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News & Events

U.S. Supreme Court holds Miller retroactive, providing review opportunities for youth

Date Posted: January 27, 2016

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that any child sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole is eligible for review. Further, the Court said that any child serving life without parole – except for the rare cases where it has been found that the child’s crimes reflect “permanent incorrigibility” – violates the eighth amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Click here to read the rest of this article.

StateScan: Mental Health Screening in Juvenile Justice Services

Date Posted: April 28, 2015

Identifying the mental health needs of youth involved in the juvenile justice system has become somewhat of a common practice across the country, catalyzed by research illustrating the prevalence of mental health issues in this population. Research has shown that nearly 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental disorder and more than 25% meet criteria established to diagnose a severe mental disorder.1 To ensure that these youth receive appropriate treatment, it’s imperative to identify these issues in a timely and efficient manner. To this end, many juvenile justice agencies have adopted mental health screening protocols for youth in their care. Click here to read the rest of this publication.

StateScan: Statewide Risk Assessment in Juvenile Probation

Date Posted: March 30, 2015

Risk/needs assessments in juvenile justice, herein referred to as risk assessments, have grown significantly in the last decade, improving the ability to accurately assess the static and dynamic risk factors (criminogenic needs) of youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Risk assessment tools gauge the likelihood that an individual will reoffend and guide intervention planning by identifying and prioritizing criminogenic needs. These assessments can be used at different decision points in the juvenile justice system and the results should be used to guide these decisions. For example, a risk assessment administered at intake can help determine whether the youth is appropriate for diversion opportunities; while a risk assessment used at detention can guide pretrial detention decisions. Click here to read the rest of this publication.

Out of Detention: How to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Date Posted: March 10, 2015

A single instance of incarceration in a young person’s life increases the risk of future imprisonment, at a cost to taxpayers of $240.99 per day. Living in jail worsens the mental, emotional, and behavioral problems with which these children and adolescents must struggle. And mental disorders and youth incarceration already share an alarmingly strong link. Click here to read the rest of this article.

Screening & Assessment of Youth in Confinement: An OJJDP Online University Webinar PowerPoint

Date Posted: October 22, 2014

The systematic use of screening and assessment tools or instruments at key decision points in the juvenile justice system can provide critical information to divert youth who do not belong in confinement to more appropriate services and placements, and assist confinement staff in understanding how to best serve those youth for whom confinement is required. These Webinar PowerPoint slides will address the purpose of screening and assessment and issues related to appropriate and responsible sharing and use of information obtained from these tools. Click here for a pdf of these PowerPoint slides.


Dr. Grisso Receives 2014 APA Award

Date Posted: August 18, 2014

Dr. Grisso was chosen as the recipient of the 2014 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Applied Research.   The award was received during ceremonies at the 2014 Annual Convention of APA in August.  The citation focused on his research on juvenile justice issues: “Thomas Grisso has made seminal contributions to the field of forensic psychology and psychiatry through is internationally renowned program of research, which has directly impacted juvenile justice reform worldwide.  His research contributions to juvenile forensic assessment and to the study of the interface between youth development and the law are unparalleled.  Grisso’s work exemplifies how to diffuse and translate knowledge from psychological science and assessment into forensic assessment practices and national policies in the United States.  His research has raised the global standards for juvenile legal rights and screening for mental health procedures.”

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Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds: Addressing and assessing the mental health of youthful offenders

Date Posted: November 27, 2013

Healthy Bodies, Health Minds, a local cable access TV program in Worcester, Massachusetts, hosted by Paul Richard, is a collaboration with the SHINE Initiative to raise awareness on mental health challenges facing youth. Host Paul Richard welcomes Dr. Gina Vincent, Co-Director of NYSAP, and Steven McKeown, First Assistant Chief Probation Officer of the Worcester County Juvenile Court, to discuss addressing and assessing the mental health of youthful offenders.

Click here to view this TV program.


Webinar: When Youth are Not Competent to Stand Trial

Date Posted: September 3, 2013

Does your state rely on statutes designed for adults to determine (a) whether youth are competent to stand trial, and (b) how to proceed when they're not? You can fix that. In this webinar, we give you tips on how to draft and advocate for competency laws for youth in delinquency proceedings. We discussed:

The presentation drew on a guide to developing competency statutes from Models for Change and summarized in this NJJN policy update, "Competency to Stand Trial in Juvenile Court: Recommendations for Policymakers.”

