County Youth Investment Program

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


Juvenile Justice Philosophies Clash

In 1997, the Oregon Legislature approved and funded a Deschutes County juvenile corrections program called "County Youth Investment Program" (CYIP). The program proposed to deal with non-violent juvenile offenders locally rather than sending them to the state's Oregon Youth Authority (OYA). The program was sold to the legislature on the basis that it would rehabilitate youth in their own community at less cost and with no additional public safety risk. The saved money would be reinvested in crime prevention programs. The legislature allocated to CYIP funds that normally would have been allocated to the OYA. To measure the success of the program, it was supposed to deliver statistics to the statewide Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS) and to be audited by the state.

In November of 1998, the Bend Bulletin published an opinion piece written by CVU President Steve Doell and founders Bob and Dee Dee Kouns. The piece was very critical of the restorative justice philosophy of the CYIP. And yet by 2000, the program was an "Innovations in American Government" award from Harvard University and was being touted as a model for counties all over Oregon and the United States.

By the summer of 2001, CYIP had not yet begun to provide information to JJIS, although all counties were mandated by the legislature to do so. No audit had been performed. Crime Victims United worked hard with legislators to get them to follow through with the audit. After much effort, a bill was passed authorizing the audit. Two months later it appeared that the legislature was balking at providing funding for the audit. Again Crime Victims United went to work, and funding was provided. The audit started in early 2002 with results to be reported in December.

On January 27, 2002, the Bend Bulletin published an extensive investigative article written by James Sinks. Among the article's many revelations were the following:

Far from saving money, CYIP was costing county taxpayers. The extra cost for 2001 was estimated at $500,000.

The youth in the program were re-offending at a significantly higher rate than those sent to OYA. The 77 youths in the program were cited for 54 felonies and 71 misdemeanors.

Although the program was touted to the legislature as targeting nonviolent property offenders, 62% had at least one prior referral for assault, menacing, sex crimes, weapons violations or robbery..

In early February, county officials met and pledged to tighten the program.

Later that month, another opinion piece written by CVU President Steve Doell and founders Bob and Dee Dee Kouns was published by the Bend Bulletin.

In August of 2002, the Joint Interim Committee on Judiciary held a hearing on CYIP in Bend. CVU President Steve Doell made a presentation as well as Rick O'Dell, from J Bar J Ranch.


Bend Bulletin, February 16, 2002

By Steve Doell and Bob and Dee Dee Kouns

Over three years ago we at Crime Victims United wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Bulletin's Community Forum Section . It was an attempt to alert leaders and members of the community to the dangers of the proposed scheme called "Community Justice". Our main concern was and remains the lack of public safety and accountability associated with "Restorative Justice" programs.

As evident in the excellently researched article written by James Sinks recently published in The Bulletin on the Community Youth Investment program, our misgivings were not unfounded and apparently there are additional concerns as well.

It is clear that youth corrections officials in Deschutes County have not been timely, forthcoming or factual with information regarding program results. This began with a reluctance to be part of the statewide Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS). The lack of participation in JJIS until almost two years after the deadline (January 2000) for all Oregon counties made a quick and pertinent informal audit of the CYIP program impossible. The result was an inability to measure re-offense rates, which meant the all important public safety component went unknown. In our opinion the lack of cooperation on the part of Deschutes County officials was a deliberate tactic to hide program failure. 

Another example of this "bob and weave" technique was the underground resistance to the Secretary of State audit now being conducted. Deschutes County officials repeatedly and to this day insisted that the University of Oregon evaluation, bought and paid for by Deschutes County, should be considered just as unbiased and valid as the independent audit by the Secretary of State. It is as if the County officials think the rest of us have never heard about the proverbial "fox in the hen house".

They repeatedly gave misleading statements to legislative committees, the legislative fiscal office, the media and to us at CVU. Now they are asking us to believe they will be forthcoming, factual and timely in the future.

The root cause of this problem is the conceptual framework in which it was created. Deschutes County officials obviously took a concept (Restorative Justice) made it into a plan, added assumptions, developed it into an idea and instituted it as a policy while ignoring, threatening or punishing those who would oppose it. Our greatest concern is the continuing attempt to replicate the program statewide and across the country. This would be disastrous to the Juvenile justice system in Oregon and nationwide.

