CJCA Members Collaborate to Reduce Isolation in Confinement Facilities

Posted by Edward Loughran
June 22, 2015

Building on the momentum generated by the release of the CJCA Toolkit: Reducing the Use of Isolation, last month CJCA launched a training and technical assistance program designed to help juvenile justice agencies limit the use of isolation in detention and correctional facilities.

  The Reducing Isolation in Youth Facilities Training and Technical Assistance Program (RIYF-TTA) is a project of the OJJDP-sponsored Center for Coordinated Assistance to States (CCAS) of which CJCA is a partner with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University. A primary goal of the RIYF-TTA Program is to assist jurisdictions develop strategic action plans to tackle this significant issue facing the field. After a competitive application process, the following eight (8) agencies were selected to participate in the program: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Division of Juvenile Justice, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Minnesota Department of Corrections, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Juvenile Services, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services  - Division of Child and Family Services; South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice; Washington Juvenile Justice & Rehabilitation Administration; and  West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services Each agency is represented by a multi-disciplinary leadership team committed to reducing the use of isolation in the facilities they operate. Team members include agency directors, facility superintendents and key custody, treatment, educational and quality assurance staff.

 The RIYF-TTA Program is truly a CJCA-wide collaborative effort. In addition to the authors of this blog article, the consulting team includes Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) Director and CJCA Vice President, Fariborz Pakseresht, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) Commissioner and CJCA Chair of the Positive Youth Outcomes Committee, Peter Forbes, and Chief Operations Director of the Indiana Division of Youth Services, Christine Blessinger. Also contributing to the effort are key leaders from OYA and Massachusetts DYS, Clint McClellan, Erin Fultz, Ruth Rovezzi and Nancy Carter. Oregon, Massachusetts and Indiana each were featured in the CJCA Toolkit as examples of sites that successfully reduced facility isolation rates by implementing key action steps, such as using data to monitor the practice and developing a full continuum of alternatives and staff supports.

Initial feedback from the RIYF-TTA Program is exceedingly positive. The program kicked off with a publicly available webinar entitled “Reducing Isolation in Youth Facilities: Strategies and Lessons Learned from the Field.”  Attended by approximately 400 participants representing 42 states and the District of Columbia, the webinar explored the approaches, opportunities and challenges of leading reform in this area. RIYF-TTA Program participants joined the webinar, engaged in the first of three program sessions, and are currently working on their strategic action plans.

The RIYF-TTA Program demonstrates that there is a growing network of juvenile justice agencies dedicated to reducing isolation in detention and correctional facilities. CJCA is proud to serve as a resource to support this important work going forward.