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Implementation Science Training Yields New Tools for Cities

Law Enforcement, Forum Strategies Find Synergy in New Orleans

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by Dave Marsden

Though prevention, intervention, and reentry are key strategies for the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, public safety demands serious efforts to suppress violent crime that will allow these other strategies to take hold and begin taking effect. Under the banner of NOLA for Life and the National Forum to Reduce Youth Violence, New Orleans, La., Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his team have taken aggressive steps to remove dangerous individuals from the Crescent City's streets.

In November 2012, in a joint effort of local, state, and federal law enforcement agency partners, Mayor Landrieu developed the Multiagency Gang Unit (MGU). "It's all hands on deck," the mayor announced at the time. The MGU was designed to reduce the number of violent crimes as a key component of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy based on the Ceasefire project pioneered by David Kennedy in Boston, Mass.

New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas described the MGU as an effort to "conduct long-term investigations to ensure long-term prison sentences for the most dangerous people among us." He added, "This effort is geared to holding our violent gangs and groups accountable for their actions." The district attorney kicked in with two prosecutors to handle adjudication and sentencing of these individuals. The U.S. Attorney's office also provided two prosecutors; together with their local counterparts, they make sure that the most appropriate forum for legal action—state, local, or federal—is employed.

The federal government has also stepped up its efforts. The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have engaged in the gang unit effort to "provide a seamless sharing of essential intelligence and investigative capabilities of our most critical law enforcement partners," stated U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten, at the rollout of the initiative. The New Orleans sheriff is helping with a dedicated staff person, and U.S. and state parole agencies will be participating by helping target gang members or violent offenders under their supervision.

This MGU is in sync with the goals of the NOLA for Life plan to
  • Stop the shooting.
  • Invest in prevention.
  • Promote jobs and opportunities.
  • Get involved, and rebuild neighborhoods.
  • Improve the New Orleans Police Department.
Roxanne Franklin, senior project manager in Mayor Landrieu’s office, stated that procedural justice and legitimacy is also part of a plan to make the Police Department a more effective force by improving community relations, gaining trust, and engaging citizens in reducing crime.

In December 2013 the MGU indicted 74 gang members who "held their neighborhoods hostage," according to Superintendent Serpas. "These gangs took away their neighbors' freedom." This announcement followed a Ceasefire "call in" that brought in 159 gang members from 40 different groups who were provided with options to make different choices in life. According to a NOLA for Life press release, "The call-in was used to offer those who choose to stop the violence and accept support [with] a network of 15 service providers coordinated to provide jobs, education, housing, and mental health and substance abuse treatment."

In May 2013, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro announced a 51-count racketeering indictment involving 15 individuals—the largest indictment in New Orleans history. "The people of New Orleans are witnessing a rebirth of their criminal justice system," he said.

Before prevention, intervention, and reentry can play their critical roles in reducing youth violence, the streets and the citizens who live in the neighborhoods must feel safe and be safe. Strong law enforcement in New Orleans is paving the way for the other Forum strategies to begin playing their part in making New Orleans a better place to live.
Funding Opportunities

National Institute of Justice Announces Availability of $15 Million to Address School Safety
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is seeking applications for funding for research and evaluation on safety in schools nationwide. Under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, NIJ will make about $15 million available for multiple grants that will address school safety issues directly. Each research effort funded must contribute to the base of knowledge and evidence building about school safety. Applicants must register with before submitting an application. Applications are due May 20, 2014. To access the solicitation, click here.

National Institute of Justice Seeking Proposals for Research and Evaluation on Trafficking in Persons
The National Institute of Justice is seeking applications for funding for research and evaluation projects that support federal, state, local, and tribal criminal justice agencies in combating trafficking in persons. NIJ is particularly interested in studies that develop methods to effectively measure the cost of trafficking in persons as well as evaluation studies of countertrafficking programs and tools. NIJ anticipates that up to $2 million total may become available for awards under this solicitation. From the total amount, NIJ anticipates that it will make one to four awards for a 36-month project period. Applicants must register with before submitting an application. Applications are due June 2, 2014. To access the solicitation, click here.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Announces Internet Crimes Against Children Funding Opportunity
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has announced its fiscal year 2014 Internet Crimes Against Children Program Support funding opportunity. The successful bidder will provide services and support to the OJJDP–funded Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program. Activities of the multiagency, multijurisdictional ICAC task forces include preventing, investigating, and prosecuting technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. (EDT), April 14, 2014. Applicants must register with before submitting an application.