To reiterate some of our comments of November 7, 1998, "Citizens need to be aware of this 60's pop psychology approach to serious crime, which when implemented created a 34% increase in juvenile crime in Vermont." Additionally we wrote, "The whole notion of "Restorative Justice" is exactly what citizens are weary of and speaks to a lack of understanding about the mind set of both victims and offenders. This approach is an example of broad conceptual generalities and wordsmithing being used to develop policy, which on the application level doesn't work. These great sounding concepts are bad ideas and proven to be ineffective".

Oh, and apparently it costs more too, a lot more. Specifically this has taken away approximately four million dollars from the Oregon Youth Authority, a proven juvenile agency and its programs. Furthermore, it has required additional subsidies from taxpayers in Deschutes County which appear to be at least an additional one-half million dollars according to the Bulletin's article. 

We urge the legislature, the leaders and community members in Deschutes County to stop the application and advancement, of this poorly conceived, vigorously promoted, and needlessly expensive approach to juvenile justice. It is difficult to see who benefits from this program. Certainly not potential crime victims or the families of troubled youth who are committing crimes and are the ones desperate for help.


Bend Bulletin, November 7, 1998

By Steve Doell and Bob and Dee Dee Kouns

As Deschutes County moves forward with its "Community Justice" scheme, a very troubling element of that plan emerges: a theory called "Restorative Justice." Citizens need to be aware of this '60s pop-psychology approach to serious crime, which when implemented in Vermont created a 34 percent increase in juvenile crime.

The whole notion of "Restorative Justice" is exactly what citizens are weary of and speaks to a lack of understanding of the mindset of both victims and offenders. Both of these approaches are examples of broad conceptual generalities and wordsmithing being used to develop policy, which on the application level doesn't work. The great-sounding concepts are bad ideas and proven to be ineffective.

Like so many concepts that have driven juvenile justice, they have been developed by academics or administrators who probably haven't talked to a juvenile offender in 10 or 20 years, if at all.

The fact is that times are different, and so are kids. Since the 1930s when "Boys Town" and Father Flanagan developed a program for wayward youth, there has been a rather sentimental view of scruffy street urchins who just need a hand, a friend, a mentor, someone to take them fishing and the intrinsic good in them will emerge. It is a view that makes us all feel better about who we are. We want to believe it's true. There is still a population of kids who could fit this description; the are, however, not the kids who have created a crisis in community after community.

The promise of Restorative Justice from the victim's point of view can hardly be called justice. To reduce a crime that has taken away a person's ability to trust or feel safe to a "dispute" is cynical and disingenuous. This is purely and simply a veiled attempt at dismantling the justice system for the sake of expedience. When a person's home has been burglarized and the victim has been depersonalized, "negotiating" a settlement as though it were a conflict over a property line is adding insult to injury; there should be no responsibility placed on the victim.

From the offender's perspective, he would like nothing more than to negotiate his/her way out of real consequences. The whole mindset of an offender is mitigating consequences for his acts; Restorative Justice does nothing but feed into an offender's irresponsible mindset. To separate a person's acts from himself and say they are separate is mental health mumbo jumbo. Chronic offenders see this kind of thinking as nothing more than weakness that can be exploited. Restorative Justice may have a role in minor property "disputes" but not in cases that involve real victimization. It's true, victims do equate some retribution with justice and rightly so.

The idea of Retributive versus Restorative is a word game that attempts to polarize opinions regarding juvenile justice. It is a false argument. A whole continuum of services and interventions exist for juvenile offenders. Incarceration is only used as a last resort for chronic intransigent juvenile offenders who refuse to cease their hurtful behavior. An array of sanctions are used prior to incarceration, so to classify incarceration as retributive is self-serving and false. This is another attempt to displace responsibility from offenders. This will only serve to exacerbate an already decade-long rise in crime in Deschutes County.


Presentation To Joint Interim Committee On Judiciary, August 2, 2002

By Steve Doell, President, Crime Victims United

Thank you for inviting me; I appreciate the opportunity to address you today. 

Let me first of all acquaint you with my background in juvenile justice. First and foremost, I did not choose to become a participant in the world of juvenile justice, it was thrust upon me when my 12-year-old daughter Lisa was willfully murdered by a juvenile in 1992. 

To say that this event changed my life and its direction is certainly an understatement. My introduction to "the system" was something I was certainly not prepared for, and something none of my colleagues in Parents of Murdered Children and Crime Victims United were prepared for or asked for. It is a club no one wants to be a member of. I chose to commit myself to the cause of victims and became determined to learn as much as I could about the system that imposed a 2 1/2-year sentence on a 16 year old who admitted he purposely ran down and murdered an innocent 12-year-old girl. Andrew Whitaker got 2 1/2 years; my family got a life sentence. 

What I subsequently learned about crime, criminals, victims and the system has been an arduous and often frustrating journey. 

I have learned that juvenile delinquency, as itís called, is hardly new, itís well documented throughout the history of civilization.

There is a frightening quality about juvenile delinquency today, however. It is no longer defined as throwing rocks at street lights or soaping windows or having a fist fight after school; or smoking cigarettes; or even shoplifting.

Rape and murder at 15 is far from uncommon; auto theft is the shoplifting of the new millennium (in my county, you get a citation in the mail for that by the way) burglary, robbery, serious assault is widespread. There are runawayís by the thousands, sexual promiscuity extends into pre-teen years now, truancy is all too common and parental disrespect is common. 

We are not talking about youthful misadventure. We are talking about crime that hurts people. For every crime there is a face, a victim, a real person. 

I am aware of the decades of study and attempts at explaining this phenomenon. The theories are endless, biological, biosocial, psychological, interpersonal, labeling theory, control theory, environmental factors.

Proposals for preventing and diminishing juvenile crime and controlling and punishing young offenders have assumed so many forms that the lay observer of these proposals can become totally confused and bewildered as to their purpose and benefit. 

I understand the concepts of distinguishing between adults and juvenile offenders, the assumption that delinquents need special rehabilitative or habilitative services. 

I do find it typical of a flawed view of crime however that in looking at crime and incarceration, the system has looked at incarceration as the problem rather than the crime which makes the incarceration necessary. 

I believe that for years we have tried dealing with crime with things like self-esteem classes, theft talk, you name it, and endlessly winking at crime both minor and serious, and giving delinquents warning after warning, that next time the consequences will be serious. Many of the juvenile experts I have talked to say you can not help a delinquent before you convince him or her that their behavior is serious and that without accountability, change is not possible. If we continue to say one thing and do another, that is, tell kids crime is wrong but do little about it when a crime has been committed, it is the worst possible message. 

I have seen numerous face sheets from various counties in Oregon that indicate to me the preamble to the juvenile code is not being followed either in spirit or specifics, numerous felonies for example, without formal accountability agreements being followed. Deschutes County is one of the worst offenders in this regard. 

SB1 changed the law but I donít believe the culture has changed. From what I can ascertain many counties are still dealing with offenders in the "too little too late" approach, believing for some reason that endlessly recycling offenders in the local community has some intrinsic value. I am afraid I donít see who benefits from these policies; not victims, not communities. 

In my view juvenile departments are the bottom line for juveniles in each county. They draw the line and say when enough is enough. 

In my direct conversations with youthful offenders in closed custody, they invariably point to a lack of significant sanctions early on, as the primary reason they continued on the criminal pathway. 

They all know that emphasizing any adversity in their lives works well with certain members of the juvenile system and will play that tune as long as it resonates and mitigates consequences. I believe that adversity in one's life is no excuse for committing crime and hurting others. 

As I am sure many of you recall in the late 70ís, the trend was "de-institutionalization", "diversion"; the basic tenet being that the justice system encourages deviance by "labeling" young offenders; the belief that behavior is determined by outside forces and knowable conditions and once these are changed the criminal behavior will abate. Despite sound repudiation at the time by numerous studies; among them the State of Virginia, The Council of State Governments, The National Council of Juvenile Court Judges and numerous expert opinions in monographs and journals, the political juice was with de-institutionalization, the rest is history. The early 80ís saw juvenile crime begin to spiral upward in Oregon and between 1986-96 property crime went up 39%, burglary 19%, unauthorized use of a vehicle 50%, arson 65%, rape 56%, aggravated assault 16%, and robbery 111%. Overall 70% increase.

Itís hard to escape tying results to policies, labeling, social root cause theories of crime were the basis of juvenile policies during this time. Many policies began to change as a result of this epidemic of juvenile crime. Both nationally and in Oregon, serious responses to serious crime have resulted in positive results nationally and I strongly believe Measure 11 has had a chilling effect on violent crime in Oregon. 

Reliance on root cause theories of social anomie have and continue to drive policy in juvenile justice, despite their stunning long term failures in significant reduction of crime or criminals. We are now seizing upon things such as "ghosts in the nursery" and "failure to thrive".

Wellness, head start, great start, first step, next step, as the social engineering theories de jour. Restorative Justice being another. These things may be politically correct but I donít believe theyíre correct in terms of reducing juvenile crime. 

