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.

To read this article click here

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.

To read more click here

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.

To read this article click here

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.

To read more click here

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.

For the full article click here


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.

For the article click here

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. –

To see more click here

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.

To read this article click here

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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

For the full article click here

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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Make Training Police on Juvenile Justice, Youth Interaction a National Priority

Our study of academy training programs, If Not Now, When? A Survey of Juvenile Justice Training in American Police Academies, indicates that less than 1 percent of police academy trainings make mention of juvenile justice issues. There is no “in-service” training for officers. Training that does exist is focused only on juvenile law.

There is no training for law enforcement on how to communicate with teens, or how to understand the way that teens perceive authority. Most academies do not address law enforcement agencies’ legal obligation to address disproportionate minority contact.

To read more and find links to more information click here

Los Angeles to Reduce Arrest Rates in Schools

After years of arresting students for on-campus fights and damaging school property, Los Angeles school officials are adopting new policies to reduce the number of students who are disciplined  in the juvenile court system.

To read this article click here

Parental incarceration can be worse for a child than divorce or death of a parent

With more than 2 million people behind bars, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. This mass incarceration has serious implications for not only the inmates, but their children, finds a new University of California-Irvine study. The study found significant health problems, including behavioral issues, in children of incarcerated parents and also that, for some types of health outcomes, parental incarceration can be more detrimental to a child’s well-being than divorce or the death of a parent.

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New Reports Provide Road Map to Reduce Juvenile Recidivism

Two reports from the Council of State Governments Justice Center offer recommendations for how state and local governments can improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system.

To access the Roadmap to Improved Outcomes report and article click here

To access an interactive data visualization entitled Measuring Juvenile Recidivism click here

The Myth of Juvenile Crime in the Summer

Do we, as adults and as a culture, get just a little bit nervous when we see groups of kids out and about in the summer, hanging around, doing not much of anything?

We don’t know for sure that summer crime waves even exist. In fact, recent reporting states, “Crime does not spike when temperatures begin to sizzle. Rather, police in the Baltimore and Washington corridor say there is a seasonal shift in the type of criminal acts being committed.” In other words, there is a shift to behaviors like vandalism, bicycle theft, breaking into unlocked cars and crimes of opportunity.  The data show that millions of young people across race and social classes engage in these types of activities, and that when young people are connected to school, work and meaningful relationships, they will move past these misbehaviors.

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Pew Convenes Juvenile Justice Leaders

Teams of policymakers and stakeholders from 10 states convened in July for a juvenile corrections conference with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project. Attendees learned about recent comprehensive reforms in Kentucky and Hawaii and explored opportunities for policy change in their states.

To see how Hawaii has accelerated shifts to juvenile justice practices click here

To see how Kentucky has been picking community options over correctional facilities click here

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Darren Wilson Is Identified as Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

The Police in Ferguson broke their weeklong silence on Friday and identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager.

The Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, said the officer was Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force who had no disciplinary action taken against him.

To read more click here

Armed w/ Military-Grade Weapons, Missouri Police Crack Down on Protests over Michael Brown Shooting

The Missouri town of Ferguson looks like a war zone as police fire tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs to break up a fifth night of protests over the police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. At least 10 people were arrested on Wednesday, including St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been posting video online of the protests and who appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this week. An earlier protest faced a heavy police response, with police in riot gear stationed by a massive armed vehicle in the street.

For a compelling video of scenes from Ferguson click here

To read more click here

Ferguson Evokes Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions

Click here for the full article


How Can We Improve the Criminal Justice System’s Treatment of Young People? Ask Justice-Involved Kids

While a growing body of research has demonstrated that punishing young people in the adult criminal justice system is not an effective deterrent, results in higher rates of recidivism and undermines opportunities for young offenders to mature and rehabilitate, the subjective views and experiences of young people in the adult criminal justice system remain largely undocumented and unexamined.

In September, my organization, the John Howard Association (JHA), hopes to fill in part of this gap when we release our study “In Their Own Words: Young People’s Experiences in the Criminal Justice System and Their Perceptions of Its Legitimacy.”

To read this article click here

Juvenile Justice and Education Partnerships: Change Must Begin Now

Former Special Education Director for King County, Washington writes: “I’m still not seeing education as an equal partner when I visit jurisdictions across the nation. I hear phrases like “dual jurisdiction youth” or “crossover youth” focusing on social welfare and juvenile justice. This work has added tremendous value but education seems to be an afterthought. I have never seen a youth who had significant issues with those two systems who didn’t have significant issues with education. It is obvious that juvenile justice and education will never successfully reform current practices and local outcomes without becoming full partners.”

