This Thursday 12/4 at 10:50am Gabrielle Prisco of the Correctional Association will be giving a TED talk entitled “On Canaries, Love and Justice” at TEDx Albany:

“In On Canaries, Love and Justice, I will explore the ways in which children serve as an early warning system for societal dysfunction, and how criminalizing them endangers us all. Weaving together my personal experience as an attorney and advocate for children, my own experience of loss, and the research on what works, I will make the case for a justice system rooted in love, not punishment.”

New York City Plans to Focus on Mental Health in the Justice System

In an effort to reduce growing numbers of inmates with mental health and substance abuse problems in NYC jails the De Blasio administration announced plans on Monday to significantly expand mental health services at almost every step of the criminal justice system.

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A Sweet Win For Snowday: The Food Truck With a Social Justice Mission Took Home the Rookie Award at The NYC Vendys

This truck has the mission of providing employment, community and transferable skills to young people who have recently completed a prison sentence.

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Researcher Delves Into Adverse Childhood Experiences

Since the spring of 2013, Roy Wade has seen the impact of trauma on urban youth and adults in low-income neighborhoods from three vantage points.

The goal of Wade and other CHOP researchers has been to take the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, a landmark 1998 examination of the effects of childhood trauma, and incorporate the voices of urban youth in ways that haven’t been heard before. This emphasis on listening to youth, researchers hope, will lead to better targeting of behavioral interventions.

For more click here

U.N. Criticizes U.S. Treatment Of Youth In Adult Jails And Prisons

Friday, the U.N. Committee Against Torture (“Committee”) strongly criticized the United States for state laws and policies that result in the incarceration of youth under 18 in adult jails and prisons under conditions that endanger their safety and well-being. The Committee recommended that the U.S. abolish the use of tasers and solitary confinement on youth, separate them from adults, and end juvenile life without parole sentences. It also recognized the detrimental effects of criminal detention and encouraged the U.S. to adopt international standards that emphasize alternatives to incarceration.

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From Broken Homes To A Broken System

Around the country, juveniles on reservations are left to languish in cash-strapped facilities that cannot afford to provide the kind of rehabilitative services afforded to most young offenders in the United States. Because some reservations have no juvenile detention centers, offenders often are shipped to facilities far from their homes, compounding the isolation of incarceration.

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Juvenile Facilities Strive to Foster ‘Family Engagement’

Three states illustrate efforts to foster “family engagement,” which has become a buzzword in juvenile justice circles. It’s about building bridges between family members — or other key figures in youths’ lives — and the staff at juvenile facilities that house youngsters.

Experts, supported by a small but growing body of research, say fostering family engagement improves incarcerated youths’ behavior, helps families feel more connected, reduces disciplinary incidents and boosts the staff morale.

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Here’s a Reform Even the Koch Brothers and George Soros Can Agree On

The Koch brothers and George Soros might have been on opposite sides last Tuesday, but they were united on one issue—our system of mass incarceration needs urgent reform.

Do you like lists? Of course you do! It’s the Internet! So try this one:

  1. Koch Brothers
  2. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  3. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  4. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
  5. George Soros
  6. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  7. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  8. Newt Gingrich
  9. American Civil Liberties Union
  10. Grover Norquist

Apart from a passionate certainty that either liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans (pick one) are a danger to the republic, what does this motley crew have in common?

Here’s what: They all agree that America’s practice of mass incarceration—unique in the world—is at worst a moral and practical failure or at best an outdated policy badly in need of adjustment.

For this article click here

How One State Turned Around Its Juvenile Justice System

Fewer than 15 years ago, Connecticut’s network of contracted programs to rehabilitate juvenile offenders was in jeopardy. The programs were not producing good enough results to justify their cost. And yet, in the past five years, there has been a 40 percent decrease in arrests. So, how did Connecticut turn the tide?

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Youth Aid Panels offer chance at fresh start

In light of the kids-for-cash scandal in which a corrupt judge took cash while locking up juveniles, the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office was looking for new ideas on how to give some offenders a fair shake.

Prosecutors didn’t want to create another stepping stone toward the adult criminal justice system and focused instead on diverting kids from the juvenile court system altogether.

The panels are made up of all citizen volunteers and cannot be elected officials, law enforcement personnel or anyone at schools in a disciplinary position. Volunteers go through criminal background checks and training sessions.