Training Opportunities

On April 14–16, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will host its Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development 2014 conference at the Denver (Colo.) Downtown Sheraton Hotel (registration: $350.00). OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee will be a keynote speaker. The conference will focus on evidence-based programs in youth education, problem behavior, self-regulation, mental and physical health, and positive relationships and will provide support for practitioners implementing these programs in their communities.

SAMHSA, Suicide Prevention Alliance to Cohost Webinar April 17
"Preventing Suicide Among Justice-Involved Youth: Newly Developed Tools, Recommendations, and Research," a Webinar cohosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Suicide Prevention Branch and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, will take place April 17, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (EDT). This free live Webcast will describe new resources from the Action Alliance's Youth in Contact With the Juvenile Justice System Task Force. Nearly one of every three justice-involved youths reports having experienced suicidal ideation in the past year, and 36 percent have attempted suicide during their lifetimes. Suicide is the leading cause of death for youths in confinement. Advance registration is required. For additional information or to register, please visit

Speakers are Joseph J. Cocozza, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, Policy Research Associates, Inc., and Linda A. Teplin, Ph.D., vice chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. Questions for a Q&A discussion during the Webinar are encouraged. Please email your questions to

The task force has released a set of comprehensive suicide prevention resources to support staff working with youth in the juvenile justice system. The newly developed educational tools advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, which guides efforts to prevent suicide in this vulnerable population across the nation. Online versions of the nine resources are available at http://www.actionallianceforsuicide

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program
The application window for the 2014 Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program remains open through April 18.

The Ready by 21 National Meeting
Ready by 21 is a set of strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that help communities and states improve the odds that all children and youths will be ready for college, work, and life by age 21. The 2014 Ready for 21 national meeting will be held in northern Kentucky during April 22–24. This annual meeting brings together hundreds of leaders from nationwide who are working to get all young people “ready by 21.” These leaders have dedicated themselves to improving the odds for children and youth through collective impact initiatives, policy alignment, and program quality improvement. For more information, click here.

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Annual Conference
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice will hold its 2014 Annual Conference, "Looking Back, Planning Ahead: A Vision for the Next 40 Years in Juvenile Justice," during June 18–21, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
by Martha Yeide and Marcia Cohen
Despite weather conditions that shut down the government on the first scheduled day, the Implementation Science Training Institute of March 3–5 in Washington, D.C., went smoothly—and to the satisfaction of all who participated. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) event included grantees from the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, the Defending Childhood Initiative, and the Community-Based Violence Prevention initiative. Weather-related flight cancellations couldn't keep away the more than 40 who attended, in teams from Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Camden, N.J.; Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Salinas, and San Jose, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Portland, Maine. Federal staff also attended the training.

Allison Metz and Melissa Van Dyke, codirectors of the National Implementation Research Network, led the training. Over the 3 days of the event, Drs. Metz and Van Dyke presented with great clarity (and humor) a rationale for why implementation science is important, what can be learned from the evidence base about important dimensions of implementation, and how this information can be used to maximize the probability of reliably achieving desired outcomes through the implementation of particular plans, strategies, practices, and programs.

Content, Components, Connections
The first day of the training (relocated, because of the government closure, to the hotel where out-of-town participants lodged) concentrated on the content, components, and connections needed to implement a system change initiative. Metz and Van Dyke stressed that it can take 2 to 4 years to implement an evidence-based program and up to 10 years to successfully implement system change. It is necessary to improve the political environment that surrounds the system so it produces the policy and funding changes needed to create and sustain it. The opportunity for "quick, tangible wins" should not be overlooked. Communities should look for components of their plans that are not well developed yet doable within 3 months, and communicate these "wins" to all partners. In addition to implementing evidence-based programs, communities should enhance their "practice-based evidence" models.

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Trainer Allison Metz (standing) addresses the California Forum teams at the Implementation Science Training.

Saul Green, Detroit’s Ceasefire project director, reported that his city used this approach in implementing its Safe Routes intervention (see "Safe Routes Send Kids to School With Confidence" in February issue) to continually figure out what is imperfect and to make improvements. The day ended with sites examining their plans to ensure that all components are clearly described and operationally defined.

Stages and Drivers of Implementation
The second day of training, at OJJDP headquarters, focused on the stages and drivers of implementation, as well as on implementation teams. The stages capture the developmental (but not necessarily linear) nature of the implementation process. An example used to illustrate this point was the importance of buy-in across the developmental stages. Gaining buy-in is critical during exploration (the first of the four stages), but it is equally important to reaffirm it throughout the remaining stages (installation, initial implementation, and full implementation)—such as by reminding those involved why they bought into the effort during the awkwardness that inevitably arises during initial implementation.

