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Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard: Lessons from the County and State Level in Oregon

Thursday, 06 June 2013 Posted in Federal Update

By Mackenzie Tudor

On Thursday, May 16th, the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center held the first webinar of their “PREA in Action” series on implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard. The Youthful Inmate Standard requires all prisons, jails, lock ups, and detention facilities to provide sight and sound separation between youth and adults while restricting the use of solitary confinement and isolation practices.

In this interactive web conference, Juvenile Custody Services Program Manager Craig Bachman, Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Director Scott Taylor, and Oregon Youth Authority Assistant Director Philip Cox discussed the county- and state-level changes that have been made in Oregon to keep young people who are being charged as adults in juvenile facilities.

Oregon's facilities found that the juvenile placement of youth sentenced as adults:

  • Meets the developmental needs of the youth.
  • Offers them age-appropriate education services.
  • Provides staff trained in adolescent development.
  • Allows for cognitive behavioral skill-building program tailored to youth.


Professionals from local and state correctional and juvenile corrections agencies, criminal justice and correctional nongovernmental organizations, and advocates are encouraged to watch this webinar, now archived here.

Learning from Oregon’s success and working towards successful implementation of the Youthful Inmate Standard is critical because:

  • youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility;
  • and to “protect” the youth in adult facilities, some jails and prisons keep youth in solitary isolation for upwards of 23 hours a day, a practice that has been proven to have destructive effects on mental health especially for children and adolescents.


Watch the webinar now.

Register for the second webinar in the “PREA in Action” series, “Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard Part II: Spotlight on Indiana and Pennsylvania” on June 25th at 3pm - here.

 

 

Jonathan’s Law Unanimously Clears Legislative Hurdle in Missouri

Friday, 24 May 2013 Posted in Federal Update

By Tracy McClard

The Missouri legislative session ended in victory for Senate Bill 36 - Jonathan’s Law - which was truly agreed upon and finally passed on the evening of Thursday, May 16, after garnering unanimous votes in the House and Senate.  Jonathan’s Law was named after Missouri youth, 17 year- old Jonathan McClard, who after being accepted into Missouri’s highly touted Dual Jurisdiction Program by the Missouri Department  of Youth Services (DYS), was denied entry by the judge and given a 30 year maximum prison sentence instead.  Seven weeks later and 3 days after his 17th birthday, after losing all hope, Jonathan gave up his life.

The Missouri Dual Jurisdiction Program, created in 1996,  by then DYS state director Mark Steward, is one of a kind in the nation and has received accolades from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Harvard University.  It was created specifically for youth who are tried as adults in Missouri.  The youth within the program are housed in a youth-oriented, home-like facility.  Rehabilitation is the goal and youth can remain within the program until their 21st birthday.  Youth receive services for education, mental health/counseling, drug treatment, victim empathy, and restitution with an emphasis on family involvement.  Youth who complete the program have extremely low recidivism rates compared to youth who are placed in the Missouri Dept. of Corrections.  The latest research places the program at an 83% success rate.

Jonathan’s Law opens the dual jurisdiction program up to more certified youth across the state in a couple of ways. First it addresses the issue of awareness and accountability of the courts by requiring   judges to consider dual jurisdiction as a sentencing option for certified youth and issue findings if they go against the DYS recommendation to accept a youth into the program.  Second, it allows the courts an additional six months to complete the eligibility process for the dual jurisdiction program.  Currently the process has to be complete by the youths 17th birthday, Jonathan’s Law extends the process to 17 years and 6 months.  In Jonathan’s case, if the judge had to issue findings, and if his case could have extended an additional 6 months, it most likely would have saved his life. 

The fact that Jonathan's Law passed the senate judiciary committee with a unanimous vote speaks to the great desire to bring our children out of the adult system and once again treat our youth as children and not adults.

 

2013 Public Information Officer Learning Collaborative a Huge Success

Aprill O. Turner Tuesday, 21 May 2013 Posted in Uncategorised

 

  
2013 PIOLC Participants
 

Earlier this month, Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR), the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), the Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC), and the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF), hosted the 2013 Public Information Officer Learning Collaborative (PIOLC).  The PIOLC is a professional development opportunity for juvenile justice and child welfare public information officers.  The conference is in its fourth year, and 27 public information officers from across the country were in attendance, all committed to working on children and youth related issues.

