Weekly Round Up

www.forcesociety.com

ExtractAdam Foss wants to reinvent the cycle that defines the American criminal justice system. The former Boston-area prosecutor spent more than six years as an assistant district attorney, mostly working in the juvenile division. Prosecutors, he said, play a pivotal role in our justice system — they wield the power to offer alternative sentencing and diversion programs for young people. According to Foss, prison isn’t always the answer. Globally, the U.S. incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country, with more than 2.2 million individuals currently behind bars. It’s a phenomenon that affects blacks and Latinos at a vastly disproportionate rate than white offenders.”

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“Prosecutor Integrity and Legend’s #FreeAmerica campaign are part of a larger, growing movement among the creative community to tackle America’s mass incarceration epidemic. Of the millions of youth arrested each year, 95 percent are arrested for nonviolent crimes, including truancy, “criminal mischief” and other low level offenses. These are offenses that, all too often, land black and brown youth in court, stigmatizing minors with cases that aren’t worthy of a criminal record.”

Extract “Although certain kinds of crimes may rise during the summer months — for juveniles it may be crimes such as theft of bikes, there isn’t enough solid national data to suggest that summer crime waves among juveniles are a real source of concern. And contrary to popular belief, the spike in crime typically doesn’t happen after curfew. Although the spike in violent crime by juvenile offenders tends to happen at 3 pm on school days and 7 to 9 pm on non-school days, 63 percent of violent crimes happen on school days according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

To make matters worse, although this kind of summer activity is pretty common across race and social class, according to a paper from the Annie Casey Foundation, the kids being penalized for it are usually low-income and children of color. That’s because curfew laws are enforced in predominantly black and Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods.”

“The Gambia and Tanzania have banned child marriage, with tough penalties for those who breach the rulings. Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls. Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.Before the Tanzania ruling, girls as young as 14 could marry with parental consent, while it was 18 for boys. The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela in Dar es Salaam says this is a big win for child rights groups and activists, who will now have an easier time rescuing girls from child marriage. The case was brought by lobby group Msichana Initiative. Gambia’s President speaking at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, said parents and imams who perform the ceremonies would also face prison. “If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see,” he warned. Women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the ban, however some say that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences, “I don’t think locking parents up is the answer… it could lead to a major backlash and sabotage the ban,” Isatou Jeng of the women’s rights organisation Girls Agenda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Gambian capital, Banjul. In December last year, Mr Jammeh also outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM), with a prison sentence of up to three years for those that ignored the ban. He said the practice had no place in Islam or in modern society. Three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim country have had the procedure, according to Unicef.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact an individual long-term. Dr. Vince Felitti from Kaiser Permanente and Dr. Bob Anda from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a research to study how childhood trauma impacts health outcomes. In their investigation, they tracked the number of ACEs of over seventeen thousand individuals and then compared these to the participants’ health outcomes. The study has shown a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and the health and social problems an individual encounters over his or her lifetime.

The potential ill effects of childhood trauma are troubling. ACEs can dramatically increase the risk for seven out of ten of the leading causes of death in the United States. Childhood trauma can impact the development of the brain and the immune system. There are also findings that individuals who experienced childhood trauma are at a triple risk for heart disease and lung cancer. Other areas where risks are increased include hepatitis, ischemic heart disease, depression, and suicide. The impact of childhood trauma is not confined to an individual’s health prospects, however, and also spills over into other areas.

In her TED talk, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris breaks down how the stresses associated with abuse, neglect, and parental difficulties—which can range from mental health or substance abuse struggles to separation or domestic violence—affect a child in the short and long term. Yet, she points out that in spite of these high stakes, doctors are not yet trained in routing screening or treatment of this ailment. She then recounts her personal journey to discovering the impact of childhood trauma and explains how she implements this knowledge to screen and address the ramifications of ACEs. Ultimately, Dr. Burke advocates for increased awareness regarding this threat, as well as a proactive approach to addressing it in order to minimize its potential detrimental effects.

