Book Review: The Art of Holistic Security

We live in a world of best practices. Some call themselves evidence-based best practices (EBP), some are simply promising practices based on evidence from somewhere, and a few are practices grounded in evidence-based research (EBR).

Why Aren’t We Celebrating This Advance in Pretrial Detention?

Juvenile detention and its practitioners have experienced landmark reforms due to research-driven changes and the operationalizing of philosophical changes in detention conditions and practice via the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).

Should We Close All Youth Prisons and Is Now the Right Time?

At the JDAI (Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative) conference in Phoenix last month, about 1,000 people from around the country heard Annie E. Casey Foundation President (and former juvenile corrections administrator) Patrick McCarthy repeat his recent call for America to close its youth prisons.

Protecting School Campuses and Unintended Consequences

During my testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights last month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman and majority whip, asked me if I am in favor of police on school campuses. To the dismay of some of my friends who stand by my side in this fight to dismantle the "school-to-prison pipeline," I answered a qualified yes. Police on campus, I explained, must be specially trained in adolescent development, crisis intervention and fostering positive relationships with students. Two days later, a deranged shooter entered the campus of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. killing 20 children and six adults.

Mississippi may Reform Juvenile Detention

In a state regularly beset by lawsuits about conditions at some of its juvenile detention centers, an official Mississippi task force is starting work on diversion and setting higher standards. “This lack of sufficient staff has caused the facility to practice imminent and deliberate harm to youth … the facility is forced to place the kids on lockdown most of the day; not because they want to, but because it’s the only way to maintain any type of control,” reads a court-appointed inspector’s report on the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Hinds County, Mississippi.  “This lack of appropriate staffing dictates the level of violence that is experienced in the facility.”

The lockup for up to 84 youth is unclean and “has a dungeon-like feeling.” Two juveniles admitted to the facility were allowed no phone call or shower.  While there’s some limited recreational programming for boys, there’s none apparent for girls. That July 2012 report is a recent, but not unique, verdict on some of Mississippi’s juvenile detention centers.

When Two Insecure Worlds Collide, Kids Are Hurt

Wouldn't it be nice if life were simple--that the answers to our problems were obvious and problems solved with painless ease? Take for instance Johnny, the boy I described in my last essay, who from birth was toted around by his Mom to trap houses to get her fix. No telling what he saw--or much worse, what others did to him--in those places. Johnny is a confused kid, emotionally pained by fear of insecurity. His weapon of defense: defiance fueled by anger.

Finding the Time to Make Real Change in Juvenile Justice

It is a fundamental principle in effective supervision of juvenile offenders that the optimal caseload size should be 25. It is still common throughout the country to find caseloads exceeding 60 and sometimes more than 100. When I took the bench in 1999, our caseload size was 150 - it was not pretty! Today, it’s 25. The kids who scare us get intensive supervision, the kids who make us mad are referred to a system of care for services.

Bart Lubow on the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI)

Bart Lubow, who has been working for more than 20 years to reduce the number of youth being sent to detention centers, told a gathering of 700 attendees at the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) conference in Houston last week that now, “may prove to be a unique moment in juvenile justice history, a time when, as a nation, we shed some of the system’s worst baggage - including our unnecessary and often inappropriate reliance on secure confinement” of youth. Center for Sustainable Journalism Executive Director Leonard Witt, publisher of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and Youth Today, caught up with Lubow to get his take on JDAI initiatives that have expanded to 38 states across the country and become the most widely replicated juvenile justice system reform project in the nation. Learn more about Bart Lubow, Director of Juvenile Justice Strategy for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.