- Distributed data-entry
- Relational data
- Intuitive user interfaces
- Web-based software
The JDAI helpdesk website states, “Since 1992, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has demonstrated that jurisdictions can safely reduce reliance on secure confinement and generally strengthen their juvenile justice systems through a series of interrelated reform strategies.”
As you may know, I was a former Director of the Perry Multi County Juvenile Facility (a juvenile community correction facility in Ohio) and our focus was on treatment of juvenile, male felons through a cognitive-based treatment program. I do want to point out that I am not an expert in Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) standards; however, in my current position with Handel I have become much more familiar with them. JDAI standards closely align with the American Correctional Association (ACA) standards and they incorporate the Prison Rape Elimination Standards (PREA) as well. Both the ACA and PREA standards are areas that I am very familiar with having completed two ACA audits and a PREA audit.
As revealed in the JDAI Detention Reform Brief Cost-Saving Approach, some of the JDAI strategies are to increase system efficiency, develop a non-secure alternative that is less expensive than detention, help keep kids out of state facilities and help explore the most cost-saving intervention for a youth. From my experience in a juvenile facility, I know first-hand the ease with which the juvenile correction community easily faults to the “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it…” or “That’s just the way it’s done.” I was a process-oriented director and one of my skills was to always look at why we do something and if we could do it better. I think that is why I am intrigued to learn (from my exploration of JDAI) that a focus seems to be to look at problem solving differently and to focus on different options and outcomes beyond the traditional way of committing youth to detention.
However, I am not here to give you more information about the JDAI standards. I want to tell you about a software solution that can greatly help facilities recognize and implement the JDAI strategies in their communities and better manage their cases and facilities as well. This solution is RiteTrack and it is juvenile facility software that assists in managing your facility and the youth in that facility. It is equipped with a powerful reporting module that can incorporate many of the JDAI required reports. Additionally RiteTrack can also assist the JDAI local community that is responsible for entering, collecting and generating data to address compliance with the JDAI standards. RiteTrack is a software system that tracks common functions like incident, restraint and room confinement documentation, along with common practices of treatment plans, group notes and room assignments. RiteTrack excels as a facility and youth management system while allowing you to generate JDAI data not only from a juvenile facility level but also to a functionality level that compiles JDAI data for a whole JDAI community.
I will focus on three points about RiteTrack and JDAI: generating and managing data, using data to make decisions and managing the facility.
Point 1: Generating and Managing Data
Data is an essential component of JDAI, and it only makes sense that you have to generate data as the first step before you can analyze and use that data. While JDAI encourages the person or persons who share(s) the responsibility of data generating to use the simple format of Excel, it is not the most effective or efficient method. JDAI might recommend Excel because so many people have access to it; and in a JDAI community, the data come from many different areas and levels. Data generation has to occur at the probation officer level, the court level, the community alternative placement level, detention level and other agencies such as community mental health or community drug and alcohol treatment organizations that may be involved with the youth. So there is a possibility that you have many different organizations collecting data that then have to be transferred or given to one centralized “data collector” to process and manage. RiteTrack can play a very important role in this “collection” by acting as the central point of entry.
RiteTrack allows youth to be entered into the system and then additional data added to the youth’s record. Once information is added to RiteTrack then it is saved and will stay with the youth throughout his/her involvement in the process, even including if the youth is placed in an alternative placement or detention. Data such as race, gender, age, geography, prior placements, prior and current criminal offence, offence type, involvement with child welfare, involvement with substance abuse treatment and length of stay in detention are all areas in which data needs to be collected for JDAI standards. RiteTrack offers all those components as standards within the basic RiteTrack system, so a youth’s record in RiteTrack can contain all this information (generated by various agencies involved with the youth) in one record in one place. Additional areas that are important such as risk assessments, which are done either on paper or in another system, can be added to the RiteTrack system so that all information that is collected on a youth is stored and accessible in a centralized data collection location. This whole set of data can be recalled or opened at any time by qualified RiteTrack users. RiteTrack is a web-based solution that is easily accessible with internet access, so long as the user passes security clearances set up in each facility system.
Point 2: Using Data in Making Decisions
We all are aware of the trends in juvenile justice to use evidence-based practices to make decisions based on data. Decisions should not be based on how we feel or what is available, but they should be objective tools to assess level of risk. JDAI suggests that we evaluate data on a regular basis (e.g., daily population counts of youth in detention, quarterly reports and continual review of the data collected such as race, gender, age and geography). Therefore, data must be gathered and analyzed throughout the process and throughout the community that is involved in the JDAI. Data analysis can help shareholders decide when and if an effective community-based alternative would be appropriate. Data analysis can assure that detention is used only when appropriate and only for those youth that are high risk of reoffending. Data can assist in determining bias in the system based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and geography, among others; and determine if there is “institutional bias” within the system. Only when we see the data over a period of time can we make good decisions.
RiteTrack allows for all data, generated by a JDAI community to be stored in a centralized location and readily available to help in the decision-making process and JDAI reporting. Such a system is more cost effective and more efficient, and allows easier tabulation of data, which facilitates a better, more streamline decision process for the youth in a JDAI community.