CJJR has been supporting juvenile justice and child welfare reform efforts through leadership development in various capacities since its inception. The Learning Collaborative allowed the PIOs who work in juvenile justice and child welfare field to learn from one another and from experts in the communication field.

Sessions were led by Shay Bilchik (CJJR), Kathy Bonk (CMMC), and Aprill Turner (CFYJ). Some of the workshop topics were: What it means to be a PIO in a Cutting Edge World, Communicating Reform, Social Media, Polling and Effective Messaging, Reactive/Proactive Strategies Supporting Reform, and a Roundtable Discussion with Journalists.

 “They are very few opportunities and resources available for career development in my current position, so it was extremely valuable to get an  opportunity to learn from and collaborate with such a talented and diverse group of professionals, “ said Jess Harvat, Communications Coordinator for the Colorado Department Of Human Services.

The curriculum for the collaborative also included techniques to deal with crisis situations and ways for PIOs to implement strategies to engage their peers in other child and youth-serving agencies in order to better communicate about their reform efforts and utilize more consistent and comprehensive strategies in reaching their constituencies.

The PIOs who attend the collaborative have undoubtedly formed a cadre of mutually supportive communication specialists in the children, youth and family-serving field that will strengthen their overall work and promote support for reform efforts nationwide.

New Policy Statement from the National Partnership for Juvenile Services on Youth in Jails

Friday, 17 May 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

By Roger Ghatt

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The Board of Directors of the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS) recently approved a new policy statement supporting the removal of youth from adult jails stating that, “adult jails lack the physical structure, programming and trained personnel to effectively serve juveniles.”  Further, the NPJS statement says that NPJS “opposes any action that places juveniles at risk of being victimized by adult offenders.” 
 
Retired facility director and current NPJS Board member Anne M. Nelsen commented on the significance of the statement stating, "As a Board Member of the National Partnership for Juvenile Services, I am proud that my organization has taken a stand in favor of holding youth charged as adults in juvenile detention.  Juvenile detention centers are better equipped with programs and staff to address the unique development needs of adolescents." The full policy statement is available online at here.
 
This issue will be a workshop topic at the upcoming NPJS sponsored Annual National Symposium on Juvenile Services on October 20-24, 2013 in Louisville, KY. The National Symposium on Juvenile Services is a unique forum that brings together the leadership and direct care professionals from juvenile services and other human services professionals for training and the opportunity to network and share innovative program service approaches being implemented within the juvenile justice system.
 

 

US Department of Justice Releases Study on Sexual Victimization of Youth in Adult Jails, Prisons that is Inconsistent with Previous Findings

Friday, 17 May 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

This week, the U.S.Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a study onsexual victimization of youth (ages 16 and 17) in adult prisons and jails, and inmates with mental health disorders. The study showed that overall rates of sexual victimization for youth in adult prisons (4.5%) and jails (4.7%) were higher than those for adults (4.0% in prisons, 3.2% in jails). The study concluded that youth did not have significantly higher rates of sexual victimization than adult inmates which is inconsistent with previous studies conducted by researchers in the field in relation to both adult facilities and juvenile facilities.
 
In 2011-2012 BJS conducted interviews and surveys with 537 youth in prison and 1211 youth in local jails to determine the prevalence of sexual victimization. Here is what they found: 
 
Youth ages 16 and 17 who reported sexual victimization by other inmates revealed that—
 


·         Two-thirds were victimized more than once (65.5%)

·         An estimated 78.6% reported experiencing physical force or threat of force, and 39.8% were pressured by the perpetrator to engage in the sexual act or other sexual contact.

·         More than a quarter (27.7%) were injured in at least one of the incidents.

·         Fewer than 1 in 6 (15.4%) reported an incident to someone at the facility, a family member, or a friend.

Youth ages 16 to 17 who reported experiencing staff sexual misconduct revealed that—

·         Three-quarters (75.8%) were victimized more than once.

·         An estimated 43.7% said that staff used force or threat of force.

·         An estimated 10.8% were injured in at least one of the incidents.

·         Fewer than 1 in 10 (9.0%) reported the staff sexual misconduct to someone at the facility, a family member, or a friend.

 
While the BJS report is the latest report to study the issue of youth sexual victimization in the adult setting, there are legitimate concerns with the conclusions. “This study tells us that youth face sexual victimization in adult institutions, but due to underreporting by youth in challenging adult facility conditions, we need more research to know more about this problem.  Previous studies and the experiences of young people in the adult criminal justice system document that youth are at greatest risk of sexual victimization in adult jails and prisons,” says Liz Ryan, President and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ).  “The report underscores the urgency for U.S. Attorney General Holder and the nation’s governors to redouble their efforts to fully implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s (PREA) Youthful Inmate Standard by removing youth under 18 from adult jails and prisons.”
 
Find the complete report here: www.bjs.gov

Vera Institute of Justice and National PREA Resource Center to Host Webinar on Implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard of PREA

Monday, 13 May 2013 Posted in Across the Country

On Thursday, May 16th, the Vera Institute of Justice in conjunction with the National PREA Resource Center will host the first of two scheduled webinars on implementing the Youthful Inmate Standard of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). The webinar will be held at 3:00 p.m.
 
The Youthful Inmate Standard requires all prisons, jails, lock ups, and detention facilities to provide sight and sound separation between youth and adults while restricting the use of solitary confinement and isolation practices. This much anticipated webinar will be the first opportunity to learn how states plan to implement this standard and protect one of the most vulnerable populations in adult facilities. This is a critical time to address this issue because we know that:
 
  •   youth in jail are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in the general population;   
  • youth are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility; and
  •   to “protect” the youth in adult facilities, some jails and prisons keep youth in solitary isolation for upwards of 23 hours a day.
 
We hope you can participate on Thursday to learn what your state is doing to protect children in adult facilities. Register here for the webinar.

In Remembrance of Kirk Gunderson: Remembering My Son this Mother’s Day

Sunday, 12 May 2013 Posted in Voices

 

 
 
By Vicky Gunderson, Onalaska WI
 
Mother, Vicky Gunderson shares her story of how it feels to spend Mother’s Day without her son and discusses the importance of family engagement and parental involvement for youth in the criminal system.
 
This should be one of the most joyful times of the year for me, however it is a difficult time on and around Mother’s Day.  My name is Vicky Gunderson, and I am a mother who has spent the last seven Mother’s Days without one of my children, my son, Kirk. 
 
Kirk's arrival on the 9th of June, 1988 at 5:03 p.m. was one of the greatest miracles. From the day I found out I was pregnant until the moment we saw his beautiful face, the sense of joy is hard to describe in words. There are no words that can begin to explain the unconditional love you feel at that moment when your baby is laid into your arms. He enriched our family’s life in a way that only you who have raised a child can understand. I would never have imagined that with all the love in my heart and what we felt were the best parenting skills my husband and I knew, that we would find ourselves visiting our son in the county jail, where he was incarcerated nine days after his 17th birthday. And even then, we could not have imagined that just a few months later, we would be notified through family members that our son had taken his life by hanging. Only hours before hearing that he was doing well through the Christmas holiday, and that he was excited that a "deal" was going to take place versus a trial, we were told he was dead.

My lack of words to describe unconditional love; also pertains to the lack of words to describe the unbearable pain. The suicide note that he left was written in wet toilet paper rolled into letters and numbers, "I'm sorry, 143 Fam", meaning I am sorry, I love you family.
 
What I remember is a boy who loved to laugh. A boy whom we had watched play with a passion; hockey, baseball, and football. Even after a series of concussions, and short-term memory loss, a family decision was to end contact sports, leaving his love of hockey. He continued to assist in coaching younger players on the baseball field, and being a referee for the hockey association. What I am unable to share is the timeframe whereby Kirk was introduced to prescription drugs and alcohol as a way of managing his depression; a pain that we will never understand completely. A pain as a Mom I could not take away with a hug, or talking with him. I will remember forever the evening he injured his Dad and his younger brother while under the influence of drugs. Then evening he snapped, leaving me in the intensive care unit, and Kirk in the county jail, at the age of 17.
 
While my husband and other son have recovered physically, none of us will ever recover emotionally from the aftermath of that incident. Despite his age, size and psychological state, Kirk was automatically incarcerated as an adult with adult inmates. While there, we did everything we could for him, but the jail made it almost impossible for us to support him in the way that a 17-year-old in such a dangerous situation needs his family. My son did everything he could to assuage me of the torture he knew I would put myself through after his death. Kirk had started writing a journal while incarcerated. He wrote about times in his life when we talked about accountability, that he would never take his life because of the many people it would affect. As a Mom, you begin the questions, "If I had... If I would have known... If I could have been there”… and so many many “IF” questions that will never have an answer. 
 
However, as a Mom there is a deeper sense within ourselves , with regard to our children, and I do know what the system could have done differently, and should be doing differently after the death of my son. My son never should have been incarcerated with adults, and he never should have been left alone in isolation, especially when he requested to not be left alone. There should be a means to bring a family together to work on rehabilitation and accountability, without the delays, and without the lengthy periods of time that Kirk was incarcerated. Kirk never asked for much while incarcerated, his primary ask was he wanted a hug from his family. That was not too much to ask. 
 
As his Mom, I pray that I will not live one day without Kirk’s joyous smile and sparkling blue eyes in my heart, hoping that the vision I hold so dear does not disappear with time. I also hope that we can change our system so that no mother has to suffer the pain that I feel on a daily basis.
 
Every mom deserves the chance to see their child grow up and blossom into an adult.  This is why, on this Mother’s Day, I am asking stakeholders and systems to understand the importance of family engagement and parent involvement in adolescent development and rehabilitation.  I know my son would be alive today if these practices had been in place when my son was arrested, and I would be celebrating this Mother’s Day with that hug that he and I valued so much.

Support Family Engagement This Mother's Day

Friday, 10 May 2013 Posted in Research & Policy


Family Comes First
On Sunday we will gather to honor and thank the mothers and other important women who have nurtured us in our lives through their love, support, and patience. We all have such women in our lives - women who work daily to provide and to protect the children and family they love. 
 
Unfortunately, most justice systems in operation today keep mothers and family members at arm's length. Family must come first,especially whenit comes to children who come into contact with the law. 
This is why the Campaign for Youth Justice has written Family Comes First, the first comprehensive analysis of current family engagement and family partnership practices in juvenile justice systems around the country. This manual provides practical tools and resources for practitioners interested in undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice.

This manual fills the gap in research and policy by providing a clear and intentional guide to transforming the justice system by taking a family-driven approach. However, in order for families to truly become a part of their children's rehabilitation, we need to make sure families receive copies. For this reason, we are asking our supporters to support the Mother's Day Campaign.

Please consider making a donation on behalf of a loved one this Mother's Day to support families in the justice system. 100% of all donations will go toward directly supporting family members in their advocacy for family engagement.Here is what your donation will do: 
  • $25 - Family Comes First Supporter -As a Family Comes First Supporter, your support will send a Family Comes First manual to a family member of youth who have been or are currently incarcerated.  
  • $50 - Family Comes First Partner - As a Family Comes First Partner, you will receive a Limited Edition Family Comes First Pin. Your support will send twoFamily Comes Firstmanuals to family members of youth who have been or are currently incarcerated. 
  • $100 - Family Comes First Companion- As a Family Comes First Companion, you will receive a Limited Edition Family Comes First Pin. Your support will purchase five Family Comes Firstmanuals for family members of youth who have been or are currently incarcerated. 
  • $200 - Family Comes First Champion- As a Family Comes First Champion, you will receive a Limited Edition Family Comes First Pin and a free copy ofFamily Comes First.Your support will send 10 Family Comes Firstmanuals to family members of youth who have been or are currently incarcerated.  
 
 
Thank you so much again for your generous support. We look forward to a future where children will be treated like children and where no child will ever be in the adult criminal justice system. 
 
 

"FAMILY Comes First" - Transforming the Justice System by Partnering with Families Released

Monday, 06 May 2013 Posted in Research & Policy, Voices

Family Comes First

Today, May 6th, the Campaign for Youth Justice releases its most recent report, FAMILY Comes First: A Workbook to Transform the Justice System by Partnering with Families, which will be the first comprehensive analysis of current family engagement and family partnership practices in juvenile justice systems across the country and provides practical tools and resources for juvenile justice system practitioners invested in undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice. We know that the ability of family members to meaningfully participate in their children’s lives makes a dramatic difference on youth outcomes. FAMILY Comes First provides a framework—The FAMILY Model—to guide efforts to create and sustain meaningful family-system partnerships.

Through literature review, family focus groups and system practitioner surveys, we learned that system stakeholders are working together with families to break down stereotypes and stigma, engage families in individual treatment decisions and larger policy reforms, and prepare youth for productive futures. In the past few years, the juvenile justice field has made major strides in elevating the importance of family involvement to overall system reform efforts. We have come a long way even though we have far to go. FAMILY Comes First fills that gap by providing a clear and intentional guide to transforming the justice system by taking a family-driven approach.

Recommendations in the report include:

Federal policymakers:

  • A National Technical Assistance Center on Family Engagement should be created to provide support to state and local justice and child-serving agencies interested in starting or expanding family engagement programs;
  • A National Family Resource Center should be established to serve families in the justice system; and;
  • The federal government should also fund state and regional Parental Information Resource Centers for families involved in the justice system, and these centers should be co-located and coordinated with existing parent centers already funded by other child-serving agencies.

State and local policymakers:

  • Each agency and program having contact with children and families involved in the justice system should hire or appoint a staff person, preferably a family member or former system-involved youth, to coordinate family engagement efforts and activities;
  • Every justice system agency and program with responsibility for children and youth should conduct a comprehensive assessment to develop specific strategies to implement a family-driven approach to juvenile justice; and
  • Existing federal and state funding sources should be identified to support family engagement programs and related services to families in the justice system.


This workbook is designed to:

  • Educate the reader about the need to support families involved in the justice system;
  • Provide ideas to Train families and practitioners to challenge existing stereotypes about families and spark conversations about improving the justice system;
  • Identify ways to expand upon the positive changes already underway in the community; and
  • Develop a policy agenda to pursue at the local, state, and federal levels to build family-system partnerships.
 
This workbook was funded in large part by a generous grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
 

For more information and a copy of the Executive Summary of the Family Comes First workbook, please visit here. To purchase a copy of Family Comes First, click here.

 

CFYJ Mother's Day Card Signing Event with Justice for Juniors

Thursday, 02 May 2013 Posted in Across the Country

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Yesterday, the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), along with Justice for Juniors, held an event at the George Washington University for our Mother’s Day Card initiative. Justice for Juniors is a branch of George Washington University’s Protestant Campus Ministry association whose main focus is juvenile recidivism within Washington D.C.
 
 Every Mother’s Day, CFYJ sends Mother’s Day cards to women that have impacted the lives of the prisoners we correspond with. Mother’s Day is one of many holidays that the prisoners we correspond with are away from their loved ones which can be very difficult.  CFYJ attempts to aid this pain during this emotional time by being the voice for those currently incarcerated through Mother’s Day cards.
 
The event was a success, with about 20 students and volunteers in attendance. The first portion of the evening consisted of CFYJ spokespeople, Michael Kemp and Keela Hailes, as well as  a screening of CFYJ’s, Childhood Interrupted. Michael spoke on being able to participate in the Mother’s Day initiative while he was incarcerated and Keela spoke on the feelings as a mother of a child who was incarcerated. During the second portion of the evening, the volunteers helped sign Mother’s Day cards on behalf of those currently incarcerated. Each card also included a personalized message that came directly from their loved one. In total, nearly 120 Mother’s Day cards were sent to the strong women who have supported and loved those incarcerated, through the good times and the bad.
 
For pictures from last night’s event, please visit , here. 
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