Monday, January 26, 2004

You're still really, really bad
Well I have baby bathing duty tonight so I can't post much about the latest PD article on the local Juvenile Court. Apparently, the very reputable Annie E. Casey Foundation offered to help the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court address some of its docketing and detention woes.

Two things struck me as I read this article: "'This is a system we would love to help fix *** But we're looking for places that are serious about doing it and have the political will to get it done.' Lubow (of the Casey Foundation) said the problems here 'aren't new. . . . There isn't a person in our field that doesn't know about Cleveland.'"

That's quite a slam. And as I have mentioned before, it's based on old data. In his letter to the editor, the current Administrative Judge seems to be able to point to some incredible improvements since these studies were conducted. All the same, it is appalling that they have not tapped into the wonderful resources at the Casey Foundation. It makes me wonder if there is something else going on. Does it have something to do with the long battle between the Juvenile Court and the County Commissioners over the location and design of a new detention center? The article alludes to it briefly.

The other thing that struck me was this sentence: "The Case study also concluded that many low-level offenders - youths with no record and who were unlikely to commit other crimes - ended up in the detention center or shelter care inappropriately. " Is the Foundation basing that on the benefit of hindsight? Do they have a magic tool that allows them to accurately predict which kids will reoffend? If so, it should be published on their website for all Juvenile Courts to use freely. Additionally, the Administrative Judge indicated that based on the audit and the Case study, the detention center started using a new risk assessment instrument to improve how kids are screened admission.

I don't want to sound as if the Juvenile Court is not in need of an overhaul. Every system can benefit from constant improvement. But this article is just several paragraphs of Juvenile Court bashing and just one rebuttal paragraph from the Court Administrator?

It's just starting to sound like the PD is pushing some agenda, instead of getting a balanced story. Oh yeah, it is the PD. What was I thinking.

Here's a link to the first article regarding Juvenile Court Dockets.

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