Courtesy of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (www.cjcj.org)
Supportive Living Program
San Francisco, CA
Started in 1992, the Supportive Living Program is part of the Bay Area Parole Services Network, a project funded by the state Department of Corrections to reduce the number of state parolees returning to prison for parole violation.
SLP provides drug and alcohol treatment services for sixteen participants, housed in two residential San Francisco neighborhoods for up to 180 days. When new clients enter the program, case managers work with them to develop individualized treatment plans to address their specific psychological and social needs. An addiction severity tool helps to properly assess clients' treatment. Case plans are culturally specific and they typically include participation in education, employment, vocational training, family reunification, mental health, post-release housing, and life skills training.
Unlike traditional clinical approaches to substance abuse treatment for parolees, SLP uses social model recovery principles that focus on experiential learning and on building self-reliance in a population that is often over-institutionalized. Residents are encouraged to obtain outside jobs, and to access resources in the community that will provide a system of support that can sustain their recovery once they graduate.
Also distinct from traditional clinical approaches, SLP staff are selected not only on the basis of clinical training but also on experience-based knowledge of substance abuse and its dangers. This emphasis on commonality allows for closer identification between clients and staff and facilitates the development of trust and support.
SLP residents participate in weekly group and individual counseling sessions. SLP staff use NA & AA methodology as well as spiritually based ideas to structure the rehabilitation process. Group sessions focus on relapse prevention, building support for ongoing recovery, anger management, life skills, employment readiness and tools for getting off parole and staying out of criminal activity.
For the past eleven years, SLP graduates have consistently shown higher rates of employment and lower rates of recidivism. The successes of SLP have led many programs across the country to use it as a model.
John D. entered the Supportive Living Program when he was 40 years old. A poly drug user with a long history of heroin, cocaine, and alcohol addiction, John was given little chance of succeeding. He had spent most of his adult life in state prison with repeated commitments for robbery and burglary. Each time he was released he would immediately resort to drug use and petty crime. As his drug use escalated his crimes would become more serious as he struggled to support his habit.
Prior to his referral, John was on the verge of violating his parole and being returned to prison. As a last resort, he was referred to CJCJ. During his initial interview, John was told by SLP staff that the program required personal initiative and that there would be no authority figure dictating his actions. His success in the program would be determined by personal determination and commitment. John assured CJCJ staff that he wanted to come to the program and he expressed his desire to participate in the development of personal objectives.
During the development of his personal case plan, John informed SLP staff that because of his long substance abuse history, he would need additional treatment to stay clean and sober. He expressed interest in attending outpatient therapy at Walden House, a San Francisco-based drug treatment program that provides a more traditional clinical approach. With assistance from SLP staff, John was referred to Walden House where he attended four weekly therapy session in addition to his three in-house weekly group sessions.
John exhibited many of the patterns common to most program participants. Initially, he was enthusiastic, but soon settled into patterns and became more complacent and restive. John's first major crisis occurred when his ex-wife, who was also in recovery, started calling him asking for help when she began using again. On several occasions John went to meet her in an area known for drug activity. When this was brought to the group's attention, John was reminded that he could not help someone else until he was in control of his own problems. From that point on, he became a model participant.
While in the program, John acquired a full-time job as a waiter in an upscale restaurant. Along with his therapy sessions, he also adopted a vigorous exercise program.
Since graduating from the program, John has remained gainfully employed and is married and has purchased his own home. He remains sober and continues to participate in NA. In addition, he still maintains contact with program staff.
For more information about SLP, please contact:
Qadir Al-Amin, Program Director]
Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice
54 Dore Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 621-5661
Fax: (415) 621-5466
Independent Living Program
Through its work depopulating the Oakhill Youth Center by promoting institutional alternatives in the late nineties, CJCJ discovered there was a great need for alternative placements for homeless youth or near-homeless youth (from dysfunctional or unsafe home environments). The Independent Living Program (ILP) was started in 1999 for youth diverted from or returning from residential detention, with no supportive home environment to return to. CJCJ houses 15 young adults aged 17 to 21 in furnished apartments where they can begin building all the necessary skills for independent living.
In addition to housing, clients receive a weekly stipend and around the clock monitoring and support. They work with ILP staff to develop an individualized and comprehensive "life plan" that involves accessing the particular support services that they need. ILP maintains a network of education services, substance abuse counseling, vocational training, mental health counseling and other community-based services. Case Managers, who keep small caseloads, and monitor the residents as they build their self-sufficiency, are also employed.
