Topics: Children, Youth, and Family
This study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, will explore whether providing incarcerated people with access to video visitation improves the nature and frequency of prisoners’ contact with their families and other people who support them. It will also explore if these contacts improve their compliance with custodial rules and outcomes after their release from prison.
Established in 2001, Vera's Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT) project provides substance use and mental health treatment for adolescents involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the juvenile justice system. The program's family counseling model of service helps families build on their inherent strengths to support their adolescents in making positive changes in their lives. APT also helps other programs to improve their practice through training and technical assistance.
The Vera Institute of Justice is partnering with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), the New York City Family Court, and Casey Family Programs to conduct an operational review of the abuse and neglect case process flow in the Queens and Bronx family courts. Vera is combining data analyses and findings from interviews and observations to describe how the abuse and neglect cases are processed, identify causes of delay, and develop specific actions that the court and agencies can take to accelerate permanent living arrangements for children.
Common Justice is an innovative victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program based on restorative justice principles. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the program works with young people, 16 to 24 years old, who commit violent felonies, and those they harm. Common Justice aims to reduce violence, facilitate the well-being of those harmed, and transform the criminal justice system’s response to serious crime. The program provides participants with a respectful and effective means of accountability, an equitable and dignified avenue to healing, and the tools to break cycles of violence.
In April 2012, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted with Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) to create tools to assist implementation of the state’s new Close to Home Initiative. CYJ will develop a risk-classification tool and an intake-matching form that will guide the placement of youth found guilty of a juvenile delinquency charge in local, privately run facilities
In half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia, a parent who does not ensure that his or her child attends school regularly can be charged with educational neglect and referred to child protective services. Most of these cases in New York State involve teenagers, even though experts and current research agree that the child protective system is not well equipped to address teenage absenteeism. Vera is working with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to study and improve the government’s response to these cases, with support from Casey Family Programs.
In an effort to better monitor the services and programs provided to youth after a court’s disposition (sentence), the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted with Vera’s Center on Youth Justice to expand the capacity of the city’s Juvenile Justice Database (JJDB), a resource designed and managed by Vera that draws on data from multiple agencies to track cases from arrest through disposition.
The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) strives to offer meaningful access to public housing and employment opportunities for people with criminal records and to keep communities safe and vibrant. Vera is providing research and policy guidance to HANO to inform screening processes that will allow for individualized assessments of the suitability of people with criminal convictions for HANO-assisted housing and employment in the city of New Orleans. This approach aims to reduce long-term negative consequences of criminal convictions while fostering fair and safe communities.
In 2012, the New York City Mayor’s Office launched the nation’s first social impact bond—an innovative return-for-success initiative in which private funding is used to finance public services—to fund the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) program, which provides Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) services to adolescents at Rikers Island. Under this model, the funder—the global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm Goldman Sachs—will receive a return on its investment if the number of recidivism bed days—the number of days that people are held in jail custody following their initial release—are reduced by at least 10 percent.
Vera, in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Probation, will conduct a four-month, three-phase project to study current dispositional service gaps for high-needs youth who are placed in residential facilities due to a lack of community alternatives, survey the landscape of national best practices and locally available services, and propose and operationally define locally appropriate and data informed strategies for addressing the issue.
Since 2010, with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice has provided research support and technical assistance to the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) to plan juvenile sentencing (dispositional) reforms with the goal of minimizing the number of young people removed from their homes following a finding of guilt.
The Vera-administered New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the first public defender program in the country for immigrants facing deportation. NYIFUP, which has received $4.9 million in funding from the New York City Council for the current fiscal year, provides detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at New York’s Varick Street Immigration Court with free, high-quality legal representation. The project, which seeks to keep immigrants with their families and in their communities, will also serve detained New York City residents whose deportation cases are being heard in nearby New Jersey locations.
Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) will be the facilitator and technical assistance provider for the New York State Juvenile Reentry Consortium, a group of counties that will work collaboratively to improve reentry planning, coordination, and services for youth returning from a period of post-sentencing confinement in private, voluntary residential care facilities. The initiative is funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The Vera Institute’s Family Justice Program (Vera) is partnering with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and multiple nonprofit reentry service providers to develop, implement, and study a two-year pilot program that reunites 150 eligible formerly incarcerated individuals with their families in public housing while also providing them with case management services. This project is supported with funding from the Tiger Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and DHS.
In 2012, Vera began conducting an outcome evaluation of Calcasieu Parish’s (Louisiana) Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), a one-stop shop that offers same-day intake, immediate assessment, and service referral for youth and families in crisis. Vera researchers are assessing the quality of service matches, speed of case processing, and social service and criminal justice outcomes for youth assessed at the MARC. The project is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, as part of its Models for Change initiative.
With funding from the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Models for Change initiative, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) provided technical assistance and research support to King County, Washington to monitor and tailor its PathNet initiative, an integrated “path of networked community organizations” working to prevent system-involved youth from dropping out of school.
