The University of New Haven (UNH), with its main campus located in West Haven, CT, is a student-centered comprehensive university with an emphasis on excellence in liberal arts and professional education. UNH's mission is to prepare students to lead purposeful and fulfilling lives in a global society by providing the highest-quality education through experiential, collaborative and discovery-based learning. UNH's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences (HCLC) strives to meet this goal by creating a "student-centered professional practice-oriented learning environment."
The Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) was founded in 2014 to support and sustain major youth justice reform efforts now underway in the State of Connecticut and across the northeast, and to increase the use of evidence-based practices in the field. The Institute, as an initiative of the Henry C. Lee College, draws upon the intellectual and other resources of the University to fulfill its mission. Its presence within the University will facilitate interdepartmental collaboration on academic, research, and community service projects and programs.
The mission of the Institute is to prepare the next generation of effective leaders and skilled workers in the juvenile justice field through delivery of an interdisciplinary, experiential curriculum and continuing education programs and to produce valuable, timely research to inform innovative juvenile justice reform efforts in Connecticut and beyond. The Institute is unique in its multidisciplinary, research-driven structure, its diverse partnerships, and its broad scope. The work of the Institute spans academic research, partnerships with public agencies, nonprofits, and community members; curricular development for youth justice advocates, advice to policymakers; and leadership development.
The University of New Haven (UNH), with its main campus located in West Haven, CT, is a student-centered comprehensive university with an emphasis on excellence in liberal arts and professional education. UNH's mission is to prepare students to lead purposeful and fulfilling lives in a global society by providing the highest-quality education through experiential, collaborative and discovery-based learning. UNH's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences (HCLC) strives to meet this goal by creating a "student-centered professional practice-oriented learning environment.”
The Henry C. Lee College (HCLC) has the largest and most comprehensive criminal justice program in New England and is the only one with a Ph.D. program in the state. HCLC also has one of the largest international criminal justice programs in the nation. The Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) was established in 2014 to address youth justice issues and to serve as a national model for juvenile justice reform. This academic-based institute is designed to promote, monitor, and evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based practices, program and policies related to youth justice and child welfare within Connecticut.
The overarching goal of the TYJI is to serve as a center for youth justice reform, provide sustained leadership within the state, foster evidence-based practices in youth justice and become a model for youth justice nationally. The center focuses on four primary objectives toward furthering this goal that aims to increase knowledge, ensure future leadership, and support use of evidence-based practices. The four major objectives are to: • Develop a youth justice leadership training program targeting law enforcement, policy-makers and leaders in public and private agencies • Develop a new youth justice curriculum at the university to ensure future generations of youth justice advocates• Create new interdisciplinary opportunities to enable students to participate in youth justice internships and cooperative work experiences, and• Engage in research and evaluation to advise policy-makers and practitioners on best practices and evidence-based approaches to youth justice reform.
The Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) fulfills an urgent need for a reputable center to inform and support youth justice reform. The TYJI is recognized for effectively promoting juvenile justice issues and assembling both professional and financial resources to address key and long-lasting Connecticut reforms.
Rich connections during year one included an eight-community workshop on juvenile justice produced in collaboration with Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) and the National League of Cities. In addition, juvenile justice reform training for police executives from across the state, as well as a collaborative Training of Trainers for Child Welfare staff were key accomplishments of the Institute. The TYJI staffs the legislature’s Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee, and in 2016 embarked on a community leadership program to advance youth justice reforms.
State and Community Engagement: TYJI and Lee College faculty serve on state and community committees, such as the CT Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board. HCLC College Dean Mario Gaboury was appointed by the Governor to the Victim's Right's Enforcement Advisory Commission.
New Funds: A grant from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) is creating a campus community where sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking are not tolerated. The project involves the university's administration and Governing Board, and a broad representation of student organizations such as the Victimology Club, Psychology Club, Latin American Student Association, Undergraduate Student Government Association, Black Student Union, PRIDE (representing LGBTQ groups), and the Greek fraternal organizations.
· Sponsorship for Cohort Engagement:Community and funder partnerships are essential to support the TYJI process for recruitment, engagement, and leadership skill development of new cohorts. Statewide outreach is critical to the success of the TYJI Leadership Development Program’s focus on youth justice reform.
