Alternatives to Incarceration for At-Risk Youth

Community based organizations play a pivotal role in providing diversion services for at risk juveniles including those released from the juvenile justice system. The key is preventing these troubled youth from entering the system in the first place. For the past 30 plus years, ARISE has provided its evidence based programs as an alternative to detention as well as reentry programs prior to release for incarcerated youth.

Many states are now analyzing strategies that will send youth to Community Based Organizations in order to curtail expenses and increase successful outcomes by providing youth with a wide range of life skills lessons such as anger management training, job readiness skills, job opportunities plus this essential component, family related programming, as alternatives to incarceration close to the youth’s home. ARISE offers extremely cost effective, proven programs covering all of the above that can easily be instituted by Community Based Organizations to help youth as an alternative to incarceration.

I have used the ARISE model for more than 10  years working with Juveniles involved in the correctional system, youth in foster care, as well as with adults inpatient psychiatric facilities and the community. ARISE is a program that has been extremely effective in working with the various populations teaching independent living and recovery skills.
Testimonial from Alvin Hinkle, MSW, CPM,Chief of Continuity of Care – Washington DC

Study: Juvenile Detention Not a Great Place to Deal With Mental Health Issues

The following is a very interesting article published on A MUST READ for all people involved in Juvenile Detention and psychiatric care for them. Published by . July 23, 2015.

If you land in the hospital as an incarcerated teen, it’s more likely for mental health reasons—psychiatric illnesses, substance abuse, depression, or disruptive disorders—than for any other factor, says a new study.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine examined nearly 2 million hospitalizations in California of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 18 over a 15-year period. They found that mental health diagnoses accounted for 63 percent of hospital stays by kids in the justice system, compared with 19 percent of stays by kids who weren’t incarcerated, according to their study published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Should we be getting them into treatment earlier, before they start getting caught up in the justice system?”

The study’s lead author, Dr. Arash Anoshiravani, said in a statement that it seems likely that many locked-up kids developed mental health problems as a result of earlier stressful events during their childhoods, such as being abused or witnessing other acts of violence.

We are arresting kids who have mental health problems probably related to their experiences as children… is that the way we should be dealing with this, or should we be getting them into treatment earlier, before they start getting caught up in the justice system? 

Even if someone enters detention without a major mental health problem, she has a good chance of developing one once she’s there.

The World Health Organization cites many factors in prison life as detrimental to mental stability, including overcrowding, physical or sexual violence, isolation, a lack of privacy, and inadequate health services. And the problem is obviously not just limited to juvenile offenders: Earlier this year, a study by the Urban Institute found that more than half of all inmates in jails and state prisons across the country have a mental illness of some kind.

In the California study, kids in detention and hospitalized were disproportionately black and from larger metropolitan counties like Los Angeles, Alameda, and San Diego. Among children and teens in the justice system, girls were more likely than boys to experience severe mental health problems, with 74 percent of their hospitalizations related to mental illness, compared with 57 percent of boys’ hospitalizations. (Boys, on the other hand, were five times more likely to be hospitalized for trauma.)

Earlier mental health interventions could lead to major savings, the researchers added.

Detained youth in their study had longer hospital stays than kids outside the justice system, and a majority of them were publicly insured.