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PRESS ADVISORY: 5th Annual Juvenile Justice Conference to address youth violence; raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction

Discussing ways to effectively curb youth violence and evaluating current juvenile justice programs will be the focus of the 5th annual statewide Juvenile Justice Conference on Thursday, June 12, 2008, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Lewis B. Rome Ballroom on the University of Connecticut’s main campus in Storrs.

Frontline caseworkers, law enforcement authorities, youth advocates and state court officials are expected to attend the conference, Leading Change: Rethinking Juvenile Justice, Applauding Progress and Planning for the Future.

Chief Court Administrator Barbara M. Quinn will make opening remarks along with Department of Children & Families Commissioner Susan Hamilton and UConn Professor Ronald M. Sabatellli, head of UConn’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Keith Rhodes, a national expert on juvenile delinquency and a gang specialist certified through the federal Bureau of Prisons and the National Institute of Corrections, will be the keynote speaker.

Highlights of the conference will include an open discussion with parents, community leaders and state officials following Mr. Rhodes’ keynote address at 9:20. Another open discussion will occur at 12:45 p.m. regarding legislation that expands juvenile court jurisdiction to include 16- and 17-year-olds starting in 2010.

Workshops will include:

  • Peacebuilders – An initiative involving the Hartford Police Department and Hartford’s Office of Youth Services that relies on a Street Outreach Team of adults to mentor troubled Hartford youth and help mediate disputes.
  • Youth and Police Initiatives – This training curriculum brings together “high-risk” youth and the police officers who patrol their neighborhoods to share life stories and develop a common goal of bettering the community.
  • Employment & Training for Court-Involved Youth – A look at Hartford’s CRAFT model. This program targets vocational training for court-involved youth.
  • Therapeutic Work Crews for Older Juvenile Justice Youth – A look at the Work and Learn Academy, a new learning and mentoring program.
  • Bridging the Gap! – A look at New Haven’s STEP program, which addresses the education/ vocational needs of 16- and 17-year-olds transitioning back to their communities after leaving state programs or prisons.

The conference is sponsored by the Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division, DCF’s Bureau of Juvenile Services; UConn’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the University of Connecticut Family Studies Alumni Society.

For further information, please contact: Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, manager of communications, Connecticut Judicial Branch, at (860) 757-2270; Gary Kleeblatt, communications director, Department of Children and Families, at (860) 550-6305; or Colin Poitras, University Relations, University of Connecticut (860) 486-4656.


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