To Reduce Juvenile Recidivism at Rikers, New York City Bets on ABLE

The ABLE program is aimed at helping more NYC youth avoid this all-too-common tragedy and to say it is an overdue effort is an understatement. Juvenile recidivism has long been stubbornly stuck around 50 percent — within three years roughly 70 percent of these kids are back in trouble. More than 95 percent are African-American and Latinos.

To read more click here

White House, OJJDP Hold Listening Session on Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents

The White House, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), OJJDP, and other federal agencies are working vigorously across many fronts to help young people affected by a parent’s incarceration access the supports and services they need. As part of this commitment, OJJDP organized a 1-day listening session, “Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents,” in partnership with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement.

Among other efforts, OJJDP is launching a new National Mentoring Resource Center, which will provide comprehensive resource, reference, and training materials and advance the implementation of evidence- and research-based mentoring practices.

To continue reading click here and to access the report click here: MentoringCOIP2013


If you missed NYJJ’s own “Families Impacted by Incarceration” event you can access the event summary here: Families Impacted by Incarceration Event summary

The Juvenile Justice System in America

Are we going far enough to separate how we administer justice to juveniles and adults? If not, where are we failing and what can we do to right the juvenile justice ship? Click here for the article

Pushed Out of School, Black Girls Lose Huge Ground

Once black girls wind up in juvenile justice schools it’s hard to find the path to financial stability. Research has found that black girls are more likely to be punished for being “un-ladylike” and seen by teachers as “loud, defiant, and precocious.” The first in the series the Bias Price, with important overlap with youth justice priorities here in NYC.

To start this series click here

Abuse Pervasive at Rikers Island; Unconscionable Violence Against Inmates with Psychiatric Disabilities

Both articles inside highlight shocking abuses at Rikers Island, stemming from what has been called a “culture of indifference and violence”. As both reports indicate, inmates with a psychiatric disability are more likely to be the subjects of abuse and neglect. This horrific system needs to change at every level. With the passage of Crisis Intervention Teams in NYC and across the state, NY could help persons struggling with a disability or addiction to the treatment they need, rather than isolating them in abusive and isolating environments.

To access both articles click here

Brooklyn bus shooter should be tried as a juvenile

On the B15 bus near Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Kathon Anderson — a 14-year-old boy — allegedly shot and killed an innocent bystander in what is thought to be gang-related violence. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office charged the teen with second-degree murder and ordered that he stand trial as an adult. An adult court is an inappropriate venue for Anderson’s trial, and it will fail to provide him with the safeguards and care to which he is entitled under international law. If found guilty, he will also be commingled with adult offenders in a high security prison where little to no attention will be put on rehabilitation. No child should be the subject of adult criminal proceedings, no matter the crime.

To continue reading click here

Connecticut a Model for New York to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility

Now that Raise the Age has been fully implemented, Connecticut is being touted as a success story and a potential model for New York and North Carolina, the only two states left in the union that treat 16-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system.

Jessica Sandoval, the vice president of the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national organization that was involved in the Connecticut campaign and is pushing for reform in New York and North Carolina, said that in a lot of ways Connecticut’s process was ideal.

To read more click here

BECK: Mobilize for juvenile justice reform (Connecticut)

On March 10, HB 5221 cleared the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, marking an important step forward for juvenile justice reform in the state; but the bill still has a ways to go before being implemented as law. B 5221 prohibits mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offender…

To read more click here

State commission: Sex offender registration does little to prevent youth crimes

The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, on Tuesday, released a report centered on laws and policies for working with youth sex offenders.

The 150-page, “Improving Illinois’ Response to Sexual Offenses Committed by Youth,” is based on analysis of state and federal legislation and interviews of both practitioners who work with victims of sexual abuse, and juvenile offenders.

To read this article click here and to access  the report click here:  IJJC – Improving Illinois’ Response to Sexual Offenses Committed by Youth – No Appendices

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Eleven New York City Organizations Selected As First Arts Partners In New Citywide Neon Arts Education Initiative

The New York City Department of Probation (DOP), in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, announced the names of eleven New York City organizations last week to be awarded grants supporting arts programming as part of DOP’s new citywide NeON Arts initiative

To read more click here

Bill de Blasio Appoints Criminal Justice Team

Mayor Bill de Blasio this afternoon announced the appointment of commissioners of the Department of Correction, Department of Probation and several other criminal justice positions.

