A Season to Imagine a Better World

Let’s face it — the practice of juvenile justice does not work for the most part. I applaud the efforts of those pushing our juvenile code rewrite here in Georgia, but will the changes produce drastic outcomes for delinquent youth?  Drastic outcomes require drastic changes — I mean controversial and blasphemous changes! To achieve drastic outcomes, we have to change the starting place. We already know — or should know — what to do with delinquent youth. The question is where do we do what with them?  Despite the significant progress to develop effective community-based programs such as cognitive behavioral training, Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), and Functional Family Therapy (FFT), they become insignificant if the costs to support them are dedicated to the brick and mortar to house youth.

What J. Edgar Hoover and Scared Straight get Wrong about Juvenile Justice

Recently, I wrote about how locking up youth in juvenile hall only increased the chances that they would reoffend. This was based on the new study, “No Place for Kids.”

Another report that came out earlier this year, “Evidence-Based Interventions for Juvenile Offenders and Juvenile Justice Policies that Support Them,” takes a look at what works and what doesn’t. According to the study, only 5 percent of eligible youthful offenders are treated with an evidence-based service. Evidence-Based services are ones that have been demonstrated to be successful. Many juvenile offender services are not effective and some methods, like “shock incarceration treatment,” such as Scared Straight, actually worsen anti-social behavior.