Mississippi Juvenile Justice Officials Travel to Cook County for Model-Site Visit

Posted March 14, 2012, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A Mississippi delegation got a first-hand look at Cook County (Chicago), Illinois’ successes in detention reform during a model-site visit, leaving with ideas for community partnerships, mental health initiatives, and possible funding sources.

About 20 state and local Mississippi officials—including those from JDAI sites in Adams, Leflore, Rankin, and Washington counties—made the trip October 4–5, 2011.

Their visit included facility tours and discussions about such issues as mental health, education, and alternative programming.

The delegation prefaced its visit by having each JDAI site and state-level representative submit a pre-visit questionnaire to Carmen Casas, Cook County’s model-site coordinator.

The key areas of interest were: mental health services, Title IV-E funding opportunities, successful community-based alternative programs, school relationships, and child welfare/ juvenile justice relationships.

Mississippi officials began their visit with an overview of Cook County’s problems prior to JDAI and the county’s progress since joining the initiative; the strengths and shortcomings of the judicial process for juveniles; and local funding for alternative programs.

Cook County also discussed its JDAI implementation process, including the importance of JDAI core values and the development of a risk assessment instrument, and the need to create detention alternatives.

Mississippi officials also learned about educational strategies. Those strategies included the importance of individualized education plans and the importance of following up and getting parents involved.

The state’s child welfare representative, hearing how Cook County partners with a local university to obtain interns, got contact information on how to pursue similar partnerships in Mississippi as well as having social-work students intern with youth-services staff.

The first day ended with a tour of two evening reporting centers. The tour prompted Mississippi officials to begin discussing ways to expand existing Boys & Girls clubs and adolescent offender programs to replicate statewide the concept of evening reporting centers.

Part of the second day was spent on a briefing about the Cook County Advisory Council. The discussion, led by a member of the council and a juvenile probation officer, touched on how the council works and the participation of parents and youth.

Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer Hector Escalera also discussed how probation officers work within the community. As a result, Mississippi officials have begun to re-think the role of their state’s probation officers in the community.

For more information, contact Gloria Salters.

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