Heavy marijuana use among teens has increased drastically in recent years, with nearly one in 10 sparking up 20 times or more each month, according to a new survey of young Americans released this morning. The findings represent nearly an 80 percent increase in past-month heavy marijuana use among high school aged youth since 2008. Overall, the rate of marijuana use among teens has increased. Past month marijuana users, or teens that have used marijuana in the month prior to the survey, increased 42 percent, to 27 percent of teens, compared to 2008 findings. Past-year and lifetime use also increased, but not as drastically, at 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.
Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner confirmed the Board’s election of Avery Niles to head the state’s DJJ Board. Niles fills the Chairman post formerly held by long-time Board member Ed Risler, who stepped down earlier this week following the expiration of his term last summer. Niles, a 23-year veteran of the Hall County Sheriff’s Department and current warden of the Hall County Correctional Institution, was appointed to the Board by Gov. Deal in July 2011. As Chairman, Niles will “help guide Board Members as they serve in their advisory capacity to DJJ, providing leadership and counsel to the Commissioner to help improve Georgia’s juvenile justice system,” according to a DJJ release. “I am honored to serve in this capacity,” Niles said.
This holiday season, before you are reach for the eggnog, after you rip open the presents, when you’ve finished gearing up for visits from the family and friends, take a few minutes to look over some of the best work JJIE has generated this year. Starting tomorrow and continuing throughout the week we are posting compelling pieces that ran in 2011. These stories are rich with details about some of the most important issues dealing with youth today, from homelessness, to drug abuse, to sexuality, to juvenile crime. They are a sampling of our best work; which means they are not only well written, they get to the heart of what we do here at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. They, in short, are stories of young people and the challenges, heartbreaks and joys they face every day.
Only about a quarter of rising ninth graders in the Southeastern United States will graduate high school on time, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). “The middle grades are the make-or-break point of our K-12 public school system,” SREB President Dave Spence said in a press release. “If states are serious about raising graduation rates and preparing more students for postsecondary study, work has to begin now on the middle grades.”
The SREB is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established by regional governors and legislators to improve the public education system. The organization covers 16 states in the South and Southeast, working directly with state leaders, schools and educators to improve learning and student achievement from Pre-K to higher education. The 16 states covered by the SREB have made “good” progress in early grades achievement in recent years according to the report, but a number still lag behind national standards.
Youth Service America (YSA) and the Sodexo Foundation are awarding 25 Sodexo Youth Grants, totaling $500 each, in an effort to support youth-led service projects in conjunction with National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week (Nov. 13-20, 2011). Applicants must be between the ages of 5 and 25 to qualify and the project idea must take place, at least in part, during National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week. More than 17 million kids in the United States are at risk of hunger, according to the YSA, including the one in four children that rely on free or reduced-price school meal programs.
Videos from past grant recipients are available on the YSA website. If considering the grant a good place to start may be the eligibility quiz.
Organizations that want to help the 94,000 kids in residential confinement within the juvenile justice system may be able to get the Second Chance Act Adult Mentoring Grant. The Second Chance Act of 2007 provides a response to kids being released from prison, jail and juvenile residential facilities to help them transition back into their communities. The goal for this act is to make sure the transition will be successful and helps to promote public safety.
A bill that would make decisions uniform about incarcerating juvenile offenders will not become law this year. “I’ll be honest, this bill is not going anywhere,” said Catherine Lottie, legal counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, referring to H.B. 471. “The governor’s office hasn’t seen it and his people need time to look at it for a number of issues, including how much it will cost the state.”
The measure, sponsored by the committee’s chair, Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) deals with so-called detention assessment instruments (DAIs), evaluations used by officials that help to determine if a juvenile should be incarcerated or not. DAIs allow intake officials to assign point values to juveniles who have been arrested. If the intake officer gives the accused a high enough score, the juvenile is detained.
The clock is ticking for supporters of Georgia’s long-awaited juvenile code rewrite. Crossover day — the critical mid-point in the legislative session, when Senate bills move over to the House of Representatives and House bills transition to the Senate — is now a little less than a week away. So far Senate Bill 127, also known as the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, has not yet made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) and if it does not do so before that critical deadline, it won’t be able to advance any further during this legislative session. That would be a major blow for supporters who have been involved in the rewrite process since 2004. The committee was scheduled to discuss the measure at a hearing Wednesday.