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In Covington, Louisiana - a Juvenile Detention Center that preserves the dignity of the kids that they serve and helps us to recover a precious resource


When riding long distances you get into a rhythm, put your head down, pedal forward and focus on the road ahead, often missing the landscape that surrounds you. So I know that it was serendipity that made me look up and notice the juvenile detention center I was passing as I trekked along US highway 190 in Louisiana. Something in me made me stop, turn around, drive through the parking lot to the front of the building, park my bike and push the speaker button. A guard on the other side wanted to know how she could help to which I replied that I wished to speak to one of the supervisors. She told me to hold on. A few minutes later the metal doors clicked open and a young man came out. He introduced himself as Steven and asked me what he could do for me. I imparted some details concerning the reason for my journey and asked if he would be willing to speak with me about the facility and the work he was involved in. Steve said he could give me a couple of minutes and told me to come inside. I said I was going to lock up my bike and he said, “No need, we have cameras everywhere. No one will touch your bike.” We went through the metal detectors and sat down in what was like a visitor waiting room.

I took off my helmet and began to tell Steve about my ride's purpose, and in doing so I happened to mention Dr. Vincent Felitti and the ACE study, and that was that! Next thing I know I’m sitting in the conference room with Steve and the Executive Director of the Detention Center, Tom Jarlock, about to have a conversation that in itself has made this ride more than worth the effort.

After introducing myself and filling Tom in on why I had stopped and what I hoped to accomplish, our conversation began in earnest. Actually, it was not really a conversation but a lesson on leadership, courage, and vision that Tom imparted and I’m going to attempt to write down for you to read.

Tom and Steve have been to Chicago and have heard Dr. Felitti speak, actually getting the opportunity to spend time with him to ask questions and gather information. “The ACE study confirms a lot of what we experience and know already,” said Tom. He continued by informing me that at the center they see kids that have many risk factors and very few protective factors, and so for him it’s no surprise that they get caught up in criminal behavior. The center serves young boys and girls, and he said that the girls that they serve have almost all been sexually abused in some way. From his perspective -- a viewpoint supported by the ACE information -- it’s no surprise that the young girls have gotten caught up in criminal behavior as a result of their coping mechanisms.

What Dr. Felitti learned and what Tom paraphrased to me is that, “We see people's problems when what we are really seeing is their solutions.” Tom went on to say, “It hasn’t shaped or changed the way we do business, but it has given us additional understanding and insight.” He said, “We work with children, with adolescents. We’re a juvenile detention center, one of about 600 centers in the country. There are five centers in the country that use the cognitive behavioral process to work with kids and we are one of the five. Not the first, but probably the third or the fourth." He went on to tell me how they got to where they are. “When I came here this was a typical institution,” said Tom. It was your typical detention center where guards have ultimate authority and kids are moved from place to place, where forced is applied in overwhelming amounts to deal with most problems. This is a scenario that still holds true in most areas of the country.

Tom began to examine the detention center's operations. He began to ask questions: Why do we do this? Why do we do that? Can this be done differently? I have to stop and tell you that at some point I asked Tom what made him question the system, and I’m putting his answer much too simply, but it had something to do with his time as a Marine where he really took a concept taught by the Marine Corps -- “a belief in excellence” -- and made it a way of life for himself.

Tom found that the answer to his questions were not to be found in Louisiana at the time. “It wasn’t done differently anywhere in Louisiana so I started asking outside the state,” said Tom. "We found a place that was doing it differently when we went to Chicago to visit the DuPage Detention Center." This is a center that has been recognized by the National Juvenile Detention Association as a model program. They have all the residents in the detention center participate in an intense program geared to reduce their risk of re-offending. Principles of effective interventions with juveniles and concepts of Restorative Justice form the basis for their programming.

“We brought those principles home after spending a week up there learning their processes, came back and over a period of eighteen months we implemented the cognitive behavioral interventions model,” Tom recounted. In two years he said they lost 90% of the staff because many of them couldn’t make the transition from authoritarian to caregiver. They could not go from being guards to what he says they are now, “more like shepherds.” "We treat kids through the lens of, 'Are we removing dignity from them or are we caring for them?'" An example he gave was that in 2004 they didn’t have shower curtains because they had to watch the kids shower. Now they have shower curtains because, according to Tom, “Number one, we shouldn’t be looking at kids naked. Secondly, how do kids feel when they are viewed without their clothes? They feel awful about that. They’re unsure about their bodies, they’re experiencing a lot of change, they’re now thrust into an institution. Should they ever be seen naked? Our perspective is No! That is a huge dignity removal, so we don’t do that anymore. We don’t do strip searches for random events. We do them only if and when we have probable cause. We are very careful in how we train people on how to speak to kids as well. We don’t use derogatory terms. We don’t curse at kids. We don’t strike them. We don’t use chemical agents on kids. We are very cautious about every interaction and our main focus is not removing dignity. We do a lot of training on de-escalation of kids; therefore, we are very patient. Some people see that as coddling. We see that as giving kids ample opportunity to express themselves, which gives us the opportunity to resolve things without using force.” Tom told me that back in 2004, everyday they had a full hands-on violent restraint of a kid involving handcuffing or pepper spray. Now that happens maybe once a month.

Over the past ten years they have become focused on what they could do in becoming the very best in this industry, providing the very best services for kids even though nobody asked them to. It’s not been easy. For example, when Tom started making these changes, the judges where saying, “Well we don’t like that!”

Another example of dignity is that every kid would have their heads shaved when they came in. Judges really got a kick out of that! Tom came in and said, “I don’t feel good about that. Why do we do that? Why don’t we offer kids haircuts?” Tom had a judge call him and say, “Look, I want this kid's head shaved.” Tom said, “Your honor, put that in their order and I’ll go ahead and shave this kid's head.” He got a call saying, “The order's coming.” He said, “Great, waiting to see it.” The order came and it said, “Youth shall have hair cut.”

By 2005, they got a reputation for being too soft on kids, and in typical fashion, Tom responded by giving stuffed animal to kids upon intake. “You got a 14-year-old, 15-year-old kid, maybe a girl, first time away from home in jail, institutional environment, how does it feel? Feels awful! Feels awful. Did they do something bad? They did something that warranted them being detained. Does that mean we treat them like a criminal or thug? They’re a kid! They’re a recoverable resource that we want to help recover!”

He said that they have a laser-like focus on what they do and commented that it has spread somewhat. But he told me that I’d be surprised at how many people are not interested in the concept of specially practitioners in the field of juvenile detention. “You’ll hear, 'Oh yeah, we do some of that.' Sadly, it’s all talk and no action,” Tom said.

But here at this center, Tom has made sure that everyone works toward the importance of recovering this child resource, preserving the dignity of the kids that they serve, and training the people that come in as best they can. They start out by finding the right people to work in the juvenile detention industry. They want people who have an interest in doing things that don’t require chest-banging machismo, an “I’m going to go in there and kick some ass” kind of mentality. In this way, Tom thinks they’ve made a significant impact on the lives that they’ve touched--staff lives and the lives of the kids they interact with everyday.

“We want kids to leave here feeling better than when they came in," Tom said. "We want them to be reinforced as human beings, leaving here thinking, 'I got detained, but these people cared for me while I was here. They didn’t stomp on my chest. They didn’t feed me bad food. They didn’t taunt me for whatever reason--my sexuality, the crime I was alleged of having committed. They didn’t taunt me because I’m poor and came in only having one shoe. They didn’t taunt me because I live in a certain area. They respected me!'”

“You talk about adverse childhood events. Well detention is one of those and we focus on how to make that less of a risk factor,” said Tom. “If it can be done in Chicago, I knew it could be done here. In fact, it can be done anywhere you name a place: Los Angeles, any place in the country. All you need is the will and desire. It’s not done commonly because people don’t have to.”

