New Nonprofit Will Aid Children in Adult Prisons; News Roundup

by Cecilia Bianco

News-oldTV-smlJuvenile Justice Reform

  • Jail Reform Coalition Seeks Justice System Change (The Californian)
    Louisiana native Helen Rucker, of Seaside, recalled with clarity her years living under “separate but equal” standards, also known as Jim Crow laws. Now, with black and Latino men incarcerated in droves in California, the system has simply created a new set of Jim Crow standards, she said.
  • New Nonprofit Will Aid Children in Adult Prisons (
    According to the Equal Justice Initiative, nearly 10,000 children across the country have been sentenced as adults and are serving time in adult prisons. Pennsylvania, which has the highest number of incarcerated children serving life sentences and no minimum age to try a child as an adult, is now also home to the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP), a new nonprofit dedicated to aiding Philadelphia’s children who have been prosecuted and are carrying out their sentences in the adult criminal justice system.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Help, Not Incarceration (The Epoch Times)
    The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimate that more than 1.26 million mentally ill adults are detained in the country’s jails and prisons. Some cities are trying to change this statistic through programs that offer some of these nonviolent offenders a way out of incarceration, and a chance to improve their lives.
  • The Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Mental Health: What More We Could Have Done (Huffington Post)
    “Superstorm Sandy,” as it was called, rained vast devastation along the northeastern coast of the United States. Mental health problems (as well as the abuse of alcohol and drugs) in the wake of a disaster are well known. This is because disaster, however generated, threatens to undermine both the physical and emotional underpinnings of a community. Perhaps some of the greatest knowledge about disaster mental health was sadly gained after the attacks of 9/11 (1).

Disaster Mental Health Treatment: Looking Back at Hurricane Sandy

by Susan Richardson

Photo credit: Flickr user sikeri

Two years ago Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern coast of the U.S., killing dozens, destroying thousands of homes and affecting the mental health of individuals and communities as a result.

New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver counseling services to those affected, but as OMH Medical Director Lloyd I. Sederer addresses, were these services enough?

Sederer explains in his Huffington Post article that the grants provided to communities delivered three services: outreach to impacted communities, education on common disaster reactions and coping skills, and brief crisis counseling. What’s missing from this bundle of services provided is mental health treatment, despite a 50 percent participation rate in existing crisis counseling services provided.

The most intriguing part of the article is Sederer’s proposed solutions, some of which fall right in line with what Reclaiming Futures champions for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Particularly, Sederer recommends Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) as a valuable addition to traditional counseling services, and specifies, “SBIRT has been used in primary care and emergency settings with notable results.”

Reclaiming Futures is designing and piloting a new version of SBIRT for court-involved adolescents in five sites across the country, offering a promising start to the expanded and more robust mental health treatment programs that Sederer refers to—and for a population who, like those impacted by tragedies like Sandy, are vulnerable to the impact of trauma and loss. Evan Elkin, who is developing the Reclaiming Futures SBIRT model, says:  “Court-involved adolescents show high rates of trauma and often show mental health symptoms that fly under the radar until they get much worse. We view SBIRT as a very nimble and effective way to intervene early with large numbers of vulnerable young people who arrive at the doorstep of the juvenile justice system.”

Request for Proposals to Become a Reclaiming Futures Site Now Available

by Jim Carlton

Download the Request for Proposals – Reclaiming Futures New Sites PDF Now is your opportunity to bring Reclaiming Futures to your community? A recent grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will fund two new Reclaiming Futures sites, and the request for proposals is available here. The two communities selected will implement the Reclaiming Futures model […]

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Cecilia Bianco

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!




Juvenile Felony Arrest Rates in California Display Staggering Racial Disparities

by Cecilia Bianco

Racial disparity is a longstanding issue in the juvenile justice system. Since 2000, there have been countless studies reporting staggering differences in the treatment of juvenile offenders by race. Using comprehensive data from, The Chronicle of Social Change recently examined the racial breakdown of juvenile felony arrest rates across California from 1998 – 2012:

Key findings:

  • In 2007, 50.9 per 1,000 African-American youths were arrested for juvenile felonies, compared to the Latino rate of 15.5 and the white rate of 10.4.
  • In 2012, the juvenile felony arrest rate (per 1,000) for African American youths was 34.2, compared to the Latino rate of 9.1 and the white rate of 6.1.

While there is still a large gap between African-American, Latino and white youths, the 2012 statistics do show improvement in that the arrest rates for all youth have declined.

Using the interactive tools on, you can search results for each county in California.

Note: Every other week, The Chronicle of Social Change examines a new aspect of health and well being of children in California using information from

Graph from website

Montgomery County Partnership Targeting Youth with Substance Abuse Issues

by Mike Garrett

Cassandra Russell, national trainer for The Seven Challenges, presents

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, Montgomery County Juvenile Court, South Community Inc., along with the support of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, hosted a community overview to kick off the expansion of much needed outpatient adolescent substance abuse and co-occurring treatment in the community! South Community, Inc., a private behavioral health group, and Montgomery County Juvenile Court collaborated to bring the program, The Seven Challenges, to the area.

Judge Nick Kuntz and Judge Anthony Capizzi commended Juvenile Court and South Community staff for their efforts and working together to bring evidence-based treatment options to the youth of Montgomery County. The Seven Challenges is an evidence-based model supported by the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and is designed to motivate a decision and commitment to change among adolescents struggling with substance abuse.

Cassandra Russell, a national trainer for The Seven Challenges, provided an overview during the community kick off. The initial training and implementation of The Seven Challenges was funded through the Ohio Department of Youth Services. Continued funding is provided through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Drug Court Enhancement grant until October 2017.

