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March 31, 2010

ULM hosts Northeast Juvenile Justice Summit; summit addresses reform

The University of Louisiana at Monroe co-hosted the Northeast Juvenile Justice Summit on March 31, in the ULM library.

ULM joined the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, along with the 4th Judicial District of Louisiana, to offer this fourth in a series of six regional summits, held in partnership with local, regional, and statewide juvenile justice stakeholders.

The Summit highlighted significant system improvements spearheaded by district courts as part of their “Models for Change” initiative, supported through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Foundation formally launched the initiative in Pennsylvania in 2004, which expanded to Illinois in 2005, and Louisiana in 2006. “Models for Change” chose states based on prominence, diversity and readiness for change.

The initiative fosters reform models that can be studied, shared and adapted. Almost 75 participants came from Shreveport to Tallulah, and points in between, to learn about ongoing juvenile justice reform efforts taking place across the state.

“This is the best attended of all the summits held so far,” said Dr. Mary Livers, deputy secretary state of Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, and one of the featured speakers for the day-long program.

There are three primary areas in which reform is focused: expanding the use of alternatives to formal processing and incarceration; increasing access to evidenced based services, and reducing minority contact with the juvenile justice system.

An emphasis was placed on the unique collaborative efforts taking place in the judicial district between higher education, the legal system, and service providers in order to improve outcomes for children.

“The greatest success of the summit was that Louisiana jurisdictions were able to learn how they can improve their own juvenile justice systems and how they can partner with institutions of higher education and community agencies in order to be able to provide multi-disciplinary services," said Dr. Jana Sutton, director of Marriage and Family Therapy programs at ULM.

Sutton is the principal investigator of ULM’s Models for Change Project and the ULM 4th Judicial Court Juvenile Drug Court Program.

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