The culture that has been created by the labeling/social theories of crime and the resulting diversion, downsizing and minimization of crime by juveniles is the true causative nexus of the crime increase. Insidiously, over time, counties and the state have been willing to tolerate and accept increasing truancy, drug use, crime, runaway and out-of-control behaviors which has produced a value system, thus a message to youth: self-control, respect for authority and others is not something we value highly so why should you? We will tolerate (literally for years) your parental disrespect, truancy, law violations over and over, so why take it seriously? We donít.

I believe time is long past due to try something truly revolutionary in juvenile justice. In all counties lets follow the preamble to the Oregon Juvenile code and provide early, certain sanctions for all juvenile crimes, follow the law on formal accountability agreements, provide rehabilitation for youth amenable to it and provide protection for the community from those who refuse to cease criminal behavior. 

Over three years ago those of us at Crime Victims United published a letter in The Bulletinís Community Forum Section attempting to alert leaders and members of the community to the dangers of the proposed scheme called "Community Justice". Our main concern was the lack of public safety and accountability associated with "Restorative Justice" programs. 

As evidenced by the excellently researched article recently published in "The Bulletin" on CYIP, our misgivings were not unfounded and apparently there are additional concerns as well. 

It is clear that youth corrections officials in Deschutes County have not been timely, forthcoming or factual with information regarding their program's performance beginning with unwillingness to be part of the Juvenile Justice Info System (JJIS) to repeated misstatements to legislative committees, the legislative fiscal office, journalists, and to us at CVU. However, weíre supposed to believe they will be forthcoming, timely and factual in the future. 

The root cause of this problem is the conceptual framework in which it was created. Deschutes County officials obviously took a concept (Restorative Justice) made it into a plan, added assumptions, developed it into an idea and instituted it as a policy while ignoring, threatening or punishing all those who would oppose it. Of greatest concern was the attempt to institute this statewide. To reiterate some of our comments of November 7, 1998, "Citizens need to be aware of this 60ís pop psychology approach to serious crime, which when implemented created a 34% increase in juvenile crime in Vermont". 

"The whole notion of "Restorative Justice" is exactly what citizens are weary of and speaks to a lack of understanding about the mind set of both victims and offenders. This approach is an example of broad conceptual generalities and wordsmithing being used to develop policy, which on the application level doesnít work. These great sounding concepts are bad ideas and proven to be ineffective". 

Oh, and apparently it costs more too, lots more. We urge the leaders and community members in Deschutes County to stop the application and promotion of this poorly conceived, vigorously promoted, and needlessly expensive approach to juvenile justice. Itís difficult to see who benefits from this program; certainly not potential victims or the families of troubled youth who are desperate for help.


Presentation To Joint Interim Committee On Judiciary, August 2, 2002

By Rick O'Dell, J Bar J Ranch

A hallmark of the YIP program over time has been its insistence on doing its own thing, their way. Not having to follow the same guidelines as everyone else and being given special dispensations over and over again.
Probably the most overriding characteristic of YIP has been the on going inability for anyone who asks to get a straight answer. Ask Dan Doyle, Randy Miller, the Bulletin, or me for that matter. After more scrutinization than Enron, obviously the facts are still obscure.

Here are some of the things we do know:

Weíve all heard that there may be a budget shortfall of $1 billion or more in the next biennium.

If we continue business as usual, and throwaway money on dubious ever-harmful pet projects for nothing more than quid pro quo politics, we will indeed as Will Rogers said, "get the government we deserve."

But beyond the money, the politics, and the personalities involved in this, the real reason I am here is about victims.

For each victim of a crime there are months and years of repercussions. The juvenile may serve his four months for stealing $500 from the elderly lady, but she may be frightened for years after every time she sees a juvenile, her heart will race, her palms will get sweaty, and she will change her lifestyle to accommodate. She may stay indoors out of fear, and her health may decline. I am not sure of how she will cope, but believe me, she will suffer, and her life will be changed for years.

Each crime has a victim, and that victim has a face, and a life that will be irrevocably changed, as I said earlier, possibly for years. I challenge the politicians to think beyond the budget of trying to support your new facility, and beyond the promotional save face on your "project", to consider the public you are here to protect, and do the right thing. End this project, and get back to the business of protecting the public. Protect the business owners who are tired of the thefts and break ins, the young girls who are molested by their brothers, fathers, and uncles, the elderly, who are preyed upon by delinquents, and the public who are weary of getting their car or their house broke into. Find your moral compass and do the right thing.


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