Dr. David W. Roush, an expert in Juvenile Detention and Corrections, has told them that what they accomplished at this Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center in Covington, Louisiana, is the most dramatic change model that has been sustained over time of any detention center he’s experienced. Tom has been here for ten years and Steve is going on eight years. “Together with the staff we’ve carefully reinforced the purity of this model,” Tom said. “A pure soup that people can taste. It can be done in other places if the right team comes together. A doable thing that somebody can do if they have the will and desire to do it!”

This article originally appeared on the ACEs Connection blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Remembering John Platt


Juvenile justice lost one of its champions for youths in confinement over Memorial Day weekend. John Roderick Platt passed in the early morning hours of May 24, surrounded by his family, after a long and courageous battle to recover from a stroke he suffered four years ago.

John and I last worked together as advisors to the California Division of Juvenile Justice when the state was developing a “Safety and Welfare Plan” in response to a lawsuit from the Prison Law Office (PLO). I experienced his deep concern for the rights of confined children, his professionalism and his friendship.

John spent his entire career in youth corrections, first becoming the superintendent of St. Charles Youth Center and then deputy director of the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). John was an active member of the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) when he led the juvenile division.

After a long and distinguished career in Illinois youth corrections, John served as a coach to the Midwestern states for the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute (PbS Li). He epitomized the commitment of PbS Li “To treat all youths in custody as one of our own.”

John spent the final years of his juvenile justice career as a consultant for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division as a monitor of youth detention and correctional facilities to improve the living conditions for youths in confinement.

John was known for his “Plattisms.” Janice Shallcross, PbS Coach, who worked for John at the IDOC recounted one on his Caring Bridge web page: “It’s a good day when all the children you put to bed get up in the morning. It gets even better, you send them home and they stay there. It doesn’t happen by chance. You have to have good people during the journey to make a difference.”

Two words most used to describe John in the many tributes to him on Caring Bridge were: courage and dignity.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

PbS Participants Connect Youths and their Families


Research has shown the importance of engaging families in youths’ rehabilitation and many facilities across the country hold events to help encourage family engagement. Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some of the great things happening in participating facilities.

Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) in Indiana recently held a series of Family Days for each of its therapeutic and general population communities. During the Family Days, staff, parents and youths participated in treatment teams, family counseling sessions and family reunification events. LJCF received positive feedback from everyone who participated in the Family Days!

STAR Academy in South Dakota has several ways of connecting youths and families. For the female population, Family Focus is a group counseling session where the youths and their family work to build better communication by addressing past issues and developing new goals. The process includes hands-on activities and open floor discussions, covering topics like goal setting, transition planning and ways to improve family communication. For the male population, Family Connect Weekend provides programming that involves understanding how the adolescent male mind works, how to interact with the adolescent male and how to connect as a family unit prior to the youth returning home.

Teen mothers at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) in Geneva, NE are able to participate in the Mother and Babies Program, a program that facilitates an overnight stay, with their child. Once the youths demonstrate positive parenting skills, an overnight visit can be arranged where staff observe the interactions and provide tips for handling situations. The young mothers are excited and appreciative of the opportunity to care for their child and Danielle Larson, who helps facilitate the program, says “they desire reunification with their child, so they follow the program’s expectations and work hard to earn an overnight stay with their child.”

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great programs and events!

To learn more about family engagement, see our blog on family engagement resources.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Friday, May 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Reflections of a BAH Winner: Pendleton JCF (IN)


Performance-based Standards (PbS) created the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award (BAH) to honor one correction, one detention/assessment and one community-based residential program who successfully use PbS’ national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility (PJCF), run by Indiana’s Division of Youth Services, won the 2013 BAH award for increasing family engagement through practices such as unlimited visitation, family councils and involving families in treatment planning. PJCF recently shared how the award has continued to impact the facility today and what other facilities can do to submit a successful application.

Receiving the news and the celebration
After receiving the call, PJCF shared the good news with staff, students and the community. As the maximum security juvenile facility in Indiana, the award gave PJCF an opportunity to share positive information about the programs and treatment offered at the facility. Celebrations were held for all staff and students following the news.

The significance of the award
The award was great proof that change is possible using PbS as the tool to help improve conditions of confinement as well as overall culture in the facility. PJCF considers winning the award as a “pat on the back” to all staff for their hard work and commitment to making all the improvements possible. PJCF proudly displays the award at the entrance of the facility for all staff and visitors to see.

The effect on staff and youths
Staff and youth morale increased even before winning the award as a result of the innovative changes that were made at the facility. The award helped to solidify and affirm that the facility was on the right course for improving outcomes for youths in their care.

Sustaining the changes
PJCF now has a line staff PbS committee who are much more involved in the PbS process. The facility does not look at PbS as an October and April event but rather, they have adopted PbS, a data-driven improvement model committed to treating all youths in custody as one of our own, into daily operations throughout the year. PJCF has embedded PbS into everything they do and it is a part of the culture at all levels. Thanks to the award, more and more staff are involved in the PbS process every day.

Tips for facilities and programs applying this year
PJCF emphasizes that facilities should get as many staff involved in PbS as you can because “the more information that staff and students have about PbS, the better.” Communication is also essential so that information can be shared and ideas heard. PJCF stresses that the Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) process is not just for management but line staff should be included in the development and implementation of all improvement plans.

Congratulations again to PJCF and a special thanks to Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (SCYDF) for also sharing their success with the PbS community. The 2014 BAH application will be released to PbS participants on June 2, 2014. Please look for more news and announcements on the award!

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen in her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara’s dedication to improving the quality of life for young offenders has helped drive Performance-based Standards (PbS) to its current success.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Reflections of a BAH Winner: Sacramento


Each year, Performance-based Standards (PbS) recognizes one correction, one detention/assessment and one community-based residential program that best exemplify the core principal of PbS: treat all youths in custody as one of our own. The Barbara Allen-Hagen (BAH) Award has helped honor facilities and programs who successfully use PbS’ national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (SCYDF) won the 2013 BAH Award for significantly reducing both the use and duration of isolation/room confinement. PbS recently caught up with the award winning facility, who described the excitement around winning the award, how they’ve sustained the positive changes and words of advice for facilities applying this year.

Receiving the news and the celebration
When SCYDF found out they won the award, management congratulated all the facility staff and spread the news to other divisions, county board members and community stakeholders. The facility gathered all staff and organized a barbeque lunch to celebrate their achievements. SCYDF currently displays the award in the reception area so that all facility staff and visitors can view it as they enter and exit the facility.

The significance of the award
SCYDF felt extremely honored to have made it as finalist for all their accomplishments and improvements but winning the award was a tremendous honor. Even more, SCYDF is the first detention facility to win the award in its category for a second time (the facility won in 2011), which SCYDF described as “an incredible feat that made Sacramento County Probation extremely proud.”

The effect on staff and youths
Winning the award has increased staff-buy in of the PbS program. Staff are now eager and to be involved in the facility’s continuous improvement efforts. This in turn has helped staff better engage with the youths that they impact at the facility.

Sustaining the changes
To help sustain the changes noted in their winning application, SCYDF has made the commitment to continually improve outcomes for youths, staff and families not just during data collections but all year long. SCYDF evaluates policies, procedures and practices regularly for any possible updates or enhancements.

Tips for facilities and programs applying this year
SCYDF encourages that all participants commit to on-going quality assurance. Paying particular attention to critical outcomes is crucial to success and sustainability. It is also important to educate and encourage staff on their impact to the program. SCDYF says that “staff interest and ownership of the positive changes will inspire and lead.” Finally, do not be discouraged! If the data does not reflect an improvement, acknowledge that progress has still been made and culture change takes time.

A special thanks to SCYDF for the words of encouragement and advice for our applicants. The 2014 BAH application will be released to PbS participants on June 2, 2014. Please look out for more news and announcements on the award!