The discussion of "drivers" offered insight into aspects of the infrastructure that create a "hospitable environment" for successful implementation. One example of a driver is coaching, which has been shown to dramatically increase the percentage of trainees actually using—rather than merely comprehending—new skills from 5 percent posttraining to 95 percent postcoaching. Participants learned about the importance of structuring linked teaming arrangements, with clear graphic depictions of how teams are linked, what the "terms of reference" or operating parameters and procedures are, and how teams are accountable to one another.

Collective Impact, Quality Improvement
The third day considered collective impact and quality improvement cycles. Time was given at the end of the morning for teams to identify action items they would address upon their return home.

One component of the training that the sites embraced was the "table time" built into the training, when individuals from a single site could work with their team to discuss how the information being presented could help reinvigorate their team. In their evaluations, many participants cited "hearing from other cities about their efforts" as the most useful part of the training. The in-person meeting allowed site representatives to discover issues they had in common, as well as to recognize issues unique to their cities. Participants also discovered numerous things they would like to discuss with other sites. Opportunities for many peer-to-peer calls and mentoring were discussed.

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The Detroit Forum team confers at the training.

Using the Framework as a Diagnostic Tool
Participants expressed enthusiasm about the training, many noting they wished they could have had the training "a year or 2 ago" when they were getting their projects off the ground. At the same time, it became clear that many felt overwhelmed at trying to find the time and resources to "do it all."

Dr. Metz agreed that it would be impossible to do it all. Instead, she characterized the framework as a gift, because it clarifies "functions that need to be served." That is, the framework makes visible the functions that are important to the successful implementation of programs and strategies. She encouraged participants to use the framework as a diagnostic tool. Participants should look at the "things keeping them awake at night," then use the framework to identify what function from the framework was not being served.

She pointed to the different cities' examples to illustrate this point: Whereas the Memphis team discovered they could benefit from more clarity about the components or the "what" of their efforts, the challenges described by the Chicago team pointed to the need to catalyze adaptive leadership—one of the drivers described on Day 2 of the training.

Leveraging the Lessons
Asked how they plan to use what they learned when they return home, many attendees said they will share what they learned with people who have more "clout"—those who have the power to integrate these lessons into their violence prevention work. Annie Ellington, director of Detroit's Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, said she will "take action on citizens' items of concern." She intends to focus on the "fit, feasibility, and continuous quality improvement" of the work back home. Participants also said they plan to work more with their implementation teams and get them to incorporate what they learned to assess the strengths, laud the successes, and identify challenges and methods of quality improvement.

Shelby County Government Administrator (Memphis) Keisha Walker summed it up: "We plan to take a deeper dive into site-based services and determine what's supposed to be the end result."

Urban Institute: Underground Commercial Sex Trade Bigger Than Drug Trade in Atlanta, Miami, Seattle
(Meredith Dank, Bilal Khan, P. Mitchell Downey, Cybele Kotonias, Deborah Mayer, Colleen Owens, Laura Pacifici, and Lilly Yu. 2014. Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major U.S. Cities. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.) This U.S. Department of Justice–commissioned report on the underground commercial sex economy (UCSE) in eight American cities estimates that the sex trade in Atlanta, Ga.; Miami, Fla., and Seattle, Wash.; dwarfs the illegal drug trade in each of those places. The report by the Urban Institute—based on 2007 data and more than 250 interviews with law enforcement officers, lawyers, pimps, sex traffickers, sex workers, and child pornographers—also examines UCSE, including child pornography, in Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Kansas City, Mo.; San Diego, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. Hear an interview with Meredith Dank, principal author of the study, from the March 17 Kojo Nnamdi Show.

Child Poverty Has Reached Record Levels; Children of Color Disproportionately Poor
The Children's Defense Fund recently released The State of America's Children, which finds that child poverty has reached record levels and children of color are disproportionately poor. The report includes a comprehensive compilation and analysis of the most recent state and national data on population, family structure, poverty, family income, health, education, nutrition, early childhood development, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence. State of America's Children provides key child data that show alarming numbers of children at risk.

Young People Link Mentoring to Significant Life Outcomes
The Mentoring Effect: Young People's Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring finds that young people experience positive life outcomes related to community involvement, academics, leadership, and career development when they are mentored. The report, released in January, is based on information from a nationally representative sample of young people on the specific topic of mentoring. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership commissioned the study, with support from AT&T. Civic Enterprises in partnership with Hart Research authored the report.

OJJDP and National Institute of Justice Release the First Two Bulletins in Justice Research Series
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Institute of Justice have released the first two bulletins in their Justice Research series, which reports on findings from joint OJJDP and NIJ research on youth in the juvenile justice system. The first bulletin, "Delays in Youth Justice," describes research drawing from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive and from studies of three midwestern county courts that reduced delays in case processing. "Youth Offenders: What Happens and What Should Happen?" is the second bulletin. It examines policies that affect youth transitioning from the juvenile to the criminal justice system. Future bulletins in the series will address other topics related to the transition from juvenile delinquency to adult crime. To receive announcements when new bulletins are released, subscribe to JUVJUST, OJJDP's listserv.


States Moving Away From Juvenile Solitary Confinement
On March 21 the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange released an article on the growing trend of states moving away from the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. The article provides information from interviews with state juvenile justice agency leaders from Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Each of these states has either banned punitive solitary confinement in juvenile facilities or experienced a dramatic shift away from the practice. More information on juvenile solitary confinement is available through the ACLU Web site, a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

New York State Becomes Largest U.S. Prison System to Prohibit Use of Disciplinary Solitary Confinement for Juveniles
According to a Feb. 19 story in the New York Times, the state of New York has agreed to sweeping reforms intended to limit the use of solitary confinement for certain special populations, which includes ending the most extreme form of isolation for juveniles. Much of the information for the article was from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented three prisoners whose lawsuit led to the agreement.

Video of Webinar on Now Available
On Jan. 16 the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA) hosted a Webinar on This Webinar provided a general overview of the Web site and tips on using the information. The presenter was Thomas E. Feucht, executive senior science advisor and acting deputy director at the National Institute of Justice. The moderator was Stan Orchowsky, director of research at the JRSA. To access this archived Webinar, visit JRSA's Web site. Other archived Webinars are also accessible at the JRSA Web site, including "Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Community Corrections" and "A State Perspective on Implementing Results First," which highlights states' use of the Results First cost–benefit analysis approach to ensuring investment in effective criminal justice policies and programs.

OJJDP Relaunches Model Programs Guide
OJJDP has relaunched its Model Programs Guide (MPG), an online resource of more than 180 evidence-based prevention, intervention, and reentry programs. The MPG is a resource for practitioners and communities about what works, what is promising, and what does not work in juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety. The MPG now uses the Office of Justice Programs' (OJP's) review process and evidence ratings. The two sites now share a common database of juvenile programs, allowing for better alignment between the OJJDP and OJP registries. The MPG also includes other helpful information such as user-friendly literature reviews, links to publications, and a frequently asked questions section.

ACLU Seeks to Stop Shackling of Juveniles in Ohio
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange has posted an article on the efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio to get the Ohio Supreme Court to review the practice of shackling juveniles. The ACLU of Ohio is asking the state's highest court to end the indiscriminate restraint of children in the juvenile courts without first having a hearing to determine if there is evidence to do so. The ACLU argues that this practice is both traumatizing and unconstitutional.

Other Resources

Resource Center on Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Established
The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice has launched the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, a multidimensional resource center that shares information on mental health reforms developed by states involved with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice and provides guidance for effectively implementing those reforms in new states and communities. This resource center is one of four new online resource centers that the MacArthur Foundation supports as part of the new Models for Change Resource Center Partnership. The others are the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, which was highlighted in last month's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention News; the National Juvenile Defender Center, which aims to build the capacity of the juvenile defense bar and improve access to quality representation for children in the justice system; and the Status Offense Reform Center, which offers tools and resources to practitioners and policymakers interested in creating effective alternatives to juvenile justice system involvement for youths who commit status offenses.

Juvenile Justice Resource Hub Adds Racial–Ethnic Fairness Section
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange together with the National Juvenile Justice Network has recently added a section on Racial–Ethnic Fairness to its Juvenile Justice Research Hub. The Juvenile Justice Research Hub, which is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, provides timely research and information on juvenile justice trends and issues. The Racial–Ethnic Fairness section of the Resource Hub aims to provide an overview of salient issues and links to information on promising approaches, recent research, cutting-edge reforms, model policies, best practices, links to experts, and toolkits to take action. Other sections in the Hub include mental health and substance use, community-based alternatives, and juvenile indigent defense.
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The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Newsletter is prepared under Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Cooperative Agreement No. 2012–MU–FX–K009 with Development Services Group, Inc.

The views, opinions, and content of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of OJJDP.