerous interesting qualitative and quantitative aspects to this report, I found the follow up to the community networks analysis very relevant and practical. Butts and colleagues contacted sites that participated in the 2003 and 2006 analysis to collect a third wave of data. The researchers asked Reclaiming Futures leadership to rank each site on its “relative level of engagement” with the National Office and Reclaiming Futures activities and events (p. 13). Then, the researchers examined these site-engagement rankings relative to several survey indices. The investigators found that sites that remained strongly engaged showed significantly better perceptions of “access to services” (e.g., location; funding) as compared to those with weak or no engagement. They also found statistically significant differences in “resource management” (e.g., sharing resources; efficient use of existing funding) with sites that were more strongly engaged reporting better resource management scores than sites with less strong or no engagement. Similarly, engaged sites reported more positive perceptions of their alcohol and other drug assessment practices as compared to those with less engagement.… Read More »
In 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.… Read More »
As many of you know, Reclaiming Futures was awarded a Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grant in September 2014. The purpose of this grant is to develop, pilot test, evaluate, and disseminate a new version of SBIRT for youth at risk for deeper involvement with the juvenile justice system. As a first step, Reclaiming Futures issued a request for proposals and awarded five sites to help us in the endeavor. The sites selected, through a competitive process, were:
- Chittenden County, Vermont
- King County, Washington
- Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
- Nassau County, New York
- Washington County, Oregon
Subsequently, in April 2016, using local resources, four sites in Ohio joined our SBIRT initiative. These sites include:
- Hocking County
- Lucas County
- Montgomery County
- Northwest Ohio – Three County Collaboration (Williams, Henry, and Defiance Counties)
We are wrapping up the second year of the Hilton funding and have some exciting updates. Before I share our collective accomplishments and upcoming directions, let me provide a little information about SBIRT and Reclaiming Futures’ version of SBIRT.
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Reasons why I am proud to write this blog post…
Reason 1: My former colleagues (and friends) at The University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA SIROW) (UA SIROW) have been leading the efforts on the national evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF). UA SIROW collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates, LLC to implement a comprehensive evaluation that included data from Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile Drugs Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures, and non-justice related intensive adolescent outpatient programs. The purpose was to examine processes, outcomes, and costs.
Reason 2: A collection of five research reports and two commentaries are published in a guest issue of the Drug Court Review – a project of the National Drug Court Institute.
Reason 3: A logic model was developed for the blended juvenile drug courts and Reclaiming Futures, which includes problem statement(s), sub-problems, goals, objectives, key activities, and output measures (Greene, et. al., p. 31). With proper credit to the authors, this could be adapted and used in other jurisdictions implementing Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures.… Read More »
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.… Read More »
In 2008 my colleagues and I wrote for and were awarded a recovery-oriented systems of care grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The primary goal of this grant was to develop and implement a trauma-informed and recovery-oriented system of care for adolescent girls. My colleagues and I were concerned about the increasing juvenile justice involvement and substance use rates among adolescent girls with little to no increases in their rates of enrollment in treatment. Our previous research highlighted the significant levels of trauma and other co-occurring mental health problems among girls. In addition, we found girls had higher rates of “harder” drug use such as cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin/opiates as compared to boys. And on the positive side, we also found that girls who accessed treatment responded really well and made significant behavioral improvements over time.
Other juvenile justice and behavioral health policy makers and program developers have recognized the importance of responding to these increased rates of behavioral health and substance use problems among adolescent girls. We now have a better understanding that while males and females are equally vulnerable to addiction, that from a physiological standpoint, females can have lower tolerance and may progressive to physical dependence at different rates. We also have a better understanding of the critical role played by trauma in substance use and addiction as well as a broader range of available approaches for providing gender-specific and trauma-informed treatment. The positive news is that we have seen the rates of illicit substance use significantly decrease for girls from 2008 to 2014 (26.5% versus 23.7%) and decreases in comparison to boys.… Read More »
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.… Read More »