Tag Archive for National Juvenile Justice Network

Signal Amplification: The National Juvenile Justice Network’s Leadership Institute seeking reformers.

The National Juvenile Justice Network’s Leadership Institute is looking for ten great reformers.

Picture somebody in your mind — someone you know — who wants to set the juvenile justice world on fire.  Someone who’s fed up with seeing kids get kicked out of school for minor misbehavior, locked up without due process, or any of a hundred other unjust, unfair things that can blight young people’s lives.

You can see this person in your mind’s eye, right?  You’re picturing someone who stands up, speaks out, and can work with others to reform what’s not working.   A person, in other words, who is ready to take the next step to grow as a leader.

Chances are this army-of-one you’re picturing in your mind is ready to apply to the Youth Justice Leadership Institute, a robust, year-long fellowship program run by the National Juvenile Justice Network that focuses on cultivating and supporting professionals of color. Our goal is to create the foundation for a more effective juvenile justice reform movement by developing a strong base of advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.

By the way, your force-of-nature will not need to quit his or her job. It does mean that he or she will join a hand-picked group of 10 fellows assembled from all over the country to learn about leadership, juvenile justice system policies and practices, theories of change, and how to develop their skills as advocates.  Plus, it’s free (or close to it). Travel and lodging are paid for; tuition is minimal when compared to other programs of this length and intensity.

Applications are due May 6, 2013.

Anyone who wants to apply for the Institute can:


This year, Diana will host two informational webinars for prospective applicants:

•           April 4, 2013, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm EST (click to register)

•           April 10, 2013, 1 pm – 2 pm EST (click to register)


Please share this announcement with your networks!

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National Juvenile Justice Network to Host Webinar with Rosa Peralta of TeamChild

A quick message from our friends over at the National Juvenile Justice Network. Check out this webinar, it promises to be both facinating and informative. -Loki, HE Blogger

Ever wondered how to translate what we know about youth development into practice in the juvenile justice system? Well, TeamChild, our member from Washington State, has done just that with their “Judicial Colloquies” project. Join this webinar to learn what practice rooted in youth development would look like in court.

Here’s the problem: when youth end up in court, they’re often confused and uncertain about the purpose of the proceedings, and what’s expected of them when they leave. Why? Because much of the language used there by professionals goes right over their heads.

Now, you can change that, with help from a new guide from Models for Change, called the “Washington Judicial Colloquies Project: a Guide for Improving Communication and Understanding in Court.” The document provides guidance on how to consistently use developmentally-appropriate language in court that youth can understand.

TeamChild, NJJN’s member in Washington state, led the development of the guide as part of its participation with the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN]. Working with a team of experts, including the National Juvenile Defender Center and a group of teens (many with experience in juvenile court), TeamChild produced a guide that offers draft bench “colloquies” for two critical hearings—(1) an accused juvenile’s first appearance, at which rights and conditions of release are explained, and (2) disposition hearings, at which the consequences of conviction and conditions of probation are explained.

When the team evaluated the effectiveness of the colloquies, they found that while youth ordinarily understood only 1/3 of the conditions of release and probation (ordered only minutes before), they understood 90% of them if the colloquies were employed.

Want to learn more? Then register for this free webinar and alert your colleagues!

WHEN: November 7, 2012, 11 pm PST / 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST

WHO: Rosa Peralta of TeamChild

WHAT: Ms. Peralta will provide an introduction to the colloquies and be available to answer questions.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Rosa Peralta has worked with a wide range of private, public and volunteer sector organizations to support and improve services for young people. As the research associate at TeamChild in Seattle, WA, she coordinates the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) and the Models For Change (MfC) defender projects in Washington State.

Prior to completing her Ph.D. training in Sociology at the University of Michigan, Rosa worked for many years as a criminal defense investigator at one of Seattle’s public defense agencies. Rosa taught sociology at the University of Michigan and she also developed and managed recruitment and retention programs for underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students.

