Archive for Interview

Hangout On Air with the National Juvenile Justice Network!

HangoutWe are proud to announce a new Humane Exposures Hangout! On October 9 at  11 am PST / 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST we will be joined by several of the driving forces behind the National Juvenile Justice Network. We will be discussing the recent  release of an amazing resource they have compiled: Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-2011, a compendium of youth justice reforms from across the country. This is an elegantly crafted document that provides capsule summaries of the changes in juvenile justice organized by topic area, state, and year. It covers a broad array of significant new laws, administrative rule and practice changes, positive court decisions, and promising commissions and studies.

I would cite this as a useful resource for advocates, juvenile justice system employees, legislators, and those who simply wish to become more informed on the subject. In it you can learn about recent reforms in other states, find tips on connecting with allies and other advocates, generating ideas for change, and ways in which to educate policymakers or journalists.
Our panel for the day will be comprised of the following people:

Abby Anderson is executive director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, an advocacy organization that consistently wins major victories for at-risk youth. She has served as co-chair of the Executive Committee of the National Juvenile Justice Network since 2007 and was formerly on the Executive Board of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. In naming her to its prestigious “40 Under 40” list, Connecticut Magazine said: “She has reframed  juvenile justice as a mainstream issue by stressing the savings achieved by getting timely services to kids before their behavior becomes a public-safety concern.”

Jim Moeser is the Deputy Director of the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families, a multi-issue state advocacy organization promoting the safety, health, and economic stability of Wisconsin’s children and families. Jim is currently a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice for OJJDP. He co-chairs the Executive Committee of the National Juvenile Justice Network.

Sarah Bryer, NJJN’s Director, has been working in the juvenile and criminal justice fields for more than twenty years. Prior to joining NJJN, she was the Director of Policy and Planning at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), an alternative-to-incarceration program serving more than 10,000 misdemeanor and felony-level, court-involved youth and adults per year. Before that, she was Manager of Youth Programs at the Center for Court Innovation and has been a victim-offender mediator for court-involved youth in California.

Benjamin Chambers has been writing professionally for over 20 years, and has over 10 years of experience in the field of juvenile justice. Between 2000 and 2007, he worked for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice in Portland, Oregon, where he was involved in improving youth drug treatment and served on the management team. Between 2008 and 2011, he launched and edited the Reclaiming Futures blog and social media channels, which he built into premier venues for juvenile justice news and resources.

George “Loki” Williams Our own Humane Exposures blogger will be moderating the discussion. Loki has blogged for clients including the National Association of Broadcasters and Kaiser Permanente as well as the Webby Award-winning He is one of the organizers of the Rising Tide Conference in New Orleans, and his work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, The New Yorker’s New Orleans Journal, and, among others.

Tune in Tuesday on our Google+ Page! See you there!

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Talking about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI)

Bart Lubow, Director of Juvenile Justice Strategy for the Annie E. Casey Foundation talks about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) at an April 2012 conference in Houston dedicated to the topic. JDAI is currently the the most widely replicated juvenile justice system reform project in the nation, with initiatives in 38 states.

Susan Madden Lankford talks about Born, Not Raised on KPBS

Yesterday our own Susan Madden Lankford was a guest on KPBS, both TV and radio! Here is the video of the televised portion of proceedings. (a link to the 17 minute audio interview on KPBS radio appears after the video.)

For a much more in depth interview check out the one she did for KPBS radio that same day –‘Born, Not Raised’ Explores The Links Between Development And Juvenile Crime

A Conversation with Jeanne McAlister

Today our resident blogger had the opportunity to talk with Jeanne McAlister, Chief Executive Officer and founder of McAlister Institute. The conversation was enlightening to say the least!

Jeanne McAlister, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of McAlister Institute, has been a pioneer in the field of recovery. She has constantly advocated for responsive and needed treatment services and developed programs which could easily be replicated by others. Recognizing that drug abuse negatively affects all aspects of the individual, family, and community life, the goal of McAlister Institute programs is to assist individuals in regaining their lives by supporting the recovery process. As a result, tens of thousands of youth and adults have successfully regained their lives through her vision and with the help of McAlister Institute’s wide variety of programs.

Talking Justice: Dr. Igor Koutsenok and Susan Madden Lankford

Today we have a rare treat for you, our own Susan Madden Lankford sat down for a chat about the current sad state of affairs in the arena of American criminal justice. Fortunately we were able to record most of it for your edification.

