Juvenile Detention Reformers Gather in Atlanta, GA

Posted June 13, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog jdaireformersgatherinatl2 2013

Del­e­ga­tions from more than 180 sites in 39 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia con­vened in Atlanta, Geor­gia, on April 16, 2013 for the Annu­al JDAI Inter-site Con­fer­ence. This two-day event was attend­ed by more than 800 juve­nile jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als from Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive sites across the country.

Patrick McCarthyPar­tic­i­pants were wel­comed by the Hon­or­able Car­ol Hun­stein, chief jus­tice of the Geor­gia Supreme Court and Patrick McCarthy, pres­i­dent & CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. Chief Jus­tice Hun­stein cred­it­ed state and local Geor­gia offi­cials for the sig­nif­i­cant decreas­es in youth con­fine­ment across the state, espe­cial­ly in Clay­ton Coun­ty, and the sweep­ing leg­isla­tive reform of the juve­nile jus­tice code. McCarthy, cit­ing the recent Supreme Court rul­ings on the treat­ment of juve­niles, cred­it­ed the work of JDAI sites, stat­ing that your col­lec­tive lead­er­ship reclaimed juve­nile jus­tice for what it was meant to be – a dif­fer­ent approach for chil­dren than for adults.” View the con­fer­ence open­ing speak­ers.

In his state-of-the-ini­tia­tive speech, Bart Lubow, direc­tor of the Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, raised up the results and chal­lenges of JDAI’s past two decades, and opti­misti­cal­ly report­ed that we may have reached a turn­ing point in the era of mass incar­cer­a­tion.” While it is too ear­ly to claim suc­cess, it has been a good year for juve­nile jus­tice with many signs of progress: the Supreme Court’s affir­ma­tion that chil­dren must be treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly from adults; leg­is­la­tion in Geor­gia and New York reform­ing juve­nile jus­tice; Robert Listenbee’s appoint­ment as the new OJJDP admin­is­tra­tor; oper­a­tional lev­el changes in Con­necti­cut; and con­tin­ued reduc­tions in the use of secure con­fine­ment in JDAI sites (out­pac­ing the reduc­tions in non-JDAI sites) with­out a resul­tant increase in youth crime. Chal­lenges remain, how­ev­er, includ­ing reduc­ing dis­par­i­ties in treat­ment and out­comes for youth of col­or in con­fine­ment, increas­ing mean­ing­ful fam­i­ly engage­ment in juve­nile jus­tice pol­i­cy and prac­tice, and tack­ling the use of deten­tion for tech­ni­cal and low-lev­el vio­la­tions of pro­ba­tion. View the state-of-the-ini­tia­tive speech.

A ple­nary pan­el shared recent devel­op­ments in Geor­gia. Pan­elists — Hon. Michael Bog­gs, judge, Geor­gia Court of Appeals; Adol­phus Graves, chief pro­ba­tion offi­cer, Ful­ton Coun­ty Juve­nile Court; Hon. Car­ol Hun­stein, chief jus­tice, Supreme Court of Geor­gia; Jason New­man, man­ag­er of state pol­i­cy, Pew Cen­ter on the States; Hon. Steven Teske, chief judge, Clay­ton Coun­ty Juve­nile Court; Rep. Wen­dell Willard, chair, Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, Geor­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives; and W. Thomas Wor­thy, deputy exec­u­tive coun­sel, Office of Gov­er­nor Nathan Deal — explained both the process and the sup­port for sweep­ing leg­isla­tive reforms of juve­nile law. The pan­el cit­ed sev­er­al con­trib­u­tors to the suc­cess­ful pas­sage of new juve­nile law: guber­na­to­r­i­al, leg­isla­tive and judi­cial lead­er­ship; ear­li­er leg­isla­tive reform of the adult crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem; a part­ner­ship with Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trust; and, ear­ly deten­tion reform suc­cess­es in Clay­ton Coun­ty. His­tor­i­cal­ly, Geor­gia spent $91,000 a year on con­fin­ing a youth and had a 50% recidi­vism rate. They would like to improve that by imple­ment­ing dis­po­si­tion­al reforms. Read a sum­ma­ry of HB242 and view the record­ed ple­nary, Spot­light on Suc­cess: Report from Geor­gia.

Juvenile Law Center wins Gloria Jenkins Award. From left: Jessica Feierman, Elizabeth-Ann Tierney, Robert Schwartz and Raquel Mariscal.

As in the past, this year’s con­fer­ence offered a diverse mix of fac­ul­ty, pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions, prac­tice inno­va­tions, deci­sion-mak­ing tools and new pub­li­ca­tions. Work­shop top­ics includ­ed the school-to-prison pipeline, fam­i­ly engage­ment, results-based lead­er­ship, strate­gies to reduce com­mit­ments and place­ments, risk assess­ment tools, judi­cial advo­ca­cy, includ­ing vic­tim advo­cates in deten­tion reform, PREA, engag­ing the com­mu­ni­ty and law enforce­ment, embed­ding JDAI in state law and reg­u­la­tion, and JDAI in Indi­an Coun­try, to name a few.

For many, the high­light of the con­fer­ence was the keynote from Jer­ry Tel­lo, the direc­tor of the Nation­al Lati­no Father­hood and Fam­i­ly Insti­tute in Los Ange­les, who pas­sion­ate­ly shared his vision for the devel­op­ment of a heal­ing-informed mod­el of ser­vice deliv­ery, and touched a raw cord of emo­tion as he described the chal­lenges faced by young men of color.

The con­fer­ence con­clud­ed by acknowl­edg­ing the out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to deten­tion reform by a com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber and a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion. Den­nis Mor­row (pic­tured above with Stephanie Vet­ter) was pre­sent­ed the Natal­ie Bimel award for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to Mult­nom­ah County’s deten­tion reform work and for serv­ing dis­ad­van­taged kids for more than 30 years through Janus Youth Pro­grams. The Glo­ria B. Jenk­ins Award was pre­sent­ed to the Juve­nile Law Cen­ter for its role in expos­ing the Luzerne Coun­ty, PA, kids-for-cash” scan­dal and for its advo­ca­cy con­tribut­ing to sev­er­al land­mark Unit­ed States Supreme Court rulings.

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