logobyline

twitter   facebook   cfyj donate   amazon smile instagramlogo

Research & Policy

"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.

 

Kids, Cops, and Confessions Explores Mysterious World of the Interrogation Room

Friday, 01 March 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

 

By Leah Robertson

The growing research on adolescent development, mounting evidence against eye witness testimony, and the exposure of numerous cases of false confessions make Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room by University of Minnesota Professor Barry C.Feld an intriguing and incredibly useful body of research for anyone involved in the juvenile justice system. Feld uses data from Minnesota to delve into the factors surrounding the interrogations of youth to determine some of the factors that impact case outcomes. In particular, he focuses on how Interrogators utilize the same techniques they would adults despite the incredible developmental differences between the two and the strong likelihood that youth will confess to a delinquent act almost immediately.


Feld set about this task because “despite the crucial role of interrogation in criminal and juvenile justice, we know remarkably little about what happens when police question suspects, what the outcomes of interviews are, or how they affect justice administration” (Feld Page 2). This data could not have been collected nearly anywhere else because Minnesota is one of very few areas that record all interrogations. In an interview with the Campaign, Feld expressed his surprise that more states have not followed Minnesota’s lead, and he asserted that he believes all interrogations should be recorded everywhere to eliminate much of the mystery and potential manipulation around interrogation.

This book comes at a particularly momentous time when “Central Park 5,” a documentary about five kids who falsely confessed to a horrific crime after hours of interrogation in New York City, has brought popular attention to the issue. Feld addresses this point in his book, when he says that most kids confess to their crimes rather quickly, especially if a parent or authority figure is present. Interrogations that last hours should be a huge red flag to any judge or jury. Most kids, just like those in the Central Park Jogger case, just want to go home, and after hours of interrogation, they do not have the developmental capacity to understand the implications of their actions.
Additionally, Feld focuses on the differences between youth and adults, particularly when it comes to juvenile crime and interrogation. He notes that youths “risk perception actually declinesduring mid-adolescence and then increases gradually in the early twenties.”(Page 8) This can be seen in his extensive study of Miranda Rights, and the fact that the “vast majority (92.8%) of all the juveniles in this study waived their Mirandarights” (Page 206) despite the fact that “young and mid-adolescents do not possess the competence of adults to exercise Miranda” (Page 8).
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in ways to reform the juvenile justice system, particularly family members and juvenile justice system stakeholders. While reforming and “right-sizing” the juvenile justice system, it is important that we also make sure the contact youth do have with law enforcement is fair and developmentally-appropriate to help our youth and make our communities safer.
For those who wish to learn more, you can purchase this book here. For more publications by Feld, visit the University of Minnesota website

.

Connecticut and Illinois Release Pivotal Juvenile Justice Reports

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

This week the Justice Policy Institute released a report entitled, “Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Improved Outcomes for Youth,” and the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission released its report entitled, “Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction: The future of 17-year-olds in Illinois’ justice system.” Conclusions from both reports support the notion that raising the age is consistent with legal trends, is consistent with adolescent development and behavior; is an efficient use of juvenile court resources; improves public safety; and decreases long-term costs.

The positive effects of these reforms have far exceeded expectations thereby debunking the myth that placing more 16 and 17 year olds in the juvenile justice system will “crash it” and sacrifice public safety. The impact of reforms in Connecticut and Illinois prove that thoughtful analysis and long term planning can create positive legislative reforms in systems deemed too dysfunctional for repair.

Highlights from each report are as follows:

Connecticut

  • Extending juvenile jurisdiction to 16 year-olds has increased juvenile caseloads far less than expected (22 percent actual vs. 40 percent projected), reducing the state’s expenditures to serve these youth by nearly $12 million below the amount initially budgeted for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.
  • Raise the Age legislation enabled 8,325 16 year-olds to avoid prosecution and punishment in the adult criminal justice system.
  • 16 year-olds served by the juvenile system have had higher success rates in alternative programs and lower rearrest rates than youth 15 and younger, disproving concerns that they should be in the adult system.

Illinois

  • Although it was predicted that adding roughly 18,000 misdemeanor arrests of 17 year olds would overwhelm the system by a 38 percent increase at the arrest stage, arrests are actually down 24 percent in the state.
  • County juvenile detention centers and state juvenile incarceration facilities were not overrun. In fact, one detention center and two state incarceration facilities have been closed and excess capacity is still the state norm.
  • Due to the success of adding 17 year old misdemeanants, adding 17 year olds convicted of felonies is predicted to be manageable.

