Video Transcript: A Panel to Discuss Developmentally-Appropriate Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults
September 18, 2015
Stuart F. Delery, Acting Associate Attorney General: Okay. Good morning, everyone.
Panel: Good morning.
Stuart F. Delery: My name is Stuart Delery. And I'm the acting Associate Attorney General. And it's a pleasure to be with all of you this morning and to welcome all of you to the Great Hall here at the Department of Justice. This program today should be a truly insightful and thought-provoking discussion about how to ensure that youth and young adults in the Criminal Justice System are treated in a fair manner that is consistent with the latest science on the developmental differences between adults and young adults. It should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever been 18 or 22 — or, better yet, has been an adult around someone who is 18 or 22 — to learn that the brain does not develop [fully] until the person is well into his or her twenties. That means that young adults are more likely to make impulse-based decisions than to think through the benefits of potential consequences of their actions. And, unfortunately, a tragic incident last week highlights this point. Many of you may have heard about the 19-year-old victim who accidentally shot and killed himself while taking a selfie holding a gun to his head. As teen behavior specialist expert Josh Shipp said about the incident, the prefrontal cortex, sometimes referred to as the executive functioning part of the brain, controls reasoning and helps us think before we act. And that part is changing and maturing well into adulthood. Accordingly, Shipp noted, "Teens are more likely to take risks and act on impulse." It's essential that all of us understand what this research means for the justice system as we strive to balance … reduced impulse control and the increased prospect of rehabilitation … with the need for accountability. And so, I'd like to extend special appreciation to Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason and her tremendous team in the Office of Justice Programs for assembling such a distinguished panel of Criminal Justice and Brain Development experts for today's discussion. And, to our panelists, we look forward to hearing from all of you and learning from you. And, now, it's my honor to introduce the 83rd Attorney General of the United States, Loretta E. Lynch. Attorney General Lynch is no stranger to the world of Justice-Involved Young Adults. As she was attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Attorney General Lynch worked alongside the District Court and Pretrial Services to support young adults in the Special Option Services Diversion Program. Over her first 100 days as Attorney General, she has reinforced the department's commitment to Juvenile Justice issues. She has championed the President's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, allowing communities and federal agencies to work together, sharing information, and build capacity to use prevention, enforcement and re-entry strategies to stop violence and to secure progress. She's advocated for a renewed focus on alternatives to prison, like drug courts and treatment programs and probation. And she's met with young people around the country — including in Baltimore, days after the death of Freddie Gray — to hear their concerns and their suggestions on how to make their community stronger. A lifelong prosecutor, Attorney General Lynch is a champion for public safety and is committed to protecting victims’ rights. And so it's my great pleasure to introduce Attorney General Lynch. Thank you.
Loretta E. Lynch, Attorney General of the United States: Good morning. Good morning, all. Great group here. [I’m] quite excited to see so many people here for this important, important event. I want to thank Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery for that kind introduction but, also, I have to thank Stuart for his exceptional leadership here at the Department of Justice. Many of the programs that this — that this group will work with, and being the people with — that you're going to meet today fall under Stuart's leadership and that really owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him. And I also have to thank someone else to whom you owe a tremendous debt of gratitude — Karol Mason, our outstanding Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. She has been a true leader in this, and so many other endeavors, and is frankly a true treasure here at the department. And so, I can't be happier that this is coming to fruition under her watch as well as that … as well as that of her staff, who's done a tremendous job of putting this program together. I also want to thank Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, the Department of Education's Deputy Secretary John King, and also our distinguished panelists who've come from across the country to help us discuss one of the most important ideas in criminal justice today. It's a real pleasure for me to be here with you today. And it's frankly a privilege for me to join you — this group of dedicated public servants, innovative thought leaders — as we all begin this discussion, discussing the unique challenges facing young adults who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System, as we examine new ways to approach these critical issues, and as we commit to moving this conversation forward in order to build a stronger and a more effective Criminal Justice System — one that will better serve our communities and our country. Today's important event speaks to one of the main priorities of the Department of Justice: pursuing new ways to promote public safety, to deter criminal behavior and bolster the effectiveness of our Criminal Justice System. That mission is as vital now as it has ever been. And it holds particular promise with regard to [the] young adult population. As you all know, and as you'll be discussing today, young adults are disproportionately likely to be arrested in general, and disproportionately likely to be arrested for violent acts in particular. And they're more likely than any other age group to commit additional crimes within three years. Now, these realities do represent real and daunting challenges. But they also underscore the need for those of us involved in law enforcement and criminal justice policy to understand these issues, to be willing to examine new ideas and approaches, and to engage in conversations like this one to share knowledge and to explore solutions. As you're going to be talking about today, the research indicates that as young adults age through their late teens and early twenties, they experience a period of rapid and profound brain development. Now, in addition to providing insight into why young adults act the way that they do — a mystery to parents everywhere — brain science also indicates that we may have a significant opportunity, even after the teenage years, to exert a positive influence and to reduce future criminality through appropriate interventions. It raises the possibility that [by] considering these unique stages of development within the criminal justice system, we can possibly reduce the likelihood of recidivism and also create important benefits for public safety. And it offers a chance to consider new and innovative ways to augment our criminal justice approach. Now, that process will involve gaining the knowledge and the expertise of stakeholders from all quarters: from scientific experts to law enforcement officials, and from community leaders to victims’ organizations. Throughout these efforts, we intend to keep the needs of victims at the center of our work, as we always do, and to find the right methods and the right strategies to simultaneously achieve justice for the victims of crime while also holding young adults accountable and reducing their likelihood of engaging in future criminal behavior. This panel (whom you'll meet soon) is a vital and exciting part of that ongoing initiative. In your work today and in the work that you will carry on after you leave this conference, you will explore some of the most promising practices in use for appropriate cases around the country. You'll discuss the Young Adult Court, specialized in the kinds of crimes that can result from a young person's poor decision-making or impulsive behavior. You'll examine diversion programs that impose appropriate punishments while also guiding young people towards opportunities for improvement and restorative justice practices that offer a sense of community to Justice-Involved Young People. You'll examine the promise of specialized probation caseloads and parole supervision programs that provide tailored services, rehabilitated housing units that focus specifically on incarcerated young people, and enhanced confidentiality through sealing or expunging records to help deserving young people get back on the right path and stay out of the Criminal Justice System for good. And you will talk about the unique and important role that brain development science and trauma research can play in informing these new policies and initiatives as we all work together to safeguard victims and to achieve positive outcomes. Now, I have no illusions that this work will be easy. You also know that it will not. And we face very real challenges. But with the friends and allies, like all of you here today, and with the passion and the engagement and the commitment that you are bringing to this cause, I have no doubt that we can make real and critical progress on behalf of our communities and our nation. So, I want to thank all of you, not just for coming here today, but thank you for all your contributions to this mission and for your outstanding work in the service of this effort. Thank you for caring about a group of young people that society is all too often, all too eager to simply throw away and write off. And thank you for helping the Department of Justice live up to its responsibility to continually re-evaluate not just what we do, but how we do it in the hopes of building stronger, safer, better, more effective communities that all of us deserve and that we have an obligation to provide to every young person in this country. So, thank you again for coming together. I wish you an outstanding panel and ongoing conference today and I look forward to everything that we're going to achieve in the months and years ahead. Thank you so much.
Please welcome to the stage — Deputy Director and Chief of Staff for the National Institute of Justice, Howard Spivak.
Howard Spivak, Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here. Well, I come from NIJ. I'm actually going to speak to you this morning, a bit as a pediatrician and a public health practitioner, because this is not an issue just for the Criminal Justice System but, really, is something that's touching a broad spectrum of professional areas and service systems. First, it's important to recognize that the science that we're hearing about now is very recent science and has really only evolved over the last decade, decade and a half. And, in fact, when I was in medical school, we were essentially taught that brain development was pretty much over by the age of 5, and that everything was done. And it led to practices like playing Mozart to babies in their cribs because people felt like that was their one chance of creating confident or genius children — that's obviously not true. Now, the other thing about this science is that it's really substantiating what we've known for a very long time. and intuitive [at the] practice level but, now, we have concrete science that supports this. Throughout my career, when I was a practicing clinician doing Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, there was a constant struggle in the debate going on, over what the definition of adolescence was. And insurers hated the idea that adolescence might be extended beyond the late teens because they wanted kids off their parents' insurance policies as fast as possible. And hospitals created policies where young people had to graduate to adult clinical wards and outpatient departments long before they — we — many of us felt we're ready to move in that direction. And, in fact, adolescent medicine clinicians weren't really trained to deal with young adults. So, the … this sort of no man's land was developed in health care where young adults kind of “got lost.” There weren't clinicians from adolescent medicine prepared to deal with them, and internal medicine clinicians had no idea what to do with these young people. And, so, they were essentially getting lost in the health care system. Now, fortunately, much of that has changed. And we now see adolescent programs that take care of individuals well into their mid-twenties. We see much more flexibility around insurance coverage as well as hospital policies around this. But it was a real struggle to get to this point and, fortunately, the science is helping to support that. When I moved into Public Health, the same issues came up. And there was a growing reality that young adults were, in fact, the most vulnerable group, especially with respect to issues of violence and injury. And public health practitioners and the public health community became really … became involved in things such as graduated licenses because the understanding of the risk of young people — young adults, and their access to relatively dangerous things like cars — was something that needed to be managed and monitored more carefully. And now, I come to the Justice Department and the same debate is going on, and it's a healthy and important debate. But it's also important to remember — this is not unique to the Criminal Justice System — that this has implications across a whole spectrum of services, a whole spectrum of disciplines. And it's important that criminal justice work with all of those other disciplines to come to some resolution on how we can best serve this population. On that note, I'd like to move on to the panel now. And I'd like to introduce Karol Mason, who will be moderating the panel. Karol is currently the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. Office of Justice Programs funds an array of services and research, and statistical and evaluation services for the broad, entire criminal Justice System. But, as important, was … before Karol was involved in that role, she was a Deputy Associate Attorney General [who] led Attorney General Holder's Defending Childhood Initiative and actually helped create the Working Group on Children Exposed to Violence. So, she has a long history of linking developmental and environmental and social factors and issues to criminal justice policy and practice. So, on that note, I'd like to welcome Karol to the podium.