The panels are tailored to keep first-time, low-level, nonviolent offenders from stepping into the juvenile court system. Since it was formed in June 2011, about 300 juveniles have completed the program and have had their criminal records expunged, a success rate of about 82 percent…

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JDI Video Shows Youth that “Staying Safe Ain’t Snitching”

In New York City, youth detainees are learning about sexual abuse prevention through innovative materials that were created by JDI and its partners, including kids in detention.

Click here for the video summary: img-141017213314 and for additional articles click here

Cultivating Better Futures for Troubled Bronx Youths

They could have been locked up for offenses ranging from theft to assault to armed robbery.

Instead, they planted vegetables at an urban farm, painted a mural to honor a community activist, staged a youth talent show, organized “safe parties” for teens at a local community center – away from the gunfire and stabbings outside.

The youths came up with a smorgasbord of ways to improve their impoverished Bronx, N.Y.,  neighborhood as part of the nonprofit Community Connections for Youth’s South Bronx Community Connections (SBCC) initiative.

For the article click here and for an executive summary of a new evaluation report for this program click here: SBCC Executive Summary

Pipeline to Prison: How the juvenile justice system fails special education students

Across the country, students with emotional disabilities are three times more likely to be arrested before leaving high school than the general population.

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Brutal Crimes Don’t Justify Bad Laws

A true tragedy, driven by a media frenzy, often provokes a misguided need to do something as quickly as possible and leads to bad public policy – like California’s Three Strikes sentencing law.

Massachusetts Juvenile Judge Jay D. Blitzman got it right when he explained in 2008 why brutal crimes so often lead to bad laws. In an article for the Barry Law Review he wrote: “As the public and media react to the crime du jour, there is an unfortunate tendency to legislate by anecdote.” Stories gain momentum, get fueled in the press, and can be used for political advantage by the powers that be, and before we know it, the need for change, and in some cases, vengeance, turns too quickly into ill-conceived laws.

For this article click here

N.J. juvenile detention strategy seen as model

Across New Jersey, six detention centers, including Gloucester County’s, have been shuttered in the last decade, meaning fewer jobs. At the remaining centers, which are under pressure to reduce their populations, it sometimes means there is less time available to treat juvenile offenders for drug addiction.

These are the outcomes, good and bad, of an initiative launched in 2004 – and adopted at different times since then by most counties – to keep low-level juvenile offenders out of detention centers.

New Jersey officials touted the initiative Thursday to officials from New York state, who were in Princeton for a two-day workshop on juvenile detention reform.

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Should Child Offenders Be Treated as Adults?

The government may recommend he still sit in the back seat of a car, but a 10-year-old boy can be charged as an adult for the homicide of a 90-year-old woman and potentially spend the rest of his life in prison.

Along with Somalia, the United States is one of two countries in the world that have not ratified a United Nations convention that requires countries to have a minimum age to consider a child criminally culpable. According to Amnesty International , it stands alone in sending juveniles to prison for life without the possibility of parole. In some parts of the country children are automatically charged as adults when accuse of homicide. Two recent cases have exposed ambiguities in the criminal justice system and drawn criticism from those who question whether the law should ever treat children as adults

For this NYTimes article click here


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The Way to Beat Poverty

One of the reasons the United States has not made more progress against poverty is that our interventions come too late. If there’s one overarching lesson from the past few decades about research on how to break cycles of poverty in the United States it’s the power of parenting-and intervening early, ideally in the first year or two of life or even before a child is born.

Click here to read a fascinating article by the NYTime’s Nicholas Kristoff that explores how medical research on toxic stress reveals why intervening early in the lives of unstable families is critically important. While this article does not explicitly address juvenile justice, there are important connections that link the way that impoverished children are exposed to large and sustained amounts of toxic stress and the likelihood they become ensnared in juvenile justice systems.

For more information about toxic stress and innovative early interventions check out this online series

Child Poverty Rampant in Many of Biggest U.S. Cities

Child poverty increased in 35 of the biggest U.S. cities in the past eight years, and millions of children now live in families barely scraping by, a new analysis shows.

Casey’s KIDS COUNT Data Center has been updated with economic data from the U.S. Census 2013 American Community Survey, including the numbers and rates of children living in families with incomes below the federal poverty line.

