Executive Director's Message

Posted by Mike Dempsey
January 24, 2018

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) Winter Business Meeting was held Jan. 5-7 in Orlando, Florida where over 38 CJCA directors and designees participated. Several New England states were unable to attend when a strong coastal storm brought heavy snow and strong winds to the Northeast. 

Immediately preceding the meeting on Jan. 4 a special CJCA and Pew meeting, discussion and publication development on facility closures and strategic downsizing was attended by ten CJCA members and designees including Lisa Bjergaard, North Dakota; Kristi Bunkers, South Dakota; Susan Burke, Utah; Carey Cockerell,  Kentucky; Christy Daly, Florida; Mike Dempsey, Executive Director, CJCA; Joyce Holmon, Virginia; Clint McClellan,  Oregon; Teresa Stroud, Texas and Terri Williams, CJCA Associate Member.

The CJCA Board of Directors meeting was held on Friday Jan. 5 followed by the Business Meeting in the afternoon.  The Winter Meeting proved to be a very meaningful and productive meeting for all CJCA’s membership, including Associates, Sponsors and guests.  Several changes were made to the agenda format providing directors with additional educational opportunities, resources and discussions to aid in leadership development. 

The CJCA Business Meeting on Friday afternoon featured reports from CJCA President Lisa Bjergaard and Executive Director Mike Dempsey. Following the CJCA Business Meeting the CJCA regions met on Friday afternoon. 

The Friday evening reception was sponsored by Kim Godfrey and Performance-based Standards (PbS) and was very well attended. 

On Saturday morning, Lisa Bjergaard, Director of the North Dakota Division of Juvenile Services and chair of the CJCA Best Practices Committee, introduced the first presentation from the Pew Charitable Trusts: The Impact and Lessons Learned from State-wide Juvenile Justice Reform.  Dana Shoenberg, Senior Manager, Juvenile Justice, Public Safety Performance Project moderated the panel which included Kristi Bunkers, Director of Juvenile Services, South Dakota Department of Corrections; Randall Bowman, Deputy Secretary, Kansas Department of Corrections, Juvenile Justice Authority; and Barbara Pierce, Director of Justice Initiatives, Crime and Justice Institute.

The CJCA Best Practices Committee was hosted by the CJCA Associate Members with Simon Gonsoulin, Associate Member (Chair). The presentation featured Currey Cook, Director, Youth In Out-Of-Home Care Project, National Headquarters Office of Lambda Legal who presented on Transgender and Gender-Expansive Youth in Juvenile Justice Settings and on closing the Gap between Recommended Practice and Reality. The presentation reviewed existing data, professional standards and legal obligations and highlight recommended policy and practice, including examples from various jurisdictions. 

A copy of the Safe Havens Report co-authored by Currey was shared with the group. This report features an update on current federal and state law and policy and covers state regulations with tips from both providers and youth.

Saturday afternoon began with a Youth In Custody Practice Model (YICPM) presentation and panel discussion moderated by Shay Bilchik, J.D., Director, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University with Christy Daly, Secretary, Florida Dept. of Juvenile Justice;  Manny Alvarez, Superintendent, Palm Beach Youth Academy; and Teresa Stroud, Senior Director, State Programs and Facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department participating as panel members.

The YICPM initiative was developed by CJJR and CJCA to assist juvenile correctional agencies and facilities to implement an effective, research-based service delivery approach for youth in custody. The YICPM Guide is a comprehensive, research-based guide to serving youth in custody—from placement through community reentry.  The YICPM includes over 70 policy and practice elements.  You can find more information on the YICPM here. 

Two Saturday afternoon workshops developed by the Associate members group featured a session on Innovations in Staff Recruitment, Hiring and Retention Practices led by Eric Meaux, Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Maricopa County and Teresa Tschupp, Chief of Staff. The second workshop on Saturday afternoon was led by Penny Sampson, CJCA Associate Member and Kristen Withrow, Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Corrections and featured Strategies to Maintain Authenticity and Effectiveness in Juvenile Justice:  The Work-Life Balance. 

The Saturday evening reception was sponsored by Dr. Bret White and Abel Screening and was well attended. 
On Sunday morning, the meeting began with a Parenting with Love and Limits presentation with Scott Sells and John Burek.  A family from Florida who participates in the program joined the session and shared their story of participation in the program. 

The CJCA PREA Committee meeting chaired by Chris Blessinger, Executive Director, Indiana Division of Youth Services began with an update from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention on the Juvenile Facility Survey, discussion on engagement and sharing resources from current data collections (Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement and Juvenile Residential Facility Census).  Ben Adams, Social Science Analyst, OJJDP, Innovation and Research Division and Jessica Stroop, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Statistician led the presentation.

The CJCA Behavioral Health Committee was led by Committee Chair Steven Lafreniere, Executive Director, Alabama Department of Youth Services. An update on the recent work of the committee was highlighted.

 The Winter meeting concluded at noon on Sunday with lunch.

CJCA appreciates the generosity of our meeting sponsors to help make this meeting possible including: Abel Screening, Inc. (gold sponsor), Rite of Passage, One Hope United, Community Resources for Justice Crime and Justice Institute, TrueCore Behavioral Health; Community Solutions, Inc.; Adaptive Infotech; Missouri Youth Services Institute; Parenting with Love and Limits; The Mandt System; Vant4ge; Performance-based Standards (gold sponsor) and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Click here for a link to the power point presentations from the meeting. 

In closing, I’d like to again thank all of you for your continued support of CJCA and, more importantly, for your commitment and dedication to improving conditions of confinement, reducing the use of isolation and restraint, and positive youth development that leads to better outcomes for all youth entrusted to our care.  I believe all of our efforts are making a difference and changing lives for the better for these youth and their families.  As always, please feel free to reach out to me or the CJCA network if you need anything at all.  CJCA and our partner organizations are here to help however needed.

Mike