Executive Director's Update

Posted by Edward Loughran
March 05, 2015

CJCA is committed to reducing the use of isolation as a behavior management tool and ending the use of punitive isolation in secure youth correctional facilities. At the CJCA October 2014 Leadership Institute, a panel of four state agency directors: Candice Jones (IL), Mike Dempsey, (IN), Peter Forbes (MA) and Fariborz Pakseresht (OR) and the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJD), Bob Listenbee led over 40 of the CJCA members in an open discussion of the need to address the use of isolation, the barriers to changing facility culture and practices and the strategies and tools that directors used to reduce the use of isolation in their facilities. The leaders of youth correctional agencies spoke frankly about the need to reduce the use of isolation and develop alternative approaches to managing behavior and the difficulty in changing staff beliefs and attitudes that isolation is a necessary management tool despite research showing it is counterproductive and harmful.

During a final roundtable discussion about action steps leaders of youth correctional systems could take to reduce the use of isolation, CJCA members requested that a toolkit be developed for states to use as a guide to reduce the use of isolation in youth correctional and detention facilities.

I’m pleased to report that “Reducing the Use of Isolation: A Toolkit for Juvenile Correctional Administrators” will be available during March 2015.

As you may know, CJCA, the American Institutes for Research and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University comprise the Center for Coordinated Assistance to States (CCAS) through a cooperative agreement with OJJDP.  One of CJCA ‘s activities under its scope of work is to coach six  youth correctional systems -  selected in a competitive process - to reduce the use of isolation in secure facilities.  The training and technical assistance program will consist of three webinars and three distance learning calls over the course an intensive four-month period. The webinars will feature agency leaders who have successfully reduced the use of isolation and eliminated the use of punitive isolation in their secure facilities. Distance learning calls will continue the coaching process by presenting five steps that have demonstrated success in reducing the use of isolation:  

  1. Agency leadership;
  2. Alignment of policies and procedures with the rehabilitative vision, mission and goals of the agency;
  3. Development of a restrictive isolation policy;
  4. Adoption of a positive behavior management system in facilities; and
  5. Giving staff alternative tools and training to develop positive, healthy and nurturing relationships with youths.

CJCA will repeat the coaching for six additional jurisdictions in the second year of the grant, which begins in October 2015.

I hope many CJCA jurisdictions take advantage of this technical assistance being offered by CCAS at no cost to participants. The application for the program will be forthcoming soon with an anticipated submission deadline in mid-April.