On Sunday, I will be traveling to Washington, DC to attend the Models for Change (MfC) Eighth Annual National Working Conference which has the theme of Juvenile Justice Reform: A Call for Action. The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) has been involved in MfC since its planning stage by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. I’m excited about attending my eighth meeting because of its imperative to continue reform of the juvenile justice system.
I arrive on Sunday to participate as a steering committee member of the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative, one of the four Resource Centers established by the Foundation during this Legacy Phase of MfC. The goal of MfC Legacy grants, including the CJCA Resource Network is to transfer knowledge, innovations and practical reform strategies developed over the last ten years to state and local juvenile justice jurisdictions. On Sunday evening, there will be a special screening of “Kids for Cash,” an eye-opening documentary that uses the highly publicized scandal of Luzerne County, PA to reveal unintended trauma and long-term consequences that the juvenile justice system can have on children and families.
Highlights of the conference include two plenary sessions. “Neuroscience, Adolescent Development, and the Law: Pathway for Juvenile Justice Reform” will discuss the implications of the adolescent brain development research for juvenile policy and practice. This session will be led by two of the authors of Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach and Fariborz Pakseresht, Director of the Oregon Youth Authority and chair of CJCA’s Best Practices Committee. The second plenary session will feature a conversation with Robert L. Listenbee, Administrator of the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), facilitated by Robert Schwartz, Executive Director of the Juvenile Law Center, the Philadelphia-based organization that first exposed the Luzerne County Kids for Cash scandal.
During Monday’s MfC Awards Luncheon, three Champions for Change will receive awards. The Champion for Change in State Leadership is Senator Karen E. Spilka of the Massachusetts State Senate who sponsored legislation to raise the age of criminal court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on September 18, 2013. I was privileged to join a group of juvenile justice professionals in our state to nominate Senator Spilka for this prestigious award.
- Written by Edward Loughran
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