Obama Proposes “Social Impact Bonds” to Fund Social Service Projects

The White house is floating the idea of raising money from private investors to pay for privately managed social programs.  The Baltimore Sun reports on this experimental investment scheme that would rely on the private sector to develop solutions for problems such as homelessness and drug addiction. Here’s how it would work:  A group of investors might fund a program to train teenagers who need job skills.  If it brings results, the government would pay them back with interest.  If it doesn’t work or doesn’t meet performance targets, the investors lose all or part of their money. The concept comes from England, where the first social impact bond experiment is underway at Peterborough Prison. The British government has a deal with a nonprofit called Social Finance to provide job training and housing for 3,000 prisoner inmates who are getting released.  Social Finance is raising nearly $8 million from private investors, and promising them a 13% profit. The Obama administration is asking Congress for permission to test the social impact bond model by creating pilot programs for job training, juvenile justice, education and other projects.  The White House wants to set aside $100 million from existing department budgets and spend the money only if the programs work.

Cobb Targets Adults in Crackdown on Underage and Teen Binge Drinking

Police, school and public service groups across Cobb County are joining forces to fight underage drinking. They’re taking aim at parents and other adults who provide alcohol to teens in stores, at neighborhood parties, and inside homes across the area. Ten police, school and government agencies, plus MADD are working with the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce to investigate those who are selling and giving beer, alcopos and other alcoholic beverages to children. “This is not a youth problem, it’s an adult problem,” said Pat Giuliani, who chairs the Youth Services Committee of the Georgia PTA. Police chiefs from Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, Cobb Police, the Sheriff’s Office, the public schools, Kennesaw State, and Southern Polytechnic stood with representatives from MADD, the  PTA, the Department of Revenue, the County Solicitor’s Office and the Cobb Alcohol Task Force at a news conference Thursday inside Kennesaw City Hall.

DJJ’s Howell Promises New Direction at Troubled Eastman YDC

After two incidents at the Eastman Youth Development Campus last week, director Todd Weeks is out.  Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Amy Howell took action on Friday, tapping George Smith to fill the job on an interim basis.  A statement from DJJ says, “The Commissioner is actively moving the Eastman YDC in a new direction with new leadership.  “

Smith will be coming out of retirement to run Eastman.  Until last November he was Deputy Director of Facilities Operations at the Georgia Department of Corrections.  He spent 34 years with the agency. Eastman houses some of the toughest young offenders in the state – older teens who have committed serious crimes.  Disturbances there are not new.  Last May, an uprising led to an escape.  In the latest incident on February 2nd, a correctional officer was injured and treated at a local hospital, according to DJJ spokesperson Scheree Moore.  On January 30, about 60 inmates acted out and refused to follow orders.  Five of them beat a guard with a broom handle, and several set small fires in a dorm.   Someone at Eastman called for help and six police agencies rushed to the campus. It took about an hour to get the inmates back in their cells. Last week’s incidents remain under investigation.  The statement from DJJ adds, “Commissioner Howell is taking these incidents that are occurring at Eastman very seriously and is committed to providing a safe and secure environment to the youth that are housed and the employees that work at the facility.”