Since RiteTrack is also facility software, data generated from youth being in the facility (i.e., number of incident reports, number of restraints, time in room confinement, number of hours of group participation, and facility population reports) can also be used to make decisions and determine a youth’s progress while in the facility itself.
Point 3: Managing a Facility
To participate in JDAI a facility must track and report on the following: race, ethnicity, gender, age, geography, placement history, child welfare involvement, mental health, substance abuse, education, family history, housing, prior offences, probation status, offence and offence type, aggravating factors and length of stay in detention.
RiteTrack tracks all of these data points. Each of these points are collected and tracked via drop-down menu options that are accessible and may be customized by a system administrator. In addition, many of these points have models in RiteTrack that allow for input of descriptive narratives. For example, tracking aggravating factors would most likely involve a short story or description of the aggravating factors. Workers unfamiliar with a youth would need to see what led to, or what is being described as the aggrieving factor in the incident entry. Therefore, through progress notes, RiteTrack tracks the number of incidents as well as descriptive elements.
Finally, in addition to collecting, tracking and reporting all the youth personal and participation data for a facility, RiteTrack also functions as a case management and facility management module. RiteTrack, as a case management system, encompasses treatment plans, progress notes and demographic information. As a facility management system it includes functions such as shift reporting, inventory management and incident, restraint and room-confinement reporting. RiteTrack complies with the common practices of attaching pictures, reports, video clips or tabulation of hours and minutes of room confinement time to the data entries. RiteTrack also provides a due process model, which is required for grievances, and which demonstrates compliance with due process related to major incidents within a facility. The RiteTrack design of both a case management model and facility model incorporated into one solution, allows for data reporting from both “parts” of the RiteTrack system.
RiteTrack offers the ability to generate data for the JDAI community while also serving its primary focus as juvenile facility software that manages a facility and the youth within the facility. Doing all this as a single software system, RiteTrack is an effective, efficient and cost-saving approach for any community and facility participating in the JDAI standards.
To see a demonstration of the RiteTrack system and to see how RiteTrack can assist your organization or community in compliance with the JDAI standards, please give me a call at 740-994-0500 or send me an e-mail with any question you may have at email@example.com
One of the many benefits of living in Laramie, WY, is the proximity we have to the great outdoors. Only a short 15 minute drive from Handel’s offices one finds pristinely groomed Nordic ski trails at Pole Mountain. Maintained by Medicine Bow Nordic Association and head-groomer Randy Hulme, several Handelites are found on these trails throughout the winter months. On Friday, January 29, a group of employees took some time off in the afternoon to enjoy these trails. Following the “work hard, play hard” mentality found at Handel, it was a good opportunity to get outside and enjoy some of the fresh Wyoming mountain air.
Time flies and it is hard to believe it has been three years since Ben McKay became a part of team Handel. Congratulations on your anniversary Ben. We appreciate everything you for the team spirit and for our customers. Here is to many more! Ben’s 3 year award was inscribed “For 3 Years of Great Project Management and Canine Care”. We appreciate Ben’s four-legged companions at the Handel office.
My personal introduction to Handel IT and the RiteTrack software system (see my previous blog) was in no small part due to the topic of seclusion. While the topic of seclusion and room confinement is bigger than RiteTrack software, seclusion has become a big issue for juvenile and adult facilities in Ohio and across the country.
As the former director of the Perry Multi-CountyJuvenile Facility, I served a mandate to provide rehabilitation to juveniles in a correctional setting, rather than a punitive punishment in an institutional setting. I firmly believed that seclusion, as a form of punishment, was detrimental to our philosophy of assisting and helping youth. In short, if you locked a juvenile in a room (seclusion), how would you expect him to reintegrate into a therapeutic treatment model without unintended consequences such as an unwillingness to engage in a treatment program? My belief is that seclusion, used solely as punishment, was counter to a treatment philosophy of engagement and making better choices. Although as a director, I also understand that there were times in which the only means of protecting an individual youth, my staff and the facility as a whole was seclusion. These issues of when is seclusion necessary, when is seclusion needed, and when does seclusion become a punitive issue are concerns that all directors deal with in our profession. They are also issues that, at some point in time, we have to give answers to for why we did what we did and why we made the decisions we made.
When I had to provide a total of the number of seclusion hours for 2013 in our facility, I believed that my total number of hours would be pretty low (fewer than 100 hours). After all, I opposed room confinement as a form of punishment. After we compiled the numbers, I was surprised to learn that I had signed off on over 300 hours of seclusion for my youth during 2013. That is more than three times my original estimation, and that high number made me re-think my role as a director. Not only had I not stayed true to my principle that seclusion had to be used on a very limited basis, but also my standard had not been transferred to my staff in a way that put that principle into practice at our facility.