Igor Koutsenok, MD, MS, is Director of the University of California San Diego, Center for Criminality and Addiction Research, Training and Application (CCARTA) and he has full time faculty appointment at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry. Among other place he attended St. Georges Hospital Medical School, where he received a Masters Degree in Addictive Behavior. Before joining UCSD, he worked in Bulgaria as Head of Department at the National Center for Addictions and Deputy Director of the Institute of Psychology.

During the last 20 years, he served as an expert for many international organizations such as the Council of Europe, European Union, and the United Nations. Dr. Koutsenok was recruited by the UCSD Department of Psychiatry in 1997. Dr. Koutsenok led the design and implementation of the Workforce Development Training series for substance abuse counselors and criminal justice professionals working in custody and community-based treatment programs in California. He is the UCSD FACT (Forensic Addiction Treatment Certification) Board of Education Director and Director of the Offender Substance Abuse Treatment Institute.

Dr. Koutsenok serves as of the trainers for the National Drug Court Institute, providing training and education for judges and members of the judicial system nationwide. Dr. Igor Koutsenok and Dr. David Deitch designed an innovative approach to reduce recidivism in parolees, which in 2006 was presented to and authorized by the California legislature as Senate Bill 618 – Offender Re-Entry Program.
Dr. Koutsenok is teaching General Psychopathology course for second year UCSD medical students, human growth and development course for 1st year UCSD medical students, as well as he runs support group for 3rd year UCSD psychiatry residents. In 2006-2009 he designed and directed the Cal-METRO training project, a large-scale Motivational Interviewing training project to train over 3000 professionals working in juvenile correctional institutions statewide. In 2010 he designed and conducted a year long San Diego Probation Department Leadership Academy training probation supervisors in practical implementing of evidence based practices in community corrections, such as motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral interventions. Recently in collaboration with Christopher Lowenkamp, PhD, he designed the IBIS program – Integrated Behavioral Interventions Strategies. Currently over 300 probation officers and supervisors are undergoing training, coaching and mentoring in implementation of a truly integrated package of behavioral interventions – motivational interviewing, EPICS-II, and incentives and sanctions. He has authored and co-authored over 50 scientific publications and book chapters, such as “Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook” 4th edition, Lowinson, J., Ruiz, P., Millman, R., & Langrod, J. (Eds.), 2004; “Treating Addicted Offenders – A Continuum of Effective Practices”, K.Knight & D. Farabee (Eds.), 2005; “Advances in Corrections Based Treatment: Building the Addiction Treatment Workforce”, Praeger International Collection on Addictions, A. Browne-Miller (Ed.), 2009, “Motivational Interviewing Training for Correctional Professionals – The CalMetro Project”, Praeger International Collection on Addictions, A. Browne-Miller (Ed.), 2009. He is a member of the International Motivational Interviewing Trainers Network. In 2011 he served as a trainer for the new group of MI trainers in Sheffield, England. Dr. Koutsenok has been training motivational interviewing and other treatment strategies in offenders in Bulgaria, Malta, England, Hong Kong, Greece, Poland, Sweden, Mexico, Argentina, Hungary, and Norway. He has been invited as guest speaker to numerous conferences and professional gatherings nationwide and in more than 15 countries. He is a proud father of three.

Susan Madden Lankford

In the early 1990s, Susan Madden Lankford began photographing—and befriending—the homeless on the streets of downtown San Diego. Compelled to learn more, she gained access to a women’s detention center and soon was shooting within its walls, speaking with candor with inmates and staff. Next, pursuing the link between crime and childhood neglect, she met with young people in juvenile hall, challenging them to face their hopes and fears through artwork and the written word. Lankford’s award-winning books on homelessness, incarceration, and juvenile justice are testament to many years of commitment to complex social issues. Her venture in the realm of documentary film continues this work.

Susan Lankford grew up in the Midwest and holds a BS degree from the University of Nebraska. She attended Ansel Adams’ prestigious workshops, studied under such photographic masters as Richard Misrach and Ruth Bernhard, and spent many years as a successful wildlife photographer and portraitist. The parents of three adult daughters, Susan and Rob Lankford live in San Diego.
Please explore the rest of our website for more about Susan and her works!

An Audio Interview with director Alan Swyer

Welcome to our latest Humane Exposures audiocast! Today we sit down with director Alan Swyer, who directed our own feature length documentary, It’ More Expensive to Do Nothing, as well as The Buddy Holly Story, Beisbol, and more.

