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Juvenile justice

“For adolescents, developing and integrating their identity can be difficult. For gay and lesbian youth, this task is greatly complicated because they must integrate an identity that diverges from mainstream society … Gay and lesbian youth need help resolving adolescent identity crises” (p. 1). This article provides guidance for out-of-home care professionals in supporting gay and lesbian youth as they figure out who they are going to be. Best practices tend to cluster around three areas: vulnerability versus empowerment—using inclusive language (being aware of heterosexist bias), picking up on hints that youth may not be heterosexual, mediating with others as youth work things out, respecting the privacy of youth, and if you don’t normally make a formal note of a youth’s heterosexuality do not mention a youth’s homosexuality; stigmatization versus validation—individualizing messages, affirming the youth, reframing differences as unique traits, nurturing the youths’ pride, and making sure the youth are seen as normal; and acceptance versus rejection—welcoming, being engaged with the youth, keeping an open mind, connecting youth with other gay and lesbian youth, and reflecting rather than instructing.

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These standards were developed to "articulate a set of principles to guide agencies and jurisdictions in the development of local policy and practice. These best practices are relevant across a variety of settings including criminal justice, juvenile justice, psychiatric and forensic hospitals, law enforcement transport, and others. This document refers and applies to both women (age 18 years and older) and girls (younger than age 18) who are pregnant, laboring and delivering, or in the post-partum period" (p. 1). Sections contained in this publication include: background; definitions; context and need; key principles; recommendations for operational practices; rationale—legal considerations, gender responsiveness, trauma-informed policy and practice, and human rights; and conclusion. Appendixes cover: supporting documents; and "The Legal Lens".

Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody Cover

“[W]henever safe and appropriate, youth with mental health needs should be prevented from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. For youth who do enter the system, a first option should be to refer them to effective treatment within the community. For those few who require placement, it is important to ensure that they have access to effective services while in care to help them re-enter society successfully” (p. 1). This paper explains how this can be done. Topics discussed include: the widespread mental health challenges associated with justice-involved youth; new scientific discoveries that can help these youth; the ways in which two states are taking the lead in helping these juveniles—Louisiana and Connecticut; and how more communities can use these strategies for youth with mental health needs involved with the juvenile justice system.

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This report provides a clear blueprint for closing youth prisons and replacing them with community-based juvenile justice services. Readers will learn how this new system can hold youth accountable — without resorting to incarceration — while cultivating a young person’s strengths, interests and sense of belonging.” Sections of this publication are: introduction: a note on community; defining “continuity of care” for young people in the juvenile justice system; why a continuum is needed; developing a continuity of care—guiding principles, core components, and tying it all together; eight steps for developing a community-based continuum of care for justice involved youth; examples of continua of care; funding a continuum of care for justice-involved youth and their families; and conclusion.

This is an excellent report explaining how “school climate has a profound impact on the mental, physical, and emotional health of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] students and is a crucial factor in pushing these students out of school and into the juvenile justice system … Hostile school climate perpetuates higher rates of truancy, absenteeism, and dropping out for LGBT youth, heightening the risk of arrest for those students already particularly susceptible” (p. 6). LGBT youth make up 5-7% of the total youth population. Yet, 15% of youth in the juvenile justice system are LGBT. Sections of this report are: introduction and summary; the school-to-prison pipeline defined; hostile school climates push students out of schools; examining factors that contribute to hostile school climates—peer-on-peer bullying, dress codes and monitoring of student behavior, unenumerated policies, and lack of access to LGBT resources; harsh school discipline policies criminalize youth—zero-tolerance policies and the policing of students, and disparate application of discipline policies lead to increased suspensions, expulsions, and arrests; and alternatives to harsh discipline policies—Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI), and jurisdictional responses to school discipline.

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“Most assessment systems target high-risk offenders. However, standard risk and needs assessments do not necessarily identify needs that are truly criminogenic for each individual; nor do they address responsivity. This is because these systems do not inherently identify either specific strategies and programs that reflect the learning style of the offender or approaches and programs most likely to motivate each offender to change behavior. This paper describes a comprehensive approach to assessment, developed by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), that successfully addresses all three objectives listed above. This methodology was originally embedded in the Client Management Classification (CMC) system and Strategies for Juvenile Supervision (SJS) assessment and supervision systems. It currently is embedded in the Correctional Assessment and Intervention System (CAIS) and Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System (JAIS) … Evaluation outcomes from six separate studies have shown that this methodology significantly reduces recidivism for both probationers and parolees and reduces institutional infractions when used in institutional settings. Results from these studies, which were conducted by different research teams in different jurisdictions across a 25-year timeframe, are summarized in this paper.” Sections included in this report are: introduction; what separates CAIS and JAIS from other assessment models; how CMC and SJS were developed; evaluations of CMC; the Texas Study, 1987; the Wisconsin Study, 1986; Council of State Governments, 2011; the emergence of CAIS and JAIS; supervision strategies; enhancing responsivity through case planning; and conclusion.

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This website provides access to all reports released by the BJS related to juveniles involved in the justice system.

For girls, as with boys, the failure to receive a high school diploma often places individuals on a pathway to low-wage work, unemployment, and incarceration. The imposition of harsh disciplinary policies in public schools is a well-known risk factor for stunted educational opportunities for Black and Latino boys. Such punishments also negatively affect their female counterparts, as do other conditions in zero-tolerance schools. Yet, the existing research, data, and public policy debates often fail to address the degree to which girls face risks that are both similar to and different from those faced by boys. This silence about at-risk girls is multidimensional and cross-institutional. The risks that Black and other girls of color confront rarely receive the full attention of researchers, advocates, policy makers, and funders. As a result, many educators, activists, and community members remain underinformed about the consequences of punitive school policies on girls as well as the distinctly gendered dynamics of zero-tolerance environments that limit their educational achievements … The research reflected in this report was designed to elevate the voices of Black girls and other girls of color affected by punitive policies so as to deepen our understanding of the ways they experience inhospitable educational environments and to produce recommendations designed to eliminate those inequities (p. 10-11).

Sections of this report following an executive summary include: the racialized and gendered contours of the crisis; the hidden toll of race on Black girls—what the data suggest—the substantial risk factors of race and ethnicity, racialized risk of punishment, racial disparity, and disproportionate discipline rates, expulsion rates, and suspension rates; what girls know—nine themes from focus group and stakeholder interviews; what can be done--recommendations for addressing the needs of girls of color; and conclusion. This website provides access to the full report, the executive summary, and a "Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter.

The goal of this exploratory research was to hear from girls from the First Coast (Duval, Clay, Nassau, Baker, and St. Johns counties) who are in juvenile residential commitment programs in Florida, to better understand their common pathways into the system, their experiences with services, and their recommendations for improving the response to girls.

Translating research into practice requires a systematic approach grounded in implementation science and input from practitioners. This document details such an approach for The Bridge Project— an effort designed to facilitate translation of juvenile justice research into actionable policy and practice changes through the development of practitioner-friendly, application-ready products. The underlying decision making framework for this project includes: a continuous consideration of evidence, stakeholder feedback, and input carefully weighed and considered at multiple decision points.


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