Columbus Ohio Division of PoliceThe gulf can sometimes seem wide between police departments and social service agencies, especially when it comes to combating street-level violence and violent crime, much of it perpetrated by young offenders, much affiliated with gangs. The perceived differences in the respective missions – helping young people negotiate the tides of troubled and abusive childhoods versus simply laying down the law and locking-up violators – can create chasms, both real and imagined.

Pictured: The CIP’s Maureen Kishna (left) with Erin Fiorito, MST Supervisor from Nationwide Children’s’ Hospital.

Yet, as Maureen Kishna, MSSA, LISW-S points out, once everyone identifies and recognizes the mutual goals of each respective stakeholder – goals such as averting criminal behavior, reducing recidivism, keeping families intact and their neighborhoods safe – the space tends to dissolve and bridges start being built.

Maureen Kishna Article | “Racial Disparity in the Juvenile Justice System: MST’s Response” – Read Article

“I think we’re seeing a shift in youth judicial systems away from just locking kids up,” says the Multisystemic Therapy (MST) expert with the Center for Innovative Practices (CIP). “We’re learning to use our resources more wisely. There will always be instances where we’re going to need secure facilities for kids, but we’re really trying to move toward figuring out which kids can be safely treated in the home and the community, and then reserving those really costly residential treatments or incarcerations for the kids that we can’t get to stop offending.”

Read More from Maureen on: Multisystemic Therapy and MST Implementation

A consultant and trainer working with Columbus, Ohio MST teams at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Buckeye Ranch, as well as with teams in Toledo, Ohio and Reidsville, North Carolina (covering the Piedmont/Triad region including the counties of Guilford, Rockingham, Forsythe, Stokes, Alamance and Caswell), Maureen notes the growing interest in the MST intervention by law-enforcement and judicial quarters. “One thing that’s much more helpful now is that an increasing number of probation officers and judges realize that placement in state-run facilities is not always the answer. Placement should be the last resort.”

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