Use of isolation in juvenile detention centers

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) CORE ISSUE:  Juvenile justice reform to identify and divert at-risk youth.

Isolation in juvenile detention centers persists despite ample data demonstrating the traumatizing consequences to youth who often already have been traumatized.  Dr. Brittany Raffa writes a poignant piece that was published in the December 1, 2015 issue of Family Practice News regarding the practice.  Highlights:

  • Youth are kept in isolation for several days, with a vague definition by staff on the limit of “several days.”
  • While in isolation or segregation – whatever it is called – mental illness and posttraumatic stress disorder are exacerbated. Youth do not participate in school classes, and they are barred from the daily hour of physical activity.
  • The use of isolation in juvenile centers has led to increased suicide rates in those children.
  • More than 50% of all youths’ suicides in juvenile facilities occurred while young people were isolated alone in their rooms, and … more than 60% of young people who committed suicide in custody had a history of being held in isolation.”

Read the entire article at www.familypracticenews.com

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as a physician or allied member as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

Three state juvenile lockups selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions

From www.chron.com:

Three state juvenile lockups that have been plagued by training and operational problems as officials struggled to deal with a more violent population of incarcerated youths have been selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions.

David Reilly, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, announced Monday that the Giddings State School, Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg and the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart will be included in the 18-month program.

Three other agencies across the country will also participate: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice;
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and StarrVista, Inc. in Wayne County, Michigan.

The project is being overseen by the national Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University.

Reilly said the project at the three Texas lockups will include training and technical assistance to help his agency improve educational and rehabilitation programming, behavioral management and health care, and transition planning to ensure success for youths after they are released from custody.

Read the entire article www.chron.com

Click here to JOIN Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

PRESS RELEASE: PfCJR Officially Partners with the Campaign for Youth Justice to Raise the Age

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR), which advocates to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system, has officially partnered with Campaign for Youth Justice, a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

(DECATUR – March 9, 2016) – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is pleased to support advocacy efforts of the Campaign for Youth Justice by officially partnering to lend the collective voice of our physician members to the national initiative to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Medical literature reflects that adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for long-term consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, youth in adult jails and prisons are more likely to be sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and, upon release, are more likely to re-offend than youth housed in juvenile facilities. Each of those experiences, as well as early developmental experiences that put youth and adolescents at risk for involvement with the criminal justice system, result in long-lasting, negative physical and mental health consequences that could be avoided by juvenile justice reform that identifies and diverts at-risk youth.

Osvaldo Gaytan, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform’s Juvenile Justice Taskforce and a physician with specialties in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuropharmacology and early childhood trauma states “Children and adolescents are our future. I think we can all agree on that. As doctors, it is our duty to make a united stand against environmental factors that affect both the mental and physical health outcomes of our patients. Every bit of evidence we have as physicians points to the fact that adolescent brains do not function in an equal capacity as adult brains. Therefore, it is not scientifically sound to equate the functioning of an adolescent brain with that of an adult. It is unjust.”

Please join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform and the Campaign for Youth Justice on insisting that the legal age for being treated as an adult be raised to 18 years of age as a national standard.

 

About PfCJR:

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) was founded by a group of physicians who were struck by the myriad of ways that negative encounters with the criminal justice system lead to detrimental health consequences. We firmly believe that changing the interaction between the criminal justice system and individuals of targeted populations will ultimately lead to improved health of targeted communities.

 

Connecticut Governor Proposes New Criminal Justice Reforms

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

According to News 8 wtnh.com:

Gov. Malloy released the second part of his criminal justice reform that he plans to bring to the Legislature this year. It’s called Second Chance 2.0, and is aimed at the youngest of adult offenders. Under his proposal, non-violent offenders will be treated as juveniles up until the age of 21.

Malloy cites research that the human brain isn’t fully formed until 25, for reasons to up the juvenile age.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article. 

Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons

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

As reported by the Washington Post:

President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

Highlights:

  • In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement.
  • The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.
  • While Obama is leaving the details of policy implementation to agency officials, the Justice Department’s report includes “50 guiding principles” that all federal correctional facilities must now follow.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.

Why Connecticut may try 21-year-olds as juveniles

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE: Criminal Justice Reform to Identify and Divert At-Risk Juveniles. 

When the Connecticut legislature voted to raise the age of those eligible to be tried in its juvenile justice system from 16 to 18 in 2007, there was widespread skepticism.

Police chiefs and judicial officials in the state expressed concerns that the measures would overburden the juvenile justice system and cost the state $40 million a year. In the eight years since the age was raised, Connecticut has seen its juvenile crime rate and juvenile incarceration rate decrease significantly – and at a much lower cost than projected.

The state now wants to go even further, as Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) urges raising the age of the juvenile justice system’s jurisdiction from 18 to 21. He has also proposed reforms aimed at young adults – up to age 25 – that would give some juvenile system protections, such as confidentiality and the opportunity to have their records expunged, to young adults who commit less-serious offenses.

In an address at a University of Connecticut School of Law symposium in early November, Governor Malloy said he wants to “begin a statewide conversation” around the issue, and experts say the conversation could go nationwide.

This “Raise the Age” movement has been gaining momentum around the country, fueled by new scientific research suggesting that current juvenile and adult justice systems don’t properly reflect the modern path from adolescence to adulthood.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

Kids Who Face Criminal Charges Are More Likely To Die Young

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the Juvenile Justice System to Identify and Divert At-Risk Youth. 

Young offenders who are transferred to adult court are three times more likely to die early than someone of the same age in the general population, according to a longitudinal study published this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. “Any involvement with the criminal justice system increased the chance of mortality,” lead study author Matthew Aalsma, an associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University, told The Huffington Post.

The more severe the punishment a youth offender faced, the greater the likelihood he would die early, Aalsma explained. Most of the time, he noted, the kids died by homicide.

The study compared electronic criminal justice records and health records of almost 50,000 10- to 18-year-old offenders in Marion County, Indiana, between 1999 and 2011, finding a direct link between involvement in the justice system and early death.

Read the full article by clicking HERE.

 

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.