Lisa Duffy is a program assistant for the PbS Learning Institute. She holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has extensive experience in writing, editing, and content creation for private, healthcare, and non-profit organizations. A published novelist with three book club favorites from Simon & Schuster, Lisa’s writing can be found in numerous literary journals, print, and online publications.
Juvenile Corrections Center–Lewiston Selected as Finalist for the 2022 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award
Named a finalist in the corrections category for the 2022 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award, Juvenile Corrections Center- Lewiston (JCC-Lewiston) made remarkable and significant progress reducing suicidal and self-injury behaviors of young people in residential care.
The focus on reducing self-harm and suicidal ideation became an immediate priority for JCC-Lewiston, a facility for 27 young men, ages 13-21, located near Idaho’s upper northwest boarder with Washington state. JCC’s own site-specific initiatives showed inconsistent results in meeting field average safety standards over the course of several years. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), incarcerated young people die by suicide at a rate two to three times higher than that of young people in the general population.
The team at JCC-Lewiston recognized that suicidal and self-harm behaviors often have a ripple effect in a facility, starting with one young person and spreading through the building. Because of this, staff knew they had to get ahead of the issue by taking a proactive versus a reactive approach.
Through discussions with the young people in the facility, staff feedback and data analysis, the team at JCC-Lewiston made two determinations: Certain types of activities and offerings reduce the risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation and specific locations and times of day increase the risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation. Equipped with this information, staff specifically focused on the living quarters of young people between the hours of 9-11pm with the goal of augmenting activities, opportunities and engagement to reduce both the severity and frequency of harmful behaviors.
To create sustainable change, the team at JCC-Lewiston formed a committee to brainstorm and gather ideas, leading to the creation of a 60-day incentive challenge with incremental individual and group rewards. Items such as candy, bouncy balls and pencil toppers were awarded to young people who kept themselves safe on a weekly basis. After 15 days, groups could earn collective awards such as longer showers or sleeping in. At 30 days, groups earned snacks and drinks, with a movie in pajamas added in at 45 days, and Little Caesars pizza and soda at day 60.
Upon successful completion of the 60-day challenge by all groups, all young people were rewarded with a field day in the recreation yard with games and activities. The challenge reoccurred throughout the year, allowing for each group to earn the top reward, keeping each young person engaged and invested on a personal level, but also as part of a group and a community.
Through this process, staff noticed that young people began to take proactive steps in managing their emotions by using coping skills and communicating when they needed additional resources. The team at JCC-Lewiston emphasized that these proactive steps were paramount to the success of the incentive challenge and noticed young people checking in one each other, especially before heading to bed.
What’s more, PbS data reports showed the incidents of self-harm and suicidal behavior at JCC-Lewiston dropped significantly after these changes were implemented. Congratulations to the team at JCC-Lewiston for their success! We applaud your dedication and commitment to the safety and well-being of every young person in your care.
The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara Allen-Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Her dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities has helped drive PbS to its current success. The award is given to a correction, detention/assessment and community program who best exemplify PbS’ commitment to treating every young person as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans aimed at creating positive outcomes for young people, staff and families.