Connecticut and Illinois are just two examples of state reforms that are happening throughout the nation. States all over the country are considering reforms, including Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland.

With a new Administrator for the federal Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) about to take the helm, there is a major opportunity to accelerate the pace of reforms throughout the country with federal support.

Find links to the reports below:

Social Justice Advocates Meet With Child Rights International Network’s Veronica Yates

Thursday, 07 February 2013 Posted in Research & Policy

On the afternoon of January 29th, youth and social justice advocates were fortunate enough to meet with Child Rights International Network’s (CRIN) director Veronica Yates in an informative discussion about the issues of juvenile justice, campaigning, and advocacy around the world. CRIN is an international network that supports children’s rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Yates pointed out that children face human rights violations throughout the world, but because of their social and political status, the can rarely speak up against these injustices. CRIN advocates for a genuine system shift in how governments and societies view children. Interestingly, the United States and Somalia are the only member-countries that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - a fact that, Yates emphasized, is one of the most frequently asked about issues emailed to CRIN. While the reason for this is unknown, it would seem that the fact that the United States continues to try children in the adult criminal justice system and place children in solitary confinement (a practice the UN has categorized as torture) would be a contributing factor.

Currently, they have a campaign on children and violent sentencing to address injustices against children in the justice system. It focuses on issues from the UN Human Rights Standards, including juvenile life in prison sentences, the use of corporal punishment on children, and monitoring government responses to children's rights issues.

 
As part of its advocacy effort, CRIN created a Wiki of Children’s Rights, which monitors children’s rights country-by-country while also identifying persistent violations. Their resources are translated into different languages, including English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese, to reach critical decision-makers and advocates throughout the world. 
 
In addition, CRIN advocates for more transparency within the UN’s appointment process of positions related to children’s rights, specifically the appointment process for the Executive Director of UNICEF
 
To read more about CRIN's work, visit the CRIN website
 
 
 

Guidance, Not Guns; Counselors, Not Cops

Liz Ryan Tuesday, 15 January 2013 Posted in Research & Policy, Take Action Now

This piece was originally published in The Crime Report. To learn more, read the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition's Recommendations for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the 113th Congress. 

As the country grieves and looks for ways to begin to heal in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, we have a unique opportunity to honor the lives lost with a comprehensive, effective public policy response.

Our sincerest sympathies go to the children, youth and families impacted.


The Administration and Congress must now move quickly, but thoughtfully, to put forward policies and practices that recognize and address the violence experienced every day in communities around the country.

As our national leaders consider their response, they should focus on five principles: Safe Schools; Mental Health; Prevention; Intervention; and Healing.

To increase safety in schools, some have suggested more guns in schools as a response to the incident in Sandy Hook.

But the nation's educational leaders, including the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, have stated emphatically that, "Guns have no place in our schools."

Others have suggested more police presence.

But research has shown that increased police presence has not made schools safer. In fact, it has resulted in the criminalization of young people in the justice system.

University of Delaware Professor Aaron Kupchik, author of "Homeroom Security" says that while armed guards are already in many schools, "their presence has effects that help transform the school from an environment of academia to a site of criminal law enforcement.


Instead of more guns and more police presence, education experts such as Barbara Raymond of The California Endowment point to the importance of counselors, social workers, psychologists and evidence-based programs.  One example is  the school-wide positive behavior support program to improve learning environments in schools and help children resolve conflict.

An interdisciplinary group of more than 200 violence prevention researchers, practitioners and professional associations recommends that, "these efforts should promote wellness, as well as address mental health needs of all community members while simultaneously responding to potential threats to community safety. This initiative should include a large scale public education and awareness campaign, along with newly created channels of communication to help get services to those in need."


Additionally, a comprehensive approach must address the root causes of violence, and focus resources on proven violence prevention and juvenile delinquency prevention programs such as the University of Colorado's Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence's "Blueprints for Violence Prevention" programs.

Easy access to guns that kill 7 young people  a day and injure 43 more is a challenge addressed by the bipartisan national coalition of 750 mayors led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston. The coalition has created comprehensive recommendations to severely reduce the easy access to guns and assault weapons in the U.S.


Finally, there must be a focus on healing.

