May 22, 2017

SF Young Adult Court in the News!

Two recent articles highlighted the importance and impact of the San Francisco Young Adult Court.

The New York Times
"A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science"
By Tim Requart
April 17, 2017

Photo: Laura Morton / The New York Times

"Surprisingly, this alternative legal philosophy springs not from concerns about overcrowded prisons or overburdened courts, but from neuroscience.

"Researchers have long known that the adolescent brain is continually rewiring itself, making new connections and pruning unnecessary neurons as it matures. Only recently has it become clear that the process stretches well into early adulthood.

"Buried in that research is an uncomfortable legal question: If their brains have not fully matured, how responsible are adults ages 18 to 24 for their crimes?

"Should they be treated more like adolescents, handled in the comparatively lenient juvenile system, or more like hardened 35-year-olds? Should young adults be held fully responsible for certain crimes but not others?"

The San Francisco Chronicle
"Programs in sanctuary cities threatened by federal funding cut"
By Emily Green
March 30, 2017

"In San Francisco, an innovative court program that helps young adults facing criminal charges or who have already been convicted pull their lives together began in 2015 with the help of a Justice Department grant. A team of city employees helps the defendants find jobs, housing and enroll in school. If a defendant meets the goals — about a third graduate — they earn a reduced criminal record or even no record at all."

KQED: "Neuroscientist Explores the Contradictions of the Teen Brain"

Last week on KQED's Forum, Michael Krasny interviewed Dr. Frances Jensen, professor and chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Jensen is also the author of "The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults."

Research on adolescent and young adult brain development has been a driving force in the implementation of Juvenile Reentry Court and, more recently, Young Adult Court

Forum description:

"Neuroscientist Frances Jensen says that when her two sons became teenagers, she marveled at their ability to stay focused for a test, yet still commit major lapses in judgment almost daily. The contradictions, she explains, have both emotional and physical roots: teens are more affected by stressful situations than adults, and their brains are years from being fully developed. Jensen joins Forum to talk about her book 'The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.'"

May 10, 2017

NADCP: National Strategic Plan for Family Drug Courts Released

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) announced the release of the National Strategic Plan for Family Drug Courts. NADCP's statement is below:

"[NADCP] is pleased to share that the new 'National Strategic Plan for Family Drug Courts' has been released by Children and Family Futures as part of its training and technical assistance agreement with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

This Strategic Plan provides a framework for a coordinated national strategy to enhance and expand the use of family drug courts to improve the outcomes for children and families affected by parental substance use disorders. The primary goals of the plan are to:

1) Improve the effectiveness of the existing family drug court network by assuring it operates with fidelity to the model;

2) Expand the reach of family drug courts to keep families together and reduce child maltreatment; and

3) Continue to build the evidence base about what works for family drug courts to improve outcomes for children and parents.

Developed with a diverse group of stakeholders, the Strategic Plan is pertinent to all policymakers, practitioners, researchers, foundations, and advocates committed to improving child welfare and substance use disorder treatment outcomes for children and parents.

NADCP CEO Carson Fox notes, 'Of the more than 400,000 children in foster care, the majority are there because of a parent or caregiver who is in need of treatment for alcohol or drugs. This plan lays out a pathway to ensure all children and families have access to effective, evidenced-based services that are proven to improve child welfare outcomes. It advances justice for children and families affected by substance use disorders in a way that the field has never done before.'"

Download the Strategic Plan here.

Mar 7, 2017

SF Collaborative Court Speaker Series

San Francisco Collaborative Courts offers a quarterly speaker series to provide relevant training opportunities to partners across justice, substance use, mental health, and family service systems. Participation is free.  

Upcoming training opportunity:

Friday, April 28, 2:30-4:30PM
Judicial Council of California
455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Milton Marks Auditorium, lower level

Talking About the Complexity of Class and Culture

Culture supersedes policy, procedures, laws and regulations.  Cultural aspects of poverty are more consistent than cultural aspects associated with gender, race, country of origin, and religion.  Individuals from extreme poverty have their own culture, yet government agencies work from a middle class value set.  Without understanding the hidden rules, values, and goals of those in poverty, treatment providers are likely to struggle with being effective in their efforts to assist.  This lecture will aim to help raise awareness about this controversial but essential topic.


Rachyll Dempsey, Psy.D. is a Forensic Neuropsychologist licensed as a Psychologist in 2006 by the Board of Psychology; certified as an Independent Practitioner by the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) in 2012; and became a Qualified Medical Evaluator certified by the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) in 2014.  Dr. Dempsey serves as Continuing Education Chair for the California Coalition on Sexual Offending (CCOSO), Bay Area Chapter; Office of Professional Development Committee Member for the California Psychological Association (CPA); and was President of the Northern California Neuropsychology Forum (NCNF) 2015-16. She spent six years as a licensed psychologist working as Assessment Coordinator and supervisor for trainees at San Quentin State Prison and is currently CEO and Founder of Psychological Assessment, Inc., a corporation providing psychological testing and assessment in forensic and non-forensic domains, competency restoration program, sex offender treatment, and corporate services.  Dr. Dempsey has been qualified as a forensic psychologist, neuropsychologist, correctional specialist, sex offender specialist, and developmental specialist in court.

Venus Klinger, Psy.D. completed her doctorate in Clinical Forensic Psychology at Alliant International University. Her interest area is in NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity), competency, and evaluation. Currently, she is the Director of the Crossroads Competency Restoration program at Psychological Assessment, Inc. Since the Competency Restoration Program began at PAI, she has been providing competency restoration training to adults and juveniles released on their own recognizance or incarcerated in various jails around the bay area.. Dr. Klinger is also adjunct faculty for Alliant International University.

Presentation Goals
  • Participants will be able to identify at least five differences between socioeconomic status (SES).
  • Participants will be able to describe how individuals move from one class to another.
  • Participants will be able to identify how organizations that are run from a middle class paradigm can negatively impact individuals from poverty. 
  • Participants will be able to list three ways (or more) about how to be more successful in working with clients challenged by poverty.
The training is free and CEU credits (MCLE and BBS) will be provided. RSVP is not required. Room is available based on seating capacity. Please forward this information widely.