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 452011.

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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