Joseph Ponte will lead the Department of Correction, Ana Bermudez will helm the Department of Probation, Elizabeth Glazer will head the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and Vincent Schiraldi will serve as the senior adviser to the Office of Criminal Justice.

To read the full press release click here

Juvenile Justice Reform Falls Short of Goals

The Close to Home initiative was supposed to move detained kids to less restrictive settings and improve their ability to complete their education. Has that happened?

It’s true that residential facilities in New York City are more home-like than the giant, mega-facilities upstate, but moving young people away from institutions and into true community-based care has not happened. Instead of being assigned to OCFS residential facilities, city youth are sent to live in ACS facilities—a different ZIP code, but the same placement model they would have had upstate

To read an article from City Limits that explores that question click here

A Letter From Ray Jasper

Ray Jasper was convicted of participating in the 1998 robbery and murder of recording studio owner David Alejandro. A teenager at the time of the crime, Jasper was sentenced to death. He wrote to Gawker once before, as part of their Letters from Death Row series. That letter was remarkable for its calmness, clarity, and insight into life as a prisoner who will never see freedom. We wrote back and invited him to share any other thoughts he might have.

To read Ray Jasper’s impassioned and insightful last testament click here

New York City Program Teaches Teen Graffiti Artists to ‘Paint Straight’

A New York City diversion program teaches teen graffiti artists arrested for vandalism how to express their art without breaking the law.

To learn more click here

NY State in Deal to Limit Solitary Confinement

NY State has agreed to sweeping reforms intended to curtail the widespread use of solitary confinement, including prohibiting its use in disciplining prisoners under 18.

To read more click here

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A friendly reminder about our upcoming 2 part event:

“Families Impacted by Incarceration: Policies and Practices for Funders to Consider”

The event will host a panel featuring advocates, service providers, formerly incarcerated mothers and young people. 


Tuesday, March 11th 2:30pm-5:00pm
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors 6 West 48th Street, 10th Floor New York, NY 10036 
This panel event will be followed by a site visit to the Bedford Hills women’s prison located in upstate NY (transportation provided)
Wednesday March, 19th 9:00am-4:00pm 
247 Harris Rd, Bedford Hills, NY 10507
Please see the link below for more details, and feel free to forward to others in the funding community that may be interested.
*We are happy to have you at both events but if you can only make one we still strongly encourage your attendance

March 2014 NYJJI 2-Part Program (2)

State of the City: An Agenda for Comprehensive Youth Justice Reform

Two weeks ago NYJJI invited the Alliance for Youth Justice & Safety* (formerly TBOCA) to share youth justice priorities for New York City’s new mayoral administration.  These priorities were discussed and decided upon by advocates, impacted family members and youth, service providers, and community-based organizations though a facilitated discussion that took place earlier which was co-sponsored by NYJJI.

That funders briefing is informing a future public event being co-sponsored by NYJJI and the Center for NYC Affairs at The New School to be held later this spring where key city officials as well as selected youth and parent representatives and a youth justice advocate will discuss these priorities and their visions for youth justice under Mayor DeBlasio.

To view the top 5 priorities discussed at the funder’s briefing click here: Top 5 Youth Justice Priorities 2014

*The Alliance for Youth Justice & Safety is led by the Center for Community Alternatives, Center for Nu-Leadership on Urban Solutions, Correctional Association of New York and Youth Represent.

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Measure This?


“I was once instructed by a nonprofit ‘guru’ that ‘everything can be measured.’ Even if I could concede to agree with the premise, I get stuck with the corollary: that we can develop standardized metrics to measure everything. In other words, as usual, it’s not the what, but the how.”

Read this thought provoking reflection on measurement- its value and its limits

To view this piece from Sonja Okun’s exalt blog click here

Program Profile: The Animation Project (TAP)


Recently one of our members, Dr. Cavin Leeman of the Stephen and May Cavin Leeman Foundation suggested I meet with the executive director of an exciting arts program that has been working with court involved youth for several years now.

The Animation Project (TAP) nurtures the social, emotional and cognitive growth of at-risk youth, using digital art technology as a therapeutic medium and a workforce development tool. Each cohort of court involved youth that participate in the program work with an animator and a therapist to tell stories about their lives through animation. In the process they undergo a transformation of identity from “juvenile delinquent” to artist and entrepreneur as they reflect on their lives and work through new artistic mediums.