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen in her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara was dedicated to improving the quality of life for young offenders and has helped drive Performance-based Standards (PbS) to its current success today.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, May 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Webinar on Reducing Isolation Delivers the Gold


What do you do when a kid acts out? Is disrespectful or rude? Is visibly angry, out-of-control and maybe throws a punch?

This is an everyday challenge for all adults but especially those who work in facilities for young offenders. Their job is to control youths’ behavior, keep them safe from themselves and each other and create a positive environment for all youths and staff so rehabilitation can occur. Working in, managing or being responsible for facilities for at-risk and delinquent youths is one of the most challenging jobs there is and one with an opportunity to have an incredible impact on young lives; perhaps a life-changing impact.

Performance-based Standards (PbS) thanks Peter Forbes, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and Judy Davis, Superintendent of the Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville and PbS state coordinator, for sharing realistic and feasible practices on Friday’s webinar “Policies, Practices and PbS Outcomes to Reduce Isolation and Room Confinement,” presented by PbS for the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators’ (CJCA) Resource Network for Youth Correction Leadership and Professionals

The intention of the webinar was to provide some tools to change facility culture and practice from reliance on isolation and room confinement to more effective, safer ways to respond to youths’ misbehavior and Peter and Judy delivered the gold. Over 200 attendees from 41 states and the District of Columbia received detailed descriptions of how Massachusetts and Illinois recognize the negative impact of isolation and room confinement on youths and established alternative and creative responses for both youths and staff.

Peter highlighted various strategies Massachusetts used, starting with a policy directing all staff on when and where room confinement can be used, an extensive authorization process, behavior-based release plan and both local and national PbS data that measures and monitors the use of isolation and room confinement.

Judy described the five-year-old Illinois agency’s need to change from an adult-oriented culture in the facilities to using youth-focused, research-based practices as alternatives, such as time-outs, mediation and to better keep youths in school, the Ready to Learn program.

PbS has worked with both agencies for many years and we’ve seen clear evidence – the data- documenting tremendous changes in practices and better outcomes for youths and staff. One might think that less room confinement use would lead to more injuries and incidents but that is not the case; PbS data has shown that youths with a history of being locked up have increased odds of victimization including fear for safety, theft of one’s property, being the victim of physical abuse and being in a fight. Isolation is not the answer and we applaud these states for finding alternatives to manage behavioral issues.

Join CJCA for their next webinar "Dual Status Youth and their Families: Altering the Human and Fiscal Toll through Improved Youth & System Outcomes" on Friday, May 16.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, May 08, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Upcoming Webinar on Dual Status Youths and their Families


The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, led by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, provides new tools, established resources and technical guidance to support site-based initiatives focused on better serving dual status youths, those who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

On Friday, May 16 from 2-3pm EDT, John Tuell and Jessica Heldman from the Robert. F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps will present “Dual Status Youth and their Families: Altering the Human and Fiscal Toll through Improved Youth & System Outcomes,” a webinar hosted by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA).

This webinar will share the most up to date research and publications available on dual status youths, highlighting an established framework for system collaboration and coordination applied in jurisdictions around the nation. Common challenges and successes in undertaking dual status youth initiatives will be discussed. Presenters will focus on start-up and sustainable methods by which leaders in state and local jurisdictions may improve outcomes for this challenging and disadvantaged population of youths.

Reserve you webinar seat now at: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/500565846

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Youths in the Juvenile Justice System Show Their Creativity


Youths can create amazing works of art, which leave you in awe (and a little jealous). Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some of this artwork and the great art programs that allow youths to create them.

Youths at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility recently participated in the “Recycled Inspiration” competition. For this competition, youths created an art piece out of recycled materials such as plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and take-out containers. The youths made great pieces that ranged from Mario jumping for a coin to a teepee. They learned that they could use almost anything to make art! Judy Thomas, PbS Site Coordinator, said “it was truly great to see our students using their imagination and listen to their ideas for future projects.”

The Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) partnered with Franklin University to provide a unique exhibition and silent auction of artwork from youths in juvenile correctional facilities. The exhibition featured 34 works of art in a variety of mediums including acrylics, pencils, watercolors and mixed media. Twenty-five pieces were put up for sale in the silent auction and all proceeds benefitted the Brian Muha Foundation. Harvey Reed, Director of DYS, said “we were pleased to highlight our youth’s artistic abilities while benefitting the Brian Muha Foundation. Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, Program Chair of the Criminal Justice Administration Program at Franklin University, explained “the opportunity for youth to express themselves through art and for the community to experience that art is immeasurable. Franklin University is proud to support this type of innovative educational outreach and partnership with the Ohio Department of Youth Services.”

Youths at STAR Academy in South Dakota participate in the ARTSCORR program, where professional artists and art educators serve residencies at the facility to provide hands-on experience and serve as a positive role model for the youths. The artists work with youths in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpting, beading and needlework. The program helps to provide opportunities for self-expression, build respect for self and others and promote a positive sense of community.

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great art programs and events!

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) is also conducting a national art contest for youths in the juvenile justice system in celebration of their 20th anniversary.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

PbS Expands the Family Youth Initiative


It has been an exciting time for Performance-based Standards (PbS). We released kiosks which allow youths, staff and families to complete surveys on touch screens. We partnered with THRIVE and the Maine Department of Corrections to integrate trauma-informed care with PbS and have added new trauma-related questions to the youth climate survey. We are also expanding the Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) to help facilities further improve family engagement.

The Family-Youth Initiative was first developed in 2011 when PbS partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Program to help facilities engage and collaborate with families while youths are in custody. FYI helped PbS create the Family Survey which measures family perceptions of juvenile facilities at the time of a youth’s release. The survey has been in pilot for the past several data collections but beginning on May 1, the survey will be available to all correctional facilities. In addition to the survey expansion, new family-related outcome measures and standards will be available to help facilities further measure and improve family engagement.

Correction facilities are not the only ones who will see changes—Community-based programs participating in PbS will use an improved survey based on the work with Vera and a group of detention facilities will pilot an adjusted family survey.

PbS is excited for all the FYI enhancements, which will help facilities treat each child as one of their own.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 1:04 PM

PbS Works to Bring Family Surveys to Detention Facilities


The Family-Youth Initiative (FYI), a collaboration between Performance-based Standards (PbS) and the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Program was created to help facilities better engage and work with families. FYI created a perception survey for family members of detained youths in corrections facilities and PbS is now happy to announce that a group of detention facilities will pilot a family survey tailored for their short term population.

The PbS Family Survey for correction sites helps gain insight into the family’s orientation to the facility, visiting and contact with their child, and involvement in treatment and discharge planning. At the 2014 State Coordinators Training, state coordinators involved with detention sites reviewed the PbS Family Survey and discussed how to enhance and tailor the survey for detention sites. Thanks to all the feedback from our state coordinators, a family survey for detention sites was developed and a group of detention sites across the country have agreed to pilot the family survey starting in May. The survey will bring new reports and outcome measures but most importantly, detention facilities will be able to recognize how well they’re engaging families and make improvements based on the data.

We’re very excited for this important development in the Family-Youth Initiative and a big thanks to all of our state coordinators! A special thanks to those involved in the PbS detention family survey work group including Karl Alston (Court Support Services Division, CT), Vicki Brown-Smith (Hamilton County, OH), Michael Shores (Sacramento, CA), Emil Fischer (Riverside, CA), Salvador Mendez (UT), Ray Michaelson (AK), Jim Sanders (Sacramento, CA), Patrick Schreiber (Clark County, NV) and Marie Swope (Greene County, MO).

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Community-based Programs Get Fuller Picture of Family Involvement


Community-based programs vary in their rehabilitative missions, often with a focus on mental health or substance abuse, but the importance of family involvement in the youth’s treatment planning and discharge is a consistent thread throughout all community-based programs.

Since 2008, Performance-based Standards (PbS) has worked with community-based programs in order to provide safe and healthy cultures and effective services that help young offenders return to the community and lead successful law-abiding lives. To understand the role of family in this process, PbS provides and collects family surveys from community-based programs as well as questions about family and social supports through other surveys.

