My first Halloween experience was when I was 12 years old. As a recently arrived immigrant to the United States, Halloween was a uniquely American experience for me and it was thrilling to discover haunted houses, carved pumpkins, and elaborate costumes. I still remember staying up late on Halloween and trading candy with my siblings after trick-or-treating. Today, I feel like I am a pro at Halloween, I have a collection of cute decorations, I create jack-o-lanterns, I plan my kids’ costumes, and I make sure my house has the best candy on the block. As an adult, I still appreciate the innocent Halloween fun, but I am also aware of the public safety challenges this celebration can pose. This includes keeping kids safe as they explore en masse, protecting pedestrians and drivers, and preventing intentional mischief that could result in serious harm.
“The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” – Unknown
As I walked into my first (and only!) law class in grad school, there was a quote written on the whiteboard. Our professor looked at us and asked, “How does this apply to our case today?” The case in question was “In re Gault,” the landmark US Supreme Court case which established the right to counsel for juveniles in delinquency cases in 1967. That may have been my only law class, but I continue to grapple with the issues raised by this case through my work training and providing technical assistance to juvenile drug treatment courts. In the 51 years since Gault, we’ve come a long way to ensure justice for youth, but there are still steps we need to take, especially when it comes to the right to counsel.
The goal of juvenile justice interventions is to motivate adolescent behavior change—not an easy task, as any parent can attest. Teen behavior can be baffling; adolescents are impulsive, they love to take risks, their peers are essential to their self-image, and their emotions play a key role in their decision-making process. But there are strategies that have been proven to help adolescents, even the most at-risk youth, to live healthy lives.
With the start of the federal fiscal year on October 1, National Drug Court Resource Center (NDCRC) staff are hard at work preparing for the third year of our project. We have a number of exciting activities planned for the coming year. Some of these activities will build on the successes of the past two years while others will be entirely new.
Last week was the first time I heard Mark Holden, the senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of Koch Industries, Inc., speak about criminal justice reform. He was interviewed by Bill Keller, the editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, during a session titled, “A Conversation on State Progress,” at the Smart on Crime summit hosted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The Center for American Progress, and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.