To view a sample video click here and to go to the program website click here

Youth of Color and the Juvenile Justice System: A Conversation with James Bell and Katayoon Majd

On February 19, JJIE hosted a live video chat with James Bell of the W. Haywood Burns Institute

and Katayoon Majd of the Public Welfare Foundation (and our very own NYJJI member! ). It was an informative and candid conversation on racial and ethnic disparities and the over-representation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.

To access the video click here

Multnomah County taps federal dollars for new juvenile justice program

A new Multnomah County initiative to keep wayward kids with their families and out of jail could spur big changes to the youth corrections system statewide.

On Tuesday, leaders from the county’s Department of Community Justice announced plans to tap into federal money to help at-risk youth stay at home or in foster care while they are on probation, instead of shipping them to a youth home or correctional facility.

To read more about a “Close to Home” effort on the other side of the country (Oregon) click here

Boys’ Lock-up Rates Hit 10-Year High


New Haven, CT: The number of children committed to the Department of Children and Families for breaking the law has remained steady at about 340 children on any given day over the last five years. This is even after some 16- and 17-year-old offenders were brought into the juvenile correction system after enactment of Raise the Age legislation. Meanwhile, the number of children being served at the state-run boys’ detention facility has increased, while those served in group homes in the community has declined. To read this article (with great data visuals) click here

LGBTQ Youth Over-Represented Across Juvenile Justice System, Experts Say

One of the biggest contributing factors for LGBTQ youth to end up in the juvenile justice system is family rejection. Many youth, unable to feel accepted or safe at home run away. Lack of support in other systems, like school, is also a main factor…In addition “The school-to-prison pipeline for LGBT young people is a very common way for LGBT young people to enter the system,” To continue reading click here

The Great Hidden Secret: How ‘The Anonymous People’ is Changing Recovery Culture

“The Anonymous People,” which is having its theatrical opening at the Quad Cinema in Union Square in New York City on March 14, is a film that looks at the history of the recovery movement and the anonymity that is central to 12-step programs. But it also looks at the growing movement of people in recovery who are coming out publicly to shed the stigma that Williams says is preventing an estimated 23 million addicts from getting treatment. To read this article click here

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A story of determination and goals accomplished

Check out exalt’s blog for an inspiring story of a young girl’s tenacity and perseverance as she completes an on-time high school diploma against great odds.  NYJJI gets a special mention as we learn about her impressive work with youth justice advocacy efforts as well. To read click here

Obama steps up efforts to help young men of color

President Obama will launch an initiative aimed at improving the lives of young black and Latino men by bringing businesses and foundations together with government agencies to change what an administration official called the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Obama plans to unveil the initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper, on Thursday. The move is the latest in a series of efforts by the president to spur social change outside the stalemated legislative process, and represents an escalation of his efforts to target the problems faced by young men of color. To keep reading click here

Vera Study Looks At Mandatory Sentencing Reforms

Over the last decade, the majority of states have taken steps to reform or limit mandatory sentencing laws, signaling a shift in a decades-long approach to combating crime, according to a report recently released by the Vera Institute of Justice. To read this article click here. To read the report click here: mandatory-sentences-policy-report

Juvenile Justice Experts Scrutinize OJJDP’s Role

On Thursday and Friday, a committee that is to recommend ways OJJDP can be strengthened and realigned got an earful from experts in the juvenile justice field.

The committee is tasked with implementing key recommendations from a 2012 National Research Council report titled “Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach.” To keep reading click here

Massachusetts Begins Juvenile Justice Initiative

Massachusetts has launched an initiative to reduce recidivism by signing a contract for the largest pay-for-success financial investment in the country.  The goal is to improve the lives of nearly 400 at-risk youth in western Massachusetts, reduce crime, and save taxpayers money. To read this article click here

Los Angeles Juvenile Justice System Overhaul Pondered

Los Angeles County supervisors are considering an overhaul of the county’s system for defending juveniles accused of crimes.

Under-age criminal defendants who can’t afford a lawyer are generally represented by someone from the county public defender’s office. But when that office is already representing another defendant in the case or a special circumstance arises, lawyers from a separate panel step in to remove the potential conflict of interest.

Advocates argue that the switch creates another problem: The private lawyers the county contracts with for these cases, known as panel attorneys, are paid less — a flat rate of $319 to $345 per case — and may not represent their clients as vigorously. To learn more click here

White Paper: Need to Reform Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Youth

National mental health organizations and experts are calling for reforming mental health services for incarcerated youth after recent reports revealed startlingly high numbers of mental health disorder in the population.