Cultivating Better Futures for Troubled Bronx Youths; News Roundup

by Cecilia Bianco

News-oldTV-smlJuvenile Justice Reform

  • Cultivating Better Futures for Troubled Bronx Youths (JJIE)
    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.
  • Focus on the Figures: Juvenile Felony Arrests, by Race (Chronicle of Social Change)
    Every other week, The Chronicle of Social Change will feature one key indicator from Kidsdata, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well being of children across California. In this installment, we examine the racial breakdown of juvenile felony arrest rate in California, perhaps the most diverse state in the union.
  • New Juvenile Court Judge Looks for “Balance” (Memphis Flyer)
    Citing the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 37, Section 1, from which Juvenile Court derives its authority, Michael defined that role as one of providing “care and protection [and] wholesome moral, mental, and physical development’ of juveniles, while, “consistent with the protection of the public interest,” removing “from children committing delinquent acts the taint of criminality and the consequences of criminal behavior and substituting therefore a program of training, treatment, and rehabilitation.”

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Proposal Would Rewrite Utah Drug Laws in a Major Way (Fox 13)
    “This is not final, but the bottom line is we need to find ways to get more drug possession offenders out of prison into community treatment programs that are appropriate and will address their specific needs,” said Ron Gordon, the executive director of CCJJ.

Webinar Opportunity: Exercising Judicial Leadership on the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders

by Susan Richardson

JudgeThe Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) will host a webinar on November 14 to address how judges can more effectively bring together family members, attorneys and advocates, and service providers to improve outcomes for non-delinquent youth in their communities.

Targeted to judicial leaders and juvenile justice practitioners, the webinar will offer actionable steps on how to convene stakeholders involved in the youth’s life, and will expand on the recently released CJJ tool relevant to judges in this area: “Exercising Judicial Leadership to Reform the Care of Non-Delinquent Youth: A Convenor’s Action Guide for Developing a Multi-Stakeholder Process.”

The report explains,

“Juvenile judges and courts face complex challenges as a result of laws that allow youth, by virtue of their minor status, to be charged in juvenile court with ‘status offenses.’ Status offenses are actions that are not illegal after a person reaches the age of 18. They include curfew violations, possession of alcohol and tobacco, running away and truancy. All too often the court’s involvement in the lives of these youth and families does not yield the intended positive outcomes, particularly when youth charged with status offenses have their liberty restricted and lives disrupted by being placed in confinement, and are separated from their family, school and community.”

Register for this webinar to hear directly from two judges who have seen success and made a difference in the lives of status offending youths and families.

Webinar: Exercising Judicial Leadership on the Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders
When: November 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Presenters: Hon. Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court of Delaware; Hon. Karen Ashby, Judge, Denver Juvenile Court
Register here.

Examining Collateral Consequence Laws: Do They Promote or Deter Recidivism?

by Cecilia Bianco

isolationA recent report by William & Mary Assistant Professor Tracy Sohoni called “The Effect of Collateral Consequence Laws on State Rates of Returns to Prisons” examined whether collateral consequence laws effectively prevent crime or simply make it more difficult for past offenders to successfully re-enter society.

Collateral consequence laws are legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record, and Tracy Sohoni believes they are doing more harm than good.

The report states about 70,000 people are released from prisons annually and roughly two-thirds are rearrested within three years of release. Sohoni hypothesizes that this is due to the restrictions brought on by the laws, which can make it difficult for past offenders to get welfare, vote, obtain a drivers license, and find stable housing and employment.

“Ex-convicts need structural opportunities. They need jobs,” Sohoni said. “A lot of offenders come out and want to live a productive life but a lot of them find the opportunities just aren’t there.”

The research did not find statically significant relationships between collateral consequence laws and state returns to prison, but in specific cases where more data was available, Sohoni did link increases in rates of returns to prison to the restriction in question. Such was the case with her evaluation of restricted access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The report highlights that collateral consequence laws have often been called “invisible punishments” because they aren’t broadly publicized or well known—something that is beginning to change. In 2012, Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and the ABA Criminal Justice Section was appointed to do the necessary research and analysis to create a new online database.

Sohoni, as reported by the Chicago Bureau, acknowledged that the lack of wide data at this time and other factors make it impossible to draw absolute conclusions on the direct impact these laws have. However, the results can still serve as support for those advocating for “less severe punishments, a rollback of the harsh laws from 20 and 30 years ago and the relaxation of laws that haunt inmates after release, often precluding them from re-entering society in any meaningful way.”

Reclaiming Futures Featured on the Office of National Drug Control Policy Blog

by Susan Richardson

In recognition of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, I had the honor to contribute to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s blog. Citing our Reclaiming Futures site in Snohomish County, Washington, I shared why we at Reclaiming Futures believe community involvement is critical to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment, and ultimately build stronger communities around prevention.

Read the full blog post here and contribute your thoughts below.

In Juvenile Justice, Community Involvement is Key to Substance Abuse Prevention

Local artists in Snohomish County, Washington, are contributing their time, tools, and studio space to mentor teens recently involved in their community’s juvenile justice system. For eight weeks, the youth will learn art and photography skills, then produce artwork documenting their lives, families, and communities. Some of their efforts will be featured in local art venues or the local newspaper.

The teens are participants in Promising Arts in Recovery (PAIR), part of Snohomish County’s local Reclaiming Futures program. The goal of PAIR is to establish social and job skills by connecting local artists with at-risk teens who are involved in the juvenile justice system and may be undergoing treatment for substance use or mental health issues. Through programs like PAIR that offer workshops, internships, or job-shadowing opportunities, local professionals are not only helping these young people develop skills necessary to be active citizens, they are helping to rebuild a community around prevention.

Read the full story.