How a diversion program in South L.A. hopes to break the cradle-to-prison pipeline

By CYS opened the Everychild Restorative Justice Center in 2012.Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

When Karina Cabrera first sat down with Angelica,* a 15-year-old enrolled in a juvenile diversion program at Centinela Youth Services (CYS), the case manager remembers the youth’s icy stare and clipped answers.

Just weeks before, Angelica had been hauled in by members of the Los Angeles Police Department after she was caught trying to steal a shirt at Target.

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What age, cognitive disability mean for Brendan Dassey of ‘Making a Murderer’

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By Courtney Knight, ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

If you have not seen Netflix’s breakout documentary series “Making a Murderer,” there is a good chance every other person you know has.

The series follows the intellectually challenged 16-year-old Brendan Dassey and his uncle as they are ushered through the Wisconsin criminal justice system. Brendan’s intellectual or cognitive disabilities have been mentioned numerous times, but how his age and disability mix with interrogation techniques and self-advocacy within the system have not been explored.

Public outrage occurred over the suggestive, and at times directive, methods police used to obtain Brendan’s confession later used in court.

Brendan, who did not even know the word “inconsistent” when police used it, is reported by the entertainment news site Vulture to have an IQ ranging from 69-73, which in many other states could make him mentally incompetent to stand trial.

This cognitive disability is not to be confused with mental illness, which may impact half of incarcerated adults and can be treated by medication or therapy. Brendan is also just one of almost 400,000 inmates with cognitive disabilities currently imprisoned in the United States.

A December 14, 2015 report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows just how “consistent” the incarceration of cognitively disabled individuals is in the United States, identifying that roughly a quarter of detained Americans struggle with a cognitive disability.

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No risk in trying new approaches to find children most in danger

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By Marie Cohen at Chronicleofsocialchange.org

In my last column, I discussed the new approaches to identify and target high-risk families for special attention in child welfare. Los Angeles and Allegheny County, PA, as well as New Zealand are working on risk assessment algorithms. Rapid Safety Feedback (RSF), which has been implemented in Florida and is being adapted to other states, targets for special attention families with characteristics associated with high risk to children.

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New strategies long overdue on measuring child welfare risk

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by  ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

As The Chronicle of Social Change has been reporting over the past two years, various jurisdictions have been exploring new tools to focus the attention of child welfare systems on the children most at risk of subsequent abuse or neglect. The mainstream media has begun to notice, as demonstrated by CNBC’s recent report on Los Angeles’ contract with software company SAS to develop such a tool for its child welfare system.

These new approaches generally rely on predictive analytics, which means using patterns in data to predict future outcomes. Despite the recent media coverage, there is still some confusion about what is

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Closed adoption law separates California teen from her family

Jordan Rodriguez with Evan Low, California  Assemblymember __________________

By Jeremy Loudenback,  ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Every holiday season, 17-year-old Jordain Rodriguez sends a note to two families she barely knows with a simple wish: She’d like to see her nieces and nephews.

Around the holidays and on each of the children’s birthdays, she writes emails to the two families who adopted her family members, asking for pictures, any recent updates and a chance to talk to them.

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Mind powers: Meditation matters for special education students

Students participating in the Mindfulness Meditation program at Five Acres School in Altadena, Calif.

Students participating in the mindfulness program at Five Acres School in Altadena, CA. ____________________________________________

By Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleforSocialChange.org

While meditation has expanded in recent years from a zen-seeker’s path to higher consciousness, to a best practice for hard-charging CEOs, it’s now gaining a foothold at a school in Southern California serving students with serious emotional and behavioral issues.

Administrators at the Five Acres School in Altadena, CA, are testing whether meditation and mindfulness can help students succeed in the classroom. A new mindfulness program implemented there in two semesters over the past year has helped pupils stay in the classroom and minimize emotional outbursts that can derail the learning process, according to administrators.

Students at Five Acres have ended up at the school because of behavioral issues that have led them to be

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Keeping trauma-informed teachers in Oakland, CA, schools

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Dr. Joyce Dorado, director of UCSF’s HEARTS program

 

by Shane Downing at ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Last New Year’s Day, when 13-year-old Lee Weathersby III was shot and died in Oakland, CA, nearly 200 of his middle school peers and teachers received therapy.

In the Oakland Unified School District, Sandra Simmons’ job is to help coordinate that therapy on school campuses. As a behavioral health program manager for the district, Simmons oversees crisis response across the district. She has organized behavioral health training and counseling for students, teachers, staff, and administrators for the past five years.

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