Recently, a partnership was formed with the Vera Institute of Justice to work on the Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) to better engage and work with families. As a result of FYI, PbS has pilot-tested family surveys in secure facilities and is now proud to announce that community-based program participants will be using an improved family survey based on the work with Vera. Updated family surveys and other data collected about families will provide a fuller picture of family involvement and important feedback for programs to meaningfully and effectively include families and social supports in youths’ rehabilitation and reentry into the community.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM

New Report on Sex Trafficking from Center on Poverty and Inequality


The Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center recently released Blueprint: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Girls, a report on the sex trafficking of girls in the United States. The report describes core components of a comprehensive and collaborative approach to the domestic sex trafficking of girls and details how several jurisdictions have created multidisciplinary responses to sex trafficking.

The report identifies a shift in perspective as a core component of addressing sex trafficking, specifically that trafficked girls should be seen as victims, not offenders. The report also recognizes that these girls often see themselves as survivors, not victims, who have overcome abuse, hunger, homelessness, poverty and/or violence. Instead of being sent to the juvenile justice system on prostitution or related charges, girls should receive appropriate treatment. Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Director of My Life, My Choice, says that we need to “Surround the girls by offering love, belonging, community, and a place to make money — all the things the pimps gave them.” Another key component includes improving public systems’ identification of victims, so they don’t fall through the cracks. Because victims are often involved in multiple public systems including law enforcement, probation, education, mental health, medical care and public health systems as well as non-profit organizations, multidisciplinary task forces can help develop the most effective treatment plan for the girls.

The report provides case studies on three jurisdictions that have created effective multidisciplinary approaches to domestic sex trafficking of children—Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Los Angeles County, California; and the state of Connecticut. The jurisdictions’ models are offered as examples for other communities to improve their own recognition and response to sex trafficking.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Conference Attendees Impressed by PbS and PbS’ Unique Collaboration


In March, Performance-based Standards’ (PbS) unique collaboration with three partners in Maine to bring trauma-informed care to youth corrections presented before a standing-room-only audience at the Children’s Mental Health Research and Policy Conference.

The annual conference focuses on mental health research and treatment and intervention programs for mental health providers. About 600 participants attended. Many participants were federal system of care grantees who are looking for opportunities to partner with juvenile justice, said Brie Masselli, director of Training and Continuous Quality Improvement for THRIVE, and one of the presenters. THRIVE, the system of care provider in Maine, is one of PbS’ partners along with the Maine Department of Correction (DOC) Juvenile Services Division and the research firm of Hornby Zeller Associates. The unique collaboration integrating trauma-informed care into juvenile correctional practices was developed as part of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to the Maine DOC and THRIVE.

The presentation by Brie Masselli, Troy Varney, Chris Concannon, Sarah Goan and Boyd Kronholm explained the history of bringing trauma-informed care to juvenile facilities, how it’s being incorporated by PbS, the results of Maine’s pilot of trauma-informed assessments and local and national implications. “They were intrigued by PbS,” Masselli said, adding that a few attendees confused PbS with PBIS, the behavior management program. (Interestingly, PbS and PBIS work together in facilities as PbS participants use PbS outcome measures to assess and monitor the effectiveness of PBIS.) “They were impressed. It was something incredibly new and exciting for them,” she continued, as many grantees have identified juvenile justice as a population to focus on but are not sure how to do so.

PbS, DOC, THRIVE and Hornby Zeller have worked together for the past year and are taking the first step this April with the addition of trauma-informed care questions included in the PbS Youth Climate Survey. THRIVE, DOC and Hornby Zeller developed, pilot tested and researched the questions with the youths in the two Maine facilities. The result will be the first nationwide baseline of information from youths about trauma-informed care practices in juvenile facilities.

Next, the collaboration is working to integrate DOC/THRIVE/Hornby Zeller’s surveys of staff and families with the PbS surveys, which are conducted twice a year in more than 200 residential facilities in 36 states. PbS was invited into the project as the vehicle to provide continuous quality assurance that the trauma-informed philosophy and practices DOC desired were being realized by the youths, staff and families.

This is another awesome example of how PbS can help juvenile justice agencies integrate current, research-based practices into daily operations and youths, staff and families can receive effective, quality services.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 07, 2014 at 11:24 AM

PbS Participants Offer Great Programs and Events for Youths


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share great programming and events from our participants, which range from knitting to an American Idol visit!

Youths at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana have the opportunity to participate in the Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program, where the youths spend part of their required community service knitting. In the program, youths create hats, scarves and baby blankets, which are then donated to Emmaus Mission Center. Staff predict that over 100 items will be donated by the end of this year, double the number of items that were donated last year. Not only do the youths help the community through donations, knitting also helps them reduce stress and keep calm. Additionally, the youths can use their knitting skills when they are released—one youth is looking forward to making hats and scarves for his niece and nephews!

Youths from STAR Academy in South Dakota experienced both giving and receiving this past winter. In December, youths attended a Toys for Tots fundraiser at a hockey game, donating stuffed animals by tossing them on the ice after the first goal was scored. Youths also work with the Custer VFW Post #3442 and in January, youths were provided with a home cooked meal, an appreciation presentation and time out in the community as a thanks for their contributions.

Candice Glover, season 12 winner of American Idol, visited youths at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Glover talked about how she overcame rejection and built her confidence, culminating in her American Idol win. Virginia Camp, who works for DJJ and is a cousin of Glover, wanted the youths to hear the inspiring story of perseverance and the youths were glad they were able to meet Glover.

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great programs and stories!

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, April 03, 2014 at 10:34 AM

States Moving Away from Solitary Confinement—PbS Offers Tools to Help


The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) recently released an article on the growing trend of state juvenile correction agencies moving away from the use of solitary confinement. The article conducts interviews with agency leaders from states including Massachusetts, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alaska and Connecticut who explain how and why they are changing the practice of isolating a youth as a form of punishment.

Stephanie Bond, acting director of the West Virginia Department of Juvenile Services, explains that her department has worked with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and Performance-based Standards (PbS) to address the issue of solitary confinement in the state. Peter Forbes, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, CJCA member and PbS participant, agrees with experts who say programming that engages youths can help avoid overuse of room confinement and help with rehabilitation.

Ned Loughran, executive director of CJCA, points out how changes in practice are created using PbS – a data-driven improvement model grounded in research that holds juvenile systems to the highest standards of operations, programs and services: “You can’t change what you don’t measure. So states that are being successful [in moving away from solitary] are the states that are measuring the use of isolation, then analyzing its use, developing facility-improvement plans to develop steps to reduce the use of isolation.”

“The state agencies that have successfully eliminated and reduced the use of isolation and room confinement have three things in common: strong leadership, effective training resources and a commitment to hold staff accountable with data,” said Kim Godfrey, executive director of PbS, which works with the state agencies in West Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Alaska and Connecticut. “It is not easy to change culture, which is what these leaders are doing. PbS is very proud to help support the work.”

PbS offers a way for jurisdictions to measure the use of isolation and confinement and provides reports for analysis as well as improvement planning technology. PbS’ national standards establish the highest expectations for facility conditions and quality of life and PbS facilities measure operations, programs and services twice a year to continually monitor safety, security, behavior management, family connection, treatment, education and reentry programming and youths’, staff and families’ experiences. PbS standards are clear: isolating or confining a youth to his/her room should be used only to protect the youth from harming himself or others and if used, should be brief and supervised. PbS’ issue brief, Reducing Isolation and Confinement, showed that corrections facilities involved with PbS more than cut in half the average time a youth spent in isolation and room confinement over the course of a few years.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 1:46 PM

South Carolina DJJ Helps Youths and Community


The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) practices a restorative justice model, which benefits both youth and the community. One of the DJJ’s largest restorative projects is the partnership with Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity where youth under the supervision of the DJJ help construct homes for those in need alongside volunteers in the community.

The Department’s mission is to protect the public and reclaim juveniles through prevention, community services, education, and rehabilitative services in the least restrictive environment. This partnership with Habitat for Humanity does just that. Youth receive hands-on experience in the construction trade while helping to rebuild the communities they will be returning to.

February 21 marked a dedication ceremony for the second house that DJJ helped to build. DJJ is proud of what the youth have accomplished and view its partnership with Habitat for Humanity as building houses, rebuilding communities, and reclaiming youth who are on the brink of re-entering society.

This is only one of the ways that DJJ practices the restorative justice model. DJJ also helps youth acquire important job skills through the Store of Hope, where youth create and sell a variety of custom-crafted items, and through the Job Readiness Training Center, which the Department opened recently.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM

PbS Now Surveying Youths, Staff and Families Using Touch-Screen Kiosks


Juvenile facilities participating in Performance-based Standards (PbS) are now able to survey youths, staff and families using touch-screen kiosk stations. Aimed at replacing paper-based surveys, these kiosks provide a private station for collecting anonymous feedback which facilities use to guide positive change.

I had the opportunity to unveil the new kiosks for the first time at the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training in Tampa, FL. The demonstration sparked a lot of buzz amongst state agency leaders who were impressed by the real-time feedback that the technology provides. Many of those I talked to agreed that administering surveys at a kiosk would help foster anonymity and increase overall participation and response rates.

PbS partnered with AndPlus, LLC of Framingham, MA to develop the kiosk software. Leveraging modern web and mobile technologies, PbS and AndPlus created a system centered around an Android™ powered tablet computer which is contained in a key-lock secure enclosure. A survey facilitator from the facility uses a PIN number to begin a new survey for each survey participant. The person taking the survey can agree or disagree to participate directly at the kiosk. The intuitive user interface is clear and concise allowing survey participants to read each question, review any additional instructions and select their responses to each question sequentially with the option to end the survey at any time.

Providing surveys at a kiosk station has been a long-time goal of PbS and we couldn’t be more excited to see it come to fruition. Nearly 40 juvenile facilities will be using the kiosks by April 2014 and as many as 100 facilities could implement them by the end of the year. PbS will also be launching the same kiosk systems to community-based residential centers later this year.

This article is retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 11:29 AM

WritersCorps Offers New Resource for Youths in the Juvenile Justice System


WritersCorps is a national organization that has been placing professional writers in schools, afterschool programs, and community centers to teach creative writing to young people, for 19 years. San Francisco's WritersCorps has created an exciting free resource for youths in the juvenile justice system.

The teaching artist at the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) in San Francisco, Anhvu Buchanan, created a journal with his students called Words Within the Walls. The journal contains sample poems by youths at JJC, writing prompts and pages for writing. Buchanan developed the book to encourage his students to write outside of class and has found it to be a successful tool. This journal can be used by educators as a teaching tool, offered as a gift to students upon release or it can be a motivational tool in the facility.

The cost of printing and shipping the journal will be covered by a Kickstarter campaign launched by WritersCorps this month. If you’re interested in receiving free copies of Words Within the Walls for the youths at your facilities, send an email to hello@writerscorps.org. Please include your contact information, facility or program name, address and how many copies you need.

Please take an inside look at the journal.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, March 07, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Indiana and Ohio Offer Training Programs to Youths


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is excited to share some great programs offered to help youths gain essential skills.

Students from the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility (MJCF) in Indiana participated in a one week training to receive CPR/AED certification. The program, in cooperation with Madison's Kings Daughter Hospital, is aimed at providing students with tangible skills they can use when they return home. Many students shared that the program provided them with valuable knowledge that could assist them in finding employment. MJCF has scheduled another CPR/AED training for May 2014.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services, Buckeye United School District, offers Career-Technical programs to enrolled high school students. The numerous programs offered such as Carpentry and Visual Design & Imaging contain four to five modules and run approximately 10 weeks. Upon completion of one program, students receive a “Certificate of Completion” and are able to enter into another program. During the 2012-2013 school year, 595 students participated in Career-Technical programs and earned 358 “Certificates of Completion.”

Students in the Ohio Department of Youth Services that already have a high school diploma or GED have the opportunity to enroll in the Ashland University College program. The courses are offered during the regular school day and facilitated by ODYS teachers. The courses are also transferable to Ohio’s Community Colleges. Since the fall of 2011, 157 youths have participated and earned 878 credit hours.

Thanks to Indiana and Ohio for sharing some of their programs for youths!

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM

PBS Newshour Questions Confinement for Adolescents at Rikers Island


The momentum continues around the need for data to shed light on the practice of isolating juvenile offenders.

Questioning Confinement of Adolescents at Rikers Island,” a PBS Newshour that aired Feb. 21, leaves no room to debate the dangers of placing young offenders in isolation – it cites studies linking isolation to high rates of suicide and deterioration of youths’ medical and psychiatric health. However, as expressed by the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association president, many believe it is a necessary behavior management practice. At Rikers Island, fighting is punished by up to 90 days in isolation and horseplay by as many as 10 days.

The powerful and thorough report by Daffodil Altan of the Center for Investigative Reporting, includes information about isolation ranging from the international ban on its use for young offenders by the United Nations to a description by a 25-year-old youth counselor of his experience in isolation – including one four-month stretch - while held at Rikers Island on assault and robbery charges. But there is very little data because the Department of Corrections is not required to publicly report much more than how many teens are isolated.

As we’ve learned from Performance-based Standards (PbS), data and information about the use of isolation is necessary to change practices and create an effective way to reform cultures and individuals who believe it is a tool needed to manage young offenders. Isolation policies and practices became part of juvenile justice agencies largely by adopting without question the adult prison system’s reliance on solitary confinement. Now the use with adolescents is being questioned nationally and in PbS facilities, we’re seeing it addressed. In some facilities, simply seeing data describing how often and for how long youths are placed in isolation was an awakening and led to interacting with youths to address misbehavior rather than confining them to their rooms. For those who believe isolation is a necessary tool to control behavior, the data has shown that as the use of isolation decreases, there are not more but usually fewer incidents of fights, assaults and staff injuries.

To address the issue of isolation, New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm says he’ll file legislation next month that calls for data to understand what is happening to youths on Rikers and work toward a ban on the use of isolation, which the state of New York recently adopted along with other places all around the country. PbS stands ready to help.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

2014 PbS State Coordinators Training: Helping Kids Succeed


The 2014 State Coordinators Training gathered nearly 30 state coordinators in Tampa, FL Jan. 29 - Feb. 1 at the Marriott Westshore Hotel. This year’s theme, “Helping Kids Succeed” included topics of family engagement, the PbS holistic approach to zero tolerance and trauma and gender responsive programming. The training goal was to help state coordinators rise up to today’s challenges and build resource networks within the PbS community. Throughout the training, state coordinators networked with one another, shared information and resources with other states and came together as a community to ultimately improve the lives of the youths in their care.

The training featured two speakers Ryan Shanahan, Senior Program Associate of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Family Justice Program and Lawanda Ravoira, CEO and founder of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Shanahan’s presentation “Why Family Engagement is Key” shared how family members and social supports improve outcomes for kids and are valuable resources for youths’ rehabilitation. Ravoira presented “Family Centered Services through a Trauma and Gender Lens” which showed how traumatic experiences affect development and methods of treatment for both girls and boys. Training participants also learned about PbS’ holistic approach to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the work that has been done to help states align with PREA and PbS resources that will be available to create facility environments free of sexual abuse. Marie Swope, Superintendent of Greene County Juvenile Detention, told participants about Greene County that is identifying similarities and the gaps between PbS and PREA and the pilot work underway to develop tools and possible new PbS reports.

Participants also played lead roles over the three days. Shari Wolf from the Ohio Department of Youth Services and Chris Blessinger from the Indiana Division of Youth Services participated in the first PbS Fireside Chat where they reenacted a phone conversation that was initiated after the release of the Department of Justice Report. After Ohio was ranked as one of the facilities with the highest numbers for sexual abuse, Shari was able to use Chris as a resource to help address the report and determine some solutions. The Fireside Chat was a huge success and showed how PbS participants can rely on one another for support to help face some of the challenges in their jurisdictions. Troy Varney from Maine Department of Corrections shared how PbS teams were created in Maine and many other state coordinators shared innovative efforts going on in their own states during the PbS Spotlight: Penny Sampson (NH), Jessica Moncada (ID), Judy Davis (IL), Mike Both (PA), Marq Temple (PA) and Gary Westoby (OR).

Participants also divided into work groups to further the PbS Family-Youth Initiative (FYI). The four work groups were formed as follows: Mike Shores from the Sacramento County Probation Department led a group drafting a family survey for detention centers; Tonya Wright-Cook from the South Dakota Department of Corrections led a group developing recommendations to increase family participation in treatment planning; Dorie Farah from the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services led a group that identified recommendations for a model Family Council and Ray Michaelson from the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice, led a group developing effective approaches to distribute and collect the PbS Family Survey. Thank you to all participants!

In the training evaluations, all participants agreed that the training met their expectations and kept them engaged. One state coordinator said “I enjoyed every aspect of the training and I especially enjoyed gaining more knowledge on all the subjects. I loved the networking and finding new resources.” Participants gave high marks to the Spotlight session and asked for more time at future trainings to hear about initiatives in other states. Many enjoyed the inspirational TED Talks that were integrated throughout the training and said they would begin to share TED Talks to their own staff and leadership teams. Overall, the training was a huge success and well-received by all attendees. A special congratulations to Dorie Farah and Marq Temple who each won a free tablet in the PbS Kiosk raffle. We enjoyed our time in Tampa this year and look forward to next year’s training!


View our online slideshow of the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training

Friday, February 14, 2014 at 9:41 AM

The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training a Huge Hit Among Participants


The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training was awesome!

We gathered nearly 60 members of the Performance-based Standards (PbS) community in Tampa last week for almost three days of listening, learning, sharing and networking. The training focused on three main issues:

  • Engaging families, how the PbS Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) guides and measures effective connections with families and recent research by PbS’ partner, the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Programs, which shows the many positive outcomes that result when families are part of treatment and youths’ lives while incarcerated;
  • Addressing trauma within juvenile justice facilities and agencies, including an introduction to PbS’ work in Maine that is part of a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant integrating trauma approached care and philosophy in facilities and supplementing the PbS surveys to measure the impact; and
  • Creating and sustaining zero tolerance cultures, strategies for complying the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards and overview of the PbS pilot project in Greene County, MO, that is developing tools using PbS data to ensure best practices that prevent sexual victimization and adhere to PREA.

Listening to participants from past trainings, this year PbS built in several opportunities for networking among participants, who traveled from 24 states. One session paired state coordinators and let them simply ask questions for 10 minutes each- the room was buzzing! Another session highlighted individual state coordinators’ innovative and successful efforts in changing culture, simplifying data collection and generally improving facility outcomes. The evaluations showed the increased time to hear from their peers about specific strategies and struggles was appreciated and key to participants’ leaving with practical ideas and tools to use at their home agencies.

The presentations by Ryan Shanahan, Senior Program Associate of the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Programs and Lawanda Ravoira, CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center were a hit among the participants with several commenting that the presentations were excellent and informative. The state coordinators also flocked around Brendan Donahue as he showed off new kiosks where youths, staff and families can take surveys which are then directly sent to the PbS website.

Thanks to the training planning team: Coach Janice Shallcross, chair; coaches Barbara Chayt, Dave Crowley and Al Lick; PbS state coordinators Chris Blessinger and Emil Fischer and PbS team Karyn Rautenberg, Kyrei Miller and Lisa Martinek. It was a great event and certainly met the goal of helping state coordinators to rise to the challenges that they face.

I’m looking forward to the next training already – but spending time now letting all the information and energy of the 2014 training soak in.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 07, 2014 at 3:26 PM

State Coordinators Engage Their Peers in the First PbS Fireside Chat


The best illustration I’ve ever seen of the powerful networking and support amongst the Performance-based Standards (PbS) community was the “Fireside Chat” session at the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training in Tampa last week. PbS State Coordinators showed what they can achieve when they work together.

The scene: PbS State Coordinator Chris Blessinger sits facing her open laptop, papers laid on the tables all around her, cell phone at her fingertips as if at her desk in Indiana. Sitting opposite of Chris is PbS State Coordinator Shari Wolf, also working with her laptop and phone, papers and folders in piles as if at her desk in Ohio. Shari starts to read aloud an email letting her know one of the Ohio facilities was included on the list of facilities with the highest rates of sexual victimization in the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2013) Report.

“Oh no, this is not good,” Shari says. “Not good at all.”

She starts typing an email, reaching out to her fellow PbS state coordinators for help. She gets a quick reply and learns Indiana was in the same position the previous year and Chris is willing to help. Shari dials Chris’ number and the whole room waits for Chris to answer.

And answer Chris did. Every question, every concern; sending documents and sharing experiences. The two talked candidly and openly about the issues they faced and strategized ways to ensure their facilities made changes necessary to eliminate sexual victimization. They traded information about hiring and training, policies and practices and responding to elected officials and the media.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room as the nearly 60 training participants listened. I could almost hear the crackle of the fire projected on the screen behind Shari and Chris.

PbS is a unique community of professionals across the country who believe we can help young offenders mature to be successful adults, we can provide safe and nurturing residential programs with effective rehabilitation services and the best way to operate a juvenile facility is to treat all youths as one of our own. It’s hard work shared by all PbS state coordinators and team members that is made easier with the support and connections to each other and the PbS staff and coaches. The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training brought the PbS community closer together and I believe will help us all grow individually and expand our impact as a group.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 07, 2014 at 2:27 PM

PbS Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Winning Innovations in American Government Award


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award, the "Oscar" for government agencies and programs and the only such award hanging on the walls at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), PbS' funders from 1995-2007.

"It was a 12-month process of writing about PbS, organizing interviews with participants and the national reviewer when we were named as a top 25 semi-finalist and then a five-minute presentation before the Selection Committee with the 11 other finalists that I'll never, ever forget," said PbS Executive Director Kim Godfrey. "And I don't remember what we said as much as the almost paralyzing thrill that PbS was receiving such recognition."

One of the first things that happened as winners in 2004 was the production of a video that was and still is available on the "other" PBS - the Public Broadcasting Station. "A couple of years before the Innovations competition, working with a strategic planning consultant we set a goal to get PbS on PBS," Godfrey said. "It still is amazing to me we did it."

Since the award, PbS has grown in tremendous ways:

  • Worked with OJJDP to transition the program over three years to a self-sustaining fee-based service when federal funding ended;
  • Expanded the content of PbS' standards and outcome measures to working with youths' families and social supports;
  • Adapted the continuous improvement model for community residential programs and adult facilities;
  • Created technology allowing local management information systems to automatically transfer data into the PbS website;
  • Built kiosks to eliminate paper surveys of youths, staff and families.

PbS’ continued growth has truly helped juvenile facilities improve the conditions for youths and staff. Mike Dempsey, Executive Director of the Indiana Division of Youth Services, explains that “PbS has undoubtedly increased the safety of our facilities for staff and for kids.” Explaining the importance of PbS, Timene Farlow, Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Division of Juvenile Justice services, states “PbS is incredibly effective. I don’t know what we would do without it.”

What's next for PbS?

"We have two expansion goals for 2014: broaden use of the survey kiosks to all participating facilities and add new content modules measuring trauma-informed philosophy and care, positive youth outcomes and preventing and monitoring sexual victimization," said Godfrey. "Until we stop locking up young offenders, PbS has work to do and we are ready."

