Harris County’s Innovative Approach to Juvenile Justice

Starting in August, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office implemented a diversion program for children found in possession of marijuana. Under the program, children will be able to simply take one Saturday class to avoid incarceration. The program’s purpose—to avoid childhood detention for minor drug offenses—is in line with the goals of Harris County’s newly elected judges and District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Additionally, the Harris County District Attorney’s office has funded another juvenile diversion program for those in Houston’s Fifth Ward. The program is designed to help the area’s teenagers who have been a part of the juvenile justice system. The hope is that the services, mentorship, and volunteer opportunities offered will help the teenagers stay out of the justice system and uplift the community as a whole.

You can read more about the Fifth Ward Juvenile Justice Program here.

Weekly Roundup (October 8, 2019)


Recently a trial judge in Washington state’s King County Superior Court discussed his three years presiding in juvenile court. Roger Rogoff described this time as “the most emotionally-charged, inspiring and terrifying of my 25-year legal career,” citing the complicated and conflicting nature of the juvenile justice system as well as the tension, apprehension and nuances of decision-making in this environment.

While Rogoff repeats a common plea for more resources for juvenile justice, he also argues a powerful case for needing more expertise, support and thoughtful consideration.

Read more. . . 



Over the last two decades, states across the U.S. — including Maryland — have shifted their approach to juvenile justice.

In 2018, the total number of juvenile detention admissions on the lower Eastern Shore dropped 12 percent from the previous year, according to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

While there are many factors that may have contributed to the intake decline, the department’s community-based treatment programs likely played a role. These services have been scientifically proven to reduce recidivism rates at a fraction of the cost of treating a juvenile inside a detention facility.

The push for community-based treatment for Maryland juveniles came to the forefront in 2014 when the state announced it had set aside $225 million to build three new juvenile detention facilities.

Read more. . . 


Two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old sued the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice on Thursday, alleging their health and well-being were put in danger when the state placed them in solitary confinement.

Lawyers representing the three minors in the federal lawsuit are seeking to overturn an agency policy that they contend allows juveniles to be placed in isolation with “no meaningful social interaction, environmental stimulation, outdoor recreation, schooling or property.”

Read more. . . 

Weekly Roundup (September 26, 2019)

Grown-up solutions to combat child poverty

Some communities refuse to just sit back and watch tens of thousands of children grow up in poverty — a circumstance that makes them more likely to face diminished educational and job prospects, violence, incarceration and a host of health problems that shorten life expectancy by a decade.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, numerous nonprofit organizations, foundations, government agencies, schools, businesses and individuals are working to combat the effects — and in some cases the causes — of child poverty. But:

  • We have no unified plan, goal or leadership on the issue.
  • There is no single place to go to find out who is doing what to address the problem.
  • Many measures with track records for getting kids out of poverty, or reducing its bite, have not yet been tried here.

Read more . . . 


Juvenile arrests in Oklahoma decline

A group of local youth gathered inside a community center Tuesday night in south Oklahoma City, where Oklahoma City police Staff Sgt. Tony Escobar and other adult mentors led them in a discussion about leadership.

Earlier in the night, Escobar dished out slices of pizza. Now, he helped the students as they split into small groups, tasked with identifying positive traits and weaknesses of famous leaders.

At the end of the exercise, Taylor Wood, volunteer coordinator, challenged the students to decide what kind of leader they want to be.

“Everything that you do, you can be a leader,” she told them. “You don’t have to be a leader that the whole world knows about. You don’t even have to get credit for being a leader, but you can be a leader in every situation. At home, among your friends, at school, if you play sports. No matter what you do, you have an opportunity to be a leader.”  Read more . . .


Suzann Stewart: Family Safety Center is moving the needle on intimate partner violence, sexual assault and accountability

I keep a top 10 list on my computer at the Family Safety Center. It’s not the top 10 in good things … but the bad things like access to health care, high incidences of adverse childhood experiences scores in children and adults, intimate partner and family violence, education rates, high incarceration rates etc.

Seems morbid, but it’s motivational for me with the staff and agency partners who perform above and beyond daily in our work to improve the lives and health of our most vulnerable family members and friends. It reminds me that every day our partnership is making a huge difference in changing the bad effects of those statistics for the better.

Tulsa does have a top 10 nationally recognized change agent in this partnership model of co-located multidisciplinary agencies, with three trend-changing programs moving the needle: to mitigate and eradicate family and intimate partner violence, identify and more effectively treat victims of multiple traumas and hold offenders accountable for their abuse.  Read more . . .