Ian Holloway’s ‘Healthy Selfie’ Project Uses Tech to Improve Healthcare The Social Welfare professor is leading research to improve healthcare among young, gay men of color.


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer 

Social Welfare professor Ian Holloway, with the help of some UCLA Luskin students, is leading a research project called the Healthy Selfie project, which aims to find ways mobile phones can be used to improve healthcare, particularly for young gay men.

In an LA Times article, Holloway said that although HIV infection rates have plateaued nationwide, they have increased among young, gay men of color. Since mobile phones are so accessible in the U.S., mobile apps present the potential to target these groups, which can be hard to reach.

The Healthy Selfie project would explore how mobile phone apps can offer gay and bisexual men a centralized spot to get authoritative health guidance on HIV, Holloway said.

The article quotes Holloway as saying: “The new venues are phone applications, websites, chat rooms and message boards,” he said. “These are the places guys meet each other, for a variety of purposes. Why not bring prevention to those digital spaces?”

The project however faces several challenges including protecting the privacy of health information, building apps that would be appealing to patients and providing doctors with accurate and consistent data.


Two Faculty Books receive Honorable Mention for “Outstanding Social Work Book”

Two separate books by Social Welfare faculty members have been honored in the competition for the Society for Social Work and Research’s inaugural “Outstanding Social Work Book Award.”

Dr. Stuart A. Kirk, distinguished professor emeritus of Social Welfare, Dr. David Cohen, Professor of Social Welfare, Marjorie Crump and Dr. Tomi Gomory, Florida State University, received Honorable Mention for their book Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs.

Mad Science argues that much of modern American psychiatry’s claims are not based on convincing research, and provides a scientific and social critique of current mental health practices.

Dr. Laura S. Abrams, associate professor of Social Welfare and chair of the doctoral program, was recognized for her book Compassionate Confinement: A Year in the Life of Unit C, co-authored with Dr. Ben Anderson-Nathe of Portland State University,

Their book focuses on juvenile corrections, using narratives, observations and case examples from a year of fieldwork at a boy’s residential facility to highlight the system’s tensions and show unexpected pathways to behavior change.

Both works provide critical examinations of the history, institutions, and discourses involved in shaping institutional responses to some of the most pressing social problems.

SSWR is the leading academic and research organization in the field of social welfare. In conferring the award, the organization recognizes the “outstanding scholarly contributions that advance social work knowledge,” SSWR President Eddie Uehara said.

The awards will be formally presented at the SSWR annual meeting in New Orleans this January.

Staying Power: Social Welfare Alumni Making a Difference on Skid Row After 20 years, the Field Education module on Skid Row continues to inspire students to help end homelessness.


Before Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez catapulted Nathaniel Ayers into the public eye and before film crews descended on the streets of downtown LA to film “The Soloist,” there were UCLA Social Welfare students on Skid Row.

For the past 20 years, first year Social Welfare master’s students have visited Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row – the 50-block area in downtown Los Angeles that contains the highest concentration of homelessness in America – as part of their field education.

The goal for the Skid Row module, which was created in 1994 by field faculty member Mary Brent Wehrli, is to expose students to the needs of the homeless population and teach them the role of social workers in the community. Back then former field education director Joseph Nunn called it “one of the most meaningful learning experiences offered” to first-year students. Now in its twentieth year, its legacy continues to be significant.

“Mary Brent had the foresight to do this before Skid Row received any attention from the general public and policy makers,” said Toby Hur, UCLA field faculty member who picked up the torch after Wehrli’s retirement in 2004. “Twenty years ago, pre-media coverage, it wasn’t a place people went.” After Wehrli started taking students to Skid Row, many of them never left.

In 1999, when Wehrli was named California’s Social Welfare Practitioner of the Year, a UCLA news story credited the module – which consists of an orientation at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Cardinal Manning Center (which has hosted the module since its inception), a walk through Skid Row, and visits to several agencies – for putting UCLA students in the Skid Row community. “As a direct result of Wehrli’s efforts, two department alumni now work at Skid Row agencies and four to six master’s students intern there each year,” the story read.

Today, Hur said the unique immersion experience continues to launch the careers of many UCLA alumni and embed them in a community with a lot of needs.