Through a grant from the Spencer Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is studying how school disciplinary practices—in particular zero-tolerance policies—and other aspects of school climate affect juveniles. The study aims to contribute evidence-based analysis to the public debate over whether harsh school disciplinary protocols push youth toward antisocial and criminal behavior and justice system involvement—a trajectory known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Vera’s Center on Youth Justice launched the online Status Offense Reform Center to help jurisdictions rethink and reform their approach to working with youth charged with status offenses. Disobedient but not delinquent, these young people have engaged in behaviors that are prohibited under law only because of their age, such as skipping school, running away, or violating curfew, raising the concern of the adults in their lives. A member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, the center serves as a one-stop shop of information and practical guidance for policymakers and practitioners interested in preventing youth who engage in problematic but noncriminal behavior, such as truancy or running away, from entering the juvenile justice system and providing them with services and supports in the community better suited to meet their needs.
Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program uses applied research to help government and community-based organizations create services and policies designed to help people who use substances or have psychiatric disorders avoid criminal justice involvement and receive the services they need to achieve stable community living. Program staff collect quantitative and qualitative data, evaluate existing programs, and review government data to understand the experiences of these populations, the circumstances that lead to their arrest, and the policies that prolong their involvement in the criminal justice system.
With funding from the Prospect Hill Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is supporting the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) in its efforts to address disproportionate minority contact (DMC) at the point of adjustment—the diversion of juvenile delinquency cases from formal case processing.
With support from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) partnered with New York City’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator and juvenile justice stakeholders to help the city sustain and monitor its juvenile detention reforms.
Vera’s Family Justice Program is partnering with the Indiana Department of Correction, Division of Youth Services (DYS) to study the importance of family visitation for incarcerated youth and to provide the field with lessons about the challenges and benefits of implementing enhanced visitation policies that expand opportunities for family contact.
The Unaccompanied Children Program coordinates a national effort to increase pro bono legal representation for immigrant children in removal (deportation) proceedings without a parent or legal guardian. These children may be fleeing poverty, war, or other dangerous circumstances on their own, or they may have lost contact with an adult along the way. They are detained in federal custody in shelters or detention centers contracted by the Division of Children’s Services (DCS, formerly DUCS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
In March of 2012, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to ensure that existing efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. They also sought to increase the number and breadth of efforts that are specifically addressing sexual abuse of children with disabilities.
Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is coordinating Youth Futures, a multi-site program aimed at improving the long-term employment prospects of at-risk and justice-involved youth living in, or returning to high-crime, high-poverty communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and through collaborative partnerships with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, and the Youth Empowerment Project, Youth Futures prepares program participants for success in the labor market by providing comprehensive, individualized case management services linked to workforce development and educational interventions, supports, and training programs.
Senior Fellow, Washington DC Office
Director, Adolescent Portable Therapy
Director, Washington DC Office
Anne Marie Mulcahy
Director of the Unaccompanied Children Program, Center on Immigration and Justice
Director, Common Justice
Program Director, Center on Immigration and Justice
Research Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections | Family Justice Program | Child Welfare, Health, and Justice
Senior Program Associate, Family Justice Program
President and Director
Vice President & Chief Program Officer
A Federal Call to Action on Juvenile Justice:
A National Conversation about Research, Results, and Future Reform
Over the past few years, the Administration, along with a growing bipartisan list of Members of Congress, are increasingly willing to address the longstanding problems surrounding our nation’s criminal justice system. However, the bulk of this federal dialogue has focused solely on the adult system. According to Dr. Larry Steinberg, a professor at Temple University, “Criminal justice reform begins with juvenile justice reform.”
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Vera Institute of Justice is convening a series of research-based briefings over the next several months to educate Congressional Staff, and to shine a much-needed spotlight on the role that juvenile justice reform can and must play in bringing about more far-reaching system change. To begin this series, Vera held a Kick Off event which included a short panel discussion on the research behind adolescent brain development, as well as a screening of the critically acclaimed film Kids for Cash.
Following this event, there will be six “deep dive” policy briefings throughout the next few months that will each focus on a specific topic, where Vera will bring in noted experts and practitioners in the field. The first briefing will feature a panel of young people, who have first hand experiences with law enforcement and/or the juvenile justice system, followed by a panel that will examine status offenders and highlight what key states have done to address this problem. The second briefing will highlight the established, scientific screening tools and protocols for risk and needs assessments. The third briefing will discuss the number of youth with behavioral health issues, the importance of identifying and meeting their needs, and will also emphasize the importance of crisis training for law enforcement, facility staff and other responders. The fourth briefing will include the voices of the families touched by the juvenile justice system and family partnership experts. The fifth briefing will seek to provide some historical and legal context to the discussion of juvenile indigent defense. The sixth briefing will focus on aftercare, and the seventh and final briefing will discuss multisystem information sharing. Finally, we will close out these briefings with a wrap up event that will discuss key research, recommendations and best practices from the individual sessions.
DATES AND TOPICS
Kick Off Event: Adolescent Development Expert Science and Legal Perspective
Followed by a screening of “Kids for Cash”
Friday September, 5th — 3:00pm
Making Court the Last Resort: Youth and Expert Voices on System Change
Thursday, September 18th
Examining the First Point of Contact: Youth Risk and Needs Assessment Tools
Thursday, October 9th
Meeting their Needs: Identifying and Treating Youth with Behavior Health Disorders
Wednesday, October 22nd
Raising the Bar: The Lawyer’s Role in Promoting Youth Justice
Monday, November 17th
Working Together: Family Engagement with the Juvenile Justice System
Wednesday, December 17th
Week of January 5th
Week of January 20th
Wrap up event: Narrowing the Net, Plugging the Pipeline and Expanding Consideration of Special Populations
Friday, February 6th