Up to 70 percent of youths who come in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder, according to a Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change white paper published Thursday. To continue this article click here. To view the full report  click here: Better_Solutions_for_Youth_with_Mental_Health_Needs_in_the_Juvenile_Justice_System.

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Line Drawing: Raising the Minimum Age of Criminal Court Jurisdiction in New York

by Dr. Jeffrey Butts and Dr. John Roman

In his 2014 State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formation of a state commission to produce a plan for raising the age at which juveniles are charged as adults in New York courts.

The following report compiles research by Dr. Jeffrey Butts and Dr. John Roman entitled “Line Drawing.” The report presents a cost-benefit analysis of raising the age of criminal responsibility and is designed to inform the Commission’s efforts by examining the reasons for changing the age of criminal jurisdiction and by reviewing the implications of such a change.

 For the report click here: linedrawing

Punishing Young Offenders Twice

Policymakers make connections between below-grade-level reading by the end of 3rd grade and difficulties in later life. Many advocates, in turn, champion efforts to assist and give voice to the young people on the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. But what about the learning needs of the young people who are incarcerated or under the purview of the justice system? Far fewer people consider those. Studies have estimated that nearly 75 percent of incarcerated youths are high school dropouts. To read more click here

Restorative Justice Practices

Because juvenile justice entails more of an atmosphere of rehabilitation rather than strict punishment, we see more incidents of restorative practices being utilized than we do in strictly adult settings.

This article gives a brief summary of what Restorative Justice really is and elaborates on how it can be utilized and find success in schools by moving beyond zero tolerance and into an atmosphere of communication and relationship restoration, including responsibility and accountability not only from the students but also from the adults. To read this great article click here

A ‘Second Chance’ for Former Graffiti Vandals                                                                    

Serrano says he will always remember standing before the judge in Queens Criminal Court awaiting his sentence. It was his third arrest for vandalism charges. To continue reading click here

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NYS Juvenile Justice Progress Report

Below is a report that The Tow Foundation commissioned from FSG in partnership with the JJAG.  It will be used around the country and internationally to promote the use of collective impact as a tool to achieve large scale social change.

The case example of the NY statewide strategic planning process and ongoing work of the SPAC has shown extraordinary results.  It is a wonderful testament to the tremendous juvenile justice reform that has been accomplished throughout New York State over the past few years.

To access the report click here: NYS Juvenile Justice Progress Report_January 2014_web

Middletown officials talk juvenile justice

As the CT state legislature considers laws mandating formal guidelines for the intersection of schools and law enforcement, the city is working out its own memorandum of agreement between police and schools.

The talk focused on a bill that would require all school districts statewide to work out official guidelines with local law enforcement in how officers assigned to schools should interact with students and school employees.

To read more click here

Illinois Takes Huge Step in Juvenile Justice Reform

Chicago police began turning 17-year-olds over to the juvenile courts last week, under a new Illinois law that sets the bar for felony prosecution at 18.

A little more than a year ago, The Chicago Reporter revealed that Chicago police trumped all of the nation’s biggest cities when it came to arresting 17-year-olds. Arrests in Chicago rivaled the number of teens charged with a crime in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston combined.

To read more click here

Casey’s Lubow Retiring after 22 Years Leading Juvenile Justice Reform

Bart Lubow, the architect of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s widely acclaimed Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), will retire June 30 after 22 years leading Casey’s juvenile justice reform efforts, Casey announced Friday.

Today, JDAI is the nation’s most widely replicated juvenile justice reform effort, with more than 250 sites operating in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

To read more click here

One Day Inside a Peer-led Youth Court in Staten Island

Teenagers file into a nondescript office building, signing in on a clipboard at the front desk. They walk past a small waiting area and into a windowless room with bare white walls. The teens change into blue polo shirts with the Staten Island Youth Justice Center logo.

To read more click here

Federal Grant Funding for State Juvenile Programs Cut

Juvenile offenders and their parents in California signed contracts agreeing to school attendance, curfews, drug testing and counseling – and the agreements prevented the youths from being incarcerated.

New York state funded programs in Syracuse and Utica to divert from arrest youths who had committed non-serious illegal acts at school.

Georgia made funds available to 159 county juvenile courts to find community-based services as alternatives to detention.