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DMC Virtual Resource Center

The DMC Virtual Resource Center is a forum for state and local DMC Coordinators, State Advisory Group members, Juvenile Justice Specialists, Compliance Monitors, practitioners, and other juvenile justice system stakeholders to access a variety of tools and resources to help support their state and local DMC efforts. This forum is designed to provide opportunities for these individuals to network with their peers and with OJJDP for the exchange of information and ideas, technical DMC resources, DMC based training materials and templates, and DMC events and new practice standards.

To find out more click here

To Improve Your Economy, Form a Backbone Agency

It has been stated that “There is no other way society will achieve large-scale progress against urgent and complex problems, unless a collective impact approach becomes the accepted way of doing business.” Community problem-solving is about collective decisions to improve outcomes — not merely supporting a program or initiative. It’s a continuous and sustainable process that has a collective impact on every child, youth and family.

A backbone agency that targets children beginning at birth, equipping them with skills so they don’t break and flow into the cradle-to-prison pipeline, will result in more taxpayers who can then contribute to economic growth.

Businesses will invest in a community that invests in its children and youth — their future will determine the crime rates. High crime alone will make a community less inviting for investment. The stronger the collective, the stronger the impact, resulting in positive outcomes.

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Eric Holder’s Legacy

By any measure the six year tenure of Attourney General Eric Holder Jr. has been one of the most consequential in United States history. His decision to resign was long anticipated; he has said he will stay on through his successor’s confirmation. It’s hard to imagine anyone who could make  it through the current Senate would have an impact comparable to Mr. Holder’s.

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Attorney General’s Legacy Needs Shoring Up

Let’s take a moment to review the accomplishments and legacy on youth justice issues of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. After six years, he announced his intentions last week to step down.

The ones that come to mind first are civil rights investigations in juvenile justice, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations and the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.

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Children’s Rights Groups Against Giving School Cops Military Hardware

More than 20 national education and civil rights advocates sent a letter Monday to Department of Defense officials, urging them to stop giving U.S. school police departments anti-mine vehicles, military-grade firearms like M16s and even grenade launchers.

News reports and lists of recipients of surplus hardware reveal that assault-style rifles, armored vehicles and other military supplies have been handed over to school districts large and small, from California, Texas, Nevada and Utah to Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Michigan.

To read the full article click here

Students Transform New York’s South Bronx with High-Performance Architecture

Designers have the unique ability to intentionally shape the world. With climate change accelerating everywhere, designers with knowledge of sustainable design tools and methods are needed now more than ever.

Aspiring architects from around the world leveraged advanced software tools, and sustainability strategies in the Transformation 2030 Student Design Competition to turn the shuttered Spofford Juvenile Center in New York City’s South Bronx into a high performance, mixed use development.

For more info click here

Different Ways of Measuring Recidivism Leads to Incomplete Data

According to a recent report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, about half of states track recidivism by specific juvenile facility and only about a third track by length of stay.  This lack of consistency makes it almost impossible to compare across states and agencies. Further, the report found that only half of all state juvenile correctional agencies measure youth outcomes beyond whether youth commit future delinquent acts.  The report urges policymakers to collect and analyze data that includes positive youth outcomes to “determine not only whether the juvenile justice system is helping to prevent youth’s subsequent involvement in the system, but also whether it is helping youth transition to a crime-free and productive adulthood.” Read more.

Attorney General Holder Announces Partnership with Department of Housing and Urban Development to Improve Civil Legal Aid for Juveniles

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce a partnership between the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).   HUD will offer new grants to support collaborations between HUD-funded organizations, and civil legal aid programs and public defender offices.

The grant funded collaborations will focus on expunging and sealing juvenile records – improving the chances that reentering youth will be able to obtain degrees, find work and secure housing.

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A truly fantastic series at the Brooklyn Museum 

It is sponsored by the Correctional Association of New York (celebrating its 170th anniversary!) and is part of their ongoing series:  “States of Denial.”

September 20: Unshackled: Women Speak Out on Mass Incarceration and Reproductive Justice An afternoon of conversation and spoken word from formerly incarcerated women impacted by the intersection of mass incarceration and reproductive health issues. This event is part of the CA’s annual collaboration with Toshi Reagon’s Word* Rock* & Sword: A Festival Exploration of Women’s lives.
Moderators: Professor Dana-Ain Davis, Queens College, Farah Diaz-Tello, Esq., National Advocates for Pregnant Women

The Impacts of Truancy

Dropping out of school is not a singular event. It is a slow process of disengagement that requires us to look at the primary reasons children are absent and then devise mechanisms to pull them back from the brink.