About Alan Swyer

Alan Swyer has been a faculty member at the American Film Institute, the University of Southern California, and Pepperdine University, and now teaches at Chapman University.  Internationally, he has given seminars on writing and directing in both France and Singapore.  Mr. Swyer studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris and speaks fluent French.

As a filmmaker, he has worked as writer, director, and/or producer on projects ranging from our own It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing to HBO’s award winning Rebound; The Buddy Holly Story; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; and his award-winning documentary The Spiritual Revolution.  Among his other work is Beisbol, the winner of the 2009 Imagen Award for best feature-length documentary, which is the definitive look at Latin baseball—its origins, lore and impact upon the game today with narration by Andy Garcia. Beisbol just screened at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Coooperstown; and Leimert Park, about a black cultural mecca in Los Angeles. He has also directed assorted music and video and commercials, and produced the NBC special entitled The Diabetes Epidemic: Challenges & Breakthroughs.

Mr. Swyer served as film critic for the Hollywood Reporter, as well as being a frequent contributor to Britain’s Blues & Rhythm.  He has produced albums including a Ray Charles compilation of love songs and has written liner notes for CDs ranging from The Best of Big Joe Turner, to The Fiftieth Anniversary of Doo-Wop, and Ray Charles & Betty Carter.

Mr. Swyer is also an activist of note, having created, in conjunction with the LA County Probation Department and the Juvenile Judiciary of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Teen Court, which has had remarkable success as an “intervention” for the first-time juvenile offenders.  In addition, he is a Board Member of the Compton Baseball Academy, whose purpose is to get at-risk youth off the streets and onto the playing field.

The National Juvenile Justice Network: an Interview with Benjamin Chambers

Benjamin Portrait-1503-700pxToday the HE Blog takes you into the inner works of the National Juvenile Justice Network. Today we are interviewing Benjamin Chambers, the NJJN’s Communications Specialist. A professional writer for over 20 years, he also has over ten years of experience in the field of juvenile justice. So, without further ado, here is Ben!

HE: Thanks for joining us on the HE blog! Would you be kind enough to share with our readers a thumbnail view of what your organization’s mission is?

BC: We lead a movement of state-based organizations and coalitions focused on reforming the juvenile justice system at all levels to make it fair and age-appropriate for youth in trouble with the law.

HE: I get the impression that the NJJN acts as a bit of a meta-organization, an overarching group of groups. Is that an accurate perception and what made you decide to adopt such a strategy?

BC: Yes, that’s accurate. We were actually created in 2002 by 11 organizations that felt they could be more effective if they had help coordinating their efforts, sharing news and resources, and advancing a consistent national strategy.

HE: You have member organizations in 33 states now. How long did it take to build the network to that point?
BC: About seven years. We find that reformers are eager to connect with their colleagues and peers – being an advocate for teens can be lonely work, though rewarding. And they can see the benefits of sharing knowledge and experience with others working to help kids in trouble with the law.

HE: Have you seen any recent acceleration in the process as more news stories about our failing juvenile justice system make it to the evening news?

BC: I don’t think the media has been the biggest driver behind our membership growth, though news stories have done a lot to educate people about the many ways the justice system fails to keep our kids safe, or help them be successful — and that there are better options, backed by research.

But our primary membership is made up of organizations that subscribe to our nine principles of reform, and which work on multiple issues having to do with youth in trouble with the law. In some states there’s not yet an organization that can meet those criteria, which is why we recently created a new category for “affiliates”.

HE: One of the interesting projects started by your group is the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. What would you say are the greatest successes it has seen so far?

BC: We’re excited about it, too, and we’re incredibly grateful to our funder, the Public Welfare Foundation, for seeing the value in what we’re trying to do. As you know, the Institute’s mission is to develop a larger base of folks who are well-prepared to promote reforms for youth in trouble with the law who reflect the communities most affected by the the juvenile justice system — we’re making a special effort to cultivate and support leaders of color.

We’re in the middle of our pilot year now; we have ten fellows engaged in trainings on things like the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, age-appropriate services and using communications to change policy. They’re an accomplished group of professionals in their own right, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish down the road.

Right now, each one has been matched with one to three mentors in the field, and they’re all working on individual advocacy projects. It’s safe to say that all of them feel more engaged and energized about juvenile justice reform, and more connected to the larger movement, than they did when they started. In fact, in the next few weeks, I hope to post some video interviews with them from our July training session, so you can hear from them directly.

We’re planning now for our 2012 Institute, and should be putting out a call for nominations soon.

