Juvenile offenders to get victim screenings

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth. Statistics reported by the National Institute of Justice that an abused or neglected child has a 59 percent better chance of being arrested as a juvenile and 28 percent better chance as an adult.

HEA1196 will require intake officers at juvenile delinquency facilities to screen minors to determine whether they also are a “child in need of services,” a term used in cases of abuse, neglect or other home problems.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Juvenile incarceration yields less schooling, more crime

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.

A new article on the study is published in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The co-authors are Doyle and Anna Aizer, an associate professor of economics and public policy at Brown University.

The study looks at cases involving 35,000 juvenile offenders over a 10-year period in Chicago. The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago created a database on social programs in the state of Illinois that made the research possible.

Indeed, the research project, which studied the long-term outcomes of tens of thousands of teenagers in Illinois, shows that, other things being equal, juvenile incarceration lowers high-school graduation rates by 13 percentage points and increases adult incarceration by 23 percentage points.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-juvenile-incarceration-yields-schooling-crime.html#jCp

Smart Justice — Begins With Health Equity

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of Mental Health and Addictive Disorders

From the Huffington Post:  As reported by The Treatment Advocacy Center, “Approximately 20 percent of inmates in jails and 15 percent of inmate’s state in prisons have a serious mental illness.” As to substance use, data reveals an estimated 75 percent of inmates have a substance use disorder and over 70 percent of those with serious mental illness have co-occurring disorders. It is no surprise that according to the RAND Corporation, prison reform and reentry efforts must provide access to primary and behavioral health treatment and services in the community to succeed.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

A Silent Curriculum

Below is an excerpt from the moving opinion piece medical student Kathryn C. Brooks wrote for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

During my medical training thus far, Trayvon Martin lost his life, Michael Brown was left to die in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner was choked by officers as he repeated 11 times that he could not breathe. But these events were rarely mentioned in the lecture hall, my small-group sessions, or morning rounds. Was I supposed to ignore their implications for the lives of my patients, and for my role as their caregiver?

It wasn’t that I didn’t receive any education on race. In fact, there have been many well-intentioned curricular attempts to understand the intersections between race and medicine. Since first year, I’ve been inundated with lecture PowerPoint slides that list diseases with higher rates among minorities. But few of them delved into an explanation as to why these disparities exist. Many electives boasted discussions of health inequalities between communities, but rarely did we discuss how skin color played a role. And in doctoring small groups, we avidly discussed the association between poor health outcomes and poverty, but less enthusiastically talked about why standards of care are still not met for black patients with chest pain. As soon as racism was mentioned, conversations fizzled, highlighting the palpable discomfort in the room.

The entire piece, which embodies the reason Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform was founded, can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Study on Cook County Juvenile Court recommends shift in priorities

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.


According to a report prepared for the government by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, almost 9 out of 10 youth who spend time in Illinois youth prisons end up going back to prison within three years of their release, with Cook County as the highest percentage out of ten counties (Smith 2014). This current study was conducted to increase understanding of the perceived strengths and weaknesses in the juvenile justice system. The more we know about the outcomes of detention and court involvement on youth and their overall neurological and social development, the better we can move forward. Further, our understanding that the majority of court involved youth have experienced complex trauma and have unmet basic needs is important as we consider the best options for rehabilitation and their overall success. This research allows us to increase our understanding further by tapping into the knowledge of juvenile justice stakeholders in order to identify best practices and opportunities that promote positive transformation for youth, families, and communities. This report documents the responses and identifies existing attributes, best practices and challenges in the Cook County Juvenile Court and in the community. The data lead to a wide range of recommendations for change that will increase the success of youth in Cook County, from those that can be implemented in the court and in the community, to recommendations that will result in a paradigm shift in the system and in the ways that we think about youth and juvenile justice. The findings point toward an increase in education and coordination system-wide, with the court taking on a greater role in promoting prevention strategies aimed at keeping youth from entering the system in the first place. Most significantly, the findings point toward the need to keep youth in their communities with a strong emphasis on the system utilizing, building and cooperating with communities to both stem the flow of youth into the system, and for the young people who are in the system, to create a solid strategy to reintegrate youth successfully back into their communities.

CLICK HERE to read the entire study.


Medication for Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder and Criminality

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  PfCJR advocates for reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.  Will you JOIN us?


About 5% of all children in the Western world fulfill diagnostic criteria for attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),1 and a large proportion of such children are treated pharmacologically.2 ADHD has been associated with criminality3,4 and externalizing disorders.5Beneficial short-term effects of ADHD medication on symptoms of ADHD and associated conduct problems have been shown in numerous randomized, controlled studies involving children6-8 and adults.9-11 ADHD symptoms are largely persistent from childhood into adulthood,12 but one prominent feature of ADHD treatment is that the discontinuation of medication is common,13,14especially in adolescence and early adulthood.15 The importance of treatment discontinuation for criminality and other longer-term outcomes is largely unknown.

The Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) study is the largest randomized clinical trial of ADHD medication with long-term follow-up.16-19 The most sensitive measures of treatment (a composite of ADHD symptoms, as rated by parents and teachers) suggested that the benefit of medication at the 14-month assessment had diminished at 36 months.20 No association was observed with early delinquency and substance use at 36 months.19Although the study did not suggest long-term effects of medication, high rates of treatment discontinuation, a lack of placebo-treated controls, and a limited range of outcomes mean that the longer-term effects of ADHD medication remain uncertain. In this study, we used Swedish population-based data to investigate the association between the use of ADHD medication and criminality.  Click here to read the full study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1203241#t=articleBackground

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Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training for Officers Considered a Best Practice in Law Enforcement

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  PfCJR advocates for the decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.  Will you JOIN us?


As persons with mental illnesses and law enforcement become increasingly entangled, the collaboration of police and mental health service providers has become critical to appropriately serving the needs of individuals experiencing mental health crises. This article introduces the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Model as a collaborative approach to safely and effectively address the needs of persons with mental illnesses, link them to appropriate services, and divert them from the criminal justice system if appropriate. We discuss the key elements of the CIT model, implementation and its related challenges, as well as variations of the model. While this model has not undergone enough research to be deemed an Evidence-Based Practice, it has been successfully utilized in many law enforcement agencies worldwide and is considered a “Best Practice” model in law enforcement. This primer for mental health practitioners serves as an introduction to a model that may already be utilized in their community or serve as a springboard for the development CIT programs where they do not currently exist.  Click here to read the full study:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769782/

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Multisystemic Therapy Consistently Demonstrates Positive Outcomes for Chronic Juvenile Offenders

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  PfCJR advocates for reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at risk adolescents.  Will you JOIN us?

MST is an internationally recognized program for at-risk youth and their families. For more than 30 years, MST has

consistently demonstrated positive outcomes with chronic juvenile offenders. Based on the program’s success,

rigorous randomized trials were conducted to explore the feasibility and effects of adaptations of MST with other target

populations. Results have been positive for treating problem sexual behavior, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse,

serious emotional disturbances and chronic health care conditions. This document highlights the many areas of MST

research and proven outcomes with traditional MST and MST clinical adaptations as well as research on the transport of

MST to community practice settings.


PfCJR Indiegogo Campaign Nearing Goal!

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