Karol V. Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs: Good morning. I sneaked up on Howard. Thank you all for coming out today. And I'm going to diverge just a moment from my prepared remarks, but he's not out here yet, so I'll save it. But thank you, Howard. And I want to give my thanks to Attorney General Lynch and Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery. We appreciate their words, and we are grateful for the challenge that has been presented to all of us — to think about how we can use science to reach this critical population and, by extension, reduce victimization, enhance public safety, and increase the system's legitimacy in the eyes of America's young people. Now, you're going to hear from Vinny Schiraldi first, in a few minutes, but I need you all to really work with me and really, really get this distinction. We're not talking about juveniles. The country, the world recognizes that juveniles are different. And it's going to be really hard to change your vocabulary to add this new context. He worked with me for about a year. I've got my early emails from him about when he was saying, "Got to deal with the young adults, young adults," and I kept answering back about youth. And sometimes we may say young people and youth because, to us, they are young people. But we are talking about people who are technically adults in this country, 18 to 24, or sometimes we talk about 18- to 25-year-olds. So, I'm going to challenge you all to really, really think about your vocabulary and really think about this group very differently — and they're going to help us with that. So, it's my pleasure to serve as the moderator for this very distinguished panel of experts. And on stage with me are some of the brightest minds in criminal justice. And they've got a wealth of knowledge and experience to share about how we should handle Justice-Involved Young Adults. Two of them, Vince Schiraldi and Bruce Western — if you can … if you can wave from back there, wave your hands, so they can tell who you are — along with Kendra Bradner. Where's Kendra? I know she's here. Stand up for a second, Kendra … because she's not up here with us … but the paper that you all have — these are the authors of the papers that are in your chairs. This paper was developed under the auspices of the Harvard Executive Session on Community Corrections and funded by the National Institute of Justice. Now, I don't know if Nancy Rodriguez is still with us. Nancy, if you could … well, she's standing: She's the Director of NIJ. So, please thank her for this work. It's not only a brilliant piece of scholarship but it offers fascinating information and insights that will help change the way we deal with this population. So, I'd like to briefly introduce each of our panelists. And then, we're going to move directly into questions and answers. And we will reserve some time for questions from you all, though some of you know that I may not call on you — depending on your questions, Bill Sable! First, my good friend, Vincent Schiraldi: Vinny, a Senior Adviser to the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice in New York City and the former Commissioner of the New York City Probation Department as well as the former director of the D.C. Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services. Next, we have Elizabeth Cauffman: Dr. Cauffman is a Professor and Chancellor's Fellow in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. Wave to everybody! Our third panelist, Bruce Western … I recognize him … Bruce is Faculty Chair of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice at Harvard University. Can anyone repeat that? Bruce can! Fourth, we have Glenn Martin: Glenn is Founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA and one of the nation's most forceful advocates for Criminal Justice Reform. And he will describe himself, or at least I've heard him describe himself, as the chief risk-taker, so we'll see what he has to tell us. Fifth, we have U.S. District [Court] Judge Joan Azrack from the Eastern District of New York. Since 2012, Judge Azrak has served as supervising judge in the Special Operations Services Program and Alternative Sentencing Program for young adults that you heard the Attorney General reference a little while ago. They're old friends, so we … that helped, I think, get her to come to do this. Finally, we have, but not last, we have Kate Miller. Katie is Chief of Alternative Programs and Initiatives in the Office of the San Francisco District Attorney where she oversees the office's collaborative courts, neighborhood courts, mental health, and judicial … juvenile units as well as initiatives focused on Restorative Justice and Justice-Involved Young Adults. I think you're going to top the price for the longest job description! But she's doing fabulous work, so we're going to hear about that. So, we're delighted to have all of you here. And I'm going to start with a few questions, and I'm going to start with Vinny. So, why should we be so concerned about the way young adults are handled in our justice system? We allow young people to vote at 18, purchase alcohol at 21; why shouldn't a 21-year-old or a 22-year-old, arrested for a crime, be dealt in the same way as older adults, Vinny?
Vincent Schiraldi, Senior Advisor, New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice : So, thank you. And let me start by just thanking the Attorney General and Stuart Delery, Howard Spivak, John King, Broderick Johnson, all for being here today. This is a population I don't think is, yet, on the map as far as the justice system conversation goes, or at least not sufficiently on the map. And by all those folks showing up today and speaking and lending their authority to this subject, I think it shows the level of importance that it needs to have. And, of course, I want thank Karol for your leadership in this area — I really appreciate it. And Nancy for funding the Executive Session, even though you funded the paper; I guess they stuck you in the cheap seats, though, so … but thank you very much. And so, now, to the … to the question: You know, in 1899, 116 years ago, the … Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop, and Lucy Flower founded the Family Court in Illinois, the first one in the … in the world. And they did an awful lot right when they did that. They said, you know … individualization, rehabilitation … let's talk with these kids in institutions. Let's treat them as young people whose lives you want to nurture and turn into better lives because we understand that there's mitigation because they're not fully developed, and that they're malleable, and that we can turn their life course at this moment. It's better for them. It's the morally right thing to do. It's better for all the rest of us. They did an awful lot right when they did that. The one thing that I'm going to question is their choice of around 18 as the demarcation of the top end of the court that they established. If they were here today and we didn't have a Family Court, there's just simply no way they’d pick 18 based on research findings by … the people like the two folks to my left that are increasingly showing that young people in this age group, 18 to 24 or 18 to 25, are more similar to juveniles than they are to fully matured adults. They're more impulsive. They're greater risk-takers. They have much more proclivity to associate themselves with peers and to follow those peers, and they are less future oriented. And those things don't just kind of … they're not just interesting facts; they matter inordinately for criminal justice behavior, right? If you're … if you're more focused on your peers and you're in with a group of peers that's involved in criminal behavior, you're more likely to engage in that behavior with those peers than a 30-year-old would be. And that's important because it's not … it's just straight up not fair to punish the 30-year-old and the 18-year-old exactly the same way, but also this is the opportunity to help turn their lives around. So, that's one big part of the answer, but there's another big part of the answer, which is that adolescence today is different than adolescence was a decade ago — 40 years ago, and certainly 116 years ago. When I was born in 1959, 45 percent of the people who were between 18 and 25 were married. It's 9 percent today, so five times as many people were married in this age group when I was a kid than there are now. And that matters: being married, getting a job, being educated, moving out of your parent's home, and establishing yourself as a householder. These are all resiliency factors that help young people, what we call age-out, which I never thought was a great term because it's not about age, it's about hitting certain milestones, age-out of criminal behavior. As Probation Commissioner, I will … we have an adult caseload and a juvenile caseload, and I … and I saw our juvenile caseload. The juvenile system is not perfect and we can have a whole forum on its … on its blemishes, but at least, it's giving it a shot. And the attempts at rehabilitation, individualization, protecting confidentially that we have on the juvenile side, we would have killed for on the adult side. We didn't have that. And judges were nice people and they tried and they did their best, but there was no requirement for them to treat a 19- or a 20-year-old any differently than they treat a 40-year-old. And so, what we got was a lot of idiosyncratic good practice, and we'll hear about some great efforts from the rest of the panel. But we didn't get systemic practice and we still don't have systemic practice. And so, I think this is a hugely important population for us to be focusing on, and so I thank everybody at the beginning. And that's the answer to my question.
Karol V. Mason : Great. And you're going to hear more about why this group is important, why it's … why we're talking about it now. But Dr. Cauffman is going to give us a basis on the science. So, Vinny touched a bit on the science. And I'd like to explore a bit further so that we can have a solid foundation for this conversation. Can you explain to us how a young adult's brain differs from an older adult's, and how do these differences affect one's decision-making and risk-taking behavior?
Elizabeth Cauffman, Professor, University of California at Irvine: I'll do my best. So, thank you very much for having me. And as the professor in the room, of course, I brought pictures and research photos here. But I want to start first with the risk-taking piece and then move into the decision-making and brain research because, if you look here — as you've already heard about — there's a lot of risk-taking that happens. But what people don't realize — that a lot of this risk-taking actually happens and peaks during 18, 19 years of age. We're looking here at driver deaths from the Institute for Highway Safety. And just for easy understanding, boys are in blue, girls are in pink, just to make life easy. But you'll see it peaks around 18, 19 years of age. You could find the same thing if you look at binge drinking. Binge drinking actually peaks between 19 and 21. So, you see, during 18 to 24, huge peaks in [the] sort of risk-taking behavior. Of course, since we're here today at the Department of Justice, we look at something specific: the age-crime curve. What you see is that crime actually peaks around 18, 19 years of age. And again, same for women as well, and then declines thereafter. And if you look at the decline, it's roughly around age 25, 26. I don't know that's just because we're too old or too tired to run. But this is a curve that we have seen for years. And this risk-taking behavior is well-known and peaks during these late adolescent, young adult years. And so, the question that I often get asked as a psychologist is, "Well, kids aren't stupid. They know the difference between right and wrong." And I said, "Well, my 5-year-old knows the difference between right and wrong." But the question here isn't whether they know the difference between right and wrong. The question is whether you know the ability to control yourself, and that's a lot of the research that we've been doing, particularly supported by the MacArthur Foundation. And, in fact, one study that we've done looks at this very question. We looked at kids as young as age 10, to adults as old as age 30. And we measure them on two very important things. Cognitively, the way people think, and emotionally, the way they can control themselves. And you're seeing two very different lines. What you're looking at here is, higher scores mean more mature behavior. And what you see here in the red line, that's your cognitive ability. That's your intellectual maturity. That peaks around 16 years of age. Well, so at 16, we should let everybody be an adult and every pair in the room is going, “Dear God, no.” I mean, this is … this is something we know, that our 16-year-olds aren't mature. But cognitively, we actually see equivalent behavior. They think very similarly to adults. So then, what else is going on? If you look at that blue line, we call that a maturity line or psychosocial or emotional development; that's your impulse control, your ability to regulate your emotions, your ability to think long-term, to resist peer influence. And look at that line. That line keeps growing right up until about age 25, 26, look what happens to your 30s. So, you have this huge gap. Cognitively, what you know, but emotionally, what you can control. We call it … we have an expression that feels [like] starting the engine without a skilled driver. The car works, the engine runs, but the person behind the wheel can't control the car. And that's where the tension is. Kids know the difference between right and wrong but, emotionally, they just sometimes can't stop themselves. And parents in the room, when you ask your kid, "Why did you do that?" What's the most common response back you get? I don't … see, everybody gets, “I don't know.” Exactly; I don't … they're not lying. They know they shouldn't have done it. They knew they shouldn't have done it, but they did it anyway. And, in fact, that's the very thing. And so, people have been trying to understand, why this disconnect? And I think that's where the interest in brain research and brain science has come from. And we've talked a lot about it, but what is it? Well, what you're looking at here is the development of the brain, and blue means more development. You want to see more blue. Your brain actually develops from the back to the front. And the area everybody's talking about is this area right here, right behind your forehead, called the frontal lobe or the prefrontal cortex, and that part of the brain doesn't fully develop until around age 25. Now, that part of the brain's like the CEO of the company, it runs and regulates the way in which you behave, your impulse control, your ability to think long-term; well, wait — those were all those emotional characteristics I just talked about, that part of the brain that's responsible for that isn't fully developed until much later, until young adulthood. It's like the brake of the car, and the brake just doesn't work until around age 25. Now this is important because … what are we talking about when we talk about brain development? What's actually happening? Your brain isn't getting bigger. It's not growing. It's really a reorganization. So when people are talking about this, what they're talking about is a remodeling of synapses. So what your see here in infancy, there's a whole bunch of synapses in your brain disconnections, the way messages travel. Are there any gardeners in the room? If you like a rose bush, you know to trim back the rose bush; well, in fact, that's exactly what you do if you want to see growth. During adolescence, we prune away the unnecessary synapses so the messages travel in a direct route. We know it's much faster to go from point A to point B rather than taking a detour. By removing the unnecessary synapses, we no longer take detours, we tr … the messages travel in a straight route. We also see what we call “increased myelination”; it's a white fatty sheet that goes around the axon. The way I like to think about it is putting pavement on a dirt road; it's much faster to travel down paved highways than it is down a dirt road. And that's exactly what happens — messages now travel in a direct route on a faster highway. We also have an increase in what we call dopamine receptors. Dopamine makes you feel good; dopamine, in fact, there's never a better time. The reason everything felt so great in adolescence is because there was actually what we call this “dopamine squirt.” It's just this increased dopamine, dopamine's great — when you eat chocolate: dopamine; when you see something very exciting: dopamine. And so, kids have high … more density in distribution of these receptors, and that's why everything feels great during adolescence. And, of course, nothing ever feels as great again. And then, finally, you have this increased connectivity between your subcortical regions and your cortical regions. And so, those connections actually allow the messages to go to the prefrontal cortex, and this all happens during this time. To put this all together, I'm going to play this video for you; you're going to watch an actual time-lapsed video of how the brain's developing. Remember, you want to see more blue. Uh-oh. Let me see if I can do this … here we go. And that's a time-lapsed video of kids from age 5 to 20 and how the brain is developing. And, by putting this altogether, one of the things that you're noticing is that the brain fully develops around age 25. The brake is in place in the car now, and it works. But what's important here is that once you move to … just as populations, how do you handle the 18- to 24-year-old? Realize developmentally, as we transition, of course, you need to hold kids accountable. You need to hold young adults accountable. The question isn't whether you hold them accountable, it's how you hold them accountable. We're hoping that this research and the science in this area can better guide the policies and practices we have in place.