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Justice Department Releases Blistering Report On New York City’s Juvenile Jails

New York City’s juvenile jails are extremely violent and unsafe, the result of a deeply ingrained culture of violence in which guards routinely violate constitutional rights of teenage inmates and subject them to “rampant use of unnecessary and excessive force,” the federal government said in a scathing report released Monday.

The report, the result of a 2 1/2-year Justice Department investigation into violence at three RikersIsland juvenile jail facilities, recommended major reforms to almost every aspect of how young offenders are treated.

It identified problems that occurred between 2011 and 2013 that also likely hold true for adult inmates, including poor staff training, inadequate investigations, an ineffective management structure and the overuse of solitary confinement, particularly for mentally ill inmates.

To read more click here

How Do We Build Resilience Among Youth?

How can the juvenile justice system — and other agencies that serve children — build post-traumatic resilience among youth? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is exploring how it can contribute to ending the culture of violence and trauma that is an obstacle to good health for too many vulnerable Americans.

A new report, “Trauma and Resilience: A New Look at Legal Advocacy for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems,” provides a vital look at how system involvement — in the juvenile justice or child welfare system — can cause trauma, or exacerbate underlying trauma caused by sexual abuse, violence, the death of a loved one, witnessing violence and other experiences. The report sets forth ways to support resilience in youth, and also recognizes the risk of lifelong damage from unaddressed trauma. It includes both strategies for individual advocates and policy recommendations for changing the system.

For more click here

Pew Applauds Hawaii for Enacting Juvenile Justice Reforms

New law will strengthen supervision and services, expand use of proven practices to reduce recidivism

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law a comprehensive set of juvenile justice policy reforms that will halve the number of youth held in the state’s secure facility and improve public safety by redirecting much of the savings to proven strategies for helping troubled youth move toward productive, law-abiding lives.

To read more click here

Summit to Bring Together Juvenile Justice Pros, Youthful Advocates

“Building the next generation of juvenile justice leaders” will be the focus of a two-day summit in Washington co-hosted by the nonprofit Coalition for Juvenile Justiceand the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The second annual Juvenile Justice Youth Summit, which begins Thursday, will bring together 130 youth advocates from throughout the nation and will feature remarks by CJJ Executive Director Marie Williams and OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee, who will also moderate a panel.

For more info click here

Juvenile Justice White Paper:

Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System (The Council of State Governments Justice Center)

This white paper was written to guide leaders across all branches of government; juvenile justice system administrators, managers, and front-line staff; and researchers, advocates, and other stakeholders on how to better leverage existing research and resources to facilitate system improvements that reduce recidivism and improve other outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The focus of the white paper is to promote what works to support successful reentry for youth who are under juvenile justice system supervision.

To access this report click here

This Week in Youth Services: Funding, News and Opinion on Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare

The Chronicle of Social Change is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI), a group of 11 former foster youths who completed Congressional internships. The first three profiles:

  1. Trauma Training for Caregivers
  2. An Empowerment/Comfort Curriculum for New Foster Youth
  3. Internship-track Career Programs for Aging-Out Teens


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Health Coverage and Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: The Role of Medicaid and CHIP

This report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured provides an overview of the physical and mental health needs of youth in the juvenile justice system, and the role of Medicaid in financing comprehensive, coordinated medical services. The report focuses on the circumstances of youth who are placed in juvenile justice residential facilities, the discontinuity of Medicaid coverage for those youth, options for continuity of care, access to needed services, improving coverage after system involvement, and new opportunities provided by the Affordable Care Act.

To access the homepage click here

Jonathan Lippman: New York’s ‘Pro-Activist’ Judge

The state’s most powerful judge is a busy man. As the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Jonathan Lippman is not only the top jurist on almost 300 cases a year, he’s also in charge of the court’s day-day-administration.

To read more of this profile of Judge Lippman click here

New Orleans Immigration Court Handling More Than 1,200 Cases of Unaccompanied Minors Fleeing Central America

By the end of June, 1,216 cases involving children were pending in immigration courts in Louisiana, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal immigration enforcement.

They’re all in New Orleans Immigration Court, which already had a massive backlog.

Why New Orleans? The immigration court here, located at One Canal Place, is the only one in the state that deals with people who aren’t in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Another factor: Most of the cases involve Honduran children, and New Orleans has a large Honduran population. The federal government tries to place unaccompanied minors with relatives or sponsor families as they process their cases.

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