Juvenile Justice Grounded in Youth Development
On December 9, 2011, legislators, public safety leaders, national policy experts, and other stakeholders came together to discuss national trends, scientific findings, and best practices for addressing the needs of youth who are involved - or at risk of involvement - with the justice system at LPSCC's annual "What Works in Public Safety" conference.
Many of the presentations are available in audio or slideshow format - see links below.
LPSCC co-chairs Sam Adams and Judy Shiprack welcomed the conference attendees, articulating the conference goals of inspiring and equipping attendees to create safe families and communities and facilitate better outcomes for children and youth.
Judge Patricia Martin, President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, delivered a keynote address reflecting on her experiences working with children and families in the courts. She spoke to the importance strengthening and supporting relationships with family members and other caring adults for children who become involved in the courts, using the example of an “Aunt Kitty” –a caring adult who is consistently involved in a child’s life. She urged attendees to think about how their separate systems can link together to form a “family and child wellness system.”
Jonathan Cloud spoke next. Mr. Cloud is an independent consultant who has worked with agencies and organizations around the country, including the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Title V Juvenile Delinquency Prevention training and technical assistance, OJJDP's Project Safe Neighborhoods and Weed & Seed Initiatives, and OJJDP's national demonstration project on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Mr. Cloud’s talk, “Good Maladjustment: Interpreting Misbehavior in Light of Brain Development” emphasized the important role that adults play in modeling behaviors that children and adolescents can use to develop their own “path to greatness” by providing a wide range of positive experiences.
Dr. Hill Walker, co-director of the University of Oregon's Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior, spoke on “Predicting and Preventing Involvement in the Criminal Justice System.” He discussed the research that he and others have conducted among children with high risk factors for negative outcomes including delinquency, drug and alcohol use, gang membership, violent acts, and adult criminality. Children presenting as “Attila the Huns” and “Eric the Reds” as early as kindergarten can benefit from early intervention programs that have been shown to be highly effective. Dr. Walker shared a video from one such successful example, the Regional Intervention Program or RIP.
Thalia González, Assistant Professor of law at Occidental College and Karen Gray, Superintendent, Parkrose School District presented a dialogue on “Prevention and Intervention Strategies in Schools and the Criminal Justice System.” Professor González discussed the need for policies that allow kids to stay in school and to get exposure to the types of positive influences mentioned by the day’s previous speakers as important to healthy development. She discussed the history of restorative justice programs versus punitive, zero tolerance discipline policies, citing a 2009 ACLU report
on the disproportionate impact of these policies in Oregon schools, and a report by the American Psychological Association, showing that zero tolerance policies are not effective for keeping schools safe.
Karen Gray shared data from the Park Rose School District restorative justice program illustrating its impact, particularly in reducing the number of days that students spend outside of school, stating: “The goal is to keep kids in school, because school is the best place for kids." She referenced a forthcoming report by the Multnomah County Commission on Children and Families and Community on the impact of exclusionary discipline on students of color.
Their discussion was followed with a question and answer session with the audience.
The afternoon continued with a group discussion, during which conference speakers joined attendees at their tables to develop their top recommendations for policy change. The day concluded with a final panel featuring the day’s speakers, Judge Martin, Judge Waller, Mr. Cloud, Dr. Walker, Professor González, Dr. Gray, facilitated by Christina McMahan, Assistant Director, Department of Community Justice, Juvenile Services Division, in dialogue with the conference attendees. The panel responded to questions from the audience and discussed Oregon’s juvenile justice system in light of the day’s presentations.
Final recommendations and observations from the attendees and speakers included:
- Adapt restorative justice programs to more schools.
- Provide police officers with training in human development and in recent brain chemistry research, and on the effects of trauma on the brain and delinquency.
- Provide police officers with alternatives to arresting juveniles.
- Integrate risk prevention/intervention strategies into conversations of schools and policy makers.
- Provide additional support for parents.
- Increase protective factors for kids in our communities, especially in East Multnomah County.
- Provide stability for children impacted by family involvement in criminal justice system.
- Continue to press for positive behavior intervention and support (PBIS) in public schools as a way to: Shape positive school improvement, Frame school rules in terms of positive expectations and Affirm students for what they are doing well.
- Implement a safe harbor bill that protects and recognizes victims of child sex trafficking. Stop all attempts to incarcerate these youth for any reason, and instead focus on improving services for them.
- Change minimum sentencing laws - shift allocation of funds from prison bed savings to juvenile justice prevention programs, restorative justice programs, family support, school support programs such as head start.
- Work across silos more - institutional, issue, funding.
- Re-institute County mentor programs for youth
- Focus on teacher education
- Involve school resource officers
- Reconsider Measure 11
Judge Patricia M. Martin is President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Martin is a member and past chair of the Supreme Court of Illinois Judicial Conference Study Committee on Juvenile Justice and a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee on Child Custody Issues. Judge Martin received her education at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., and Northern Illinois University College of Law. Judge Martin's recent honors include the 2010 Service to the Community Award from the Resolution Systems Institute, and the 2007 C.F. Stradford Award, given each year by the State’s Attorney’s Office to distinguished attorneys in the African-American community.
Jonathan I. Cloud has over twenty-five years of experience in child, youth, and family case management, program administration, and program development. He is a Trainer and Strategic Consultant for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Title V Juvenile Delinquency Prevention training and technical assistance, OJJDP's Project Safe Neighborhoods and Weed & Seed Initiatives, and for OJJDP's national demonstration project on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Jonathan is the author of Parenting the Guardian Class: Validating Spirited Youth, Ending Adolescence, and Renewing America's Greatness, which calls for empowering youth rather than controlling them. He has BA degrees in Religion and Psychology, and completed graduate studies in Public Administration and Social Work.
Dr. Hill Walker is co-director of the University of Oregon's Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior (IVDB). Walker’s research interests include social skills assessment and intervention, violence prevention, early intervention, school safety, and longitudinal research. Hill Walker received the Council for Exceptional Children Research Award in 1993, and the University of Oregon Presidential Medal in 2000. Walker is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oregon Social Learning Center and is a consultant to the Citizens Crime Commission, an affiliate of the Portland, Oregon, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Thalia González is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Occidental College. Her research and teaching interests include, juvenile justice, civil rights, the organization and practice of community based legal practice, economic development, and the intersection between law and organizing. Professor González is currently engaged in a multi-year project focused on addressing the interrelated nature of juvenile justice and education. Since 2008, Professor González has worked with the North High School Restorative Justice Program in Denver, CO engaging in research on school-based restorative justice practice as a model to improve school safety, promote student performance, and increase student engagement without a disproportionate reliance on suspensions and expulsions.
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The slideshow accompanying Mr. Cloud’s talk is available here.
Dr. Walker’s talk is available as a slidecast (a slideshow including audio).
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2011) No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration
Campaign for Youth Justice (2011) State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
Russell J. Skiba (2000) Zero Tolerance, Zero Evidence. An Analysis of School Disciplinary Practice
Helen Silvas, conference coverage The Skanner, "Oregon's Criminal Sentencing Policy: Reform? Or Rebuild?"
Additional resources were distributed to the attendees on a DVD. A table of contents for that DVD is attached, and a limited number of copies are available on request. For more information, contact LPSCC Staff, Mary-Margaret Wheeler-Weber, 503-988-5659.