HE: What about some of the most important lessons learned as it has evolved?

BC: Although we obviously knew there was some need for this sort of training, we were pleasantly surprised by the great desire for it among newer advocates and activists. We didn’t do a huge amount of outreach for our 2011 Institute, and we got quite a few applications from people who wanted intensive training in this fairly specialized field. So that was one important lesson.

Second, we’ve found that one of the most important skills young leaders need to develop is figuring out how to balance all the demands on them, in all areas of their lives, not just their work. Simply learning to apply the old lesson, “It’s not a race, it’s a marathon,” is an important step for people to take if they’re going to be successful leaders.

Third, when we put out the call for applications, we really didn’t know what to expect. We learned that there’s a good-sized pool of folks out there who have huge potential for leadership.

HE: Your Fiscal Policy Center is doing good work in attempting the change things at the governmental level. What sort of tools are you using and how do you see these efforts expanding in the future?

BC: The Fiscal Policy Center is another project we’re excited about. Basically, state-level groups are finding it difficult to promote new reforms to the juvenile justice system — or prevent reversals of past victories — because of the state budget crunch. This is ironic, since it would be much cheaper and far more effective if we stopped spending so much on locking kids up and shifted those monies to providing treatment and other services to kids in their own communities.

We actually published a short primer on this last year, called “The Real Costs and Benefits of Change: Finding Opportunities for Reform During Difficult Fiscal Times.” Another brief publication people should find helpful in this regard is “Bringing Youth Home: A National Movement to Increase Public Safety, Rehabilitate Youth, and Save Money.”

So the goal of the Fiscal Policy Center is help our state-level members learn more about how state budget processes work and where the funding is going (or could go), and put together compelling arguments for reform for youth in trouble with the law based on sound fiscal knowledge and effective communications strategies.

To do that, we’re providing online toolkits and resources for members and reformers through our Fiscal Policy Resource Center. (That’s also a work in progress – we’ll be adding a lot to it in the coming months.) We’re also doing webinars, in-person trainings, and in-depth technical assistance for our members that focus on both fiscal knowledge and effective communications.

As with the Youth Justice Leadership Institute, we’ve very grateful to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Public Welfare Foundation, and Tow Foundation for having the vision to help us meet this need in the field.

HE: Do you find that people are often surprised to discover that rehabilitation is vastly cheaper than incarceration? Do your efforts often encounter incredulous reactions based on this reasoning?

BC: Yes, I think people are often surprised to learn that. And frankly, it can be hard for people to care, when we have programs like “Beyond ‘Scared Straight'” promoting programs that are damaging and ineffective, but which — through the magic of television — *seem* to be effective. We need to promote more accurate depictions of young people, emphasizing their ability to change and the fact that interventions that don’t televise well — like therapy — are actually better for our kids and better for our communities.

HE: Your website speaks of “rightsizing,” the justice systems across the states. In this context that means reducing the size of institutions to an appropriate level but substituting proven community based measures for incarceration where possible. Where would you say you have experienced the most success with this? And the least?

BC: Actually, we’re in the middle of an incredible period of success with right-sizing juvenile justice nationally. The fiscal crisis helps, but research is also turning the tide. You can learn a lot more about what specific states have done on this score in the publication I mentioned above, “Bringing Youth Home: A National Movement to Increase Public Safety, Rehabilitate Youth, and Save Money.”

The real key going forward will be making sure that states don’t reverse these advances and start locking kids up again once the economy improves. That’s one reason why it’s critically important that advocates avoid relying solely on economic arguments to justify reducing the number of kids who are locked up. That’s not hard, really, since the research is clear that kids are actually harmed by being locked up — they’re more likely to commit new crimes then they get out, and that’s not good for anyone.

HE: Thanks a lot Ben! We appreciate your taking the time to speak with us and look forward to touching base with you in the future as things evolve! 

Benjamin Chambers is NJJN’s Communications Specialist. He has been writing professionally for over 20 years, and has over ten years of experience in the field of juvenile justice.

Between 2000 and 2007, he worked for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice in Portland Oregon, where he served on the juvenile management team and directed the local Reclaiming Futures project, an initiative designed to improve alcohol and drug treatment services for teenagers caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and crime.

After a stint at the Reclaiming Futures national program office at Portland State University, he was hired by Prichard Communications in 2008 to launch and edit the Reclaiming Futures blog and social media channels, which he built into premier venues for juvenile justice news and resources.  | 202-467-0864 x556