· Broader Institute Communications and Sustainability Plans: Strategic planning will be key to broaden community leader engagement, adopt progressive youth justice policies, and implement evidence-based best practices in juvenile justice.
· Planning and Coordination: Sufficient time for planning will strengthen 1) communications among various UNH Departments, the Institute, and multiple funding entities (federal, state, local public and non-profit sector); 2) prioritization of multiple projects, and liaison with faculty on a set academic and/or research schedules, and 3) allocation of UNH students for new projects.
The Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program is designed to promote, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based practices, programs, and policies related to youth justice, focusing on youth up to the age of 21. The TYJI Leadership Program is a new initiative of the Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) that aims to support present and future leaders through a nine month experiential leadership development experience. Cohort groups are limited to 16 diverse individuals representing all aspects of the community and the youth justice system in Connecticut. Selected cohort members enhance their leadership skills and knowledge of juvenile justice reform strategies in order to advise policy-makers on best practices, become resources in organizations and communities, and assure that youth make a healthy transition into adulthood. This group leadership experience combines interactive classroom instruction and small group discussion followed by coaching and peer support during collective “capstone” projects.
Objective 1: Increased participant knowledge and understanding of juvenile justice reform issues and best practices.
Objective 2: Increased abilities for participants to act as agents of change in their own agencies, programs or networks, and to transform policies, procedures, systemic approaches, legislation and actions to better serve youth.
Objective 3: Increased use of personal and professional leadership skills among participants to further reforms, organizational or community level change, and increased self-awareness of leadership style and effective leadership strategies.
Three high priority areas are critical for maintaining the momentum on youth justice, for solidifying leadership at state and local levels, and for positioning Connecticut and the Institute to serve as a national model for reform.
· Youth Justice Reform
Issues include "cross-over" youth in both child welfare and juvenile justice systems, police training about adolescents, exemplary diversion programs, liaison between school and police, responses to mental health needs, reentry in a supportive community, and mediation to reduce conflict and racial tensions.
· Leadership – personal and professional and abilities to promote positive change at community, organizational and statewide system levels, leading to transformational leadership that is “focused on creating a system of self-sustaining change by facilitating a shared vision, recognizing diverse perspectives, and inspiring others to be part of change efforts.” (2014, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, p 32)
· Core Skills, including communications, consensus-building, outreach and access to key leaders, research on innovative and evidence-based program practices, and increased youth and family engagement to improve outcomes and reduce costs.
100% of the cohort participants will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of current juvenile justice reform issues and best practices for juvenile justice.
95 % of participants will demonstrate increased ability and commitment to act as agents of change in agencies, programs or networks through completion of a capstone project. Capstone projects may include implications for transforming policies, procedures, systemic approaches, legislation and/or community actions to better serve youth and families.
95% of participants will demonstrate enhanced personal and professional leadership skills pertaining to systemic reforms, organizational or community level change, and increased self-awareness on leadership styles and effective strategies.
The emphasis will be on learning how to develop new and unique collaborations with entities such as public housing, schools, religious organizations, and affinity groups with a consistent emphasis on strengthening cultural competencies.
In Connecticut, through its landmark legislation, a successful "raise the age" campaign and aggressive reforms, many juvenile justice issues have significantly improved. Connecticut now has the lowest rate of incarcerated youth in the nation, however, more work must be done. Most importantly, there is a need to identify the means to sustain the progress.
The juvenile justice system across the country remains deeply flawed with over-reliance on confinement, insufficient or ineffective services for offenders and families, is racially imbalanced and is connected to an inherent school-to-prison pipeline. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, despite a 41% drop in the rate of youth in confinement between 2001 and 2011, youth of color continue to be held in formal supervision and state facilities at much higher rates than white youth.
Connecticut continues in a positive direction and we will find ways to sustain the significant improvements. The vision and generous support of the Tow Foundation working in tandem with the extensive experience in criminal justice at the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College, are creating such an opportunity. No other organization in the state or the New England region are dedicated to youth justice issues based on a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, research-driven model.
The Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) represents a unique opportunity to establish a research-based institute that can support and sustain youth justice reform efforts in the state and the northeast. We will:
- keep a focus on the critical issues in youth justice,
- improve knowledge and diverse leadership capacity in public agencies and nonprofit organizations and local communities, and
- foster academic research to inform best-practices
Through the “Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program,” the Institute will encourage present and future leaders to guide and expand the youth justice reform efforts and insure on-going system and culture change toward a justice system that will truly provide opportunities for children and families. The Institute, focused on youth up to the age of 21, is a model for sustaining progressive reform and demonstrating how alternative approaches can be institutionalized. We realize that the success of establishing an effective and vibrant institute relies on engagement of a broad range of stakeholders from government, the community and academia.
Mr. William Carbone, Senior Lecturer and Director of Experiential Education at HCLC, and Director for the Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI), has recently retired from many years of distinguished service to the State of Connecticut. He became Director of the Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) in 2014, given his extensive experience within the field of juvenile justice.
Mr. Carbone was formerly the Executive Director of the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) in the Connecticut Judicial Branch. He directed and managed over 1,600 employees involved with adult and juvenile probation, family services, juvenile detention, alternative sanctions, and pretrial release. The division was also responsible for a network of private, community based nonprofits that provide services to over 10,000 adult and 1,000 juvenile clients daily. During his time in this position Mr. Carbone was involved as a leader in all of the major juvenile justice reforms accomplished in Connecticut. These included: the reduction in youth incarceration by more than 70%, the largest decrease in the nation; the removal of all status offenders from detention; raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18; the creation of a continuum of evidence-based programs that have resulted in significant recidivism reduction; and new efforts that have reduced school based arrests. Prior to this he served as Under Secretary of the Management and Justice Planning Division of the State Office of Policy and Management.
Erika Nowakowski, has a Master’s degree from the University of CT School of Social Work with a focus on Policy and Planning. She is currently the Director of Juvenile Justice Initiatives with the Tow Youth Justice Institute (TYJI) at the University of New Haven, and is working with the CT Juvenile Justice Policy Oversight Committee in fostering and sustaining youth justice reform efforts. Prior to arriving at TYJI she worked for 8 ½ years for the State of CT Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division as a project manager for several statewide initiatives, Quality Assurance, implementation and ongoing adherence to Gender Responsive Services, contract compliance, and training coordination. She also worked for 4 years with the Council on Accreditation in New York City and provided Technical Assistance to private nonprofit and state agencies seeking accreditation. She also worked with Wheeler Clinic for 3 years in various roles as a case manager with the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric services, managing and coordinating system of care community efforts, and later developing and implementing best practices for recruitment of foster parents.
Donna Pfrommer joined the Tow Youth Justice Institute team as the Director of Development and Communications. She has over 15 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, most recently, ten years at United Way of Coastal Fairfield County focused on resource development, communications, and brand management. At United Way, she raised millions of dollars for community investment, developed marketing campaigns, expanded the organization’s presence, and enhanced communications. Pfrommer received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University.
The Tow Youth Justice Institute since its inception in 2014 has exemplified a collaborative initiative. This cooperative effort came through longstanding partnerships involving the University of New Haven, and the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Tow Foundation, the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, and the Child Health and Development Institute (School Based Diversion Initiative). The Institute embraced stakeholders from state agencies, nonprofits, state and community leaders, police and education, public sector funders, community foundation leaders, and advocacy groups and coalitions. The Institute has convened legislators, policy makers, juvenile justice staff and youth system advocates to hear from respected researchers and reform leaders from states, universities and national justice entities at several TYJI forums on child welfare, restorative justice, police-community relations, data collection, system accountability, and best practices for youth and families. Our collaborators contribute human and financial resources to fuel momentum on youth justice reform. The “Transforming Youth Justice: A Leadership Development Program,” demonstrates the Institute’s commitment to working with diverse stakeholders to effect systems change. The 2016 cohort of 16 diverse individuals represents critical constituent groups as a strategic step for sustaining future reforms.
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The Tow Youth Justice Institute operates under the 501c3 of the University of New Haven. The 990s and audits contained in this profile are those for the University of New Haven. The previous year of financial information in the profile is specific to the University of New Haven.
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