Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice (RED)
Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice (RED)
Alachua, FL Team (2015 Cohort)
The Alachua, FL team attended the 2015 RED Certificate Program, and developed a Capstone Project to reduce the number of arrests and increase the number of diversion referrals for youth of color. Since the Certificate Program, the team has created new policies and practices to encourage the use of civil citation instead of arrest, developed programs to assist and engage communities, and held trainings for law enforcement officers and key partners on trauma awareness, de-escalation techniques, racial disparity and disproportionality, and community engagement skills. The team’s Capstone Project centers around three main programs: 1) Student to Successful Citizens Program; 2) Police/Student Dialogue Program; and 3) Communication and Self-Esteem Program.
Modeled after Judge Steven Teske’s work in Clayton County, GA, the Student to Successful Citizens Program helps to identify at-risk youth and develop a service plan with a multi-disciplinary team to provide necessary services such as therapy, tutoring, mentoring, parenting classes, conflict resolution classes, and wraparound services. Police/Student Dialogue is a program that allows college-aged young adults, particularly youth of color, to discuss current events with law enforcement officers. This program offers opportunities for communication and better understanding between youth and police. The Communication and Self-Esteem Program helps youth ages 11 to 24 on probation and in detention to improve social-emotional skills through other community-based programs (e.g., mentoring programs).
These programs have all produced promising results so far. The Capstone team developed an MOU with the school board to handle school misconduct and misdemeanor offenses, and worked with schools to create a center to provide in-school suspension as an alternative to out-of-school suspensions. There has been an improved perception and interaction of police and youth, and the arrest rates have been much lower following implementation of the Capstone Project. From 2014 to 2015, Alachua County has seen a 44% reduction in arrests of black youth and a 28% reduction in arrests of white youth. There has also been a 79% reduction in school arrests from 2014 to 2016.
Multnomah County, OR Team (2014 Cohort)
After attending the 2014 RED Certificate Program, the Multnomah County, OR team focused their Capstone Project on the diversion decision point, which they identified as having the greatest racial and ethnic disparities. As a result, the team developed a family-focused and community-based pilot diversion program in Gresham, OR to reduce racial and ethnic disparities within their juvenile justice system. Since July 1, 2015, the diversion program has been operating as a fully funded, countywide program and has involved collaboration with several key partners, including the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, Juvenile Services Division, local police departments, community-based service providers, the district attorney’s office, judges, public schools, and a local public university.
The program diverts youth with low-level offenses to culturally specific service providers, with the goal of ensuring that youth and their families receive appropriate services in order to achieve positive outcomes and prevent recidivism. The team has executed a contract with Portland State University in 2015 to evaluate their pilot program in the Rockwood area. A preliminary evaluation report from 2017 suggested promising success, showing that African American youth who participated in the diversion program had a significant lower recidivism rate compared to their historic matched sample counter part. The Multnomah County Team’s work has also been highlighted in the Police Chief Magazine in June 2015.
Johnson County, IA Team (2013 Cohort)
The Johnson County, IA Team attended the 2013 RED Certificate Program with the goal of reducing racial and ethnic disparities in disorderly conduct charges in their local schools. They developed a Capstone Project that included 1) re-defining protocols for when school staff contact law enforcement for students’ problem behaviors; 2) implementing a uniform set of graduated sanctions for in-school behaviors to limit law enforcement intervention; and 3) creating a community-based diversion program to address students’ problem behaviors.
The team has experienced significant success in implementing their Capstone Project. Since inception of the diversion program, there were a total of 33 referrals (25 African American, 2 Latino, 6 White) from both school and non-school arrests, and all have successfully completed the program. Since their partnership with the schools, Johnson County has also seen a reduction in school-based arrests. In 2012, there were 40 arrests in schools for disorderly conduct, of which 30 (75%) were African American youth. In 2014, there were 18 arrests for disorderly conduct, of which 9 (50%) were African American youth. In two years, school arrests have reduced by 61 percent, and arrests of African American youth has reduced from 75 percent to 50 percent.
The development of this “first-of-its-kind-in-the-state pre-charge” diversion program was recognized in the local newspaper in 2014.
School-Justice Partnerships (SJP)
School-Justice Partnerships (SJP)
Spokane County, WA (2016 Cohort)
Spokane County, Washington participated in the School-Justice Partnerships Certificate Program in 2016. Since the program, the Spokane Capstone team launched Project READY (Reducing Exclusionary Actions and Disparities for Youth) to reduce schools’ reliance on exclusionary discipline actions and address disparate treatment of minority students. During each year between 2012 and 2015, Spokane Public Schools suspended or expelled approximately eight percent of students, which is a significantly higher rate than the state average. In order to stop the school-to-prison pipeline, the Capstone team partnered with feeder schools in the Spokane Public School system and broadened community collaboration.
The Spokane team dedicated workshops and roundtables to addressing broad-spectrum issues by utilizing trauma-informed approaches and working with youth involved in the juvenile justice and foster care systems. In addition, the team collaborated with partners to provide culture-responsivity trainings, including topics on Native American families and LGBTQ+ youth. In terms of community engagement, the Capstone team promoted the Police Activities League, which provides a natural trust-building opportunity between probation officers and youth. They also supported community forums to bridge the communication gap between police and communities of color. To support homeless youth, Spokane County staff engaged in a “100-day Challenge” to house 100 homeless youth in 100 days.
Through these reform efforts, the Spokane Public Schools’ suspension rates have dropped 31 percent. School-based arrest has decreased as well, from 800 arrests in the 2015-2016 school year to 100 in the 2016-2017. However, researchers still find that students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, as well as students qualifying for special education, remain disproportionately suspended. While project READY expanded community and staff trainings to address implicit bias, the Spokane County Capstone team continues to involve students and youth experiencing disparities in problem-solving and early intervention strategies.
