WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nonprofit MacArthur Foundation has spent more than $100 million since 2004 on developing blueprints for reform within the juvenile justice systems of 16 states. Earlier this week, its reform initiative, Models for Change, brought together nearly 400 judges, advocates, probation officers and other juvenile justice professionals for two days of workshops in Washington, D.C.
It was the seventh such yearly gathering for Models for Change partners, and it came at a time when the foundation is beginning to wind down funding for new research into juvenile justice reforms and enter a new phase focused on defining, sustaining and disseminating to the rest of the country the reform models its state partners and networks have already developed. As the foundation moves toward solidifying the legacy of its blueprint initiative, its conference this year emphasized the power of storytelling and collaboration as a way to convey the impact of justice reforms to other states and to the public. The storytelling theme ran through several events over the two-day event. Public relations professionals held a plenary session to discuss how juvenile justice organizations could craft an effective public message.
Kennesaw State University awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Ruth Ann Harnisch, a philanthropist whose foundation has supported cutting-edge approaches to gathering and disseminating news. The honorary doctorate ─ the 14th awarded in Kennesaw State’s 49-year history ─ was bestowed today during the university’s commencement ceremony for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Harnisch, a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience in print and broadcasting, is president of the New York-based Harnisch Foundation, which in 2009 awarded $1.5 million to establish the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State. “Kennesaw State University is pleased to award this honorary doctorate to Ms. Harnisch,” said Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp. “In so doing, we are recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of an exceptional person, known nationally as a philanthropist who truly has made a difference, as well as a ground-breaking journalist.”
A self-described “recovering journalist” and “donor activist,” Harnisch is a proponent of creative philanthropy that produces sustainable social change.
Our Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, JJIE.org, has its roots in part in The Race Beat, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book co-written by Hank Klibanoff, former managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I was taken by how important it was for the press to shine a spotlight on the injustices taking place in the South before and during the Civil Rights era. Today that same kind of spotlight must be shone on the juvenile justice system, which, with its share of injustices, remains in the shadows of the collective American consciousness. When John Fleming came our way as the prospective editor of the JJIE.org, I knew he was a kindred spirit who cares deeply about high quality, ethically sound journalism and equal justice for all. That dual commitment is illustrated in his just published essay in the Nieman Reports entitled: Compelled to Remember What Others Want to Forget.
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is made up of people like you who are interested in doing what is best for at-risk children, including the people who work with children. We believe doing what’s best means staying well-informed about what’s going on in government, courts, schools, nonprofit treatment and prevention programs, and following new research and initiatives that could benefit children and families. We called the JJIE.org, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange because we believe our audience collectively knows more about juvenile justice and child welfare issues than we do. Plus we want to provide a place for everyone to share their ideas, research, expertise and experiences with our 17,000 unique monthly visitors. Many of you have written comments, which bring new and unique perspectives to the solid journalism we do each day.
Nancy Gannon Hornberger, executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), says research shows that it is important to “keep the kids out of heavy duty lockup as much as possible.” In this video interview conducted by Leonard Witt, she says “Reclaim Ohio” is a project that saves money and has better outcomes than the bars and chains approach. See subheads and time split guide below the video. Time splits to help guide you through the video:
Conference theme: Developing sentencing alternatives to harsh punishment 00:30
Research shows that normal settings for sentences work best 01:20
Settings built on relationships is better than bars and chains 02:10
Reclaim Ohio is best practice example; cuts lockups and saves money 3:04
As I am sure you’ve discovered JJIE.org is the best source for daily coverage of juvenile justice issues not just in Georgia, but around the United States. Every week thousands of people are logging on to find out what is happening in the lives of young people and in the issues they face. But did you know that many of the conversations taking place around our stories aren’t happening on our website? The JJIE community is a lively bunch, chiming in on issues from all corners of the web. Below are some ways you can connect with JJIE outside of this website:
Since the beginning of the Georgia legislative session our reporter Chandra Thomas and our supporting JJIE.org staff of editors, interns and freelancers have been closely watching all legislation aimed at juvenile justice issues. Thomas had two excellent round-up stories yesterday and today targeting which bills would move forward and which would not on crossover day. I opened my Atlanta Journal-Constitution today to see how its coverage of these juvenile justice bills compared with ours here at the JJIE.org. From what I could see there was nothing to compare. I saw nothing about Senate Bill 127, which is a rewrite of the juvenile code.
As you know, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is a trial project to find new ways to support the coverage of important niche issues that the mainstream media no longer covers. So we are always looking for ways to improve our coverage, especially in reaching out to you to supply information that our reporters need to know. In this digital age we have to make that as easy as possible; hence, our idea for the SchoolHouse Witness Project. I like it a lot and submitted it to the Knight News Challenge, which underwrites innovative ideas. We are now in the Second Round of the competition.
When a writer comes along who touches your conscience, you want to tell people. So we are pleased to tell you that Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County Juvenile Court is now writing for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange at JJIE.org. He is currently sharing stories from his childhood and his life that are filled with surprise and insight. His stories are sometimes funny, often poignant, and always make you think. In “The Good Shepherd,” we hear about the dare that almost got him arrested, and the middle school principal who saved his bacon. In “Making Adults Mad –When Did That Become a Crime?” he reveals what happened when he got his first BB gun for Christmas. In “The Silent Majority” he talks about the unsung heroes who help “crossover” kids.