Shannon Murray talks with Case Manager Jeremiah Curry at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee.

Shannon Murray (MSW ’96), program director of Homeless and Housing Services at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, was in the first class to participate in the Skid Row module. Although she’d never worked with the homeless population before the tour, Murray remembers telling a friend that she’d be open to doing her placement there.

“It was the sense of community,” Murray said when asked what she experienced on the tour that drew her to Skid Row. “There’s a lot of heart and spirit there and I had a sense that this is where social work should be.”

Murray ended up doing her first year placement at the Cardinal Manning Center. That summer, she, along with Wehrli and Joan Sotiros, the director of Cardinal Manning at the time, started a lunchtime seminar series for interns and new staff in the area to help them understand the unique needs and the organizations that affect the Skid Row community. The program is now in its 18th year, with the Cardinal Manning Center in consultation with the Social Welfare department coordinating the series presentations and gathering all area interns.

After graduation, Murray returned to Cardinal Manning and spent six years there before moving to other Skid Row agencies, including LAMP Community. She also helped conduct the Skid Row tours for UCLA students for 15 years.

“We were actually able to start changing the face of social work on Skid Row,” Murray said. “There’s a lot of social work that happens there, but in the form of volunteerism and charity. We started bringing in the professionalism of social work, and began developing programs and policy on a macro level.”

Although she no longer works with the Skid Row population, Murray is still invested in solving the issue of homelessness from her office in Watts. She credits Wehrli for introducing her to the idea of social justice work that looks at the bigger picture.

Jenn Ma-Pham
Jenn Ma-Pham in her office at the Downtown Women’s Center.

Like Murray, Jenn Ma-Pham (MSW ’07) had never worked with the homeless population before she took the Skid Row module in 2005 and completed her first year placement at the Cardinal Manning Center. She was drawn to the area because of its clear sense of community and the strength and resilience amongst the community members.

After a few years working in legislation pertaining to homelessness and as a program developer for women who experience severe mental illness and have been incarcerated, Ma-Pham returned to Skid Row as Director of Housing and Clinical Health Services at the Downtown Women’s Center. Together with three other UCLA Social Welfare alumna (Stephanie Chen MSW/MPH ’13; Sarah Mitchell MSW ’08; and Penelope Oberhardt MSW ’08), Ma-Pham oversees the program that serves over 4,000 women a year.

Ma-Pham agrees that there is much more collaboration between agencies than there has ever been, and agencies are working more closely with the city, county and federal goverment. There are also efforts to connect people to housing faster and to work together to find community solutions.

The Skid Row module now includes a stop at the Downtown Women’s Center where Ma-Pham gets to speak to new students. She said she hopes students will learn to find what they’re passionate about and to make the most of their field work.

“When I think about what has made the alums that work here successful, it’s that they work very hard and very passionately,” she said. “It’s important for a social worker to find his or her passion and then be relentless about it. In addition to academics, a lot of social work is about experience. Don’t lose sight of what you’re supposed to learn in the field. This is where you’re going to learn the skills that are going to take you far.”

Njambi Kingori gives a brief tour of the Cardinal Manning Center transitional shelter for men on Skid Row.

For Njambi Kingori (MSW ’09), deputy director of Social Services at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Skid Row module was an eye opening experience. A native of Kenya, she had only been living in the United States for a short time before enrolling at UCLA, so she was not familiar with Los Angeles.

“I had seen poverty before in Kenya and other countries, but seeing this kind of community setting in the U.S., a country that provides financial aid to other countries, was shocking,” Kingori said. “Walking through the streets and hearing people’s stories and what the agencies do was a big learning curve for me in recognizing the disparity between the different parts of the city and the need for finding solutions to end homelessness.”

Prior to her graduate studies, Kingori had worked for a non-profit in Kenya doing international refugee resettlement for people displaced by civil wars and were homeless as a result.

When she started her first year placement at Cardinal Manning Center, she was eager to learn the causes of homelessness in Los Angeles and develop new tools for social work in a new environment. She had chosen to come to UCLA for her degree because of its reputation. Through her research of schools, she met with alumni who told her that the field education faculty provided students with a lot of support and opportunities during placement. For Kingori, that was the key.

Advice for Students
Alumni working on Skid Row have the following advice for students:Shannon Murray
“Try to put aside your preconceived notions and be open to the experience. Be aware and be open. Be careful what you’re getting into, because it can be addicting! The clients we work with every day make it worth it. Celebrate and embrace the small victories. Patience is a virtue.”Njambi Kingori
“Avoid judging your clients’ circumstance and thought process – it helps with relationship building and understanding the client from where they are at. Be patient and very respectful. Be open to learning opportunities provided by your school and placement agencies. Share your ideas – this is a field where innovative and creative ideas will bring viable and lasting solutions to social problems.”Jenn Ma-Pham
“Be flexible. Learn to navigate the process and be patient with it. I think students should really figure out what their passions are. This is your time to experiment, to find what drives you and find out what you’re good at. The only way you do that is to mess up, so I really encourage you to make mistakes so you can learn from them.”

View videos from the Department of Social Welfare on working with homelessness.

“I enjoyed my first year placement so much that after it was over I told Joan Sotiros that I wanted to come back and work for her,” Kingori said. “Joan told me that if they had an opening, and I was still interested in working with them after my studies, then I would have a place.”

This is now Kingori’s fifth year at Cardinal Manning Center since graduation (she held roles as a social worker, program coordinator and now deputy director), and each year she participates in orientations and debriefings for new students doing the Skid Row module.

Kingori sees a lot of progress on Skid Row as the conversation has turned toward permanent supportive housing and services for the homeless. There is more collaboration between agencies and the amount of information about Skid Row has increased immensely, she said.

“When I started my internship as a first year student, if you Googled the word ‘Skid Row,’ I think you would get less than 20 hits and most of them were about a rock band,” Kingori said.“Now there is tons of information.”

Still, there is a lot of work to be done to find affordable and supportive housing for the homeless. Kingori said she often tells students on the tour that she is not certain whether homelessness will end in her lifetime due to its sociopolitical and economic complexities. But the incremental progress that is being made each year keeps her optimistic that there is a solution.

“If I can help in shaping policy on homelessness or getting clients to appropriate housing, I’ve played my small part,” she said.

This fall, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is highlighting the myriad ways students, faculty, staff and alumni are working to build a better world — one person, one project, one place at a time. This week the School kicks off its “Season of Service” with the first Luskin Lecture of the year hosted in partnership with Volunteers of America.

The Luskin Lecture features a screening of the documentary film American Winter about middle class families falling into poverty and their search for help. The film has proven to be a tool in helping to shift dialogue and perceptions about poverty, as it challenges stereotypes about who turns to the social safety net for help and why. Following the screening will be a discussion with film director Joe Gantz, housing advocate Orlando Ward, and Social Welfare professor Laura Abrams on how to close the holes in the safety net and bring millions of Americans in from the cold. RSVP here.

Additional upcoming Season of Service events:

Tuesday, Oct. 28:

Tuesday, Nov. 4:

  • A discussion on Coordinated Entry Systems will be held at 5:30pm in the Public Affairs Building.

A highlight of the Season of Service is on Saturday, Nov. 15 when the Luskin School participates in the 2014 United Way Homewalk at Exposition Park – walking and running to end homelessness.

Alumni Gather to Remember the Early Days of Social Welfare at UCLA Graduates from the 1950s and 1960s were honored at a luncheon celebration bridging then and now


For some UCLA alumni that gathered at the Faculty Center on Tuesday, being on campus brought up memories of crossing the arroyo bridge to classes in Quonset huts, just part of life as graduate students at the “Southern Branch” of the University of California.

But for the 28 alumni that came for a reunion luncheon, all former students that graduated from UCLA’s School of Social Welfare between 1950 and 1969, the return to Westwood was a chance to see bigger changes that have happened since the early days of the program. Student enrollment of a few dozen has grown to more than 200 students this year. Faculty positions have doubled and then doubled again, from only two tenured professors in the early 1950s to 13 today, with an additional seven field faculty providing experiential training. A focus on clinical practice, or “micro” orientation, has widened to encompass consideration of “macro” issues such as community development and advocacy.

In the face of these changes, however, the department celebration made clear that some things have remained the same. As they sat with current students, staff and members of the faculty, the common threads in the field became evident.

