School Safety Requires More Than Punishment

School Safety Requires More Than Punishment

From the article:

Right now, about 1 in 5 children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 in the United States has a diagnosable mental-health disorder that impairs his or her life and, in any given year, 4 out of 5 young people with such disorders fail to receive the treatment they need.

For example, upon referral from the juvenile-justice system, Don was enrolled in multidimensional treatment foster care, or MTFC, which has been deemed a model program by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (an organization affiliated with the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder).

MTFC is used as an alternative to putting youths in a group home or juvenile facility. It provides foster parents specially trained on how to positively guide children’s behavior, as well as ongoing supervision by a program case manager and frequent contact with teachers, work supervisors, and other adults in the child’s life. Originally developed by the Oregon Social Learning Center for young people in the juvenile-justice system, it has been shown to reduce arrestsRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader and it returns nearly $5 in benefitsRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader for every dollar spent on it.

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New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long

WATCH the video; link embedded at the bottom.

For the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Tavis Smiley Reports visited New Orleans, capturing the mood and spirit of the city’s courageous residents five years after the levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Tavis reflects: “We see two sides of the city—the tourist areas that have been redeveloped with federal funds, and the devastated neighborhoods where everyday people have taken it upon themselves to get their homes rebuilt, their schools reopened, and their lives back.”

For the program, Tavis reunited with Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, who spent five years chronicling the people of New Orleans as they struggled to recover and rebuild their city.

Watch New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

Hard Time: A Special Report

Hard Time: A Special Report

From the article, which focuses on Tallulah as a prison in need of massive reform:

”It’s incredibly perverse,” said David Utter, director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. ”They have this place that creates all these injuries and they have all these kids with mental disorders, and then they save money by not treating them.”

In a recent interview, Cheney Joseph, executive counsel to Gov. Mike Foster, warned there were limits to what Louisiana was willing to do. ”There are certain situations the Department of Justice would like us to take care of,” he said, ”that may not be financially feasible and may not be required by Federal law.”

From their wakeup call at 5:30 A.M., the inmates, in white T-shirts and loose green pants, spend almost all their time confined to the barracks. They leave the barracks only for marching drills, one to three hours a day of class and an occasional game of basketball. There is little ventilation, and temperatures in Louisiana’s long summers hover permanently in the 90’s.

The result, several boys told a visitor, is that some of them deliberately start trouble in order to be disciplined and sent to the other section of Tallulah, maximum-security cells that are air-conditioned.

Guards put inmates in solitary confinement so commonly that in one week in May more than a quarter of all the boys spent at least a day in ”lockdown,” said Nancy Ray, another Justice Department expert. The average stay in solitary is five to six weeks; some boys are kept indefinitely. While in the tiny cells, the boys are stripped of all possessions and lie on worn, thin mattresses resting on concrete blocks.

The crowding, heat and isolation are hardest on the 25 percent of the boys who are mentally ill or retarded, said Dr. Hudson, a psychiatrist, tending to increase their depression or psychosis.