Washington, D.C.—Texas State Senator John Whitmire addressed more than 150 juvenile justice leaders and congressional staff members as a panelist at a briefing on improving outcomes for youth who are removed from their schools for disciplinary reasons and at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system as well as for those youth already in the juvenile justice system. The briefing was hosted by U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT), and featured panelists Robert Listenbee, Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; Michael Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning for Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy; and Judge Linda Teodosio, Summit County Juvenile Court in Ohio. As Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Senator Whitmire leads efforts to improve the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems in Texas.
“The status quo of high suspension rates for minor offenses has contributed to a significant number of our children being sent to juvenile correctional facilities,” said Senator Whitmire. “Not only does this cost Texas millions in unnecessary spending, it robs these children of any chance of fulfilling their potential, as they fall into a cycle of arrest and incarceration that can last for the rest of their lives. We have to do better on a state and federal level in addressing how our school discipline policies improve school safety and promoting a positive learning environment.”
Several states have begun exploring innovative ways to reduce the number of youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system and to improve outcomes for those youth who are involved with the system. In recent years, Connecticut, Texas, and Ohio have led the way by adopting bipartisan approaches to reducing their reliance on juvenile confinement and employing community-based approaches proven to produce better recidivism and youth outcomes.
As a result, these states have saved millions of dollars, and improved outcomes for youth while maintaining public safety. By reinvesting funds back into other juvenile justice prevention and intervention practices proven to work, states can realize additional cost savings and help youth become productive adults.
Senator Whitmire also serves as Chair of the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s School Discipline Consensus Project. The project is administered in coordination with the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, launched by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in July 2011.
The School Discipline Consensus Project will result in a comprehensive report, scheduled for release in January 2014, that will provide policy and practice recommendations and implementation guidance on issues, including managing students’ behaviors, reducing students’ involvement in the juvenile justice system for minor violations, improving students’ academic outcomes, and promoting safe and productive learning environments.
For more information about the project, visit http://csgjusticecenter.org/youth/projects/school-discipline-consensus-project/.\