“The school kept saying ‘Don’t focus, be open'” when she was a student, Ruth Sugerman MSW ’67 (above right) said. “Social workers can do so many interesting things. I was really inspired by the school of social work telling me that once I had my degree it was just a start.”

For Sugerman, her UCLA education “was just a wonderful opportunity for me to grow and develop as a social worker and a person.”

Sophia Poster MSW ’52 (below right) agreed. “Everything I learned at UCLA was wonderful to me,” she said. “I was so exhilarated.”

Poster believes that students following her are on a similarly exciting journey. “If you’re inspired to be a social worker it’s one of the greatest experiences you’ll have, dealing with people and their ‘inner self'” she said. “How many of us know the other person in ourselves? A social worker can do that.”

Social work has been taught at UCLA for 67 years, and includes more than 3,300 alumni in master’s and doctoral programs of Social Welfare. Luncheon attendees learned other key facts from Department Chair Todd Franke and UCLA Luskin Dean Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., Second-year student Dawnette Anderson also delivered remarks at the event, sharing her experience as a foster youth and describing her path to graduate study.

To Anderson and her fellow students, Arthur Nelson MSW ’57 offered some straightforward words of encouragement: “There’s a lot that needs to be done in our society. The UCLA Department of Social Welfare prepares you very well for what is ahead of you.”

More photos from the event

Debra Duardo Named Social Welfare Alumna of the Year Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and LAUSD Student Health Director, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award

By Luskin Staff

Debra Duardo, a 1996 Master of Social Welfare graduate from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has been selected to receive the Joseph A. Nunn Award, honoring her as the department’s Alumna of the Year. The award will be presented to Duardo in a ceremony on Saturday, April 20.

The Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award recognizes outstanding social work professionals who have contributed leadership and service to the school, university, and/or community, and who have otherwise distinguished themselves through commitment and dedication to a particular area of social work.

Duardo is currently the executive director of student health and human services for Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the United States. As the executive director she is responsible for the administrative oversight of support services and district programs designed to address the physical health, mental health, and home and community barriers that prevent student academic success, including student medical services, school nursing, pupil services, dropout prevention and recovery, school mental health, community partnerships, and Medi-Cal programs.

In this role she manages a $100 million budget and over 3,000 employees including directors, specialists, pupil services and attendance counselors, psychiatric social workers, nurses, organization facilitators, and healthy start coordinators.

After graduating from UCLA with a major in Women Studies and Chicana/o Studies in 1994 Duardo earned her Master of Social Welfare degree at UCLA in 1996 with a specialization in school social work. Since that time she has earned her school administrative credential and is currently completing her Ed.D. in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Following completion of her MSW, Debra started her career serving as a school social worker and the Healthy Start project director at Wilson High School.

She advanced to being the LAUSD Healthy Start District Administrator. Since that time she has served as assistant principal at Le Conte Middle School, the director of dropout prevention and recovery for LAUSD, and director of pupil services for LAUSD.  Through all of these positions she has maintained her focus on the important of health and social services for children and families.

The Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year award was established to honor Joseph A. Nunn, former director of field education at the Department of Social Welfare at UCLA. Dr. Nunn brought leadership and service to UCLA and the Social Welfare program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for over two decades. Dr. Nunn received his B.S., M.S.W. and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA. After working as a probation officer for 15 years, he became a member of the field education faculty in 1980, and except for a three-year, off-campus appointment, remained at UCLA until his retirement in 2006. During his last 15 years, he served with distinction as the director of field education and, simultaneous for the last decade, as vice chair of the Department of Social Welfare, where he supervised the field education program.

Nonprofits React to UCLA Report on Their Struggle in Recession A UCLA Center for Civil Society study finds that costs and demands of non profits are rising while funding is diminishing

By Robin Heffler

On Friday, October 23, the UCLA Center for Civil Society in the UCLA School of Public Affairs released a report detailing the mixed impact of the current economic downturn on the local non-profit sector, delivering its findings in person to 185 representatives of non-profit organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, and receiving their immediate feedback.

