Marshall Swenson

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The Real Cost of Treating Juvenile Offenders

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Aug 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM


For juvenile offenders, it pays to think long-term

Communities invest in a portfolio of services. Each service has a cost and is used to meet a certain need. Think of it as any financial investment. Communities must make sure that the current service portfolio continues to meet the ever-changing requirements in their fluctuating financial environment. In recent years, with tax revenues declining, many places have had to make hard choices about where to invest money. When looking at the need to help juvenile offenders and their families, the short-term costs of prevention must be weighed against the long-term expenditure for foster care, juvenile and adult incarceration.cost_of_MST

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Topics: Cost of youth incarceration, cost effectiveness

Is Juvenile Solitary Confinement Torture?

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Feb 25, 2015 9:15:00 AM


Juvenile Solitary Confinement—Is It Torture?

Imagine yourself 17. You’ve been convicted of armed robbery. In jail, you were caught with a shiv. In the eyes of the institution, no excuse for that. However, any viewer of the TV series “Law and Order” would know having protection might be the only way to stave off predators.solitary_picture

Now take this further. Imagine you are confined to an 8-by-10 foot cell, 23 hours a day without human contact. That’s what happened to Michael Kemp. “You just like, ‘Man, I feel like an animal in here. I don’t even feel real...where I’m not even a human being."

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Topics: rikers island,, juvenile justice

What’s all this brouhaha about evidence-based practice?

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Jun 17, 2014 8:56:00 AM


Evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practice, practice-based evidence . . . to the average Joe, these all sound so much the same that most folks just quit listening and do what is easiest. I am referring to how communities decide which services we deliver to children and families and how they determine whether something actually works, or more importantly, does not. If the information was clear and better options available, wouldn’t most people choose what works and stop choosing what does not? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. 

Full disclosure first. I work for one of the top evidence-based practices in the United States (and 14 other countries)—Multisystemic Therapy (MST). Some might ask, doesn’t that skew my perceptions? To which I would answer, maybe, but it also gives me an inside look at the problems and solutions offered by these treatments. I see close up their efficacy. I see them work. And that’s what this article is all about.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families, Blueprints

Get Tough Policies in School Don't Work

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Dec 3, 2013 4:30:04 PM


We all have stories from our own school experiences. Teachers we liked, others we disliked.  Someone who we will remember always. Bullies. Best friends forever.  Times when we made mistakes we regretted - whether caught or not. Things we appreciated, others we wished were different. But, one thing has surely changed - that is how our schools respond to discipline issues. Way back in my day misbehavior led to a dreaded trip to the principal's office, or detention, or worse, our parents were called. But today it can lead to a criminal record. Sure, some behaviors have changed with the times, but kids have not at the most basic level. They still want to be accepted by friends, and to feel competent.  

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Topics: Zero Tolerance

MST Network Partner Conference

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Oct 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM


Once again it’s that time of year – October’s MST Network Partner Conference (NPC). My how time flies! It seems like only last week that the last conference brought 100 of MST’s leaders from around the world to compare notes and network with one another.

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Topics: Partner Conference

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