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A discussion of the new PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) Standards

You are invited to join the conversation with Dana Shoenberg and Jason Szanyi from the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and Jessica Sandoval from the Campaign for Youth Justice,

On Tuesday June 19th at 2:00 PM EST

Please RSVP to info@njjn.org for call-in information.

On May 17, 2012, The Department of Justice released its final rule for the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  The rule sets national standards for prevention, detection and response to sexual misconduct in four categories of facilities: juvenile facilities, adult prisons and jails, lockups, and community confinement facilities.  The teleconference will address the following questions:

  • What kinds of facilities are/are not covered?
  • What are some key provisions that will protect youth in custody?
  • What are the implications for individual states?
  • How will state implementation be audited?
  • How can you help establish systems of support for those who have been victimized?
  • What are the implications for youth who are in the adult system?
  • How you can weigh in on appropriate staffing ratios for youth facilities.

Participants in the teleconference will discuss an outstanding issue for which the Justice Department is seeking additional public comment:  by early August, it will be important for advocacy groups to weigh in about the rule’s required staffing ratios in juvenile facilities.  We encourage participants to find out what the required or current operating staffing levels are in your state and local facilities, as we would like to have some discussion about positions advocates can take on this issue.

The information above was supplied by the National Juvenile Justice Network, a national organization of state-based youth justice coalitions and organizations that work to promote the reform of America’s critically flawed youth justice system at every level. 

Born, Not Raised Excerpt Featured on Youth Stories

We have a huge amount of respect for the National Juvenile Justice Network and the work that they do, so we are quite flattered that they have decided to feature one of the one of the personal narratives from Born, Not Raised in the Youth Stories section of their website!

‘It’s been six months and almost eight hours and I’m getting tired of this place.’ Hui (girl), age 15.

The NJJN is a fantastic organization that provides information and tools to groups across the U.S. that are working on vital issues such as reducing the level of racial disparity in the juvenile justice system, helping create community-based alternatives to incarceration, and improving aftercare and reentry. As you can see, we have a lot of overlap with them in our approach and philosophy.

If you’re involved with a local organization that deals with juvenile justice, you should check out the NJJN, they can not only broaden your network, but they can also greatly increase the array of tools you have at hand with which to work for change.

In closing, here is the description from their website’s About page:

The National Juvenile Justice Network exists to support and enhance the work of state-based groups to promote the reform of America’s critically flawed juvenile justice system at every level.

Through education, community-building and leadership development, NJJN enhances the capacity of juvenile justice coalitions and organizations in 33 states to press for state and federal laws, policies and practices that are fair, equitable and developmentally appropriate for all children, youth and families involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the justice system.

We seek to return the U.S. to the core ideals that led to the formation of the juvenile court more than 100 years ago, when our country realized that youth are fundamentally and categorically different than adults.

The Youth Justice Leadership Institute is now accepting applications

The National Juvenile Justice Network does a lot of great work on behalf of our nation’s youth. From the excellent coverage of juvenile justice issues on their website to their online library they excel at providing great information.

Another way in which they work toward positive change is in helping to train the next generation of advocates. Since we always need more voices speaking up on the subject I’d like to point out that are now accepting applications for one of those programs, the Youth Justice Leadership Institute.

Here is their video about the program followed by information on how to get involved:

Youth Justice Leadership Institute – Apply Now!

The National Juvenile Justice Network is now accepting applications for the second year of its Youth Justice Leadership Institute! The Institute is a robust, year-long program that includes leadership development, training in juvenile justice system policies and practices, theories of change, and advocacy skills development.

Our mission is to create the foundation for a more effective juvenile justice reform movement by developing a strong base of advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies, so this year, we will again focus on cultivating and supporting professionals of color.
If you are a professional of color and want to apply for the Institute, you can:

Applications are due April 23, 2012.

The Youth Justice Leadership Institute is supported by generous grants from the Public Welfare Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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.

chambers@juvjustice.org  | 202-467-0864 x556