Among the major findings were that most Los Angeles-area nonprofit organizations have experience reductions in funding from government and private foundations, while costs and demands for their services have risen. Yet the nonprofits largely have been able to retain their volunteers, staff, and programs.

The report, Resilience and Vulnerability: The State of the Nonprofit Sector in Los Angeles , was presented at the Center’s annual conference for local nonprofits, held at the Skirball Cultural Center. Researched and written by David B. Howard and Hyeon Jong Kil (both doctoral researchers in Social Welfare), it was based on a survey of more than 250 non-profit organizations from June to August 2009. There are about 41,500 registered nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles County.

One conference attendee, Abbe Lande of the Saban Free Clinic, echoed the report’s findings when she told other participants, “At every staff meeting we talk about tightening our belts. We keep doing more with less—trying to squeeze in more patients without hiring more staff –and the pressure to produce is intense. We’re seeing more people come in for the first time with incomes of about 200 percent of the poverty level. A lot of it is for mental health services.”

To better weather the recession, the report recommended that nonprofits focus more on program evaluation to better attract funders and make decisions about scarce resources; engage in widespread advocacy efforts, including discussions about policy decisions with elected officials and lawmakers; and collaborate with other nonprofits to decrease costs, increase efficiency, and share knowledge, merging when necessary.

Ted Knoll, who runs the Whittier Area First Day Coalition, which provides services for those who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless, said he appreciated both the “content and process” of the conference. “We did a merger in 2001, so I know this is doable,” he said. “The conference has made me think about possibly doing it again. At the same time, I’m networking with people I haven’t seen in years.”

Conference participants shared their experiences during small-group discussions on the findings. David Howard said that feedback will be included in an addendum to the report. “It helps us to tell a clearer story of what’s happening to nonprofits, which helps deliver messages that often get lost in the numbers,” he said.

In closing remarks, Helmut Anheier, founding director of the Center, said, “We will have a slow recovery for nonprofits. We didn’t learn the lessons from the previous recessions – that you need to prepare for them when times are good. This crisis will push business and nonprofits closer because there is little that the government can offer. Nonprofits will need to make sure that their concerns are part of the political agenda.”




Intervening in Violence: “People Join Gangs Because of a Lethal Absence of Hope” Associate professor Jorja Leap discusses factors that lead to young people joining gangs on radio show

Jorja Leap, adjunct associate professor of social welfare, appeared as a guest on the Howard Gluss radio show to discuss the factors that lead to young people joining gangs.


Jorja Leap is an expert in crisis intervention and trauma response. Her research examines gangs, prison culture and high-risk and system-involved youth

“So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse,” says Leap. “They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.”

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

GLUSS: We need the facts and then we need an emotional connection to the facts. So give us some of the facts.

LEAP: Well, the facts are, and I’m going to quote Father Greg Boyle here, gangs do not arise and people do not join gangs because of violence, people join gangs because of a lethal absence of hope.

GLUSS: Which is depression.

LEAP: It’s depression, you’re absolutely right. It’s a sense of powerlessness. It’s feeling there are no opportunities, no options, no one who cares. And that’s what it comes from. It comes from depression, and it also comes from, this will come as no surprise to you and I’m sure to other listeners, it also comes from families and communities.

So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse. They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.

And you’ve mentioned that I’ve worked all over the world and one of the commonalities is that when young people and children are raised in violent communities they often have post traumatic stress disorder even as they are growing up and they will join gangs and engage in violent behavior strangely enough in order to feel empowered.

GLUSS: There’s a sense of respect and self esteem with that.

LEAP: Exactly…now you know, for example, I witnessed one very powerful transformation. There are young men and young women who are now being trained, former gang members that are being trained in solar panel installation, a job that with which they can earn a tremendous amount of money. The transformation in them and the sense of control they begin to feel is just astonishing in terms of themselves and their identity.

Listen to the entire interview here.

Dr. Jorja Leap is a professor at UCLA, a recognized expert in crisis intervention and trauma response and has been involved with training and research for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of post-war development and conflict resolution in Bosnia and Kosovo and has conducted work with the families of victims of the 9/11 WTC disaster. She is the author of the book, “No One Knows Their Names.”