While they are working on their individualized plans, the residents are also required to take part in weekly life skills seminars, which they take turns hosting in their apartments. Taught by outside facilitators, these weekly classes feature basic living skills, like budgeting and banking, nutrition, food preparation, personal hygiene, and proper home cleaning techniques.
Since 1999, the Independent Living Program has helped over 30 young people build self-reliance and life management skills.
For more information about the Independent Living Program, please contact:
Carey, Program Director]
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
1234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Suite C1009
Washington, DC 2005
Tel: (202) 737-7270
Fax: (202) 737-7348
Sentencing Service Project
Based in San Francisco, CA and providing services Nation-Wide
Often defense attorneys lack the time and resources that are necessary to develop and advocate for individualized sentencing, probation or parole options for their clients. To address this issue, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice developed the Sentencing Service Project (formerly the Alternative Sentencing Program [ASP]).
The Sentencing Service Project (SSP) provides a variety of sentencing and mitigation services, including pre-trial, pre-plea, parole consideration, disposition and sentencing reports and recommendations.
Experience has shown that absent viable alternatives, courts rely solely on the recommendations of probation or correctional staff for sentencing decisions. SSP staff stay abreast of the frequently changing and complex sentencing laws and examines on an individual case-by-case basis, issues that may affect these sentencing decisions.
CJCJ's expert staff are able to present reasoned and appropriate sentencing proposals through the development of a comprehensive social and developmental history, an examination of applicable mitigating circumstances and current criminal justice research. Recommendations are then made which may include a mitigated sentence or an alternative to jail, prison or CYA. Using our knowledge of correctional and community based facilities, CJCJ staff are able to present appropriate alternatives. This includes advocating for institutional programs, which can actually shorten a defendant's length of stay and provide real rehabilitative objectives. Alternative options may include fines, community service, victim reconciliation and/or restitution, house arrest, work release, or placement in a residential, out-patient, halfway house.
Working with some of the most experienced criminal defense attorneys, the Sentencing Service Project has presented over 1,000 cases in State and Federal Courts throughout the Western United States, some resulting in landmark decisions. Over two-thirds of the cases were for indigent clients. SSP proposals have been accepted by the courts in whole or in part in over 65% of the cases.
SSP Specialized Services
SSP has grown considerably over the years. In addition to our pre-trial, disposition and sentencing services, CJCJ's expertise makes CJCJ able to provide specialized reports in the following areas:
Juvenile Disposition and Fitness Hearings
Over the years, CJCJ has published and accumulated extensive research on juvenile institutional placements, like the California Youth Authority, which has been instrumental in advocating successfully for institutional alternatives. In addition to creating reports, CJCJ can offer expert testimony about conditions in these facilities that can have significant public safety consequences.
A California Advocate's Guide to Juvenile Placements
To order a copy of A California Advocate's Guide to Juvenile
Placements, please call our national office at 415.621.5661 x319 or
email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, in dispositional matters, CJCJ can assist the court in identifying funding options, which allow a county to provide troubled children with individualized rehabilitative programming. Because CJCJ has developed its considerable network of service providers and identified sources of available funding options we have become a valuable tool for juvenile defense advocates.
In instances where a juvenile offender is being considered for a waiver to adult court for criminal prosecution, SSP staff provides a comprehensive social and offense history and evaluation to determine whether a juvenile can be considered amenable to juvenile court jurisdiction.
Capital Case Work
Utilizing research and expertise in the effects of institutional systems, like the California Youth Authority, CJCJ can identify mitigation considerations for clients who have institutional histories and are facing a death penalty conviction and sentence.
Three Strikes/Romero Hearings
In this instance CJCJ is able to provide a thorough developmental and offense history and an analysis of the "three strikes" legal application for consideration in a Romero hearing.
The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has provided me with invaluable assistance throughout the years in providing well-reasoned, humane alternative disposition reports to use on behalf of my juvenile clients who were faced with unnecessary incarceration in the California Youth Authority or with another imminent inappropriate placement that would surely set them up for further failure. In each instance, their reports were well-received and seriously considered by the court.
For more information about the Sentencing Service Project, please contact:
Macallair, Executive Director]
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
54 Dore Street San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 621-5661 x310