The efforts in the three states were funded in part by the federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program, which gives states resources to improve juvenile justice systems. But the JABG funding has been eliminated in a fiscal year 2014 spending bill released this week by House and Senate negotiators.

To read more click here

‘Those Kinds of Kids’: Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ Youth of Color Charged with Status Offenses

The lack of culturally relevant services and possible racial discrimination all pose hindrances to LGBTQ young people’s healthy development and success.

To read this article click here

New Study to Focus on Impact of Family Visits for Incarcerated Youth

The Vera Institute of Justice has announced that it will conduct a two-year study to examine the possible impact of increased family visits on juvenile residents in Indiana.

To read this article click here

Pilot Program Seeks to Divert Kids from Juvenile Justice System

In Rochester, N.Y., probation officers – often a youth’s first contact with the juvenile court system in New York state – use formal screening to determine whether youngsters have mental health or substance abuse problems and if they do, refer them to clinicians for an in-depth assessment. The program, aimed at keeping kids from ending up in the juvenile justice system unnecessarily, is now serving as a model for nine other counties in the state.

To read more click here

Young prostitutes get help, not jail, under new law

Lawmakers hope recently enacted legislation will combat sexual slavery and human trafficking in New York. Under the new law, the court system has the authority to refer 16- and 17-year-olds with prostitution offenses to the Person In Need of Supervision program instead of jail.

To read this article click here

Albany County officials launch Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative

Last week, Albany County kicked off a new, innovative program aimed at reducing the number of youth placed in secure detention facilities.

The state Office for Children and Family Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth selected Albany County as one of six sites in New York to participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.

To find out more click here

‘Kids for Ca$h’ reflects issues around country, attorneys say

The 102-minute documentary describes, through interviews with families, media and others, former Judge Mark Ciavarella’s practice of routinely incarcerating hundreds of juveniles not represented by counsel after finding them delinquent for minor offenses.

To learn more click here

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The Year in Youth Services: A Look Back at Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice in 2013

In no particular order, take a look at some of the most notable developments in child welfare and juvenile justice this year- for the review click here

Governor Cuomo Outlines Agenda for 2014

Cuomo call for the creation of a Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice to Help NYS “Raise the Age” in his State of the State address

Quote: “Our juvenile justice laws are outdated. Under New York State law, 16 and 17 year olds can be tried and charged as adults. Only one other state in the nation does that; it’s the state of North Carolina. It’s not right, it’s not fair – we must raise the age. Let’s form a commission on youth public safety and justice and let’s get it done this year.” To access the full transcript click here

Click here to access the agenda (search “juvenile” to skip to his section on juvenile justice)

Obama Administration Unveils School Discipline Guidelines

The Obama administration Wednesday unveiled sweeping national school discipline guidelines urging schools to remove students from classrooms for disciplinary reasons only as a last resort. “Unfortunately, a significant number of students are removed from class each year – even for minor infractions of school rules – due to exclusionary discipline practices, which disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in a letter to school stakeholders nationwide. To read more click here

New York a National Leader in Keeping Youth out of Jail and Prison

New York is throwing fewer than half the children and teens in jail than it did a decade ago.  The state was singled out by the National Juvenile Justice Network, which is trying to further reduce youth incarceration.  Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco, Director of the Juvenile Justice Project  in New York is interviewed in this article, giving her thoughts on the successes and areas for improvement for youth justice in NY. To read more click here 

Expungement App Tries to Help Erase Minors’ Records

The Mikva Challenge Foundation released an app aiming to encourage more juveniles to seek assistance expunging their arrest and court records.

In 2012, only 70 of the 25,000 youths who were arrested in Chicago got their records expunged, according to a report by the Juvenile Justice Council issued last summer. Those who sought to have their records expunged were successful. To read more click here

Last month the Vera Institute of Justice launched its Status Offense Reform Center, a clearinghouse of resources and education resources for changing policies and procedures.

The Status Offense Reform Center (SORC) offers resources and tools to policymakers and practitioners interested in creating effective alternatives to juvenile justice system involvement for youth who commit status offenses—behaviors that are problematic but certainly not criminal in nature. To access the SORC website click here

Giving Kids a Choice: Interview with Adam Foss at 2013 Models for Change Conference

Check out this video interview of Adam Foss, a prosecutor with the Suffolk county district attorney’s office in Boston, a member of the juvenile prosecution unit, at the MacArthur Models for Change conference in early December. To access the interview click here

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