Summer Jobs Curb Teen Violence, Survey of Foster Kids Nearing Adulthood, a New Jail, and How Cops React to ScandalDecember 15th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
CHICAGO TEENS’ VIOLENT CRIME RATE GETS CUT NEARLY IN HALF AFTER SUMMER JOB PROGRAM
For the last few years, the City of Chicago has provided thousands of disadvantaged kids with summer jobs in the hopes of reducing crime.
The One Summer Plus program provides kids with part-time work for eight weeks and pairs them with an adult mentor to help break down barriers to future jobs.
This year, the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab and the University of Pennsylvania ran the numbers to see if (and how well) the program was working to divert kids from violent crime.
The study took 1,634 teens from 13 high-violence neighborhoods in Chicago and split them into three groups: kids that were to receive part-time summer employment (25 hours a week), kids that were to receive part-time summer employment (15 hours a week) as well as a cognitive behavioral therapy component, and kids who were to receive neither.
The study found that One Summer Plus reduced teens’ violent crime arrests by a whopping 43% over 16 months. And that reduction happened, for the most part, in the months after the program had ended. The positive effect was equal in both groups—those who were given part-time work only, and those who were given the combination of work and the emotional learning element.
Here’s a clip from the University of Chicago’s website:
This research comes as youth employment in the summer months, when teenagers are most likely to work, is near a 60-year low. The challenges facing minority and low-income youth are particularly stark; the 2010 employment rate for low-income black teens in Illinois was less than one-fourth the rate for higher-income white teens: 9 percent vs. 39 percent.
Study author Sara Heller, PhD‘13, assistant professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, noted that acts of violence kill almost 150 people daily in the United States, and injure more than 6,000—a level the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call a public health crisis. Individuals ages 10 to 24 are twice as likely as adults to be victims or perpetrators of violence, and the problem is concentrated among disadvantaged minority youth. Joblessness has been identified by experts as one of the major causes of these racial violence disparities.
“The city of Chicago was courageous enough to put its One Summer Plus program to the test, and turns out that just eight weeks of summer programming decreases violent crime arrests by a huge amount for over a year after the job ends,” said Heller. “This is an incredibly encouraging finding.”
Heller noted that the decline occurred largely after the eight-week summer job program ended, indicating that the program did not just keep youth busier over the summer: It changed their behavior after the job had ended as well.
Previous youth employment programs have targeted young adults who have dropped out of school and are struggling to find jobs. But intervening before the students drop out of school and helping them develop skills needed to be successful on the job, like impulse control and decision-making, might do more with less by focusing on prevention rather than remediation.
The results of this study show that when such an intervention is offered to students while they’re still in school, it does not have to be lengthy or costly to change behavior.
And this isn’t the first study to find that summer jobs significantly lower teen violence. A 2013 Northeastern University study found that after employment, fewer kids reported getting into fights or threatening or attacking someone with a gun.
An Education Week story about the Northeastern study also pointed out that last year, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti boosted funding for Hire L.A. Youth Summer Employment Program to provide jobs to 5,000 more teens.
Elsewhere in the state, San Jose has been doing an excellent job of keeping teens busy during the summer, and thus lowering gang violence, through its Safe Summer Initiative.
In LA, Homeboy Industries helps formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated young people with job training and placement, in addition to many other crucial programs and services.
“Clearly, if you ask any inner city kid what would help them, not a single one would say anything other than…job, says Father Greg Boyle, Homeboy’s founder. “It gives them a reason to get up in the morning and honest money in their pocket, and if they are even remotely ‘gang involved,’ a reason not to engage in gang activity. There are always too few summer jobs and too many hoops and too many requirements for kids to secure them.”
CHECKING IN WITH CALIFORNIA FOSTER KIDS TRANSITIONING TO ADULTHOOD
A five-year survey (half-way through its 2012-2015 span) assessed the conditions of California foster kids nearing adulthood, specifically 16 and 17-year-olds.
Ninety percent of the 727 transition-aged kids surveyed said they feel at least “fairly optimistic” about the future, 92% have at least one person they can turn to for support, and 70% said their caregivers had been helpful overall, according to the survey conducted by University of Chicago’ Chapin Hall.
These numbers are heartening considering the fact that foster kids aging out of the system face daunting statistics.
One-third of respondents said they had dropped out of middle school or high school because of a change in foster care placement. Twenty-seven percent said they had been expelled from school. Nearly half said the highest level of education they had completed was 11th grade. Only 11% reported finishing high school. A fifth of one percent finished a year of college.
Twenty-four reported having attempted suicide. Nearly 40% reported having been arrested, and 25% said they had been locked up in a detention facility.
Twenty-six percent of the foster teen girls said they had been pregnant at least once, compared with 10% of the general population.
The Chronicle of Social Change’s John Kelly has more on the study and statistics. Here’s a clip:
The study is the first part of the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study, a collaborative effort among the California Department of Social Services, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, and five private foundations.
In 2010, the state passed Assembly Bill 12, which offers foster youths the option to remain in care until age 21. The bill guarantees transition-oriented options for older youths, including supervised independent living and more intensive transitional housing programs…
Researchers will re-interview the participants when they are between the ages of 19 and 21, years in which California now offers foster youths the chance to remain in care. Two-thirds of the survey participants indicated that they wanted to remain in care after age 18.
“In the next three years, the study will take a deeper look into the needs of subgroups of youth and will also compare young people’s and caseworker’s perspectives,” said Dr. Mark Courtney, who is leading this research for Chapin Hall, in a statement issued with the release of the survey. “This work will offer important guidance to California as well as other states that are extending foster care.”
SAN BERNARDINO CITY TO BUILD NEW JAIL…FOR LA COUNTY
On Wednesday, the Adelanto City Council voted 4-1 to move forward with building a new 3,264-bed jail, in the hopes that LA County will lease the facility and fork over some much-needed cash.
LA County has not signed a contract with the city, but private developer Doctor R. Crants says he expects to pitch the idea to the Board of Supervisors soon.
We at WLA sincerely hope that before the board signs on the dotted line for this new jail (while rebuilding and expanding Men’s Central Jail to the tune of $2 billion), they will run the numbers and figure out how much jail space LA really needs if: the county pushes for large-scale mental health diversion, increases its use of split-sentencing, and replaces a portion of economic-based bail practices with a risk-based pre-trial release.
The LA Times’ Kate Linthicum has the story. Here’s a clip:
…critics say the vote was premature because the city has not yet signed a contract with the county. They also question whether the county will have a need for an overflow jail facility after the passage of Proposition 47, a voter-approved initiative that reduces penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes.
“There will possibly be no need for the county to send innmates elsewhere,” said Christina Fialho, who heads a campaign against jail expansion in Adelanto.
County officials are still assessing how the new regulations will affect the size of its inmate population.
Several county supervisors have said they would consider leasing space in Adelanto, with Supervisor Don Knabe expressing support for the proposal.
But this week, newly elected Supervisor Hilda Solis suggested she may oppose it. Solis, who warned at her inauguration earlier this month against an “incarceration-industrial complex,” said in a statement that her priority was investing in mental health and substance abuse treatment, not new jail beds. “It is fiscally reckless to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year housing and feeding people who could be out working,” Solis said.
FORMER POLICE UNION SPOKESMAN EXPLAINS LAW ENFORCEMENT’S SIDE OF A DEPARTMENT CRISIS
In a smart commentary for the Crime Report, Eric Rose, longtime spokesman of the Los Angeles Police Protective League who recently parted ways with the union, shares the law enforcement side of a crisis or scandal. Rose stresses the necessity of being transparent and honest with the public and media from the beginning.
Rose also explains what goes through the minds of officers and department leaders when their organization gets “lit up,” and what those leaders must do to confidently lead their rank and file through the trouble. Here’s a clip:
The reputation of every police or sheriff’s department depends on the confidence of its key stakeholders: the public, employees, the union, the media and sometimes outside government regulators. Sooner or later, virtually every law enforcement organization faces a crisis that has the potential to destroy its public reputation.
While that day is almost inevitable, it always comes as a huge shock.
No one is ever really prepared, no matter what contingency planning the organization has done. More often than not, the issue arises from an unexpected source without any prior notice.
It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of being responsive, credible and accurate early in the crisis. Every law enforcement organization struggles at this point with multiple anxieties that often paralyze management and labor and lead to indecision and non-communication. Hesitation, vagueness and unwillingness to factually communicate destroy credibility and plant the seeds of future disaster.
The recent high-profile law enforcement events in Ferguson and New York demonstrate the contrasts in responses. In Ferguson, there was little factual response by the Police Department to the narrative being created around the shooting, ensuring that anything released when the investigation was concluded had little effect in either informing or changing minds of the public.
Without a coherent and organized response for a long period of time, subsequent events and agendas simply overwhelmed the police, and made virtually irrelevant any subsequent statement by the Police Department.
In New York, following the grand jury decision not to indict an officer in connection with the chokehold death of Eric Garner, what happened in the original incident was captured entirely on videotape. So the response did not need to concern itself with “what” happened—but how the New York Police Department (NYPD) would respond.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton was brilliant. He made himself available for national and local media, took the hard questions, and repeated calmly the procedures the department would follow after the grand Jury decision. Although the essence of what he said was not new to the media, nor to anybody who is aware of police procedure, the availability and measured response to questions has kept Bratton and his department relevant players in the fallout from the grand jury decision.
Commissioner Bratton has two terms every executive should use when getting out information quickly: “the information is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation proceeds” and “the first story (version) is never the last story (version).”