I Was a Kid in Solitary Confinement

My young parents didn’t have the skill sets to properly raise me, which at a young age caused me to search for acceptance in other places. I began running away at the age of 13 and quickly got heavily involved in drug use.

Juvenile Justice Reformers Driven by Memories of Mistakes in Their Less-informed Past

Adolphus Graves, the chief probation officer of Fulton County Juvenile Court in Atlanta, was driven to transform his juvenile justice system by the mistakes he made as a young probation officer.
“I was a little wayward and misguided as a probation officer,” he said. “Knowing my times as a probation officer, and how many things I did horribly, or how many children that I irresponsibly, or sometimes just ignorantly, subjected to detention because I had no other tools. ... The recurring theme consistently has been the lack of knowledge, of understanding what’s going on, the depth of what’s going on in a child’s life.”

California Bucks Trend by Rejecting New Limits on ‘Solitary’

At the first-ever congressional hearing on the subject of solitary confinement, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois recently observed that it’s not always “the worst of the worst” who are subjected to the practice. Mentally-ill inmates, immigrants and juvenile offenders are put in solitary as well. And perhaps, said a series of witnesses at the hearing, the time has come to rethink the issue. Many states are now doing just that. But the debate is not devoid of its own unique politics.

SAMHSA, MacArthur Foundation to Promote Diversion Programs for Youth With Mental Health Issues

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have teamed up for a new $1 million project to divert youth with behavioral health conditions away from the juvenile justice system and into community-based programs and services. According to SAMHSA, 60-70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental disorder and more than 60 percent suffer from a substance abuse disorder. Many of these youth, SAMHSA says, wind up in the juvenile justice system rather than receiving treatment for their underlying disorders. Up to eight states will be selected competitively to participate in the new collaborative initiative. If selected, states would receive support to develop and initiate policies and programs to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system early.

Rhode Island Lands $480,000 to Fund Suicide Prevention

The Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project (RIYSPP) will receive $480,000 to implement suicide prevention programs in select community organizations and public schools throughout the state, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) announced on Thursday. Suicide is believed to be the second leading cause of death among college students and third leading cause among youth age 10 to 24, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control's  2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. “Many young people who commit suicide have a treatable mental illness, but they don't get the help they need,” Reed said in a press release. “This grant will provide critical resources for prevention and outreach efforts in Rhode Island to help reach at-risk youth before it is too late.”

The grant will provide the RIYSPP with necessary resources to screen, identify and refer at-risk youth, and launch a media campaign to help educate adults about warning signs and how best to respond. Currently RIYSPP operates in six communities throughout the state, but will soon provide technical assistance to the Rhode Island National Guard and state's Veterans ' Administration in an effort to reach military personal and their families.

How Prevalent are Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in Juvenile Justice? Jeffery Butts, PhD, says the Answer May Surprise You

Gail Wasserman and her colleagues from the Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice at Columbia University published an important new study that was released mid-February in Criminal Justice and Behavior: "Psychiatric Disorder, Comorbidity, and Suicidal Behavior in Juvenile Justice Youth." It may be the best source of information yet on the prevalence of substance abuse and mental health disorders among youth in the juvenile justice system. We need accurate information. I've heard many practitioners around the country make the same mistake, claiming that "70 percent" of the youth in "the system" have diagnosable disorders. As I've said before elsewhere, this common mistake usually starts with a misreading of the 2002 study by Linda Teplin at Northwestern University.