Hamilton County, OH (2015 Cohort)
The Hamilton County, OH team attended the inaugural 2015 SJP program and is working to increase the use of positive interventions instead of exclusionary practices for youth in schools. Through their Capstone Project, the team has successfully instituted a diversionary court in February 2016 for youth involved in disorderly conduct and truancy cases in the Northwest Local School District (NWLSD). As of January 2017, the team has expanded the diversionary court meetings from twice a month to four times a month. In the 2016-2017 school year, a total of 194 youth are involved in the diversionary court. 64 youth have been dismissed from the program. Of these 64 youth, 48 (75%) of them have successfully completed the program.
To strengthen behavioral health services for students, the team has formed partnerships with three local mental health or social services providers to offer services such as individual therapy in schools and mentoring programs, as well as begun drug treatment partnerships to allow students to enter treatment in lieu of expulsion. In addition, there is now a NWLSD social worker who has access to the juvenile court system database. The social worker is able to monitor youth who are involved in both child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and work with both systems to develop service plans for these youth.
Recognizing the importance of agency culture change and staff buy-in, the team has also been working diligently to train their staff. So far, over 70% of the NWLSD staff has been trained in restorative justice practices, and the leadership is currently looking to develop trauma-informed training.
Janelle Kreuger, Denver, CO (2015 Cohort)
Janelle Kreuger, Manager of Expelled and At-Risk Student Services Program, Colorado Department of Education, participated in the inaugural 2015 SJP Certificate Program as an individual, but her Capstone Project involves buy-in and support from partnering agencies including Colorado’s Attorney General’s Office, Denver’s Juvenile Court, Denver and Johnsontown Police Departments, Jefferson County School District, and the Department of Public Safety. Janelle collaborated with these key stakeholders to develop and deliver trainings for professionals in juvenile justice, mental health, law enforcement, school, and social services. Janelle and her team are currently working to review school-based incidents that lead to referral of youth to the juvenile justice system, and are developing a comprehensive training curriculum. The first training session is scheduled to take place in June 2017.
Youth in Custody (YIC)
Youth in Custody (YIC)
Texas Juvenile Justice Department Team (2015 Cohort)
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) team participated in the 2015 YIC Certificate Program. They developed a Capstone Project focused around individualizing youth’s activities and improving treatment services for youth in facilities. With the goal of helping youth in custody better transition and reintegrate into the community, the team reviewed facility education policies and developed two pilot programs for youth with a GED or high school diploma. These pilot programs provide youth with opportunities to engage in the community, seek off-campus employment, and receive more intensive treatment based on their unique needs. The TJJD team built the pilot programs based on a multi-disciplinary approach that focused on addressing youth’s protective and risk factors. In the pilot programs, youth can participate in “student councils,” learn practical life skills such as cooking, painting, and using power tools, and receive job readiness training (e.g., interview and resume-writing lessons).
While the Capstone Project is in its nascent implementation phase, it has facilitated improvement in interagency collaboration and led to success for youth who have gone through the pilot programs. Preliminary TJJD data showed that youth’s participation in the Capstone Program at one facility is associated with 53 percent average decrease in behavioral incidents. Staff also reported an increase in youth engagement as a result of the pilot programs. The team’s work was featured at the American Correctional Association (ACA) Conference in Boston in 2016: https://cjjr.georgetown.edu/news/cjjrs-michael-umpierre-and-tjjd-staff-present-at-aca-conference/
Sacramento, CA Team (2013 & 2014 Cohorts)
To improve outcomes for youth in custody, Probation Department leaders in Sacramento attended the 2013 and 2014 YIC Certificate Programs. Participation in these programs led to the development of a facility-wide culture card, a Positive Behavior Motivation Program, and a Special Needs unit that includes a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory de-escalation room at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (YDF). The 2013 Capstone Project shifted the historically punitive and correctional approach within the detention facility to one that cultivates positive, pro-social behaviors. To promote sustainable culture change, the Probation Department sought the help of staff at all levels and disciplines to establish a vision statement and a set of foundational beliefs centered on teamwork, communication, empathy, and growth. The staff created a “culture card,” which has been utilized in daily meetings to implement the principles and core beliefs from their vision statement. This shift improved staff’s work satisfaction and relationship with detained youth, reduced staff’s need to use force, and served as a foundation for the subsequent incentive and rewards program for YDF youth. The program, named the Positive Behavior Motivation Program, allows youth to earn points and redeem lost points for pro-social behaviors, earn “Honor Status” for positive behaviors, and requires direct and timely explanation by staff around the provision of incentives to youth.
The goal of the 2014 Capstone Project centered on creation of a therapeutic housing environment for youth at YDF. As a result of the Capstone, all staff at the facility received Think Trauma and Multi-Sensory De-escalation Room (MSDR) training. Think Trauma provides training for juvenile justice professionals to create a trauma-informed residential setting for youth in custody. The MSDR, although originally designed for youth with special needs, has since been expanded to include a second room for all youth in the facility. Both MSDR rooms include colorful murals on the walls, padded furniture and mats, and objects for mindfulness and distress tolerance activities. The facility also offers over 50 programs for youth, including mentoring, religious services, music, gardening, library, swimming, construction training programs, and an on-site Boys and Girls Club. These programs offer youth social support and skill training, emphasizing and preparing youth for their transition into the community once they are released.
As a result of these efforts, Sacramento YDF staff has seen a decrease in the use of room confinement, from an average of 17 hours in 2011 to about 1.7 hours in 2016. In addition, the number of behavioral incidents at YDF has decreased significantly, from 649 incidents in 2010 to 140 incidents in 2016.