Karol V. Mason : Great. Thank you. So, Bruce, I wanted to talk to you about … your paper talks about historical changes in the life course. So where … And you can see a theme, we're building on this, and we're building … Now to Katie about what it is, why we're here, and what we want you all to do. So, can you explain to us how this is relevant to our conversation?
Katherine Weinstein Miller, Chief of Alternative Programs and Initiatives, Office of the San Francisco District Attorney: Yeah. Absolutely. And I loved that we started to think about the scientific background of this question, with Beth's work on the brain science, because I think the brain science gains special significance in this particular historical period, and we've seen two really significant changes in American society over the last three or four decades. And the first big change has been the change in family structure, and Vinny mentioned this as well. And, beginning in the early 1960s, we've seen a steady increase in rates of single parenthood and rates on nonmarital birth. So, kids are growing up in different kinds of families today than they were several decades ago. They're much more likely to be growing up in a home — or at least in some time in their childhood — in a home with just a single parent, and the nonmarital birth rate today is about 40 percent. So 40 percent of all kids today are born to an unmarried mother. And this is a very basic change in American family structure and kids' lives as a result of this change in family structure — less structured, less organized as a consequence. So, that's one big change. The second big change is that the American labor market has changed quite fundamentally over the last four decades as well. We've seen very significant growth in income and equality, and the workers with less than a high school … with a high school education or less, their earnings have declined quite substantially. So, the only winners left in the American labor market over the last three decades are college graduates. So, for a young man in particular who never went to college, employment opportunities have deteriorated a great deal, and [young adults] have encountered really severe employment problems, and jobless rates are much higher than they used to be. If I give you one other statistic, if we look at a young African American man, 16 to 24, 27% percent now in that age group are disconnected, as we say, and that means that they're neither in school or in work, and so, over a quarter of African American men are in that disconnected category. So, their lives -- the lives of young people, and young men in particular, are also less structured in this way because they're not moving into work in the way that they used to. Now, all of these big social changes are not distributed evenly across the population. These big social changes, in which young adulthood is less structured than it used to be, is being concentrated among that segment of the population that never went to college. So, these are the more disadvantaged communities and more disadvantaged families that [are] disproportionately experiencing these big changes in the life course. So … well, the story today is as much about public safety and criminal justice policy; it's also fundamentally a story about American social inequality and American poverty. So, why do I pick out changes in family structure and changes in employment as two significant demographic trains? Well, there's a lot of research that shows that a stable and supportive family life and steady employment are the keys to a transition to a whole variety of prosocial adult roles, and they're also the keys to criminal desistance in adulthood. And John Laub, who's here today from the University of Maryland, has done a heartbreaking work on this. So, in the way that American social institutions have changed, with their effects focused at the bottom of the … of the stratification hierarchy, two of the fundamental socializing devices in American life have significantly … have significantly changed, and the conditions for the transition into a stable and prosocial adulthood have really been seriously weakened. And, in the context of what we know … now know about brain development, I think this poses a big challenge, a big challenge for public policy, in criminal justice policy in particular. The last thing I would say is that these demographic trends help us to imagine alternatives as well. So, what we need to put people on the path to more stable lives … do we need more punishment, more intensive incarceration? Well, I think the demographic trends are presenting us with alternative, stable family life, steady employment — it's these sorts of opportunities in which public policy has a role to play. I think it helps smooth the path from adolescence to adulthood in this historically novel time.
Karol V. Mason : So, I want to also point out again — something that you heard Howard Spivak say earlier today — this is a period of great opportunity with this age group; it's almost as favorable an opportunity as from 0 to 3, [for] 18 to 25. So, I want to make sure that you all here … that there's great hope, great opportunity, great possibilities, and Glenn is one of those examples of great possibilities. So, we heard a lot about brain science and data about the historical changes in the life course, and if someone who is incarcerated as a teenager and young adult … Glenn, can you share with us a bit about your experience and how your personal transformation came to pass, and what does your experience tell us about how this system should respond to justice-involved youth? And what I'm going to tell you is, take notes because this is real. Glenn?
Glenn Martin, Founder and President, JustLeadershipUSA : Thank you. I was actually all prepared to talk about the brain science, but I'll put that aside and I'll do a little bit of story-telling. The first thing I would say is … I see one of our JustLeadershipUSA. leaders in the audience, Jamira Burley, who is not only as intelligent, if not more so, than I am on these issues but a lot closer to the age range that we're referring to, and so I wanted to point her out, here in the audience. Jamira, just stand up for a second.
Karol V. Mason : Yeah. Stand up so we can see you. Good.
Glenn Martin: So, I want to do a little story-telling. I'll be … I'll be succinct. I want to tell my story and I want to tell the story of a gentleman named Mathew Allen. And my story is that I went to Rikers Island at the age … Rikers Island in New York City at the age of 16, 18, and 24; and I was there when they were 23,000 people or so. They're in a jail that's meant to hold 15,000 people. And, when I read the DOJ report recently that referred to the place as “Lord of the Flies” as … if you will, I just kept thinking to myself that it was exactly like that 20 years ago, and so that's at least 20 years of human carnage, if not more, in that place. And I remember as a young person there, having enough, sort of, presence of mind to realize that the proportionality of what was going on didn't make sense — that I was in a place that seemed extremely tough for a young person to be paying any sort of penalty, to be honest. I remember I was devoid of recreation opportunities, and programming opportunities, and positive reinforcement. And people often talk about how young people go to prison — adult prisons — and they learn from other criminals and, you know, that narrative for me was true, but not in the way most people tend to, sort of play it out. For me, it was learning from other people who are there. about how to live without hope, and how to live without opportunities, and how to live without compassion. That is what I think young people learn when we send them into these facilities. And I remember ultimately, when I got incarcerated at the age of 24, I went to serve 6 years in prison, and when I got to the reception facility, a correction counselor took a look at my grades and said to me, "You should go to college." And it was the first time anyone has said that to me in my life, including in the community I grew up in, the high school I went to, and so on. And then I found myself at a facility 10 hours away from home that had a college program, one of the last remaining college programs in New York State. And I remember sitting in class and watching a film of the Holocaust, and I have known about the Holocaust. I grew up in a community where you develop a narrative that allows you to survive, and the narrative usually has a lot to do with how America doesn't care much about me, how I'm a person of color in a country that hasn't spent a lot of time thinking about opportunities for people of color. And I'm sitting there, and I'm watching this film, and at one point in the film, a bulldozer pulls up and bulldozes dead naked human bodies, stacked about five high, into a hole in the ground. And I just remember that being a moment that put sort of a chink, if you will, in the story that I lived with for so long and helped me understand how human beings have so much more in common than our differences. But the point is, at the age of 24, it was still an opportunity to help shape my identity, and a lot of things grew from there. The other story is about Mathew Allen. So when I knew Mathew, he was 16, and we rode bicycles in the neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. And we were all very poor; I grew up on public assistance, so did he. And he wanted better for himself, and he wanted better for his family. And about three years ago, he was murdered; he was shot in the head and killed in Brooklyn. And when he was murdered, if you looked at his rap sheet, there was a lot of reasons for people not to have much sympathy for the fact that this person was killed. And yet, I remember him when it was a huge amount of opportunity to turn his life around, if you give him opportunities beyond what he was exposed to, and people often say to me now, "Well, Glenn, you know, you're the exception." And if I am, I say to people it’s because I've been exposed to exceptional opportunities. And so, I hope that that is the conversation that we're having today, about investing the courage that it takes to tell the truth about young folks. And about being poised to spend our political capital and other sorts of capital to do what works because government, in my opinion, has a responsibility to do more of what works and less of what doesn't. And then, finally, I would argue that every single person in this room — every single American — has a moral imperative to do the right thing with this group. Thank you.
Karol V. Mason : Thank you, Glenn. And Glenn is exceptional but, as he said, it's because he's had … he had exceptional opportunities. And the challenge for all of us here today — and those of you listening on the live stream, and those of you that we will talk to — is how do we make sure that we give this opportunity to more … many, many more young people so that Glenn is not exceptional because he had an exceptional opportunity? We have a responsibility to make sure that we provide this opportunity for everybody in that age range because it's important to all of our lives. And so, judges who are in your court have recognized that, and so for years now, you've been supervising judge for this Special Operation Services program in the Eastern District of New York. Can you tell us about the program, and why it's important, and why the Eastern District has taken an alternative approach to working with young adults?
Joan Azrack, United States District Judge, Eastern District of New York: Absolutely. I like to think that we are in the forefront, although I have to give credit to District Judge Jack B. Weinstein, who's a visionary judge who, back in year 2000, started the Eastern District SOS program as an alternative for pretrial detention for young adult defendants, 18 to 25. And Judge Weinstein's view was that young offenders in federal court in Brooklyn should not be defined by this one mistake they make, this one arrest — a mistake that's often attributable to their immature judgment and their lack of impulse control which, as we've heard, is so common in our youth. Judge Weinstein recognized that these young defendants have the potential to lead law-abiding lives when they're provided with the structure and the support and the access to education and job training and counseling that were unavailable to them prior to their arrest. So, it was based on that kind of vision that the Eastern District SOS program was formed. And this is how it works: Defendants are typically identified at arraignment at the bail interview, when they're interviewed by a pretrial services officer. The age range for eligibility is 18 to 25, and it's a loose 25. The majority of the defendants in our program are drug couriers who smuggled drugs through JFK Airport, or low-level defendants in conspiracy cases. Participation in the SOS program becomes a bail condition, and the defendants sign a participation agreement in which they promise to comply with program requirements. The participants are subject to very strict and intense supervision on a daily basis by pretrial services officers and on a monthly basis by the supervising judges. We found, over the years, that this intense supervision is necessary because most of these kids have never had structure of any kind in their lives. They often come from broken homes where there was no supervision or incentive to learn even the most basic daily life skills, as simple as why you have to get up in the morning and go to work or go to school. They've had no role models, let alone goals to aspire to; many dropped out of school as early as ninth grade, have undiagnosed learning disabilities, and have never had a job. So, that's the reason for the rigorous structure and supervision. Our participants have curfews, they are subject to electronic monitoring, many of them wear ankle bracelets; they receive tutoring for their high school equivalency exams; they are drug tested and treated if necessary; they receive job training and mental health treatment and parenting skills and, at least weekly meetings with our supervising pretrial services officer, Ms. Amina Adossa-Ali, who's been the heart and soul and the glue to the program for 15 years. Amina? Stand up. Now, many of the services that we use aren't governmental but they are community-based public interest organizations who help out the participants in our program, and they are absolutely critical to our success. There's the Hope Program in Brooklyn; there's Youth Represent, the Bronx young men's health clinic. We even have a major law firm in New York City that's offered their pro bono services to help our participants with civil issues they have, in the form of housing issues, child support, immigration issues. Now, in addition to regular meetings with the pretrial services officer — which can be, in some individual cases, every day of the week — the participants meet once a month with Judge Cheryl Pollak and myself; we are the supervising judges. Right now, we have 30 participants. And when they meet with us, we divide them into two groups of 15, and we meet with each group once a month. We meet in a courtroom, with the participants sitting in the jury box, and Judge Pollak and myself, the pretrial services officer, the probation officer, and a federal defender sit at a table, and each participant comes to the table, one at a time. We have a monthly written progress report on each individual. We then review the month's activity and progress he or she has made, and these meetings cover goals as simple as, "Did they go to school every day for a month? Did they get to work on time for a month? Did they finish preparing a resumé? Have they signed up for their GED exam or a college application, or simply progress towards getting and keeping a job?" And we use these meetings to encourage and praise the participants, where they've earned it, and we admonish them where it's necessary, but we find that the presence of the fellow participants during the meeting makes it a much more collaborative exercise. Everybody takes inspiration and encouragement from hearing about each other's triumphs and struggles. I mean, we've even gotten to the point recently where participants will be sitting in the jury box, and one of them will know about a job opportunity at his or her place of employment and offer it to the others, or have dealt with a college application issue, or an immigration issue, and will offer advice to their fellow participants. So it's … it becomes a common experience that benefits everyone. Now, in terms of duration of the program, typically, participants are in it for about two years, but it can be longer; there is no set time period. It is totally based on an individual's progress, and what determines the conclusion is whether the participant has met the goals he or she set when they started out — getting a job, getting a high school equivalency diploma, getting admitted to college. And that determination is made by Ms. Adossa-Ali and the program judges. We prepare a final report and then we meet with defense counsel. Defense counsel then makes a written submission to the U.S. Attorney's Office and then negotiates with the U.S. Attorney's Office over the ultimate disposition of the criminal case. The very best outcome for outstanding success is a dismissal of the charges outright or a deferred prosecution, which is effectively a dismissal. Next would be a reduction of a felony charge to a misdemeanor, and then next would be a probationary sentence. Now, although our statistics are somewhat limited, they are impressive. We have 30 young people in the program now; 3 have received deferred prosecutions, 3 have been sentenced to probation, 3 have received reduced prison sentences, 22 of 28 are working full- or part-time, 14 are in school, 14 are pending cognitive testing, and 4 have finished vocational training and they are working full-time. But more significantly than this data is that these kids are real success stories. The kids … these are kids who, through this program, have changed their trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families. These are young people who had, at the beginning of this, little hope for the future, other than a certain jail sentence. They've gone on to be productive members of society, law-abiding citizens, working people, good mothers and fathers who are now educated and employed. You know, we're still learning in this program. We consider ourselves definitely a work in progress, but we strongly believe that programs like these change lives. And I hope, and based on today, that programs like these are the wave of the future.
Karol V. Mason : Thank you very much, Judge. And for the U.S. Attorneys in the room and the representatives of the EOUSA, I encourage you all to meet with Judge Azrack and find out what … about this program. Now, we're going to have Katie — talk about what's happening in our state system and the wonderful work that they're doing in San Francisco — who is a pioneer in this area. So, Katie, can you tell us about the reforms taking place in San Francisco? And is it realistic that DA offices and law enforcement agencies across the country will take on the challenge of creating age-appropriate responses to young adults, and how did you get your community to buy in? But before she starts, if you are from a DA's office or courts, or a … or law enforcement, can you just raise your hands, because I want to see how many folks we're talking to here? Raise them high, okay. That's your audience, Katie. She's going to tell you what you can do.
Katherine Weinstein Miller : All right. We need to talk a little bit. So, there are few different questions, and I just want to start out, first by saying that it's really great to be here talking about this, and that it was actually being a fly on the wall at one of the executive sessions at Harvard, where Vinny and Bruce were talking about an early version of this paper — and I think Glenn was at the big kids table as well — that some of us from San Francisco really started thinking differently about this and now led directly to the program that we're launching now. So, it's very much full circle for me to be up here on the dais with everybody. You know, in San Francisco, we've actually been, for a number of years, running a program for young adults; it's called Back on Track, and that's created by our then-District Attorney, Kamala Harris. And the idea of it was very similar to what we've been talking about, which is how you help a young person facing that first felony arrest, to walk away from it without a conviction. That's going to hamper them for life, and with some stabilizing things like employment and education, and we've seen, really, what that can do, and we've also learned a lot over the years about what was really hard about that kind of a program. And hearing the discussions now about brain development, and also about the impacts of trauma and adverse childhood experiences on our young people, has really now helped us in the last year, changed the way that we want to engage the young folks who are in our adult system. And I want to go back to what Carol said at the beginning. We had a lot of debate about what to call this new program in San Francisco, which is … which is called Young Adult Court. And there are a lot of fancy names bandied about, a lot of really great acronyms. And a lot of them had the word “youth” in it, and every time we tried one of those out, people thought it was a new program in our juvenile justice system. And so, we really did come back to young adults, who keep using “adult” in this conversation so that folks would be really clear where this change is sitting. I think the dream for us is to get to a place where all of our young adults are handled in a separate way, but the way we're starting it is more on a pilot basis. And what's really changed about it in the last year are a few things. One is that, with every piece of this new court model, we're asking ourselves whether the way we're doing it is really developmentally directed to where young people are, where young adults are. So, from the way the judges first addressing them, to the risk and needs assessments that we're using on them to help them figure out themselves, what their individual plans are, to the way that we want them to be engaged and stand up and take a role, really, what we're trying to do based on what we know about development of 18- to 25-year-olds. But I would be remiss if I didn't say something that my 20-year-old intern said to me in this process, which is that we also need to remind ourselves that 18 to 25 is a really long time, and that people really change a lot in those 7 years. And so, for us, it's challenging ourselves to then be dynamic with how we actually approach a young person who comes into our court, and maybe maturing a lot while they're with us. The other piece for us, as I already indicated, is to really make sure we're taking a trauma-informed approach for the young people in our court. And the way that that's kind of shown itself for us is that it's a shifting of the underlying supportive model for folks, from what has primarily worked for … as a model to clinical case management, and support being at the court, of how young people are really brought in and engaged, and who their kind of primary support person is during the time that they're in court. And then the third thing that's happened for us in the last year, that's been really encouraging, has been the way that every criminal justice department has bought into the idea that we need to do something different around young adults in San Francisco. So, obviously, our office and the court and the public defender are all part of this new court model. Our adult probation department actually, for several years now, has had a specific young adult unit, it's called their TAY unit, their Transitional Age Youth unit (that's highlighted in the paper that you have on your chairs or on your laps), where all of the probation officers also had been trained in these issues and really take a developmentally directed approach with their young adult probationers. Our Department of Public Health now also has a specialized set of programs, just for this age group, with that same idea in mind and, again, how they combine the trauma-informed approaches and young adult approaches into their work. And then our Public Defender's Office actually has an attorney, half of whose role — when he's not in Young Adult Court — is working with their young adult defendants on a whole range of other issues outside the justice system as well as a clean slate for those young folks so that, across the system, everybody is really trying a new way to do this. The last thing for us, that's been really cool, is the way that the voters in San Francisco have actually come to recognize young adults as being distinct, and so we have something called the Children's Fund in San Francisco. It's a ballot … it's a personal tax that we use to fund a huge array of programs for young people in the city. And, last fall, when the voters reauthorized it for the first time ever, it specifically included new funding for young adults, 18 to 24. And that's really important for us as we build out our court because we know that we're going to need to fill some really important gaps for the young people coming through the justice system. It's really hard to live in San Francisco right now. It's a very expensive place. We do not have great housing for our young adults; even young adults coming out of college are trying to find a place to live. But if you don't have that safety net, you don't have that airbag, kind of surrounding you as you go into young adulthood, it can be a very hard place. We know we need a better job … better parenting programs for our young people. There's a whole range of things that we want to really build into this model, and it's great to feel like we're in a place where we have the collective will of the city to do it right now. We also know that we're really still building this court, while we're driving it to go on [the] best analogy from before and that, as we go along, we need to ask ourselves, how do we infuse procedural justice and restorative justice elements into this model? But we didn't want to wait until it was all figured out. We wanted to start now. We have young people right now sitting in jail, wanting to know if they can be in the court. And to delay was really to tell that young person to do something that none of us would want to do, which is sit and wait longer for change. The other thing that's been really different for us in the last year has been that willingness of everybody to take a really deep breath and look at our crime data and ask ourselves who we really wanted to have be in the program. So, for many years, the program we've been running in San Francisco has been for felony drug sales cases, but the data shows — and the reality of who's in our jail right now shows — that the arrest for drug offenses in San Francisco are incredibly reduced over the last five years by over 75 percent. That's really not who's sitting in jail right now for us. And then, for us to be real with ourselves, we need to have a conversation about the fact that the young people in our jail in San Francisco are there for robberies, and they're there for assault. They're there for taking iPhones, overwhelmingly. And I think it's very scary to have a real conversation about how to indict somebody, for a crime with a victim, into this kind of court model. And so, for us, for the question of … kind of, how law enforcement would buy in and how community buys in … I would say that we've challenged ourselves to think in a few different ways about how victims can be impacted by this kind of court model. At a minimum, we want to make sure that we're not harming our victims by offering what feels like an opportunity to the young people in our court. Things like restitution are real to a victim. They need that windshield fixed, they need that phone, they need to be restored for what's happened to them. And we want to really be mindful that we're doing the mechanisms of our court in a way that accounts for that. On top of that, we would like to actually think that any reforms to our system can help victims and that they walk away from this process more restored for what happened to them, feeling like there's a closer connection between the way that young person resolved his situation with how it impacted them. And we're trying to build those things in and also trying to really find a way for the larger community to have a role. And the number of people who've come to us, then have said, you know, "Can I be a mentor? Can I participate in this? Can I support it?" It has been really encouraging. At the same time, I think that we would be super, like, rose-colored glasses San Francisco-ey kind of (inaudible) people if we didn't acknowledge that it's a really scary change and that, for law enforcement, it feels scary to, kind of, talk about maybe not sending somebody to prison who we would have sent to prison, and what happens if they go off the rails — because we know that young adults can go
way off the rails when they go off the rails. And so, what's been interesting to me is seeing how both the prosecution side but also even on the public defender side, everyone kind of has this mix of apprehension and enthusiasm about trying something new. On the prosecution side, it really is that question of what happens if we do something that feels like someone's getting a break, even though they're really not. They're getting an opportunity combined with some real hard work. But what happens if that kind of public perception's out there and it goes badly? On the defense side, I think they, you know … the concern that my counterpart would say is, you know, we're asking young people to kind of engage, put themselves out there, talk a lot about what's happening with them in a system where we're used to having them stand behind us while we talk for them. So, everyone's kind of taking risks in how we do our work. To me, the thing that I think is most compelling to other jurisdictions is that, really, the way we're running this model is that it's a collaborative court, it's a problem-solving court, and research has consistently shown that problem-solving courts, such as drug courts and veterans courts and mental health courts, really can reduce recidivism. So, using that kind of model now for young people, if we're talking about 18- to 25 year-old, kind of, ages as the need for a collaborative court model, I think can be compelling for jurisdictions that have taken those kinds of models and then created them and have seen success. And the last thing I would just say is that I've had some really interesting reactions from the community as we've started talking about this and launching it. One of the first meetings I went to was with a number of real reformers, real progressive reformers in the Bay Area, and I was, like, super-excited to talk about young adult court because, like, what a win that was going to be. And I totally got my hat handed me to me because the people in the room said, "Well, that's great, but you all have really screwed up the adult system. You've really screwed up the juvenile system. Why do we want this in your hands,” right? And, yeah, exactly. You know, and it was really … it was very humbling to hear that because I felt we were doing something that was going to be really met with a lot of support. And it was just a good reminder that, you know, no matter where you sit in the community — whether you come from a real kind of place of concern about trying something new, whether you've had it with the way we've tried to do what we've been doing so far — you know, I think building community trust as we start these kinds of innovations, no matter what they are, is always really important. So we're trying to really be out there, talking about the work we're doing, trying to engage young people to hear what they think about the work that we're doing, and we'll let you know where the bus goes. But it's a new bus, it looks like. So, there is a lot of risk in the work that we're talking about doing, but there's also a lot of upside if we get this right because it's got very, very good public safety implications, and you've got young folks who are really going to be productive parts of our society. So, Vinny, tell us, bringing us home, you … we talked about the brain science changes in life circumstance over the years. Glenn's told us his wonderful story. We've heard about what's happening in the courts. Help convince this … is anybody in here not convinced that we should do this?
Katherine Weinstein Miller : Okay. You're not going to be brave enough to raise your hand but, just in case there's somebody … Okay, we've got one brave soul. Help her understand why we need to do this with them, and why this is such an opportunity for us now.
Vincent Schiraldi : I'd like to start where Katie ended off, which is, sort of, that the risk of innovating in a sense of trying something new. The status quo is pretty bad here. So, in New York, 49 percent of the violent felony arrests are people between the ages of 18 to 25, so it's … and nationally, 78 percent of people coming out of prison who are between 18 and 25 get rearrested, and half of them go back to prison. So that's the mark we’ve got to beat right now, and I think it's a pretty low bar to jump over, if you ask me. I think we should do way better than that. I think the juvenile court experiment was a good one, and I'm going to straight up say that, "No, Joe, you clapped at me, and you're going to argue about this on the way out the door, but I think that if my kid was in trouble, I'd rather have them in the juvenile court than the adult court." And that doesn't mean that it's perfect there and that we're done fixing that. There's plenty of things; we can have a whole forum on how to fix the juvenile court.
Vincent Schiraldi : But if my kid was in trouble, that's where I'd rather have them be. If we, in America, accept the need for a juvenile court, which I think largely we do, and we accept the data that this is a population that's more like juveniles than like adults, then we should treat them more like juveniles than we do adults. And Bruce and I have a paper coming out in translational criminology later this month. Well, we talked about three ways of doing that, and there's probably a million ways, but I'm going to give you my three and then we can, you know, debate and discuss those three. One of them is just to raise the age of family court to 22 or 23 or 25. It sounds outrageous; I know we're still fighting pitched battles over trying to get it from 16 to 17 and 17 to 18 in some states, including mine. But they just raised it to 23 in the Netherlands, and in Germany, it's been 21 since 1955. Why was it 21 in 1955? Because there was this big war thing they had over here, right, in the '40s? And a lot of the young men were coming of age during this time period who didn't have their fathers — like Bruce talked about — to raise them, right? Just like many of the young people coming into our juvenile criminal justice system don't have fathers around. So, they said we want to treat these young people differently and raise the age to 21. And the vast majority of these young people stay in family court, and the ones that get waived to adult court are more low-level cases. They're more property offenses. The one … 90 percent of the murderers stay in family court that are between 18 and 21 in Germany. So that's one line: raise the age of family court jurisdiction. Another way would be to set up a whole third system, a separate system for young people between the ages 18 and 25, to recognize some of the things that you talked about … and you talk about, which is, yeah, they're not quite 15-year-olds even, right? So there's a different set of circumstances, there's different bridges we need them to cross before they reach fully mature adulthood: education, employment, marriage, the stuff that John Laub and Robert Sampson have taught us so much about, the sort of the pathways to fully … full mature … maturity, and importantly, the aging-out of criminality. You could set up a third system with separate courts, separate correctional facilities, separate probation caseloads, separate government bureaucrats. When they did this in 1899, they established a whole debate, a whole set of research, a whole set of funders. I'm looking at Laurie Garduque — people who began to study the family court. We don't have that yet in young adult court. We need to establish that. So--and then the third thing is, you could … you could pluck a bunch of flowers and try to pull them together and make them a bouquet, so we got a … we heard it from a couple of florists today, right? We have … we have experimentation going on in San Francisco and the Eastern District of New York. And if you're in the jurisdiction, you could bring together a specialized court, a specialized probation caseload, special programs, special diversion programs, and sort of piecemeal your way into specially responding in a developmentally appropriate way to a young adult population. So, like I said, just probably more ways of doing it, but those are the three that Bruce and I present in our … in our paper later this month that we will, you know, sort of submit for discussion and debate.
Karol V. Mason : So we're going to open it up now for questions. We've got two mics going around, and so if there … are there any people with questions? And so I know … Bill, why don't we start with you while we get the mics around?
William (Bill) J. Sabol, Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics:So thanks to all the panel’s compelling case for looking at differences by age. But one of the things I keep thinking about is, if young adults have problems with impulse control, then how does this explain the decline in violent crime of the young adults? And, if whatever's going on … decline of violent crimes is going on for all age groups, then I would expect them to moderate those factors differently, and I wouldn't expect to see these decreases as steep as they've been. Even to the point where there's convergence between the 18- to 24-year-old, 25- to 29-year-old, and (inaudible). Bruce, you might probably be the best person to talk about this.
Karol V. Mason : So, I think that's Bruce's question.
Bruce Western, Professor, Harvard University:Yeah. So, those question is, well, in light of these big demographic trends that we've been talking about, how do we explain the fact that crime has been declining quite significantly since the early 1990s? And this was the topic of a recent National Research Council roundtable. And I think it's not particularly well-understood, actually is the truth, and we also don't have a great explanation for the very significant increase in crime from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. When a lot of these demographic trends were originating is probably some sort of cyclical component there, where the economy was doing very, very well through the 1990s, and perhaps that had, sort of, some moderating effect, law enforcement strategies also change. So, I'm punting a little bit because I think there isn't a lot of social science consensus around .... I mean, it's a very challenging question.
Karol V. Mason : I'm curious as to why the develop … the young adults would decline at the same rates as other persons, given this problem with impulse control, so the age gradient.
Bruce Western: So, I think the … I mean, I think the implication has to be that there was something generally in the American social and criminal justice environment that was affecting everyone, all right? And the risks of … the risks of young people with criminal involvement has always been higher. That hasn't changed. And whatever was … has been going on in America in the '90s and in the 2000s, its effects were felt across the entire age distribution because crime was declining for everyone.
But I can't resist. I won't … I won't respond as a researcher; I will respond, though, in saying that whatever the numbers are, even if they've been going down, we still have too many who are in the criminal justice system that we can get out of it. And so our goal is, how do we wrap our arms around this population and get them out into productive lives? So, even if the numbers are going down, we still have too many, particularly people of color, and young men and boys of color. So, we've got to work on that, regardless of what the overall crime statistics tell us. Bill and I have this debate all the time, so yeah, we'll stop having that and let other people ask a question. Can we bring a mic up here? Thanks.
Marsha Weissman, Center for Community Alternatives: Hi. Thanks for the great panel. I'm Marsha Weissman from the Center for Community Alternatives. The only reservation I have, about the thrust that you're talking about, sort of goes to Glenn, and I know Glenn, which is … I scratched my head why someone like Glenn had to get introduced to college in prison. And so, to the extent that we're going to be looking at young adults and opportunities, I think we also need to think about opportunities in communities, to keep people people completely out of the system. But, to the extent that all of this is a logical next step — I think a good next step — I want to ask the panel about how to … how you envision a new system actually engaging and creating opportunities for people who do exactly what you're saying: transform their lives. And, particularly, I want to call attention to the challenge of people going to college with criminal histories, and increasingly even with school discipline histories. What do you think the justice system can do about removing the barriers they call collateral consequences? They're really lifetime consequences that keep people from moving on, even after they've done all that they can do within the confines of a good justice system program?
Karol V. Mason : So I'm going to ask if Glenn will answer first, and then Vinny, and then we are going to hear later from John King and from Broderick Johnson, who will be talking about the very issues that you're talking about.
Glenn Martin : So, I'll be really brief. So, part of it is getting Congress to do the right thing and to repeal the ban on eligibility for access to Pell Grants for people who are incarcerated. I think that that will, once again, create the demand for the college programs to return to the present system. And we know this because it's one of the interventions that was in place previously, so we essentially know how it works, and the impact that it can have on folks. The other thing I'll say is, with the advancement in technology, I don't think it's the best way to provide access to education, necessarily. I think it removes the human component, unfortunately, but at the same time, I think, while we wrestle with trying to get Congress to do that, while the pilot project that this Administration recently did is amazing — and, hopefully, will remind Congress of the importance of providing access to college [for] people in prison — that we can also think about ways to utilize technology to give people more and more access to educational opportunities while they're incarcerated.
Vincent Schiraldi : Marsha, I just want to give you two answers to that [which] could either — any of the three scenarios I put out — this could fit in, right? So, as Probation Commissioner in New York City for juveniles, we have the power to adjust or divert young people, and it's pretty broad power. We can adjust felonies and
did adjust felonies. So … and that was our power. Thirty-five percent of the cases, the kid comes to court, comes to … they don't even go to court because, if FCAT — family court appearance ticket — comes and sits across the desk, with his mother and one of our probation officers, and never even goes to court because we say this case, in the interest of justice, shouldn't even be prosecuted, “Go to a class on why you shouldn't shoplift from Macy's,” right? And then go home and we'll watch you for 60 days, and if you do fine, you know, it's all done. You never even have to go court; 90 percent of them never had to go to court because everything worked itself out. Why can't we do that up to 21 or 25? See? We get the same data. What happens now to young people in that age group is, they have to go to court to make their court appearance, didn't have to make another court appearance because pretty much nothing ever happens at that first court appearance, and then eventually they might get an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which is an ACD, and they have to behave for six months during that time period. Now, during that time period, they can get kicked out of public housing, because their case is still public until they actually complete their ACD. So, also … and they could miss a court appearance and then they get stuck in jail, and they do, they don't just can — all that stuff happens. We could wrap that stuff up, right up front, if we had that law applying to 18- to 25-year-olds which, in any of the three scenarios I put out, it could. Let's go on the other end; would they actually get convicted? Now in New York, as in Colorado, as in Florida, as in Michigan, and maybe other states, because I haven't comprehensively looked at it yet, there are youthful offender Acts where your conviction, if you're at a certain age group, counts as an adjudication and not a conviction. So, in New York, it's 16, 17 and 18. The other states, it's 18 to 21; Michigan just extended it to 23 this year. They just upped it by two years, and that means you never get that felony conviction. If we don't saddle these young people to felony conviction during their 20s, the chances of them ever getting a felony conviction plummet. So, now they're not stuck for the rest of their lives, having to check the, uh, “I've been convicted of a felony” box and running into the problems you raised about being able to go to college and, well, become a doctor, become a lawyer, lots of other stuff.
Karol V. Mason: Okay.
Dr. Kaufman, do you want to follow up?
Elizabeth Cauffman: Yeah.
I just wanted to follow up because we're actually doing a large-scale study right now, following over 1,200 first-time youth in the system. So they've committed their very first crime. You can imagine them as identical twins. They both committed a burglary, but one youth was formally processed into the system, and one youth was informally processed. We're following these youth now, for up to four years, and our preliminary data show that once you process a youth formally, not only are you more likely to have them diverted out of the traditional school system but they become less bonded to school, which leads to less opportunity. The informally processed youth — and that's why hearing about these programs is so interesting and important — if you can divert youth, informally processed, we're finding that they stay in traditional schools and, in fact, are less likely to reoffend later. So, here you have two kids: They were identical, but [not] the way in which we treated them, and we're now continuing to follow them to see what the long-term outcomes are, from education to employment. So, this is trying to put some of the empirical data behind some of these programs that we're hearing, to see what actually happens in these kids' lives.
Karol V. Mason : There's a question in the back, and while we get the mic to the woman in the middle … and then, you who clapped about not being a functional system — you go second.
Harriet McDonald, Executive Vice President of The Doe Fund. : Yes. My name is Harriet McDonald and I'm the Executive Vice President of The Doe Fund. Before, we noticed we served criminally involved and homeless people through education and work and housing. About three years ago, we noticed the doubling in the number of young 18- to 24-year-olds entering our New York City shelter system and coming to us. And we raised private money to do a three-year program, which we're just completing, that involves housing, education, and job placement and job training over a nine-month to one-year process. What do you think the role of not-for-profits are in this, and how can we best work together to collect hard data and serve this population?
Karol V. Mason : Let the Judge, and then Katie.
Joan Azrack, Joan Azrack, United States District Judge, Eastern District of New York: Well, I mean, you know, The Doe Fund has been, you know, wonderful to the SOS program in the Eastern District, and programs like The Doe Fund are indispensable to our success because we're the federal government, you know. We don't have, frankly, have anything, so we have to rely on organizations like The Doe Fund. So, they're critical. We don't keep the data, you know; I would invite you to, but I think The Doe Fund is usually … everything that happens there is positive and, you know, the more of our kids that you can help and take in, you know, the better. So indispensable to a situation where, you know, it's the federal government and the budget is this tight, and we don't have programs [so] that we have to rely on public interests and private sector.
Katherine Weinstein Miller: And the same really goes for us; the way that these kinds of programs work is that they are almost always and, in this case, they are a public-private partnership between their justice agencies and non-profits. So, the case management and workforce development and other kinds of support for the young people in our court are through collaboration with non-profits, and not just partnerships where we're saying, kind of, "What can you do?” This is what we can do but where we are also identifying dollars to fund their work. And you know with that, for us, really, is the expectation that they will also become students of the young adult brain and be in those discussions with us about having a willingness to look at their current program models and make sure that they are as effective as possible for this age group. The other thing for us is that, because we do evaluate our work — so, for example, in this court we've already engaged an independent evaluator to come in and evaluate both the process of starting it and the outcomes. That means that their part of the collaboration will also be evaluated, so they'll have that to show us the results. So I feel like we can kind of bring them under the umbrella with us, and give them the ability to have an evaluation of their work that they may not otherwise be able to get on their own.
Karol V. Mason : Glenn?
Glenn Martin : Yeah, thank you. So before I launched JustLeadershipUSA, I was Vice President at The Fortune Society, one of the long-standing re-entry and alternatives-to-incarceration programs in the country, and a couple things come to mind for me with that question. One is … one of the roles that non-profits play is the ability to have much more tolerance for risk, if you will. As I think about us trying to redesign any parts of our criminal justice system, I think it begins and ends with risk, and it's something that, unfortunately, most government players have less tolerance for than non-profits. And so I think non-profits have the space to be creative not only with their resources but, I think, with their tolerance for risk. The other thing that comes to mind is to ensure that we don't engage in what I call “net-widening,” pulling folks deeper and deeper into the criminal justice system who would be better off — as Vinny gave an example of just now — being left alone, which some of the research tells us makes sense in some cases. I think the advocacy component that non-profits play is actually hugely important to helping systems players to identify people who are the right fit. And then, lastly, non-profits that hire people who've been also impacted by the criminal justice system, I think, play a huge role because that brings a certain level of cultural competency to the table. It helps those non-profits to better understand the behaviors of young folks, which may be misinterpreted by other people who haven't been involved in the system.
Karol V. Mason : And one thing I want to make clear — at least the position that this administration has taken is — we want things to be evidence-based, but that doesn't mean we don't want you to try new things. What we want you to do, exactly what Katie is talking about, [is] evaluate them and assess them so we don't wind up with programs like Scared Straight that don't work. We want to … we know a lot now and, as the program Vinny had a couple of months ago in New York, we're trying to catch up with the science. This is the case where we know what the research tells us. Now we've got to try to figure out how do we apply it and how do we evaluate it. So, that question in the middle … you can give him the mic. Yes, you.
Joe Tulman, University of the District of Columbia: Hi.
Karol V. Mason : Sorry?
Joe Tulman : Joe Tulman from the University of the District of Columbia. I honor and totally agree that we need a paradigm shift in treating; we need to treat 18- to 25-year-olds, or 24-year-olds, differently — and I honor the work you're doing — but a more fundamental paradigm shift is that we've criminalized our population so dramatically over the last 45 years. So, we are 5 to 14 times more incarcerated than the other advanced democracies, on the adult side. We are, according to the NAKC Foundation data from 2008 (so it's a little bit dated), we have 336 kids per 100,000 incarcerated in the delinquency system. The next highest country, of course, is South Africa at 69 [per 100,000]. And a lot of the advanced democracies are in single digits on the juvenile side. So, the fundamental problem is that we need a paradigm shift — not about 18- to 24-year-olds. We need to do that, but we need to get back to the pre-1970 model in America of why are we criminalizing so much behavior? And, you know, Dr. Cauffman, you talked about taking the identical twins and doing a study. We can take, frankly, white kids of privilege and do a comparative with black kids who are low-income and say we get much better results by not criminalizing the white kids, right? We could do that experiment now. We could do the experiment, saying, "What did we do with people before 1970 that was much more effective than what we did the last 45 years in multiplying incarceration by seven-fold?" Now, the paradigm shift we need to take is to enforce all the laws that have to do with educational rights; and it's ironic that the Department of Justice and the Department of Ed[ucation], for example, did a joint guidance recently, telling state directors of juvenile incarceration facilities to follow the law with regard to special education. They're not following the law and, frankly, they never will unless we depopulate and really don't incentivize pushing kids out of school. So, [with] the special ed. law in 1975, Congress said, we all win if we don't push kids out of school. Today, 45 … 40 years after that law passed, a child with a disability is twice, more than twice as likely to be pushed out of school into the school-to-prison pipeline than a kid without a disability. A kid of color who's male with a disability is three times more likely to be pushed out of school than a kid who's not a kid of color with a disability who's male. So, we have to follow the laws that are there and stop criminalizing kids' behavior when we don't do that for white kids of privilege. You talked about the Pell grants; you know, the Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Prisons, doesn't follow the special education law. We could change that tomorrow and actually start educating people. So we killed 309 adult education programs and prison higher education programs, but we have most of the prisoners who aren't through high school and we're not doing anything about that. So there are a million and one things … I know, I'm done. There are a million-and-one things we can do that would shift the paradigm much more fundamentally …
Panel: Just as long as you don't list all the million-and-one, Joe, that's okay.
Joe Tulman : (inaudible) We have a high school in DC and 11 percent of the …
Panel: We're with you on it, man. We're with you but you got to, like, answer the question for us.
Joe Tulman : …11 percent of the kids that enter college or high school read at grade level, and we're … we need to do that.
Karol V. Mason : So, thank you for the comment. And I will say that it is …it is the tension that we have, and the challenge we have with this conversation is not to get to the juvenile side and, as Vinny said, we could … we could have programs on that, all day, and talk about the deficiencies in the juvenile system — we know that. As you mentioned, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division were very focused on that, and working on that, but today's conversation is about young adults. So I'm going to give the mic to you. Well, somebody's going to give you the mic. Thanks, Amber.
Keir Bradford-Grey, Chief Public Defender, Philadelphia : Thank you. Good afternoon, or good morning. My name is Keir Bradford-Grey. I'm the Chief Public Defender in Philadelphia. And I really want to say thank you to you, Kate, because you have recognized the role of public defenders in some of these … in these initiatives. Some … my question is twofold: One, how do I … or any suggestion: How do I engage my district attorney in the art of risk-taking for people who don't necessarily look as sympathetic to the population? Because we know the district attorney’s position is very political, and if you're not looking tough on crime, it's really hard to focus on some of these initiatives. And, two, in my role as the public defender, I really think there is some onus on … in the defense systems to start engaging in problem-solving initiatives. And I know, traditionally, it has not been viewed as our role; we have been Sixth Amendment counsel — those people who protect the constitutional rights — but we also have a responsibility and duty to understand our clients and our clients' needs, and focus on some more rehabilitative efforts. So, anything you can give me or … or advice you can give me on helping my fellow colleagues across the country understand that this type of advocacy, this level of advocacy — of engaging in client-centered holistic practices — is the new … the new way, and what we should be doing.
Katherine Weinstein Miller : So, we talk about this a lot. And, you know, we argue a lot with our Public Defender's Office about a lot of issues that we're not kind of “Kumbaya” on many, many things right now. But in the area of collaborative courts and, again, this is really a collaborative court model for us — a judge, a defense attorney, a DA really working together to figure out what works for that young person, that young adult. In the collaborative courts, our offices have really had a different kind of partnership that's been established over the years, but it's taken a long time and it's taken the right people from both offices who are comfortable, kind of stepping outside of their traditional adversarial role to have those conversations. I think that to the degree that defense attorneys are willing to say to prosecutors, “We're willing to take a more holistic view about what our client needs and really have an honest conversation about how to get them there — I think it opens the door for at least some back-and-forth, even in the abstract, about what that looks like. I know it's very hard; I was a public defender for two years, and I know that it's very hard to know that your client really needs something, and then stand up in court and try to get them out of … what maybe could get them into the treatment that they need, right? Like, that's a really hard thing, and you don't feel like you're necessarily doing your job if you are then setting them up for what may feel like an opportunity for more failure, right? But I think that the feeling that you can step aside from just looking at how to get somebody the least … the least consequence for their acts, and at least have that conversation — about how to have a different path for them — is important. And the way that we do that in our collaborative courts that, I think, makes a difference is, we have an agreement that the conversations in those rooms about what that person needs — they stay in those rooms. So, if a case goes back to the regular system, that information doesn't go with it, right? And it's a place where, then, defense attorneys can really talk about what their client needs, and the DA can really hear that and come up with the plan together, with the judge, knowing that it's really reserved for that safe space. So, maybe it's the creation of those safe spaces that lead to the beginnings of those conversations, but I think there's always going to be a real rub to it. The other piece is just to keep, kind of, up [with] the data. You know, if my boss … if George (inaudible) were here today, he would say, all the data tells us that the system really isn't working, as it is. And so, to go back to District Attorney Williams and have that conversation is really the same kind of data-driven approach, and he looks at data too, right? So let's look at the numbers; let's be willing to have some uncomfortable conversations in safe spaces, and sometimes I think there's more agreement than you would expect. There's … in our mental health court, there's a public defender and a DA who'd been there together for five years and they, like, love-hate each other. They're kind of frenemies on a daily basis. And they often talk about the fact that they find themselves having heated agreements about things. Heated agreements about what the client in that courtroom needs, and I love that, right? Because they really will be arguing with each other and realizing that they are talking about exactly the same thing. And so, I think we need to create space for those heated agreements.
Karol V. Mason : So, one of the things I want to make sure that you all focus on is the other resources we have at the Department of Justice, primarily through NIJ and the office … Bureau of Justice Assistance. In the Smart Suite that BJA puts out, you all … you all design the program and you come in with the researcher, and you can submit a proposal to test, and look at a model of how you may want to do this, and submit that as a grant proposal. NIJ has open research proposals all the time; get with the research partner, submit it. Often money talks, so you want to get them on board, finding some money for them to do it; that might help. So, this panel has been great. You all have been great, but we've got some more to share with you all. So, I want to give … He's not going to like this since he's younger than me, but the godfather of this debate, of this issue, is Vinny, so I'm going to let him have the last word on this panel.
Vincent Schiraldi : I don't know about the whole godfather Italian thing.
Karol V. Mason : Oh, well, I wasn't thinking about that.
Vincent Schiraldi : I guess--I guess what I want to say in closing … I mean, the only reason we could have this conversation today is because, a decade or so ago, the MacArthur Foundation — I'm looking at Laurie — and the Justice Department funded a bunch of research that tells us that we ought to be treating young people differently. We don't … We need to be both assertive and humble at the same time though, because we don't really know the answers to some of the questions that were raised by folks here. We have some tons of experience in the juvenile justice arena, maybe [some] that applies to the young adults and maybe some of it doesn't. I know in Europe, for example — and one of the things Bruce and I write about here — are separate facilities. We didn't focus as much on facilities as we did on the community corrections aspect because we think a lot of these young people don't need to be in facilities, but we did mention that some people are doing special facilities. The experience in Europe on special facilities is mixed; some of them are much better. I went to one in Germany; it was really — and you won't hear me saying this much — a terrific prison. And some of them are really not, and some of them … You just congregate a bunch of young people in a building, you can't automatically expect good things to come from that. So, I guess what I would say is I think we need to be both boldly innovative but, at the same time, humble enough so we research scrupulously and report honestly about what we find so that other people … so we can learn ourselves from our experiments but that other people can learn, and we can essentially share and create a learning community so, as we move into this area, we're building on each other's knowledge, not making each other's, the same mistakes.
Karol V. Mason : That's right. So, please join me in thanking the panel. And it's now my pleasure to invite, up to the stage, Cabinet Secretary and Chair of My Brother's Keeper, Broderick Johnson, and Department of Education Deputy Secretary, John King, to deliver their thoughts about what they've heard from the panel. Broderick and John are not only great leaders in this Administration, they are also great partners with us at the Office of Justice Programs and the Department of Justice, and we're fortunate to have them here this morning. And these guys really do share our passion for this issue — and he hates when I say this — but Broderick and I have known each other since we were 21. And this is … this is a lifelong issue for him. John is a little younger than us, so … but anyway, these guys … it … they demonstrate that this is not just the Department of Justice issue, this is an Administration issue. So, John, if you will come up for us?
Secretary John King, Jr., Department of Education Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy: Thanks, Karol. [I’m] appreciative of the opportunity to be here in Great Hall on behalf of Secretary Duncan and the Education Department for the partnership that we have with the Department of Justice — and Karol, in particular — as we try to tackle these important issues for young people. Howard, at the opening, said he would approach this conversation as a pediatrician. I will approach this conversation as the high school social studies teacher I was at the beginning of my career, having taught 18-year-olds and then trying to support the young people I taught through that 18- to 25-year-olds period. The research conversation today makes it clear that we need to do things differently, that the approach that we've taken with young adults isn't working for too many of our young people, particularly our young people of color, young people growing up in high-needs communities. And the question is, where do we go from here? And I think there are four opportunities that we can seize together. First, there's the opportunity that Marsha powerfully identified, which is, how do we make sure that our 18- to 25-year-olds are in the best position to go through that period of their development? How do we ensure that young people are not in a position that will lead their choices to have such dire consequences? How do we ensure that we're investing in early education so kids are at a good path at the earliest ages? How do we ensure that our schools are equipping students with the skills they need for success in college and careers? How do we rethink discipline in schools as we're trying to do with our Supportive School Discipline Initiative with the Department of Justice, so that when kids make mistakes as young people in school, we don't push them out but, instead, we use those opportunities to intervene and give them support so that they can get back on track? How do we think about providing mentors and role models in our schools, particularly schools where students are most at risk, so that school … students are in school, in the classroom learning, and have a sense of hope? How do we ensure that we don't just say it's up to schools to solve the problems of our society but acknowledge that schools need to work in partnership with health care providers and community-based organizations — to wrap the arms around kids and ensure that they're on a path to success? How do we make sure that more of our 18- to 25-year-olds are in the position to achieve rather than to get off track? But, then there are those students who do get off track; there are those disconnected youth; there are those young people 18 to 25 — many of them are young people of color, many of them young men of color — how do we ensure that they get reconnected? It's not enough to say that we have a disconnected-youth problem; we need a reconnection solution. What does that look like? Well, it looks like programs like YouthBuild, where they have had over 10,000 … they're working with over 10,000 young people who don't have a high school diploma, to reconnect them with education and job opportunities so that they can see a path to the future. Whether it's our Promise Neighborhoods program or Investing in Innovations program, we are constantly thinking at the department, how do we help those young people get back on track? We are … We just announced the set of grants for young people who've been involved in a juvenile justice system to make sure that they have re-entry opportunities that connect them to career and technical education that will help them see a path forward in their lives. But, even with those efforts to make sure that young people are in the position to make good decisions at 18 to 25, even with the efforts to help reconnect disconnected youth, we know that folks will make mistakes and folks will end up incarcerated. And then, what do we do there? What happens there? One of the panel has talked about … it's not a question of accountability; it's the how of accountability. What does it mean, when folks have made mistakes, to give them a second chance? That's why we're focused on correctional facilities, whether it's for juveniles or young adults or adult offenders. How do we ensure that folks have a chance to get their lives on track? Glenn spoke powerfully about the difference college made for him. I was pleased recently to be with Attorney General Lynch and Secretary Duncan announcing the Second Chance Pell Initiative. Congress made a mistake in the mid-‘90s in acting to deny folks who are incarcerated access to financial aid for college, the Pell Grant program for low-income folks. We've announced that we will have a … use the Secretary's experimental authority under the Higher Education Act to allow folks who are incarcerated to have access to higher education, to allow folks who are incarcerated to use Pell grants to seek higher education, post-secondary training. We know from research, like the RAND study, that those who get access to quality post-secondary education are 43 percent less likely to return to prison. This program is open to every higher education institution in the country, if they will commit to do a good job and can demonstrate that they have the capacity. We are, right now, recruiting higher education institutions to participate in the Second Chance Pell Program, and it's not just about those students who will go on to college; it's also about the signal it sends within the institution. [There’s] so much more reason to get your high school equivalency if you know you might be able to access college education. There's a change in the environment because there are leaders in the facility who are seeking and pursuing that higher education, and bringing those experiences back to other folks. We have an opportunity with that program to demonstrate, once again, its effectiveness and hopefully persuade Congress to come along with us in restoring access to Pell. So, even then, if we improve opportunities for education within facilities, the question then becomes, how do we support folks in the transition back? This is true for our juveniles; it is particularly true for our young adults, and it is true for our adult offenders. How do we help folks make the transition back? We've got to deal with the collateral consequences issues. Folks need to be able to get a job; they need to be able to get housing; they need to be able to continue their education and post-secondary opportunities. We've got to ask higher education institutions and employers to look at their application processes and ask … Are they asking unreasonable questions or getting in the way of folks who could succeed based on decisions they made — which we know, from this panel, were decisions that reflect their adolescent development. Now, are there ways that we can work together as a society to say, “You may have made a mistake, but we're not going to judge you by that mistake. We're going to give you the opportunity to get on the right path, not just for you but for your community and for your family.” And so, we've got work to do on the re-entry side; we've got to make sure that everyone who leaves the facility has someone who's helping them navigate their transition back — whether it's the young person getting back into high school, or a young adult figuring out a path to a job and a way to support themselves. We've got to make sure that we support folks and that we see incarceration, not as an endpoint but as a point of intervention to help folks get on the right track. We've clearly got a lot of work to do together; some of the questions point out the ways in which we both made progress but have still a long distance to travel. There are no silver bullet solutions, but you've heard today about some good stats that we need to see more of. You certainly see, from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, a commitment to continue to work, to move this work forward in partnership. And I'm just grateful for everyone taking the time for this conversation. I truly believe the conversation in the country is changing. We are at a different place today, and it's thanks to leadership of folks — not only on this panel but folks in this room — I'm very grateful for the opportunity to join you today. Let me now take a moment to introduce Broderick Johnson, who is the Assistant to the President, Cabinet Secretary, and Chair of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force. Under Broderick's leadership, My Brother's Keeper Task Force is thinking creatively about how we do work across agency and across sector, not only to support the success of all students but to focus intensely on our African American and Latino male students, Native American male students, and the particular obstacles that our boys and young men of color face. It's an honor to work with Broderick and it is an honor to introduce him. Thank you.
