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When Incarcerated Youth Lose Medicaid

Posted by MST Services

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Imagine that you get a call from your child’s school one afternoon. The principal tells you that your son broke his arm after tripping down some stairs, and he’s been transported to the local hospital. When you get to the emergency room, doctors have already done an x-ray and have begun fitting him for a cast. You’re relieved he’s feeling okay, but then you look at the hospital bill: $2,500. Without health insurance, a broken arm can become the cost of several months’ rent, and put a family into financial jeopardy. Now imagine that your son is struggling with a mental or behavioral health issue. This isn’t uncommon—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 20% of teenagers experience a mental health condition, and half of all lifelong cases of mental illness begin by age 14. But visiting a therapist and purchasing medication can be even more expensive than a broken arm. Several youth have mental and behavioral health issues, but left untreated, these problems could become a catalyst to involvement in the juvenile justice system.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Juvenile Justice and Tribal Youth

Posted by MST Services

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Within the United States, American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) represent roughly 1.7% of the total population, of which about 928,000 are under the age of eighteen. Despite representing such a small portion of the total US population, a recent study by the Government Accountability Office found that tribal youth comprised 18% of all federal juvenile arrests between 2010 and 2016. Once these young people have offended, they face a complex and oftentimes unfairly skewed justice system, complicated by jurisdiction issues and insensitivity to the influence of their heritage.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

MST’s Positive Impact in Chile

Posted by MST Services

 

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In the early 2000s, the Chilean government was desperately struggling to cope with rising juvenile crime rates. The issue reached such a point that yearly polls by the country’s Center for Public Studies found it to be one of the top three priorities for citizens—for twelve years in a row. In response, the government began researching and implementing policies to address both the issue and the public concern. It took nearly ten years for the country to finally reach the point of considering alternative treatments for their juvenile offenders, but it finally found a solution: Multisystemic Therapy (MST). 

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Topics: MST International

Homeless Youth Often Face Arrest

Posted by MST Services

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Twenty-year-old Amber Graves was just five when her parents abandoned her and her one-year-old brother in the Bronx, New York. Graves and her brother spent years bouncing between homelessness and foster homes, with Graves also at times incarcerated for crimes she committed to help them get by. “My main priority wasn’t a dollhouse,” says Graves of the experience. “It wasn’t the race cars. No type of kid toys. It was making sure that me and my brother was safe and getting us out of this predicament.”

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Topics: Troubled Youth

LGBTQ Youth and Juvenile Detention

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_207280112According to the US Department of Justice, 856,130 juveniles were arrested across the country during 2016, 45,567 of which were held in 1,772 juvenile facilities. Of those 45,567 juveniles, an average of fifteen to eighteen percent identified as LGBTQ--that’s twice the rate at which LGBTQ are represented within the general US population. In a recent survey conducted in selected juvenile detention facilities across the US, forty percent of the total female population identified as LGBTQ, and out of all the LGBTQ respondents, eighty-five percent were youths of color. In recent years, juvenile justice advocates have begun to ask a new question: why is the LGBTQ population so overrepresented within the juvenile justice system? 

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Juvenile Justice: A Year in Review

Posted by MST Services

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With a government shutdown and an incoming change in House leadership, the first few days of January have many wondering what will top this new Congress’ agenda in 2019. For those in the child welfare and criminal justice space, 2018 saw many welcome state-level reforms— this year, North Carolina and New York will no longer prosecute youth under age 18 in adult courts, and California won’t try juveniles under age 12. But 2018 was also a promising one on the national stage— following recent bipartisan support for the First Step Act and increases in federal juvenile justice funding, there are signs that our incoming government will continue to champion criminal justice reform this year. But before we explore where 2019 may take us, let’s look back on the major changes in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems that 2018 brought.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Foster Care Children and Unstable Education

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_41512058At just one year old, Noel Anaya was separated from her parents and removed from her home in California. Though she was too young to remember leaving her first home, she remembers all the ones that came after— Noel moved through foster placement after foster placement, put in four different families by the time she was eight. Soon, she was sent outside of California, first to Michigan and then to Idaho. “Some foster families were religious and encouraged me to participate in their traditions, which felt strange,” Noel remembers. “I moved around so much, I never felt like I fit in.” Noel’s experience of constant movement, adjustment and loneliness isn’t merely her own— for many foster children across the country, impermanence is a comfortless reality. And what is one of the most critical, long-term effects of these constant new foster placements? A child’s ability to succeed in school.

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Topics: Child Welfare

Kinship Care May Reduce the Negatives of Foster Care

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_7099980Foster care is a sad reality for 437,465 children. As of 2016, nearly half a million kids are living in foster care away from their parents. These numbers are growing each year, but a different approach is being taken to help keep children out of foster care.

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Topics: Child Welfare

Youth Crime Rates Drop, But Progress is Still Needed

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_149652378Over the last twenty years, the United States has seen a steady drop in crime rates, including in juvenile crime. From the peak offense era of the 1990s to today, juvenile crime arrests have dropped across the board in leaps and bounds. Robbery and aggravated assault rates have both dropped by 70% since the 1990s, simple assaults are down by 49%, and murder rates have fallen a staggering 82%. The continuously falling crime rates are not necessarily attributable to any one particular action or policy, however, which leads to some debate among activists and lawmakers over which policies are making the biggest differences to help with this issue. There are a few contributing factors, however, that do show significant impact upon juvenile crime rate reduction.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Shortages Affect a Juvenile's Right to Counsel

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_112275718At a Georgia Walmart in the fall of 2013, 17-year-old W.M. did something not entirely unusual for someone his age: he shoplifted a $2.97 set of Halloween vampire fangs. Unlike most shoplifters, however, W.M. was caught and arrested. He appeared in juvenile court just a few weeks later, but at the time no public defenders were available to represent him. The judge gave W.M. a choice: he could waive his right to counsel and move forward to finish the case, or he could come back at a later date when a public defender might be available.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform