General

DCFS Enhances Procedures Promoting the Safety and Well-Being of LGBTQ Youth

On May 6, 2017, Illinois DCFS Director George Sheldon signed enhanced department procedures to be followed when providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth in the department’s care.
The procedure includes increased mandatory LGBTQ training for anyone involved with LGBTQ children and youth in care; and clarifies protections for transgender/gender expansive youth in care.

Family Engagement in Juvenile Courts

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has released a new technical assistance brief: "Engage, Involve, Empower: Family Engagement in Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts." This brief was funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and is based on the results of a nationwide survey of juvenile drug treatment courts, juvenile mental health courts, and hybrid juvenile treatment courts.

Study: "Listening to Youth Could Improve Justice System"

"The Pittsburgh Foundation announced the completion of an eight-month study that involved partnering with community-based nonprofits to interview 53 youths and young adults with former or active cases in the county's juvenile justice system. Foundation officials expect the 31-page report's findings to spur grantmaking opportunities and community partnerships."

New Report Recommends Actions to Replace the Youth Prison Model

"Harvard Kennedy School’s Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management and the National Institute of Justice today released a new report with recommendations for a common-sense, bipartisan approach to halt the heavy reliance on incarcerating young people. The report, The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model, documents how conclusively youth prisons fail at protecting the community or turning young lives around."

28,000 Federal Employees Forced To Confront Their Bias

A growing body of research shows that implicit bias distorts how people perceive those around them and project stereotypes onto them, even if they’re not consciously aware of doing so. That bias informs every aspect of the criminal justice system, from who police arrest to the types of punishments that judges and prosecutors dole out.

The DOJ’s new training will incorporate three levels of instruction, to break down how implicit bias specifically impacts executives, supervisors, and people in the line of duty.

Teens on Probation Get New Start with Running Program

Dealing with reality can be difficult for youthful offenders once they've been released on probation, but a running club created in March by Francisco Arenas, a probation officer supervisor and grants coordinator for the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department, could help them avoid returning to the system. Organizers say Run4Change is the first program in the country to integrate physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy and interactive peace circles, where participants share their highs and lows. Humphries was referred to the pilot program a couple of months after he was released from the detention center.

JJIE: Case Now Strong for Ending Probation’s Place As Default Disposition in Juvenile Justice

Think about it: Well over half of all youth adjudicated delinquent in U.S. juvenile courts each year are sentenced to probation. Even many youth referred to juvenile court but not adjudicated (24 percent in 2013) are placed on informal probation.

Yet there is virtually no evidence that probation as commonly practiced reduces the reoffending rates of youth. Quite the contrary. As I’ll detail below, what research exists on the impact of standard-issue probation suggests that, on balance, it does nothing, or next to nothing, to reduce offending. Nonetheless, probation has remained largely unchanged in recent decades, and it remains the disposition of choice for system-involved youth.