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Roadmap Released to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

September 8, 2014 Comments off

Roadmap Released to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Juvenile Justice System
Source: Council of State Governments

Members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and others met with juvenile justice leaders during separate events recently to discuss two publications released by the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), which offer state and local governments recommendations to improve outcomes for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

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 track the rates of youth reoffending. Of the 39 states that do track recidivism data, most consider only one type of contact with the justice system, stopping short of determining, for example, whether the youth was later incarcerated in the adult system.

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

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Is Scrap Metal Theft Legislation Working for States?

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Is Scrap Metal Theft Legislation Working for States?
Source: Council of State Governments

Insurance companies, law enforcement officials and industry watchdogs have called scrap metal theft—including copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel and scrap iron—one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. State leaders have taken notice, passing a flurry of legislation meant to curb metal theft and help law enforcement find and prosecute criminals. Researchers at The Council of State Governments, in collaboration with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, set out to determine if all that legislation is having an impact on metal theft rates.

To determine if state legislation has been effective at curbing metal theft, a thorough analysis is needed that starts with an evaluation of trends in metal theft incident rates at the state level. After an evaluation of the existing research and interviews with state and local officials and law enforcement personnel across all 50 states, CSG researchers concluded that metal theft data for states are not available for analysis.

Because metal theft is such a significant and widespread problem, and because accurately tracking metal theft is key to establishing evidence-based practices designed to both deter theft and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of theft, it is imperative that states evaluate ways to begin collecting these data.

Moving forward, it is unlikely data will be available on a scale necessary to perform meaningful analysis unless a widespread effort is launched to create systems to document, track and report metal theft crime uniformly and consistently. CSG researchers recommend continued discussion regarding the development of a uniform tracking system for metal theft or modifications to current systems.

A State Official’s Guide to Science-Based Decision-Making

June 26, 2014 Comments off

A State Official’s Guide to Science-Based Decision-Making
Source: Council of State Governments

Policymakers are bombarded by information in today’s ever-connected, fast-paced world. Advances in communication platforms, like social media, and information technology have brought a sea change in the public’s ability to access data at unimaginable depths and speeds. This interconnectedness can also pose challenges for state officials trying to solve already difficult issues by adding another layer of complexity to the public policymaking process. As information becomes more available and immediate, policymakers often must make decisions without the technical background necessary to fully vet all the considerations involved.

The Council of State Governments developed A State Official’s Guide to Science-based Decision-making to provide strategic guidance that can cut through the jargon and spin that can accompany technical issues. The guide includes recommendations and helpful tools for policymakers, regardless of background, to confidently assess the assumptions, conclusions and results found in state public hearing witness testimony and scientific studies. The aim of the guide is not to suggest what to think; rather, the impetus is to provide a roadmap of how to approach an issue so state thought leaders can make the most informed decision possible.

School Discipline Consensus Report

June 3, 2014 Comments off

School Discipline Consensus Report
Source: Council of State Governments (Justice Center)

The School Discipline Consensus Report presents a comprehensive set of consensus-based and field-driven recommendations to improve conditions for learning for all students and educators, better support students with behavioral needs, improve police-schools partnerships, and keep students out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. More than 100 advisors representing policymakers, school administrators, teachers, behavioral health professionals, police, court leaders, probation officials, juvenile correctional leaders, parents, and youth from across the country helped develop more than two dozen policies and 60 recommendations to keep more students in productive classrooms and out of court rooms. An additional 600 individuals from various disciplines and perspectives shared examples of promising practices that are also presented in the report. The School Discipline Consensus Report draws on real-world strategies and research to promote truly multidisciplinary approaches to reducing the millions of youth suspended, expelled, and arrested each year while creating safe and supportive schools for all educators and students.

Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System (PDF)
Source: Council of State Governments

When an individual returns to the community after incarceration, disruptions in the continuity of medical care have been shown to increase rates of reincarceration and lead to poorer and more costly health outcomes.6 Research shows that the first few weeks after release from incarceration are the most critical in terms of connecting people to treatment. Reentry into the community is a vulnerable time, marked by difficulties adjusting, increased drug use, and a 12- fold increase in the risk of death in the first two weeks after release. For many, the failure to provide a link to healthcare coverage and services upon release results in needless, potentially months-long gaps in their access to health care. If they access care at all, these individuals often rely upon hospital emergency room services, shifting much of the cost burden to hospitals and state, county, and city agencies.

This failure to link individuals involved with the criminal justice system to health coverage and services upon release from incarceration is especially costly to state and local governments. Total state and local spending on uncompensated health care for the uninsured reached $17.2 billion in 2008.9 Individuals involved with the criminal justice system, who make up as much as one-third of the uninsured population in the United States, can be expected to account for a significant portion of this spending. Furthermore, elevated recidivism rates, which are associated with a lack of access to health care for individuals with mental illnesses or substance use disorders, contribute to the burden of state and local corrections spending.

The appropriate use of federal Medicaid dollars to help pay for health care provided to this population can save states and localities money, in addition to minimizing health and public safety concerns associated with reentry following incarceration. However, opportunities to maximize and maintain Medicaid enrollment for eligible individuals in this population, and especially to make use of Medicaid to finance certain types of care provided to those who are incarcerated, have been largely underutilized by states.

Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States
Source: Council of State Governments

With over 95 percent of people in the nation’s state prisons expected to be released at some point, officials at all levels of government recognize the need for initiatives to support the successful reentry of these individuals to their communities. For the estimated 60,000 youth incarcerated in juvenile detention and correctional facilities on any given day, there is a particular urgency to help them avoid crime and improve their prospects for a successful future when released.

The program snapshots in this publication illustrate the positive impact these reentry initiatives can have by focusing on areas vital to successful reintegration back into the community, including employment, education, mentoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment. Also highlighted are programs that address the needs of a particular population, such as women, youth and their families, and tribal communities. Representing a wide range of populations served, these programs also demonstrate the diversity of approaches that can address recidivism and increase public safety.

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness

October 2, 2013 Comments off

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness
Source: Council of State Governments

The Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies white paper was written to address the challenges that service providers cannot successfully serve every adult on probation or leaving prison or jail who needs a job. There are simply not enough resources and attempting to serve everyone would be largely ineffective. Also, some individuals require intensive services and programming, while others perform better with lighter interventions and supervision.

The white paper can help policymakers, system administrators, and practitioners collaboratively determine whether resources are focused on the right people, with the right interventions, at the right time.

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