The U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence undertook an exhaustive examination over the past year on best practices and approaches to reducing children’s exposure to violence. The task force report included recommendations on reducing exposure of children to violence in the justice system, to counter current approaches that are counterproductive, wasteful and increase risk of re-offending.

The Task Force also made recommendations to ensure that trauma-informed services and care are provided when children are exposed to violence.

To help realize its recommendations, the Task Force highlighted the need for new federal leadership and a new federal initiative on the issue to guide the federal government's work in this area.

Task force co-chair Robert Listenbee, Jr., chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia summed it up in his statement when the report was released:  “We have the power to end the damage to children from violence and abuse."

We know the need.  We also know what works.

What’s required now is action.

It is time for Congress and the Administration to step up and provide the leadership and resolve to end violence against children.

Liz Ryan is President and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and co-chairs the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign of the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC). She welcomes comments from readers. Please click here to see a detailed set of legislative, funding and administrative recommendations from the NJJDP Coalition. 


Central Park Five: Setting the Record Straight

Tuesday, 08 January 2013 Posted in Research & Policy, Take Action Now

By Liz Ryan

"Central Park Five" is a "must see" for any youth justice advocate. The documentary tells the story of five youth ages 14 -16  Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise  who were arrested in New York City in 1989, and after being interrogated for hours by law enforcement, falsely confessed to the rape and physical assault of a woman jogging in the park. They were convicted and sentenced to 6 to 13 years each in the justice system.

 

Produced by renowned documentarian Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and her husband David McMahon, the film features moving interviews with McCray, Richardson, Salaam, Santana and Wise and their families, as well as others involved in their cases, and shows press reports, film clips of their interrogations, and footage of the case throughout the process.
 
Gut-wrenching and profoundly sad, this documentary highlights many of the the problems with the justice system that led to their wrongful conviction and are still prevalent in our justice system: police interrogating youth for hours without lawyers and coercing youth to confess to crimes they did not commit; prosecutors overlooking DNA evidence and other information crucial to the case; and a press corps sensationalizing the case with shocking language, virtually convicting the youth before the trial, and then hardly covering the fact that the convictions were vacated and the youths exonerated a dozen years later.

To add insult to injury, the young men, after having served a collective total of 41 years in prison for a crime they did not commit and being exonerated in 2002, have not received compensation from the city of New York. Their attorneys filed a lawsuit in 2003, but the film indicates that the legal case is "unresolved" almost a decade later.
 
Unaddressed - but underlining the facts and issues covered throughout the film - is the fact that state law allowed these youth to be prosecuted in adult criminal court and placed in adult prison to serve their sentences. If this case can teach us anything, it is that youth are different from adults and need to be treated differently in police and state custody. Additionally, despite what should have been a tough lesson for New York, the state remains one of two states in the country that continues to charge all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. 

The film also fails to mention the immense impact of this case on juvenile justice policies around the country. In the decade following the case, almost every state in the country changed their laws to make it easier to try youth as adults in adult criminal court. We now know just how misguided this was. 
 
 
While difficult to watch at times and profoundly moving, this film can be used to engage community members on youth justice issues and spark dialogue about justice system policies and practices. Here are some ways you and your community can get involved. 
 
Click here for the film trailer and showtimes.
 
Click here to follow the Central Park Five on Facebook.
 
Click here to take action in support of compensation for the Central Park Five.
 
For more background and to help educate others, here's a terrific article on the documentary
 

In Response to Newtown: Recommendations from the Juvenile Justice Community

Monday, 07 January 2013 Posted in Across the Country, Research & Policy

As a member of the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC), we participated in drafting a statement and recommendations for the Congress and the Administration in response to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The tragic December 14th shootings in Newtown, Connecticut shook our nation’s confidence in its ability to prevent future violence and keep our children and our communities safe. While the Newtown incident was horrifying and shocking, it represents a small portion of the violence experienced by America’s youth. Tragedies like Newtown are exceedingly rare, but invite us to remember that in far too many communities, violence is common. As lawmakers discuss potential solutions to keep our communities and our children safer, including limits to the widespread accessibility of firearms, both illegal and legal, in the United States, we offer the expertise of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) and provide recommendations for a comprehensive approach to reduce violence and keep children and communities safe.

We hope that Congress and the Administration will utilize these recommendations in addressing potential policies to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future.

<<  2 3 4 5 6 [7