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Juvenile Programs and Projects
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Purdue University Global
Published: 05/25/2020

Juvenile jail c Our topic this month is ‘Juvenile Programs and Projects.’ There are several areas I will discuss, including Juveniles and COVID-19. Unfortunately, we are still trying to find the ideal programs to assist juveniles and prevent their return to the juvenile system or eventual incarceration in an adult facility. We do well in identifying factors that contribute toward juvenile crime. There are several challenges also; support mechanism that is positive; youth is returned right back into the environment where they committed the crime; medical and mental health issues; abuse; drug and alcohol issues; involvement in gangs; basic needs not being met, stress and pressures, and many other barriers.

We can have the juveniles involved in many programs and supervise their participation and behaviors. For the most part, direct supervision and counseling are effective. I feel the problems occur again when the person is returned to the community and the time spent toward assisting the juvenile with their issues is over. We find the direct contact and support are often missing. Change is a difficult to achieve with the challenges many juveniles face. Until a ‘person is willing to accept the responsibility and consequences for their actions, change is not going to occur.’ (Campbell). At the same time, many of our juveniles find their basic needs are being met while incarcerated. Does this justify the current trend? No! However, this does add information for us to consider when juveniles are being released and trying to transition back into the community.

I researched several areas and wanted to share some information with you. I do not know how familiar you are with the Office Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This is a very informative resource and if you click on the following link, you will find a list of programs available for juveniles. https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/programs “Successful reentry reduces recidivism and increases public safety. The Second Chance Act Authorizes federal grants for reentry services – such as employment and housing assistance, substance use treatment, family programming, and mentoring – that address common barriers to successful reentry.” I also like the following statement: “The programs are part of the Office’s comprehensive approach to enhance public safety, hold youth accountable when they offend, and empower all youth to live up to their full potential.”

There are two additional programs with a nice overview and additional information for May being National Drug Court Month and Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines. Also, there has been research conducted and is ongoing in the following areas; ‘Raise the Floor: Increasing the Minimum Age of Prosecution of Youth as Adults (Prison Policy Initiative https://www.prisonpolicy.org/research/youth/ and the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Incarceration of Youth as a Last Resort., Especially During Time of Pandemic’ https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/05/06/juvenilejustice050620

There many more programs available for review. I suggest you research some sites to review what is occurring at the national level and by regions.

The final area certainly needs discussion; COVID-19 and Juvenile Facilities. We see daily through various media outlets, updates on the number of cases and deaths in the United States, Worldwide, and by States. Many of the same concerns we have also carry over to our prisons and juvenile facilities. Some media sites are providing updates but still lack some specific protocols. While conducting some research into Juvenile Facilities and COVID-19, I wanted to do a follow up with the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators. I am glad I did and found the following dated May 2020. “COVID-19 Practice, Policy & Emergency Protocols in State Juvenile Facilities. http://cjja.net/.

The content is seven pages (7) and contains a wealth of information. The information is from a session hosted by the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators with thirty-seven (37) states participating. Emphasis is placed on “Protecting youth and staff from exposure to the virus has impacted every aspect of facility management.”

The following eight (8) areas were identified with information from states participating; ‘emergency planning; facility admissions; release/reentry; visitation; academic services; health and mental health; programming; and staffing.’ I found the contents to be very informative and should answer any additional questions you may have.

I do feel each facility has to have plans in place to communicate effectively with juveniles detained, their families, staff and their families. Some facilities are limited in programming while other facilities have some creative ideas to consider. We already know working in corrections is difficult, stressful, has security concerns, and the threat of violence at any time. Unfortunately there have been too many of these incidents already. Many staff have been identified as essential and working double shifts. There are a variety of ways this is being addressed. Trying to maintain safety and security for all is a challenge for every shift. Some additional areas to consider are the positive COVID-19 cases for juveniles and staff.

After you have time to review the information provided please let me know if you have any additional comments. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile, let’s keep our staff and population in our thoughts and prayers.

Stay safe out there.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Purdue University Global and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@purdueglobal.edu.

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