Friday, January 31, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Automating Performance-based Standards


Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants are leading reforms across the country through their dedication to measuring and using data to make sure they provide the highest-quality services and programs. They also commit to collecting a tremendous amount of information to build a comprehensive picture of their programs. Last October alone participants collected data from more than 10,000 incident reports and over 4,000 youth records and entered that information into the PbS website. PbS has been working to make that process easier and have recently made available an Application Programming Interface (API) aimed at doing so.

Quite often staff will enter the same information into multiple information systems. For example, if an incident occurs at a facility, that incident may be reportable to a state agency reporting system and also reportable to the PbS system.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility (IN) Conducts New Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program


Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana has piloted the Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program (JUCP). JUCP aims to improve the level of mutual respect between staff and youths through a better cultural environment.

The training takes place over three days and includes 14 training hours. Staff and youths attend separate sessions on the first two days of training, but come together for the third day which is instructed by both student facilitators and Indiana Department of Correction instructors. The program covers four different modules—Overview of Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program, which provides an overview of the program; Role Models, which explains role modeling and rapport; Redirecting Inappropriate Behavior, which teaches participants about conflict and appropriate responses to conflict; and Reinforcing Positive Behavior, which explains the appropriate use of positive reinforcement and how to demonstrate skills learned in the course.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Kansas and Indiana Facilities Engage Youths at Christmas Time


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is always excited to share some of the great initiatives that are going on in the field especially during this time of year. Many facilities arrange projects and activities for youths, staff and families during the holiday season.

Youths at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, a recent Barbara Allen-Hagen Award winner, have been busy creating cards and sun catchers, decorating housing units and baking cookies. Youths also helped deliver the items they made to a local Veteran’s Hospital and nursing home.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 12:34 PM

PbS Facilities Get Youths in the Holiday Spirit


Many facilities are helping youths and staff get into the holiday spirit by organizing various activities and events. Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some great stories from facilities across the country who are making this time of year memorable for youths and staff.

The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility holds a decoration contest every year during the holidays. This year’s theme was “Fairytale Christmas”. Youths and staff decorated living units that were judged by a panel that included Sacramento officials and members from the community. The decoration contest has helped build rapport between youths and staff especially during the holidays while kids are away from friends and family.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Addressing the Unique Needs of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System


A trend that cannot be ignored is the rapid rise of girls entering the juvenile justice system. As more girls are becoming involved with the system, more focus has been placed on the unique needs and challenges that girls face as well as girl-focused reform efforts.

The Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy report “Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls” describes some key points about girls in the juvenile justice system. Firstly, girls are disproportionately “high need” and “low risk,” meaning they have a critical need for services, but do not pose a large threat to public safety. The report also notes that girls are also more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses, are likely to have experienced traumatic events, have previously unaddressed health issues and come from a background of family conflict and residential instability.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Truancy, Running Away and Other Status Offenses – The Coalition for Juvenile Justice Releases Policy and Practice Recommendations


Each year thousands of youth who’ve committed no crime become involved with the juvenile courts for behaviors such as running away, being truant, violating curfew laws, being “beyond the control of their parents” or committing other actions that are only an offense if you are under a certain age (known as “status offenses”). In many states, youth can even be held in juvenile detention for these offenses, if they violate a court order not to commit them again.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

2014 PbS State Coordinators Training


The Performance-based Standards (PbS) State Coordinators Training is an annual training that convenes state agency leaders in PbS from across the country. At the training, state coordinators learn ways to utilize PbS to help face some of the most pressing and relevant issues in their jurisdictions as well as in the juvenile justice field.

The 2014 State Coordinator’s Training will be held Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2014 in Tampa, FL at the Tampa Marriott Westshore Hotel. This year’s training centers around the theme of “Helping Kids Succeed” with the goal to help state coordinators rise up to today’s challenges and build resource networks within the PbS community.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Friday, December 06, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility Hosts Open House for a New Youth Transition Reentry Independent Living (YTRI) Unit


The Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility recently held an open house for its newly opened Youth Transition Reentry Independent Living (YTRI) unit. This unit was opened as a result of the Indiana Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services involvement in Performance-based Standards (PbS) and learning through national best practices that the use of isolation and confining youth to a room for long periods of time is detrimental to the treatment and developmental process. National best practices also show that isolation of youth should only be used for short periods of time and only for the protection of the youth from harming themselves or others. Such isolation should be brief, supervised and include mental health professionals to minimize the use of isolation and segregation.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 at 1:11 PM

New Report Highlights Negative Effects of Solitary Confinement for Youths

Monday, December 02, 2013 at 5:29 PM

IACP Survey Highlights Successes and Challenges of Responding to Juvenile Offenders


The International Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently, released an IACP publication “Law Enforcement’s Leadership Role in the Advancement of Promising Practices in Juvenile Justice” detailing the results of a nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 law enforcement leaders on juvenile justice.

The survey, which was conducted with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is part of a multi year initiative to increase the leadership role of state and local law enforcement executives to effectively address systemic juvenile justice issues as well as improve local responses to juvenile offenders.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 11:24 AM

A Case for the JJDPA: Building on 40 Years of Youth Justice Reform


As one who began his career in juvenile justice around the time Congress enacted the JJDPA, I’ve witnessed how this landmark legislation has guided youth correction systems to provide better treatment and services to youths for the last four decades.

When I directed a group home in New York City for the New York State Division for Youth in the early 1970s, many status offenders were being mixed in with juvenile delinquents in large institutions in my own state and throughout the country. The Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) provision of the JJDP Act of 1974 signaled the end to a practice that drove kids deeper into the youth corrections system.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 4:53 PM

To Understand Juvenile Detention, Listen to the Kids Inside


There is a world within prisons that only the prisoners know. Correctional officers, administrators, counselors and academics may all have access to a part of the life of a prisoner, but these windows by their nature only offer a limited view of the happenings behind the barbed wire. There's a disconnect that makes it difficult to see that world through a prisoner’s eyes. One way to bridge this gap in information is to go directly to the source: the prisoners.

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators recently featured a short article by Kim Godfrey, the Executive Director of Performance Based Standards Learning Institute (PbSLi). PbSLi was an outgrowth of increasing awareness in the 1990s that youth prisons were dangerous for both staff and inmates and ineffective in providing strategies of rehabilitation. A congressionally mandated report resulted in a call for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to create adequate nationwide standards for juvenile facilities. Part of their work is the collection of data, and then putting the data into context in relation to best practices.

The article focuses on PbSLi’s latest brief, “What Youths Say Matters.” Godfrey writes: “I realize that what youths say about their experiences in custody is essential to understanding the truth about what happens in juvenile facilities and provides crucial information needed to manage safe and healthy juvenile facilities.” This, based on her 20 years of listening to and asking questions of kids in detention is a profound (and seldom embraced) position in the world of juvenile justice reform.

The findings focused on PbSLi’s research as well as the Pathways to Desistance study, and show a direct link between the quality of a youth’s experience in detention and their continued involvement in the system and likelihood to commit new offenses. “Youths perceiving a generally more positive facility experience were about 36 percent less likely to continue offending, according to self reports, and about 49 percent less likely to continue according to arrest and/or return to placement reports.”

This flies in the face of the popular idea that negative experiences while incarcerated somehow transform into positive outcomes. “Feeling safe” led to a 6 percent decline in “system involvement and antisocial behavior.” A perception of the fairness and harshness of the facility, along with interaction with antisocial peers also impacted how likely kids were to get back into criminal activity.

Simple strategies focused on youths understanding the facility’s rules, perceiving staff as helpful and school as good, coupled with less segregation, have been shown to correlate with an overall more positive experience. Most telling is the brief’s statement that, “Researchers and experienced professionals agree that staff-youth relationships have the greatest influence on a youth’s experience and ... offer the single largest opportunity to impact safety and rehabilitation.”

