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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform | RI

Rhode Island: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 



  • Conditions of Confinement — Rhode Island Training School Reduces Maximum Time Youth Can Be Confined in their Rooms: In response to a 2011 assessment of the Rhode Island Training School’s compliance with Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) standards for conditions of confinement, the Department of Children, Youth and Families amended its policy regarding the maximum time youth at the facility can be confined to their rooms. The maximum period was reduced from five to three days in order to comply with JDAI standards.
  • Organizational and Large-Scale Change — Rhode Island Improves its Data Capacity: Rhode Island has begun to implement the JDAI Quarterly Reporting Spreadsheet (QRS), a tool that integrates data from the Rhode Island Family Court and the Department of Children, Youth and Families, making it possible to track a host of juvenile justice system data that were previously not available. The QRS includes data on race and ethnicity, gender, length of stay, average daily population, and the reasons youth were sent to the training school (e.g., offense type, probation violation, placement failure).

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  • Conditions of Confinement — Rhode Island Training School Expands Protections Against Use of Restraints on Pregnant Girls: The Department of Children, Youth and Families expanded an agency policy prohibiting the use of mechanical restraints on pregnant girls at the Rhode Island Training School. The new policy includes more detailed guidelines and new protections for pregnant and post-partum girls, requiring removal of restraints upon the request of medical personnel in emergency or urgent situations. When medical personnel request removal of restraints in non-urgent situations, Training School staff must seek guidance from a supervisor. The new policy requires that all girls be notified of the policy upon admission to the facility. The policy includes an exception allowing the use of restraints if a girl is determined to be a danger to herself or others, or poses a risk of flight that cannot be addressed by other means. Policy 1200.0832, October 2, 2012.
  • School-to-Prison Pipeline — Rhode Island Prohibits Out-of-School Suspension for Truancy: The Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation that prohibits schools from using a student’s truancy or absenteeism as the sole basis for an out-of-school suspension. As a result of the law, Rhode Island schools reported 27 percent fewer out-of-school suspensions during the 2012-2013 school year, as compared with the previous year. H.B. 7287, signed into law and effective May 30, 2012.
  • Sex Offender Laws and Registries  — Rhode Island Creates Commission to Study Impact of SORNA Implementation: In response to strong pressure from advocates against legislation to comply with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), the Rhode Island Senate passed a resolution creating a study commission to examine the constitutional and fiscal implications of implementing SORNA’s mandates. The commission was extended by another resolution in 2013. S.R. 2572, passed Senate June 12, 2012; S.R. 998, passed Senate June 18, 2013.

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  • Girls in the System — Department of Children, Youth and Families Improves Services and Conditions for Girls: In August 2011, the Department of Children, Youth and Families moved the girls placed at the Rhode Island Training School from an outdated building to a private pod in the recently constructed Youth Development Center. The move was precipitated by the efforts of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Girls Work Group, and has resulted in improved access to educational and recreational facilities, decreased use of mechanical restraints, and many other environmental improvements.

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Photo: J. Edward Ferguson, under Creative Commons License.