School shootings add immediacy to ASU Conference - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

School shootings add immediacy to ASU Conference

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October 24, 2006         
Albany State Press Release 

Albany -- With recent school shootings focusing national attention on youthful offenders, a Juvenile Justice Conference scheduled for October 24-25 at Albany State University will "put some science and research behind what we can do about children and crime," says the head of continuing education at Albany State.          

ASU Continuing Education Program Director Derrick Gilmore said the seminar poses the question, "Once we have children engaged in the juvenile justice system, what is being done to reintroduce them into society?"          

Unless answers are found, he warned, America's juvenile justice system will serve as a feeder for the nation's already overburdened adult prisons. "Over $1 billion is already being spent annually on our adult correctional system," Gilmore said.          

Albany State and co-sponsor Albany Technical College are bringing in national, state and local experts on juvenile justice to address trends, regulations and factors contributing to violence by children and alternatives to jailing offenders.

The conference is geared toward youth detention and child service workers, law enforcement officers, school board members, school resource officers, juvenile parole and probation officers and others who deal with young offenders, said Dr. Charles Ochie, chairman of the Criminal Justice Department at ASU.           

Special sessions will be devoted to female juvenile offenders, whose numbers are on the rise, Ochie said. "Especially in Georgia, we need more training in dealing with them," he said.          

Dr. Fred Dyer of Chicago, a nationally-recognized expert, author, consultant and trainer on juvenile justice, will be one of the speakers at the two-day event. "Dr. Dyer has particular expertise in issues relating to female offenders," Ochie said. "He is also an expert on integrating juvenile offenders into the system, staying away from incarcerating them."          

Dyer's first presentation, set for Tuesday morning, will address national trends in crime and substance abuse among juvenile offenders. The topic of his Tuesday afternoon session is "Innovative Alternatives to Incarcerations and Hospitalization for Violent, Substance-Abusing Juvenile Sex Offenders and Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents."          

Tuesday's schedule also includes a "State of the State" address on juvenile justice in Georgia by Dr. Thomas Coleman, Deputy Commissioner of Georgia's Department of Juvenile Justice; an overview of regional and long-term youth detention facilities by Mrs. Natilyne Young, Regional Administrator of Region IV of Georgia's Department of Juvenile Justice; and "Transitioning Juvenile Offenders Back into the Community and School," by Hochi Lumpkin, Chief Probation Officer, Dougherty County Juvenile Court.          

The Wednesday session will kick off with "Implementing Substance Abuse and Mental Health Best Practices in a Juvenile Justice Setting," presented by Dyer. A second morning session will address issues of suicide and juvenile delinquents.          

Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards will speak on minority representation in the juvenile justice system on Wednesday afternoon. The final two-pronged special session, "The Female Offender," will include presentations by Dyer on juvenile female sex offenders and adolescent girls with co-morbid disorders in the juvenile justice system.          

The Juvenile Justice Conference at ASU was planned long before the recent spike in school shootings, Gilmore said. But with 25 shootings at or near schools across the country since the start of the current school year, interest in juvenile offenders is at its highest since the Columbine massacre in the 1990s.           

"The trending is up for female offenders in the juvenile justice system," both in regards to violent crimes and crimes of a sexual nature, Gilmore said.          

"But while a lot of the juvenile offender rates show an increase, the sensationalism of the media coverage has blown the problem way out of proportion. Violent crime overall has been on the decline over the last 10 years."          

Registration for the program is $60. To register, contact the ASU Continuing Education Department at (229) 430-1910.                    

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