January | February 2015

News in Brief

OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee Discusses the Supportive School Discipline Initiative

Supportive School Discipline Communities of Practice logo

Over its next few issues, the Supportive School Discipline e-Digest will feature excerpts from an interview with OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee about the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI), a collaboration between the Departments of Education and Justice to improve school discipline and student outcomes. In the December issue, Mr. Listenbee spoke about his impressions of the 2014 National Leadership Summit on School Discipline and Climate, an instrumental SSDI event. Register to participate in or access recordings and slides from the federally sponsored Supportive School Webinar series.

OJJDP Awards Grants to Five States To Expand the Reach of Family Drug Courts

Statewide System Reform Program logo

Family drug courts are credited with helping parents stay longer in substance abuse programs, reducing the number and duration of foster care stays for their children, and unifying families. Using funds awarded by OJJDP under the Statewide System Reform Program, the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, the Colorado Judicial Department, the Judicial Branch of Iowa, the New York State Unified Court system, and the Supreme Court of Ohio will implement family drug court system reforms that will expand and build the capacity and services of family drug courts in the respective states. Children and Family Futures will provide technical assistance to grantees through the OJJDP-funded National Family Drug Court Training and Technical Assistance Program. The grant is a step in developing the practices outlined in the OJJDP-sponsored publication Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines, which offers guidelines to help sites create systems change that will have a lasting impact on the policies and practices of family drug courts.

OJJDP, The National Academies Raise Awareness of U.S. Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Minors

Although the number of children who are or have been sexually exploited through commercial human trafficking is hard to pinpoint, instances of child sex trafficking have been reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and estimates indicate there could be as many as 2.4 million victims. To raise awareness and educate professionals who work to prevent, identify, and respond to domestic sex trafficking of minors, OJJDP joined The National Academies to promote an electronic, easy-to-use presentation by the Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. The presentation, which provides highlights of the OJJDP-sponsored report Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, was released to coincide with the commemoration of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January.

National Center for Juvenile Justice Releases Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report

Thumbnail of Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National ReportThe National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) has released Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2014 National Report. This OJJDP-sponsored report offers an overview of juvenile victimization and offending and the justice system’s response. It includes information about the characteristics of juvenile populations, juvenile justice system structure and process, law enforcement and juvenile crime, juvenile offenders in court, and juvenile offenders in corrections. Key findings include:

  • The juvenile arrest rate for Violent Crime Index offense is at a historically low level, and the number of murders committed by juveniles is at its lowest point in at least three decades.
  • Juveniles are more likely to commit violent crime on school days, particularly at the end of the school day.
  • Nearly 1 of every 4 serious violent crime victims known to law enforcement is a juvenile, and most of these victims are female.
  • The juvenile court delinquency caseload continues to decline, reaching its lowest level since at least 1990.
  • Following a decline since 1999, the juvenile residential placement population reached its lowest level in nearly two decades.

Access the report on the OJJDP website.

SMART Office Releases Guide to Managing Adult and Juvenile Sex Offenders

Screenshot of SMART's SOMAPI website.In 2014, the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) developed the Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI), a project designed to assess the state of research and practice in sex offender management. Recommendations stemming from SOMAPI informed a newly released report on adult sex offenders and juveniles who commit sex offenses. 

Chapters in the report's juvenile section cover the following:

The SOMAPI report and recommendations are available on the SMART website.

SAMHSA Publishes Paper To Guide Providers in Developing Trauma-Informed Approach for Helping Youth

Cover of SAMHSA paperRecognizing that the individual impact of the three “E’s” of trauma—the event, experience, and effects—require specialized care and treatment for youth to heal and thrive, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.

Being trauma informed, according to SAMHSA, means understanding the impact of trauma and the potential for recovery, identifying symptoms in clients and their families, and responding fully to treat the harms arising from the trauma and prevent retraumatization. SAMHSA’s six principles of a trauma-informed approach are:

  • Ensure safety for trauma victims.
  • Demonstrate trust and transparency.
  • Provide support from peers who have endured similar trauma.
  • Collaborate to contribute to the therapeutic process.
  • Provide “voice and choice” to draw on each individual’s strengths to act independently and develop self-advocacy skills.
  • Act to move beyond cultural stereotypes and biases while showing respect for differences.

Download the report from the SAMHSA’s website.

Alaska Native Tribal Courts Gain Right To Protect Women in Domestic Violence Cases*

Alaska Native communities will be able to exercise their sovereign authority to protect women from domestic violence with the repeal of the “Alaska exemption” from the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) shortly before the 113th Congress adjourned in December 2014. The bill will also help the 129 Alaska Native tribes without tribal courts to develop them. The repeal of the exclusion is one of the recommendations contained in the recently released report Ending Violence So Children Can Thrive by the Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.

*An earlier version of this announcement stated erroneously that tribal courts in Alaska Native communities can now prosecute certain domestic violence crimes committed by non-Native Americans against Native Americans. It should be noted that the ability to exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction is limited by statute to Indian country.

 

Costs for Juvenile Incarceration Detailed in Justice Policy Institute Report

Thumbnail of Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth IncarcerationCalculated for the long-term, the financial costs of incarcerating juvenile offenders are higher than community-based alternatives that prevent crime, divert, and benefit youth, according to an analysis of 33 U.S. states and jurisdictions in Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration, by the Justice Policy Institute. About $149,000 is being spent per year, on average, to incarcerate youth. Long-term costs such as recidivism, loss of earnings and tax revenue, and need for public assistance spike spending from an estimated $8 to $21 billion annually.

Recommendations for better spending made in the report include shifting funding to community-based treatment and supervision, investing more in diversion and prevention early on to avoid crime altogether, investigating and addressing obstacles for reducing incarceration, studying recidivism and tracking positive outcomes to develop best case examples, and developing consistent measures for defining short- and long-term costs.

Access the report on the Justice Policy Institute website.