Crime Forum Opens in Washington DC: Judge Alm Delivers on HOPE Rosenfield Forum brings together researchers to discuss methods of crime reduction

WASHINGTON, DC—Addressing the record incarceration rates across the U.S. and the boom in the prison population, the UCLA School of Public Affairs launched the first in a series of public discussions on critical national issues with the opening dinner of the Rosenfield Forums at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

“The Rosenfield Forums are an opportunity to bring together some of the country’s best thinkers, practitioners, advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders,” says Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., “This week’s particular event focuses on encouraging all of us to think a little differently about how we reduce crime in the United States. This is an important and deeply corrosive phenomenon: it corrodes the public space, it corrodes our young people, and it crowds our prisons. Much of the worlds of crime and punishment are artificially constructed around these two poles—too much crime and too much incarceration. What you’ll see in this event is scholars grappling with the complexities of these issues, and presenting some elegant solutions—elegant in both simplicity and power.”

The inaugural forum, “Escaping the Prison Trap: How to Have Less Crime and Less Incarceration,” featured a keynote address on October 7 by the Honorable Steve S. Alm of the Hawaii State Judiciary. Alm is the creator of Project HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity and Probation and Enforcement), an innovative crime reduction program for drug offenses that has had dramatic success rates. Judge Alm described a frustrating sentencing and incarceration system that amounted to little more than a revolving door for minor drug offenders to move in and out of the judicial system.

“I can send them to the beach, or send them to prison—it’s crazy that these were the only options.” After gaining cooperation from several agencies, including the probation department, the sheriffs and U.S. marshals, Judge Alm created a systematic approach in which offenders were given instructions for calling a telephone hotline to see if they were selected that day for random drug testing. If they tested positive for drugs, they are arrested on the spot and brought up for a hearing within two days. “Swift and certain consequence is the key.” Says Alm, “If probationers know there will be caught and punished, they will not violate. Probation officers are pleased with the results, because clients were showing up to their appointments, and showing up sober.”

The program has had remarkable success in Hawaii (up to a 50% drop in repeat offenses among drug probationers); has been replicated by other judges; and has become the focus of research by UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman and Pepperdine University Public Policy Professor Angela Hawken. The Department of Justice has funded a program to introduce the program to other jurisdictions across the country.

The Rosenfield Forums continue on October 8 at the Rayburn Building on Capital Hill with panel discussions on: reducing juvenile crime and incarceration, led by Associate Professor Laura Abrams of the Department of Social Welfare; the consequences of mass incarceration, led by Professor Michael Stoll of the Department of Public Policy; and getting more crime control with less punishment, led by Professor Mark Kleiman of the Department of Public Policy.

Challenges for Youth Reentering Society After Incarceration Social Welfare Associate Professor Laura Abrams joined the Howard Gluss Radio Show to discuss juvenile justice and reentry.

laura-abrams_9009188732_o_eLaura Abrams, associate professor of social welfare at UCLA, appeared as a guest on the Howard Gluss radio show (August 14, 2009) to discuss the barriers to successful reentry to society for juveniles in the incarceration system. Abrams is the director of the juvenile justice and reentry project, a program of the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA School of Public Affairs that fosters the reintegration of juvenile offenders into the community upon their release. The following are excerpts from the interview.

What are the major challenges that we face as a society for stopping young people entering the prison system?

“One of the things that it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around when we talk about juvenile offenders is that they are young people…and the majority haven’t committed violent crimes. They’re young people who deserve the opportunity to have a different pathway in their lives.”

“As a community, we think more about the punitive aspect of corrections and juvenile justice and not so much what happens when they return to society and when they transition to adulthood…When youth are get out of settings of incarceration, they’re often in a place where they don’t have school credits, or haven’t graduated from high school, they don’t have job skills, some don’t have families to return to. So they enter that already difficult transitional period of emerging adulthood without many skills or resources necessary to be successful.”

“Research has identified practices in the juvenile justice system that give youth a chance at better outcomes:

  • Diversion, or keeping low-risk offenders out of incarceration (through home arrest or probation);
  • Smaller settings, rather than large institutional settings;
  • Longer treatment duration than (6 months rather than 2 months);
  • Staff trained in therapeutic practices like cognitive behavioral work and family work; and
  • Addressing underlying problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues and learning disabilities.”