Background

The Juvenile Justice Diversion for Tribal Youth Initiative brought together teams of community leaders from eight tribal nations – Cheyenne River Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, Red Lake Band of Chippewa, and Ute Mountain Ute in 2014-15, and Colorado River Indian Tribes, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in 2015-16 – as well as national experts on topics relevant and necessary to support the development and implementation of innovative approaches to juvenile justice diversion for youth with behavioral health conditions in Indian Country.

This effort was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and coordinated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Associates and the Technical Assistance Collaborative.

A key element of this initiative was convening work groups made up of representatives from participating nations and partners. The aim of the each work group was to conceptualize and develop a resource that would contribute to the knowledge base of “what works” in Indian Country in order to support juvenile justice reform efforts.

After much discussion, the 2014-15 work group decided to create a web-based resource that:

  • Captured the experiences of the four tribal nations in the hope that others who aim to improve behavioral health and juvenile justice services in Indian Country will find them useful
  • Identified cross-site learnings from these four tribal nations
  • Recommended policy and practice reforms for tribal, state, and federal agencies that are necessary to achieve successful juvenile justice transformation in Indian Country

The 2015-16 work group sought to develop materials that support youth, family, and community engagement in juvenile justice diversion programs. Specifically, the tribes worked individually and jointly to develop short videos that capture youth, family, and community voice within the context of the juvenile justice diversion project.

Their efforts, learnings, and experiences are documented here in the hope that others who aim to improve behavioral health and juvenile justice services in Indian Country will find them useful.