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YOUTH Speakers Institute

Below please find the description of a joint program organized by The Correctional Association, Center for Community Alternatives and Youth Represent that seeks to engage court involved youth in the art of public speaking:

“Advocacy to reform New York’s youth justice system has revealed a clear need to engage formerly incarcerated youth as active spokespeople in this work. System-involved youth make powerful advocates; their stories can play a key role in educating legislators and the public by countering stereotypes and misperceptions, and by putting a human face on policy issues that can otherwise seem distant and abstract. While several New York City organizations work with and train system-involved youth, there is currently no structured program to train and connect young people with opportunities to participate in advocacy and public education on youth justice reform.

Youth Speakers Institute fills this gap by recruiting young people , 16 to 23, with current or past system involvement; training them on n public speaking and advocacy skills; and providing diverse opportunities for these young people to communicate their perspectives on youth justice reform issues to the public, policymakers, and the media.”

To learn more contact Tanesha Ingram at

Will This Be the Year JJDPA Is Reauthorized?

Forty years after its birth, the landmark federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act could be reauthorized by Congress this year. The Act provides the bulk of funding for state-specific juvenile justice reform, while also providing technical assistance and training.

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Harlem Raid Families from Both Sides Make a Plan

It was early August, exactly two months after the largest raid in New York City history at the Grant and Manhattanville housing projects, when 20 people, mostly older folks, crammed into the Community Board 9 office in a tiny storefront in Harlem.

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Fitting Juvenile Justice into the ‘Public Policy Puzzle’

Why should those of us active in juvenile justice policy be interested? The largest common characteristic of those youth in secure custody is substance abuse. Of course, there are other common indicators — poor mental health, trauma, poverty — but the number of those who use drugs often exceeds 75 percent, research shows. That number alone makes understanding the biology and history important to both practitioners and policymakers. But how do we fit into the public policy puzzle?

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Missouri Judge Denies Request to Release Any Juvenile Records of Michael Brown

A judge has denied a request to release any juvenile records of an unarmed 18-year-old shot to death last month by police.

It’s not known if Michael Brown had a juvenile record. But a St. Louis County family court judge on Tuesday denied the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s request for any. Brown was shot to death Aug. 9 by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

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Why Juvenile Justice Matters to Counties

Why Juvenile Justice Matters to Counties” argues that the juvenile justice system has a direct impact on counties’ investments in health, justice, and social services, and that juvenile justice systems currently cost more to counties than the benefits they bring to the community. “Why Juvenile Justice Matters to County Human Service Agencies” states that collaboration between human services and juvenile justice systems can divert youth from future involvement in the adult criminal justice system and use of public health systems. –

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Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By Police

Talking to people on Twitter about Mike Brown and what’s happening in Ferguson right now, I’ve noticed (again) how easily folks get distracted when Black people are murdered by the police. It seems as though every detail is more interesting, more important, more significant—including looting of a Walmart in Ferguson, which a local Fox news station focused its entire coverage on—than the actual life that was taken by police.

So, to get folks back on track to focus on what matters most here—the killing of yet another unarmed Black teenager—I’ve compiled this list of 6 Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By the Police.

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Analysis: Holes in the Evidence for Evidence-Based

The evidence behind even the most highly-regarded treatment models for court-involved youth isn’t nearly as strong as advertised

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Young Souls, Dark Deeds

Is it sometimes proper to charge even pre-teens as adults or is that unjust not to treat them as juveniles?

Read this NYTimes “Room for Debate” discussion here

US Imprisonment Rate Continues to Drop Amid Falling Crime Rates

Over the past five years, imprisonment rates fell in 31 states.1 California, which was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce its prison population, led the way with a 26 percent drop, though many state inmates are now held in local facilities. Fourteen other states reduced their imprisonment rates by 10 percent or more from 2007 to 2012.

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D.C. defense attorneys want juveniles released from shackles in court

While some say the restraints keep defendants and observers safe in situations that can become tense, opponents argue shackles are demeaning and unnecessary in a system aimed more at rehabilitation than punishment. They note that adult defendants in the same courthouse, even those who have been convicted of violent crimes, can have their restraints removed in court.

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