Weekly Notes: OJJDP Money Trickling Out, A Profile of Youth Courts, and more

JJ Today is hard at work on stories for the September issue of Youth Today, including one you’ll want to read about one family’s dealings with the South Carolina juvenile justice system. Here’s a quick-hit weekly roundup:

***The Office of Juvenile Justice has released a guide called “Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children’s Exposure to Violence.” The guide includes tips on how to tell if a child is experiencing trauma related to witnessing or experiencing violence, and how to proceed in such a case.

Expect more research down the line on the well-being of youths who witness violence from the W.T. Grant Foundation. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the grant maker recently seeded some research on how violence-related trauma affects the sleep of 150 children in Cleveland.                                                                                   

It’s good to see focus on the subject; there is no question that the trauma of seeing family and friends killed or harmed plays a major role in perpetuating further violence.

***Meanwhile, Fiscal 2009 funds and stimulus grants continue to trickle out of OJJDP. The office announced about $24 million in grants to help nonprofits assist in enforcing underage drinking laws. Still no announcement on the biggest pots of money, such as the national and local mentoring grants or the field initiated research. All we’ve heard is that an announcement on those grants is likely this month.

***Youth courts were profiled in the most recent issue of Reclaiming Children and Youth, the excellent periodical produced by JJ veteran Larry Brendtro. The Global Youth Justice Movement, which is centered around youth courts, is led mostly as a labor of love by Scott Peterson, national director of criminal and juvenile justice for YouthBuild USA.

We wrote last week about community conferencing, another concept rooted in restorative justice that has had an impact in Baltimore. The bottom line with ideas like conferencing and youth courts is this: as state and local JJ budgets take further shrapnel in the budget wars, courts are going to want to push as much stuff out of the system as they can defensibly. The time is right to sell a system ideas like youth courts and conferencing because they can be run well inexpensively.  

JJ Today gives out a tsk, tsk to its birth state of Connecticut. The only state to have zero youth courts? Come on, nutmeggers, get with the program.

***Kudos to the New York Times and reporter Solomon Moore. Your story on the convoluted nexus between mental health and juvenile justice shined a light in a very dark corner of the system. And judging by how many e-mails we received with a link to this story, and how many Tweets and Facebook comments we saw about it, it got some peoples’ attention.

***Luzerne Update! Robert Mericle is the 11th person charged in the Luzerne judges’ scandal, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports here. Mericle’s construction company built both privately-run detention centers that were involved in the scandal, and he did not tell a grand jury about $2.1 million in payments he made to judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella. Mericle will plead guilty, and his agreement will include more than $2 million in donations to youth charities and up to three years in prison.

***On the heels of a court allowing a 12-year-old to be tried as an adult, an Idaho juvenile justice veteran criticized the state system for waiving too many young juveniles into adult court.

***A San Diego judge was tired of the aimless attitudes of youth in her court, so she held a job fair for them in August.



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