In April of 2014, two months after collecting that seclusion data for the state, I watched a PBS Frontline special presentation on seclusion in the Maine State Prison. Prison Warden, Rodney Boufford, was actively attempting to reduce seclusion hours for his inmate population. While I understand that the inmates Warden Boufford was dealing with were much different from the juveniles I was dealing with, the topic of seclusion is still very relevant. It was very interesting to see the inmates in Maine and hear what they were saying, while also hearing from the warden, supervisors, line staff, psychologist and others who oversee them on a daily basis. I was surprised that the idea of reducing isolation was even present in a state institution with very violent and aggressive felons and a generally negative-thinking atmosphere. However, they were not only thinking of reducing seclusion hours; they were beginning to implement it. The show takes about an hour to watch, and I recommend it as an important segment for those involved in corrections.
The Frontline special and new statistics required by the state of Ohio got me thinking. Am I, as an administrator, doing enough to reduce the confinement times in my facility, and do our policies as a facility reflect our need to reduce confinement time? At our monthly supervisory meeting a few days after watching Frontline, I addressed the need to revamp our policies and procedures and to eliminate room confinement as an issue of punishment and time and as appropriate only in cases where the safety of staff and others is at risk. Our current policies were time-focused (i.e., one incident equals so many hours of confinement). Our new policies would be behavior-focused whenever youth were complying and there was no documented threat to the safety of the staff or other youth. The new policies would encourage youth to begin the process or re-engaging into the general population and everyday activities. Because the facility activities were meant to be therapeutic and if you could get the youth to engage in therapeutic opportunities, then you could begin treatment.
While my ideas were agreed upon overall, there were many who expressed reservations. I heard concerns such as the changes I championed would “harm the staff and would make youth believe that we were not serious about dealing with behavioral issues.” Some felt that if we made these changes, focusing on reducing room confinement, that “someone, another youth or a staff member would be hurt.” I listened to all of their issues and then I encouraged my supervisory staff to view the video and then come back to me with their thoughts. I also asked each one of them to estimate the number of seclusion hours that they believe we had accumulated in 2013. I had not given them our actual number, but I had used the number of 300+ seclusion hours as my example. Every single person asked gave me a number that was much lower than that. So I challenged them to watch the video to see what they are doing in the State of Maine and then to tell me why we couldn’t do the same thing in our facility. I also told them that the number of seclusion hours that they all had estimated for 2013 was a very different number than what we had actually accumulated. My point was that we thought we were doing well, but the 2013 seclusion hours showed me that as a group we had failed.
At our next meeting we addressed the topic of seclusion and this time there were very few detractors. All the supervisory staff agreed that we needed to reduce our confinement time, and that we needed also to continue to do our duty to protect the other youth and the staff and maintain the therapeutic environment of the facility. To do all those things we needed to create a balance between protection and seclusion. That balance needed to be evident in our policies and procedures, as well as in our thinking and in our implementation. We agreed that if we could create a balance, then we would better fulfill the need and responsibility for both safety and treatment.
The topic of seclusion was also very relevant in Ohio at the time. The Ohio Department of Youth Services was under federal monitoring for various reasons, and nearing the end of the monitoring the issue of seclusion or room confinement became a concern. The state began addressing how it could reduce seclusion hours of youth. In addition to its being a valid issue, it was also a requirement for “getting out from under federal monitors.” Recently Ohio Department of Youth Series was released from the lawsuit and has made very progressive and needed changes in seclusion hours.
See these two articles: Lawsuit over: Everyone won and Judge ends federal monitoring monitoring of Ohio’s youth prison system
The article above from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: “The state has also dramatically rolled back its use of solitary confinement – also called ‘seclusion’. An infraction that brings 8 hours of seclusion now would have been punished with 600 hours of seclusion when the lawsuit was filed, according to Cynthia Coe, a U.S. Justice Department attorney involved with the case.”
I was surprised when I read those numbers and remember having to re-read the paragraph again. “…infraction that brings 8 hours now would have been punished with 600 hours.” This was the trend in corrections in adult and juvenile systems just 7 years ago. I was amazed at how “behind” we as a corrections community were, but also pleased with how far we have come.
Looking back, I wonder if I would have addressed the issue of seclusion quicker in my facility if I had had valid data that would have given me a better understanding of seclusion hours. In the recent JDAI reporting the finding suggested the following:
“’The revised JDAI Detention Facility Standards prohibit the use of room confinement for discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, staffing shortages, or reasons other than as a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to a youth or others,’a JDAI summary of strategies to eliminate unnecessary use of room confinement states.” -Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
The JDAI recommendations and goals also address the topic of using data to make informed and educated decisions. If I had a RiteTrack system in my facility just two years ago, I wonder if I would have been more progressive in my decision-making because of the quality data and better statistics generated from the solution to help support better-educated decisions. Because not only would I have had up-to-date and valid data for the day, months and year, but I could have been tracking the data more effectively rather than relying on an end-of-the-year report.
I believe that many of my former colleagues share my belief that room confinement is necessary, on a limited basis, especially due to the nature of the work we perform. However, I also believe that directors and administrators want to always balance the safety of the facility without violating the rights of our youth. With a balance of protection and safety of rights in our policies and procedures and implementations, we can achieve the ideal of safely treating and serving troubled youth. The RiteTrack software system can and will assist administrators in creating that balance at their facilities.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
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