Kimberly Larson, Ph.D., J.D., Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, lead author of Developing Statutes for Competence to Stand Trial in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings: A Guide for Lawmakers
Michelle Weemhoff, MSW, Associate Director at the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.

To listen to the presentation, click here.


Children's Law Center's "Spolight on Youth" Radio Show: Competency Standards in Delinquency Proceedings

Date Posted: July 12, 2013

The concept of whether one is competent to stand trial is commonly understood as applied to adults in criminal court proceedings. When it comes to kids who face delinquency petitions, the concept becomes less clear due in part to the issue of age but also due to mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and developmental immaturity. All these factors can impact juvenile competency and the ability to "restore" a child to competency in a time frame that falls within the juvenile court's jurisdiction. As research continues to emerge about youth, their development, and elements that contribute to delinquency, states are responding by creating or amending competency tests or standards for juvenile courts to use. In this episode, guests discuss trends across the United States and share lessons learned around the development and implementation of competency standards for delinquency proceedings in juvenile court.

Doug Althauser, Attorney, Douglas Althauser Law
Kimberly Larson, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, lead author of Developing Statutes for Competence to Stand Trial in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings: A Guide for Lawmakers
Anne Teigen, Senior Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures

To listen to the show, go to Spotlight on Youth.

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Doing it Right: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice - a NJJN Webinar

Date Posted: April 29, 2013

Whether your agency or jurisdiction is trying to choose the right risk assessment tool, or it already has one in place, you'll find this webinar from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) helpful. Dr. Gina M. Vincent, leading author of Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation, published in 2012 by Models for Change, gives an overview of the guide and how your jurisdiction can use it to do a better job of identifying youth needs and collecting hard clinical data to aid in resource planning.

To listen to this webinar, go to the NJJN News Center.


Children's Law Center's "Spolight on Youth" Radio Show: The Role of Risk Assessments and Juvenile Justice

Date Posted: April 8, 2013

Risk assessments have grown in popularity as a way to determine the risk and treatment needs of youth. These assessments when properly performed can promote youth potential and increase public safety by helping craft holistic and individual responses for kids that are involved in juvenile court. This episode of Spotlight on Youth focuses on research-based risk assessments and a new publication on that subject, Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation.

Elizabeth A. Fritz, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Lehigh County, PA
Mary Ann Scali, Deputy Director, National Juvenile Defender Center
Gina M. Vincent, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Youth Screening and Assessment Project

To listen to the show, go to Spotlight on Youth.

Screen to Save: Youth Assessment Conserves Resources and Improves Outcomes for Youth

Date Posted: January 28, 2013

“Risk for re-offending assessment tools can help juvenile justice systems use their resources more wisely while making better decisions for kids,” said Gina Vincent, Ph.D., Co-Director of the National Youth Screening & Assessment Project (NYSAP). “Every jurisdiction in which we tested our screening tool made changes in how they did business that helped conserve resources, without any quantitative consequence to public safety or increased risk for reoffending.”

Click here to read the rest of this Models for Change newsroom article.

VIDEO: Gina Vincent teaches youth risk assessment to national juvenile justice agencies.

Date Posted: January 18, 2013

Gina Vincent

An expert in identifying violence-prone teenagers, Gina Vincent, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, believes school personnel should be taught to recognize red-flag behaviors of potentially dangerous youth to prevent another national tragedy. Dr. Vincent, President of the National Youth Screening and Assessment Partners, advises juvenile justice agencies across the country on how to determine which troubled teens are most likely to re-offend.

Issue Brief: Mental Health Screening in Juvenile Detention Facilities

Date Posted: October 10, 2012

The Children's Defense Fund - Ohio and the Children's Law Center, Inc. are collaborating to continue raising awareness and support for juvenile pretrial detention reform in Ohio.  Among these efforts is a focus on the need for early mental health screening for youth who enter detention centers to identify youth in need of immediate mental health care through the use of validated screening tools.  The Mental Health Screening in Juvenile Facilities issue brief outlines the need for mental health screening in detention centers, and supports the use of validated screening tools and provision of confidentiality to youth undergoing screening to ensure effective screening and treatment of youth.