However, we cannot leave it to the medical field to address and work towards eradicating the ill effects of childhood trauma. Rather, it will take a concerted effort from all actors that are able to help secure safe environments and provide appropriate interventions when necessary. For this reason, the Center for Children, Law & Policy’s Zealous Advocacy Conference later this summer will be focusing on adverse childhood experiences. Please be on the lookout over the next few weeks for more information regarding specific conference details.

 

ACEs

Image from http://news.rutgers.edu/news/study-links-early-childhood-trauma-kindergarten-behavior-problems-poor-performance/20160118#.VxOvMGMoFSU.

Weekly Roundup

Photo Exhibit, film, speaker to address juvenile justice issues, Eric Jome, Illinois State University, March 1, 2016.

A photo exhibition focused on juvenile detention centers, the screening of a documentary on the lives of troubled young women, and a presentation on a prison art program will draw attention to issues surrounding the American juvenile justice system. The events, held in March, are presented in collaboration with Illinois State University’s 2016 Social Work Day Conference, which focuses on ways to keep youth out of the justice system.

ADHD in Juvenile Offenders: Treatment Issues Nurses Need to Know, Deborah Shelton, PhD, RN, BC; Gerald Pearson, PhD, APRN, March 5, 2016

It is estimated that 45% to 75% of the young people in the juvenile justice system have one or more disabilities (National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice, 2001; Shelton, 2001), including emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The most common diagnoses are ADHD, learning disabilities, depression, developmental disabilities, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In many cases, young people are dually diagnosed and experience co-occurring emotional and substance abuse problems; more than half also have a diagnosis of chemical dependence (Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2003). Among juvenile offenders, it is estimated that more than 30% may have ADHD (Shelton, in press,), and 40% of boys with untreated ADHD will be arrested for a felony by the time they reach their 16th birthdays (Wasserman, Miller, & Cothern, 2000).

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China’s Two-Child Policy: What’s Next? By Emily Feng, March 4, 2016.

Policies to promote gender equality and support non-marital births have had better luck achieving tangible results in the Scandinavian and European countries, but these policies are unlikely to be adopted by China. “I suspect there will be a bit of a backlash against the gains made by women, similar to the backlash in U.S. post world war when men returned from war and there was pushback for women to resume maternal, homemaker roles,” says Mei Fong, a journalist whose forthcoming book One Child draws from her extensive reporting on the policy. In China, couples who give birth out of wedlock are still fined and their children denied hukou,making them ineligible to access basic social services such as public education.

However, the greatest obstacle to creating programs and provincial laws to implement the two-child policy is economic inequality. The brunt of the demographic imbalance has been dealt unequally among China’s provinces. Cities like Shanghai and Beijing attract millions of transplants and migrant workers each year and have been cushioned from the effects of the labor shortage. Higher living costs and better social welfare systems (for those who have urban hukou, at least) have caused many of China’s urban middle class to voluntarily forgohaving more than one child. Meanwhile, couples in areas like Anhui or Shandong who supply much of the labor that powers China’s labor-intensive industries are more likely to have more than one child – but gauging exactly how much material support and through what channels that support should be offered is unclear. The cost of having a second child can be so prohibitive that some couples who would otherwise want to raise two childrenmay not be able to afford to.

House votes 117-0 to approve Juvenile Detention Cost Sharing Bill, By Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, March 9, 2016.

A bill intended to end the fight over juvenile detention costs is headed to the governor.The Florida House voted 117-0 to approve the measure (SB 1322). The approval came just days after the Florida Senate voted 38-0 to approve the bill. The proposal requires counties that aren’t considered fiscally constrained, usually more affluent, urban areas, to pay $42.5 million for all detention costs in fiscal 2016-17. The state would pay the remaining costs. In the years that follow, the state would spit detention costs 50-50. The state would continue to cover the costs for detention facilities in fiscally constrained counties, usually poorer or rural areas. The state would also cover the cost of detaining juveniles who are out of state.