This is a key understanding that still has a long way to go in being widely accepted in the juvenile justice field. Too often punitive environments modeled on adult prisons remain in place, leaving no room for the kind of stable and positive adult-youth relationships that form the foundation of how kids become adults. This research should be disseminated widely. It not only make financial sense by reducing costly detentions, it makes moral sense that kids deserve to be treated as kids, no matter what they have done.

This article was retrieved from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

PbS Partners with Greene County, MO to Implement Zero Tolerance


There’s no debate that zero tolerance for sexual abuse is a mandatory and moral requirement for facilities that hold some of our most vulnerable youths. In preparation for the national Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards and audits of youth correction and detention facilities, the Performance-based Standards (PbS) program has started a pilot project with the Greene County, Missouri, Detention Center to identify ways to support agency and facility efforts to create safe, healthy cultures free of sexual abuse.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Oregon Leads the Way on Youth Offender Education


The Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) has begun offering juvenile offenders free online courses that can lead to college credits. The courses, created by Education Portal, contain brief lectures from technical experts and are designed to help youths pass the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test. CLEP credits are accepted by nearly 3,000 colleges and universities.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Trauma-Informed Care Coming to PbS


My eyes were first opened to the need for juvenile justice programs to incorporate trauma-informed care philosophy and practices by Vincent Felitti, MD, co-principal investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. His presentation left no doubt in my mind that childhood maltreatment impacts later-life health and convinced me with his data that the more negative experiences a child has, the more likely he or she will have multiple later-life ills and issues such as substance abuse, alcoholism, high-risk behaviors, disease and death.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Monday, November 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM

What’s New in Juvenile Justice: November 8 News Roundup


Do you need to catch up on juvenile justice news? We’ve compiled a list of recent news stories, so you can be up to date about what’s going on in juvenile justice.

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the National Juvenile Justice Network are hosting the webinar “Better Responses to Youth Who Commit Status Offenses” on November 12 at 4PM EST.

For more juvenile justice news, read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Friday, November 08, 2013 at 2:56 PM

What Youths Say Matters


There’s an old French proverb that says: If you want the truth, ask a child. I’ve taken that to mean telling untruths is something learned later in life, after children learn they can choose their words to achieve a desired outcome – usually to be accepted and praised rather than rejected and punished.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Friday, November 08, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Youth Justice Awareness Month Comes to a Close, but Efforts Will Continue


Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM) aims to bring awareness to the consequences of placing youths in adult facilities. Over the past month, there have been blog posts, reports and events all pertaining to this topic. Below are some of the highlights.

YJAM was started in 2008 by Tracy McClard whose 16 year old son had died in an adult facility. Since YJAM’s inception, organizations, families and advocates have hosted a variety of events to raise awareness.

For more YJAM highlights, read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Bennington School (VT) Creates an Artistic Project to Help Community


A heartwarming story comes out of Vermont: Families with young children who entered the Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE) program received handmade dolls created by girls from the Bennington School.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

PbS Helps Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility (MT) Change Attitude and Improve Outcomes


Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility’s recent success in reducing injuries to staff and youth was highlighted in Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Outcomes by Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). Pine Hills’ story shows how Performance-based Standards (PbS) and using data can be the catalyst for change at a juvenile facility.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Monday, October 28, 2013 at 2:27 PM

OJJDP Announces Funding To Support National Girls Institute


The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has awarded $400,000 to the American Institutes for Research and the National Crittenton Foundation to support the National Girls Institute (NGI). NGI works to reduce the number of girls in the juvenile justice system and improve the treatment of girls in detention by developing standards of care, providing access to resources, and providing training and technical assistance to professionals working with at-risk and delinquent girls and their families. Announcing the award, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee reiterated the Office’s commitment to advancing the understanding of girls’ issues and improving program and system responses to girls in the juvenile justice system.

Learn more about OJJDP's research and programs related to girls in the juvenile justice system.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Series of Briefs on Trauma-Informed Approach Available Online


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services, has released six online briefs that discuss the key elements of a trauma-informed juvenile justice system. Topics include current issues and new directions in creating trauma-informed systems, assessment and interventions, family engagement, continuity of care and cross-system collaboration, trauma-informed care in facilities, and racial disparities within the system.

Access additional resources from NCTSN.

Read about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Working Definition of Trauma and Principles and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Preventing Gang Membership Report Available


The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published “Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership.” Written by leading public health and criminal justice researchers, “Changing Course” provides principles to help practitioners and policymakers make decisions based on the best available evidence to prevent kids from joining a gang. The report examines why youth are attracted to gangs, explores key child development issues and risks for joining a gang, and offers prevention strategies that a variety of stakeholders — such as schools, law enforcement, public health, and communities — can use to address their specific needs.

Download the executive summary and full report.

Watch an interview with Tom Simon, Deputy Associate Director for Science at CDC, on preventing youth from joining gangs.

Access related resources from the National Gang Center.

Friday, September 20, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Major gains for family engagement in Indiana’s juvenile justice system


Last year, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Family Justice Program wrapped up a multi-year project to develop and pilot family engagement standards for the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute. All juvenile corrections facilities participating in PbS are now collecting information related to family engagement—including a survey of family members twice a year. There are currently 48 facilities across 15 states collecting family surveys with a total of 1,033 family surveys collected since the start of the project.

One of the original pilot states is already benefiting from having data on family engagement after implementing the new standards last fall. Based on feedback from their PbS reports, Indiana’s Pendleton Juvenile Correctional facility decided to increase their rates of visitation. They analyzed their visitation policies and made drastic changes—opening up visitation hours to just about any time a family member can get to the facility. In addition to the expanded visiting hours, all restrictions on the number of visits a young person could receive were lifted.

These changes went into effect at the beginning of this year and, after just a few short months, the staff are seeing big changes. Not only did they successfully double their normal rate of visitation, they saw improved behavior by young people in the facility. The Family Justice Program found a similar correlation between improved behavior and visits in Ohio.

Based on feedback from the family surveys, Indiana also recognized that families were not involved in treatment and reentry plans. In response, facility staff now call parents to discuss progress and behavior issues. Additionally, a family council was created. The family council, called PIES (Parent Information and Education Session), is designed to improve communication between the facility and parents. For example, acting on the council’s suggestion, the facility now runs family fun nights.

Vera applauds Indiana’s Division of Youth Services for having the courage to reflect on their practice, open themselves up to conversations with families, and make changes to increase opportunities for youth and families to connect.

This article was retrieved from the VERA Institute of Justice blog.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:21 PM

OJJDP Releases Report of Family Listening Sessions on Juvenile Justice


The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released "OJJDP Family Listening Sessions: Executive Summary." In 2011, OJJDP and the Campaign for Youth Justice convened four listening sessions involving families and youth who have had direct experiences with the juvenile justice system at the local or state levels. This report summarizes the participants' experiences and their recommendations for reform. The listening sessions provide OJJDP, state juvenile justice agencies, and other stakeholders with a greater understanding of the challenges families face when their child becomes involved in the juvenile or criminal justice systems.


Read the full report online.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Briefing on State Juvenile Justice Reforms: Connecticut, Texas, and Ohio


Today at 4 pm EDT, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will hold a panel discussion entitled States’ Innovations in Juvenile Justice: Investing in Better Outcomes for Youth. Murphy will bring together state and federal officials, lawmakers, and juvenile justice experts and advocates for a 90 minute panel discussion on juvenile justice reform in America.

Several states across the U.S. have developed and implemented innovative reforms to reduce the number of children committed to juvenile detention facilities, decrease school referrals to the juvenile court system, and keep children in their communities and schools. Connecticut, Texas, and Ohio have led the way in recent years by adopting these new approaches with great success. Not only have these states saved millions of dollars in wasteful spending and cut back on harmful, ineffective approaches, but they have improved outcomes for children. By reinvesting funds back into programs proven to work, states can grow even more savings by helping children become productive adults.

The discussion will be livestreamed on this page at 4 PM EDT.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 9:47 AM