Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why Arkansas lags in juvenile justice: Money

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 12:02 PM

The Marshall Project reports here in a portion of a larger project on why Arkansas keeps making negative news about juvenile justice.

The article references abysmal conditions at the state juvenile lockup; lockup for status offenses; Sen. Tom Cotton's blockade of juvenile justice reform; the rising number of juveniles in state custody.

The short answer boils down to money.

Why is Arkansas apparently moving backwards when many of its peers, including several deep red Southern states, have turned a corner by embracing more humane and proven approaches to juvenile justice?

The problem, experts and advocates told me, stems largely from the outsized influence of Arkansas’ unique network of service providers.

These agencies are not the scandal-plagued for-profit prison corporations often (and rightfully) pilloried in the press. Rather, they are nonprofit, community-based and widely respected, with a long history of caring for troubled children.

Most were created in the 1970s after passage of the Runaway Youth Act made federal funds available for programs to assist wayward youth. Initially, the organizations struggled, but by the late 1970s and early ‘80s they began to figure out how to band together and expand their influence. The providers put politically connected leaders on their boards and branched out to serve youth in the delinquency system. After forming the Arkansas Youth Service Providers Association, they negotiated standard contracts with the Division of Youth Services (DYS) to pay them for community-based services, and some opened residential facilities as well. Rather than fight each other for funding, the 13 providers agreed to carve the state into pieces, and each became the sole recipient of DYS contracts in its given territory.
The providers of services have stifled efforts at changes — unapologetically, the story makes clear. But the story also notes some new efforts at improvements, sure to bring out the providers' lobbyists in the 2017 legislative session.

I take exception to the author's saying that no one had accused youth service providers of corruption or bad faith. A man named Ted Suhl, who wielded outsized political influence thanks to political contributions, recently was convicted of bribery to win favors and steer business to his residential and community-based services for troubled youths. His organization also had come under fire over the years for some of its methods in the course of billing the government for $125 million.  

UPDATE: To clarify: Suhl's money came from the Medicaid end of the system for mental health treatment, as opposed to juvenile justice funding streams. His experience nonetheless illustrates the pernicious influence of money. But he is not a member of the formal Youth Service Providers Association mentioned in the Marshall Project article.

Tags: , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • More defense for the Duggars from Arkansas legislators Hester and Woods

    A couple of Arkansas Republican legislators rise to the defense of the Duggars. It's a family matter, they say. We beg to differ.
    • May 22, 2015
  • AHTD asks Metroplan to lift six-lane freeway cap

    The board of directors of Metroplan has informed the state highway department that it cannot act on the highway department's June 17 request to lift its six-lane freeway cap at the board's June 29 meeting. Consideration of the request should take four months, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wrote June 22 to highway department Director Scott Bennett.
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • Monticello preparing for KKK rally

    Drew County authorities are taking precautions, but also watching their words, about apparent plans for a Ku Klux Klan meeting Saturday.
    • Jul 22, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation