The Power of Cultural Teachings for At Risk Youth

The White Earth Nation has released a video documenting some of the work being done to help at risk youth in the community.

Impacts of drug abuse are being felt in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in our daily lives. The devastation from this drug abuse is fragmenting our families, contributes to the neglect of our children and threatens to destroy our communities. Our culture is a guide and a source of security in good times and in bad. Many of our teachings handed down from our elders are in danger of being lost, but through our cultural teachings we as people gain strength and understanding. Watch how a determined effort by the White Earth Nation is making a positive change in our community and a difference in the lives of at risk youth.

Link to the video here

Testimony from Recent Senate Hearing on Juvenile Justice in Indian Country


The Honorable Robert Listenbee
Administrator-Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
View Testimony

Mr. Darren Cruzan
Deputy BIA Director-Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
View Testimony

Ms. Addie C. Rolnick
Associate Professor-William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
View Testimony

Ms. Carla Knapp
National Director of Native Services-Boys & Girls Club of America, Fort Myers, FL
View Testimony

ABA submission here.

TLPI Code Resource: Drafting or Revising Tribal Juvenile Justice Codes

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) is pleased to announce a new Tribal Legal Code Resource publication – A Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offense Laws – which is the most recent addition to TLPI’s Tribal Legal Code Resource series. This resource was developed with support from both the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Tribal Youth Program Training and Technical Assistance Center. Please note that the June 2015 version – available through TLPI’s Tribal Court Clearinghouse – includes an interactive version with extensive internal and external links and downloadable PDF format.

Report from Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Tribal Law and Policy Institute on Status Offense Disparities


American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) young people are almost twice as likely to be petitioned to state court for skipping school, violating liquor laws, and engaging in other behaviors that are only illegal because of their age (often known as status offenses). Once involved with the state court system, they are less likely to be placed on probation and experience higher rates of detention and residential placements. Although we do not know the exact reasons for these disparities, recent efforts to better serve these youth have focused on responding to trauma and exposure to violence, better addressing substance abuse issues and mental health needs, addressing family needs, and offering more diversion programs and youth leadership development opportunities. This brief looks at the disparities faced in the state system by AI/AN youth who are charged with status offenses, the ability of both state and tribal systems to respond to status offenses, and federal funding levels to support efforts to better serve these youth.

News Article: Collaboration between Counties and Tribes Benefit Dual Status Native Youth

This article highlights a promising program being implemented in northern Minnesota. The counties and tribes are working collaboratively to meet the needs of dual status youth (juveniles who come into contact with both child welfare and juvenile justice systems). This model is being applied in a few other places around the country and may be a model for other counties and tribes to consider.

The entire article is available here.

Excerpts from the article:

Way up in northwestern Minnesota, progress is being made within the Ojibwe tribes.

 “It’s been a long process,” said Trisha Hansen, Bemidji District supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. “… It was a tough two years, let me tell you. Probation and social services have really worked together in the last two years.”
 Since September, the traditional divisions between the systems of juvenile justice and child welfare have begun to be erased.
With a tribal nation contained within the county, the separations are doubled. . . .

The ultimate goal is to integrate tribal, federal, state and local services for culturally appropriate services and to run juvenile delinquency prevention programs within the community rather than off-reservation.

“I anticipate great results,” said national consultant John Tuell. The goal is to “overcome this mess we’ve created with this separation between child welfare and juvenile justice.” He is executive director of the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice and RFK Children’s Action Corps, based in Boston.

One of the challenges, Hansen said, was figuring out the confidentiality parameters among the various agencies. She said the White Earth Nation in central Minnesota, which already uses the dual status youth strategies successfully, is helping them. White Earth Nation, also Ojibwe, is in Mahnomen County. It also uses county and tribal services and courts.

About 40 youths ages 10-17 are in the Beltrami County juvenile justice system locally and about 80 are under supervision on any given day, Hansen said.

White Earth Court Administrator Lori Thompson said the tribe adopted the dually involved youth program about 18 months ago. She has worked with the White Earth court system since 2000.

Currently, she said, about 15 young people are in the program.
The strategies, she explained, increase interagency information-sharing and give families and youngsters more of a voice in dealing with the agencies. Benefits include early identification, connecting families and youth with services, “diverting youth from adjudication and court when feasible” and “promoting culturally valid intervention.”

Such interventions include beading and drumming, Thompson said. Young people are assigned to four hours of community involvement every two weeks, such as setting up chairs, serving food and cleaning up at meetings.

The youngsters also carry wood for and take part in weekly sweat lodges, often with some of the officials, such as probation officers, who serve them. . . .

If a child commits an offense, Lind said, the process starts with the county attorney, who makes the initial decision of whether to charge the youngster. The county attorney also contacts county and tribal social services. Parents also meet with a social services worker and a probation officer, he said. Under the new program, these meetings would be conducted jointly, requiring less travel and saving time and money.

In the past, families often had to meet with several agencies. Such confrontations can be confusing to both parents and children, Hansen said. “They aren’t hearing a thing because there’s so much swirling around them,” she said.

“White Earth has made a lot of progress,” Hansen said, citing the Circle Back Center in Ogema, Minn., on the White Earth Reservation. Circle Back Center clients can be referred through Indian Health Services, law enforcement, tribal court, county social services, tribal, county and state corrections, substance abuse programs and private entities or families.

Eligible clients are boys and girls ages 10-18 who have successfully completed alcohol or substance abuse treatment, those who lack a sober or safe home and those with behavior problems such as truancy, runaway and curfew violations. The center primarily accepts American Indian youth, but extends services to non-native youngsters if staff members consider them able to benefit from the program.

NCJFCJ 77th Annual Conference, July 13-16, 2014

Join us in Chicago, Illinois for this year’s 77th Annual Conference featuring a wide range of juvenile and family law topics including child abuse and neglect, trauma, custody and visitation, judicial leadership, juvenile justice, sex trafficking of minors, family violence, drug courts, psychotropic medications, children testifying in court, detention alternatives, substance abuse, and the adolescent brain.

In addition, this year we are offering a preconference workshop, Special Consideration for Working with Adolescents with Substance Abuse Issues, designed for professionals working with juvenile justice involved youth who also have mental health, substance abuse, or trauma issues. Any juvenile court judges, juvenile drug court coordinators, attorneys, probation officers, case managers, and substance abuse treatment counselors are encouraged to attend.

Information available here.