Broderick Johnson , Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary: Good afternoon, everyone. It's great to be here, and it's great to be here on what was the first day of school for my kids this morning, so traffic patterns and all that put me in a very good mood today. But it's time to get into the fall and all the work that lies before us. I bring you greetings, certainly on behalf of the President and the great team, my colleagues at the White House. I want to thank the Attorney General and her team here at the Department of Justice, and especially my dear friend of many years, as she mentioned, Karol Mason. We were in law school at Michigan together, a couple of decades ago. We don't have to say what decade it was, but it was — for those of you who follow football, it was back when Michigan used to win every one of its games, it seemed; and so, we're going to get back there with Jim Harbaugh, I promise you all that! But I know Buckeyes are probably in the room somewhere, saying, "Yeah, sure." But Karol, it's always [good] to see you, and thank you for everything that you do, continue to do, and the Department of Justice and your colleagues for convening this gathering, this convening here today on this vitally important topic. The work that we've been discussing today is in a central component of the President's My Brother's Keeper Task Force, which the President established, in February of 2014, to address persistent opportunity gaps that face boys and young men of color, especially, but also to ensure that all youth in this country can reach their full potential. As we all are abundantly and painfully aware, far too many young people in this country face extraordinary odds, and boys and young men of color in particular, face daunting odds for generations. The data and the statistics clearly demonstrate that we have to take greater action, both in the public and the private sectors, working together, not only because we have a moral obligation as a more … as one of the great democracies of the world — to make sure that all young people, no matter where they come from, can achieve their dreams. But there's also, of course, an economic imperative. To put it quite simply, this country cannot remain globally competitive if we continue to have so many of our young people essentially missing from this society. As the President has said it best, America is stronger when we field a full team, so that's why so many corporate leaders have demonstrated their own commitments to the My Brother's Keeper Task Force but also to the … to supporting the new startup, the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, an independent effort that is so very much aligned with the goals the President laid out in February of 2014. These issues are very personal, of course, to many of us. They're certainly very personal to the President as well. So, just a few weeks ago, the President became the first sitting President of the United States to visit a federal prison when he visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma. And, during that visit, the President said a number of things, including these: First, these are young people who made mistakes that aren't different than the mistakes I made, and the mistakes that a lot of young guys make. This is the President speaking quite candidly about his own life. He went on to say, the difference is they did not have the kinds of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes. And the President went on to say, the question is not only how do we make sure that we sustain those programs here in prison, but how do we make sure that those same kind of institutional supports are there for kids and teenagers before they get into a criminal justice system. And there are ways for us to divert young people who make mistakes early on in life so that they don't get into the system in the first place. During that visit, and I've heard the President say this on a number of other occasions; he said it when he was in New Orleans two weeks ago to talk with a group of young men in New Orleans who are trying to stay on the right track. The President says there's a fine line between being President of the United States and being incarcerated. “There, but for the grace of God” is something the President frequently says. And for me, this is personal as well. I grew up not too far from here, in Baltimore. It's been painful to watch what's been happening in Baltimore lately, of course. And I think back to what it was like, growing up in Baltimore myself. And I'm here today because of a lot of God's grace for me personally, but also a little luck in parents and mentors who said, You got to keep it together, you've got to go to college, and if you want to be a lawyer, you got to stop making dumb mistakes. And oftentimes, despite my parents' best efforts, I could be a bit of a knucklehead. My wife would say I'm still sometimes a bit of a knucklehead, but that's okay. Sometimes, there's a fine line between being a knucklehead and ending up on that pipeline to prison. I think back to my senior year in high school and I remember one particular day when some friends of mine — they were very good friends, I thought I knew them really well — they said we're going to … so-and-so is going to have his mom's car tonight, and we're just going to go hang out a bit. And I think I was trying to sneak over to my girlfriend's house, so I didn't go with them. And the next day, I found out that they had been arrested for trying to rob a convenience store with a BB gun. And so that started them along that pipeline. And then again, I was lucky because I could very easily have fallen into that situation. And they got … some of these guys got a second chance, and some of them didn't. And you think about all the mistakes that you make, and you meet young people who made far fewer mistakes than I remember making, and yet all it takes is one mistake to set them on the wrong path. So we've got so much more to do to make sure that small mistakes of our youth don't lead to a lifetime of obstacles and, indeed, incarceration. As a country, we are making tremendous progress on a whole set of issues involving youth: on the effective policy front, and place-based state and local engagements, and the private sector — the work we're doing at MBK has certainly been embraced by hundreds of communities, non-profits, individuals throughout the United States. People are responding to the President's call, and yet today, what's so important about this discussion is because it's focused on young adulthood. A lot of times, it's easy to focus on really young kids. When we talk about the suspension and expulsion rates of preschoolers, people gasp and we're all pretty, like, embarrassed and outraged by it, but when you talk about guys who are in [the] 18- to 24-year-old category, oftentimes people kind of shrug about that and say, "Well, we can't do much about them because they're kind of gone." Well, they're not gone, and we can't let them go because millions of them will continue to be missing from the society, and they have so much to offer. This conversation today has primarily been about those young adults in [the] criminal justice system and, as we just heard from John King, the Department of Education is committed to this age group. And we also have heard about the importance of the Affordable Care Act; it is focused on young adults to make sure [that], up to age 26, they can stay on their parents' health insurance. There's so much to do to make sure that their lives are more productive. Young adulthood is a distinct period of time when you're no longer a kid, not quite an adult — seems like it lasts forever. We need our systems, all of our systems, to recognize that point and to catch up to the science that is telling us that we have an opportunity and an obligation to do something different and better for this population, if we want our young people to succeed and if we want all of them to contribute to our society. I look forward to continuing collaborations with all of you again through the work from the White House around My Brother's Keeper initiative. I'm joined here today, by the way, by Michael Smith, who we brought into the White House about a year ago. Does it seem like it's been just a year, Michael? He works on MBK day to day, 20 hours a day, throughout the weekends on this work, and Michael knows that we're just racing as much as we can against the clock that says that this Administration won't last forever, but we can make big change because of what the President's commitment is for now, and even beyond his presidency. So we'll continue to work with the Department of Education, Department of Justice, and all the other federal agencies, but also with you and your organizations to make sure that the unique nature of young adulthood is not something that prevents us from being able to respond to the needs of young adults. They need second chances; they are indeed all of our children, all of our young adults, all Americans, and who — with the benefit of a little grace and a little more understanding and a lot of support from folks in this room — can have productive lives and can be the future leaders of this country and of their own families and communities. So, thank you all very much for today, for the work that you do, the work you will continue to do. And now let me turn it back over to my dear friend of just a few years, Karol Mason.
Karol V. Mason : Yeah, I believe in telling the truth. It's been over three decades but we don't look it, do we?
Broderick Johnson: No.
Karol V. Mason : So, I've been waiting for somebody to stay in his seat for a little bit so that we can thank him. Brent Collin, please stand up. So, we would not be here today, we would not have this program today, if it were not for Brent — not just Brent's leadership but Brent's persistence. And Brent was a White House fellow, and I want to point out something really interesting. Who do you think was his primary recommender for him to be a White House fellow? Glenn Martin, will you please stand up? And so, you know, you've … I'm hopeful that you're all among the converted right now —if you weren't, before you came in — to understand why this work is so important. Why it's so important to erase the view that Glenn had to have when he went into rigors, where he went in to learn how to live without hope, without compassion and without opportunity. We've got a charge here today because we don't want anybody in any … in our systems to ever think that they've got to learn how to live without hope, to live without compassion, and live without opportunity. So, well, some of us may have an expiration date called January 20th, 2017; you all don't and we don't either. We'll just be on your side of the table doing this work, but if you are committed to joining me in making sure that we make a success of this. We may not have been a success at all of our criminal justice work, but if we can succeed with this group, we've seen what a difference that can make in our (inaudible) [creating] safer communities and creating the future leaders like Glenn and others in this country. So, if you're willing to join me in this fight and make a commitment, thank you.
And we're done.
Date Created: November 12, 2015