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Kansas to Partner with CSG Justice Center to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

by Cheryl Cadue last modified Aug 07, 2014 10:35 AM
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, along with the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), today released two publications explaining what state and local governments can do to improve outcomes for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Along with the release of the publications, the CSG Justice Center announced plans to partner with the Kansas Department of Corrections, along with juvenile justice agencies in four other states, to implement recommendations detailed in the documents unveiled today.

July 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeremy S Barclay
JeremyB@doc.ks.gov
(785) 215-2857

Kansas to Partner with CSG Justice Center to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, along with the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), today released two publications explaining what state and local governments can do to improve outcomes for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

Along with the release of the publications, the CSG Justice Center announced plans to partner with the Kansas Department of Corrections, along with juvenile justice agencies in four other states, to implement recommendations detailed in the documents unveiled today.

“In recent years, the Kansas Department of Corrections has made significant strides in reducing the number of juveniles in juvenile correctional facilities as well as community-based centers, but we want to strive for an even better system for our juveniles,” said Deputy Secretary Terri Williams.  “Through this beneficial partnership with the Council of State Governments, we will be able to better align state resources to focus on pairing high-risk youth with much needed services, as demonstrated by evidence-based practices to be the most effective method to reducing recidivism among the juvenile population.  This partnership will allow for a more strategized focus to our services, which will benefit not only the youth of our state but improve the safety and well-being of all Kansans.”

The first publication, “Measuring and Using Juvenile Recidivism Data to Inform Policy, Practice, and Resource Allocation,” surveyed all 50 states’ juvenile correctional agencies and found 20 percent of those agencies do not measure the rates of youth reoffending.

“A fairly good axiom in government is what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done,” said Vermont State Sen. Richard Sears, who serves on CSG Justice Center Board and chairs his state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m proud of our efforts to keep youth out of detention facilities, but that, in and of itself, isn’t success. Legislators want user-friendly data explaining how our youth respond to their supervision and various types of treatment program, so that we might learn more and ultimately improve how we supervise and support them.”

There has been significant progress in juvenile justice reform, with youth confinement rates cut in half from 1997 to 2011 and juvenile arrest rates at their lowest level in more than 30 years. But as lower-risk youth have been successfully redirected from incarceration, progress is still needed to track the outcomes of those higher-risk youth and others previously under supervision.

Over the past three fiscal years, Kansas has been able to reduce the number of juveniles placed in juvenile correctional facilities from 351 juveniles in FY 2012 to 293 in FY 2014.  This represents a decrease from an overall system wide incarceration rate of 442 in FY 2007.  At the same time, the number of juveniles in custody through community-based treatment options has decreased from 1,276 in FY 2012 to 1,052 in FY 2014.

“Through our Models for Change initiative, we have seen states and counties across the country improve their juvenile justice systems over the past 15 years through meaningful reforms, but there is much work left to be done,” said Laurie Garduque, director for Justice Reform at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “These publications push the field to accelerate progress toward more effective, fair, and developmentally appropriate policies and practices that will increase the future life chances of these youth to succeed.”

To ensure states are not only obtaining more data to guide their programs, the CSG Justice Center also released “Core Principles for Reducing Recidivism and Improving Other Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” a white paper that offers guiding principles and recommendations based on what’s been proven to work. Those recommendations, which range from engaging family in decisions regarding a child to stripping the system of failed tactics like curfew laws and “scared straight” programs, are also offered.

“What’s valuable about this white paper is that it distills a great deal of dense information from journal articles into actionable recommendations,” said Edward Mulvey, director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and principal investigator on the Pathways to Desistance study, an investigation of the paths that youth with serious offenses take upon leaving the juvenile justice system.

The CSG Justice Center also announced partnerships with five states to test the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the reports: Pennsylvania, Utah, Tennessee, Nebraska and Kansas.

“We can talk about the programs, services and treatment we provide, but good intentions alone won’t reduce the likelihood of re-offending,” said Susan Burke, director of Utah’s Division of Juvenile Justice Services. “This white paper released today summarizes, in one comprehensive document, the new lens in which we should be viewing each state system. I, for one, am eager to get started.”

Timed to today’s release of the publications and the announcement of the five piloting states, members of Congress will discuss the publications during a briefing at the Russell Senate Office Building at 2:30 p.m. Eastern

Click here to access copies of the reports and a live-stream of today’s Hill briefing. For more information on the CSG Justice Center, visit www.csgjusticecenter.org.

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