Georgia Hosts National Juvenile Conference

On April 16-18, 2013, Georgia hosted a National Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Conference that was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey foundation at the Hilton in downtown Atlanta.  Over 500 people attended, including seven Juvenile Court Georgia judges and their JADI teams.  
 
The conference kicked off with a "Spotlight on Success: Report from Georgia" with a big panel that included Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein, Supreme Court of Georgia; Judge Michael Boggs, Court of Appeals of Georgia; Chief Judge Steven Teske, Juvenile Court, Clayton Judicial Circuit; Adolphus Graves, Chief Probation Officer, Fulton County; Jason Newman, State Policy Manager of the Pew Foundation; Rep. Wendell Willard, Chair, Georgia House Judiciary Committee; Tanya Washington, Senior Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation; and W. Thomas Worthy, Deputy Executive Counsel for Governor Deal's office.  The discussion for the panel was focused on the recent overhaul of the juvenile code for Georgia and what that reform would mean for the future of juvenile justice.  
 
With over 43 classes offered, excluding plenary sessions, the topics ranged from the latest science about the effectiveness and effects of detention for children, risk assessment, child trafficking, and engaging families.  One day concluded with a deeply unsettling plenary from Pulitzer Prize winning author William Ecenbarge who summarized his book regarding the "Cash for Kids" scandal which occurred in Luzerne County, PA.  The details the author told about the story of two juvenile court judges who received over $2 M in kick backs for detaining children at two Pennsylvania Child Care facilities were cruel and the conspiracy of silence surrounding these events was shocking.  Both judges are serving prison time today.
 
The conference ended with a message of hope and advice for the future by Bart Lubow, Director, Juvenile Justice Strategy Group for Annie E. Casey Foundation. He noted that the conference represents a national trend and that Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives now exists in 28 states. No longer the exception to the rule, this work is emerging as the rule.  “Today may prove to be a unique moment in juvenile justice history, a time when, as a nation, we shed some of the system’s worst baggage – including our unnecessary and often inappropriate reliance on secure confinement of youth.”

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