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: , ,

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • Williams and a victim's family seek execution reprieve from Gov. Hutchinson

    Kenneth Williams' attorneys and family of one of his victims have written Gov. Asa Hutchinson in behalf of a reprieve in the execution scheduled for 7 p.m. today.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • An early open line

    An early open line and news and comment at midday as we take a break for happier duty — the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • ASU names chancellor finalists

    Arkansas State University has announced three people to be interviewed for the position of chancellor of the system's main campus in Jonesboro.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Transgender electrician may sue employer over her firing

    Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright has ruled that Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman, may pursue her lawsuit that she was wrongfully fired by her employer, H & H Electric, because of her sex.
    • Sep 16, 2015
  • 2nd guilty plea in bribery case over state mental health services

    Arkansas Business reports here on a federal court filing Wednesday that shows a second person has pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme to help a major contractor of the state Department of Human Services.
    • Sep 17, 2015
  • Democrats name new House minority leader

    Rep. Michael John Gray of Augusta has been elected leader of the House Democratic Caucus, the minority party. He succeeds Rep. Eddie Armstrong of North Little Rock. He's a farmer and small business owner.
    • Sep 25, 2015

Most Shared

  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • One killed, another wounded in alleged robbery attempt

    Little Rock police say one 17-year-old was killed and another wounded by a man who said they attempted to rob him in apartments at 6115 W. Markham Street.
  • Death watch includes a family reunion, arranged by a victim's family

    The execution of Kenneth Williams for his 1999 slaying of Cecil Boren during a prison escape remains scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight, though actions in state and federal courts are anticipated in the final hours.
  • Griffen asks probe of Ark. Supreme Court and AG's office conduct

    At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.
  • New complaint filed in Kenneth Williams case

    Lawyers for Kenneth Williams filed a new lawsuit this morning in Pulaski Circuit Court claiming that his execution tonight would cause unconstitutional cruel or unusual punishment.
  • Williams and a victim's family seek execution reprieve from Gov. Hutchinson

    Kenneth Williams' attorneys and family of one of his victims have written Gov. Asa Hutchinson in behalf of a reprieve in the execution scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation