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Judge Linda Teodosio testifies to Congress

Legal News Reporter

Published: August 21, 2013

Summit County Juvenile Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio recently appeared in Washington D.C. to participate as a member of a panel of experts discussing new state-level efforts in working with juvenile justice issues.

“It was a very long day, and a very good experience,” said Judge Teodosio, who flew in and out of the nation’s capital on the same day as the conference.

“The presentation was in a Capitol briefing room. There were about 130 people there, and the room felt very full. I believe that we accomplished a great deal,” she said.

Judge Teodosio has been with the Summit County Juvenile Court since 2003, and has become a national figure in the juvenile justice arena since then.

The panel discussion, entitled “States Innovations in Juvenile Justice: Investing in Better Outcomes for Our Communities,” featured Judge Teodosio and representatives of the juvenile justice systems of Texas and Connecticut.

Judge Teodosio was honored to be invited to be one of the members of the panel, she said, noting that one reason that she was likely invited was that Ohio has a history of very progressive juvenile justice programs, and that she represented the entire state in that regard. She has also spent many years meeting and networking with national figures in the field, she said.

“I think that the invitation was also connected with the fact that I was a 2010 Champions for Change award recipient from the MacArthur Foundation,” she said. That award was based on the court’s responder program, which works with local schools to intervene with juvenile offenders who may have mental problems.

Models for Change, the facet of the MacArthur Foundation that gives this award, supports, accelerates and replicates promising and effective juvenile justice reform efforts.

The July 30 panel discussion took place at the Capitol Building, and also included Robert L. Listenbee, who is the new administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

“It was the first time that he and I had met, and it was a nice opportunity to hear what his outlook was going forward,” she said.

The OJJDP is an office of the United States Department of Justice and a component of the Office of Justice programs.

Judge Teodosio and the other members of the panel made brief presentations, and then took questions from the audience.

The audience was primarily composed of professionals in the area of juvenile justice. “There were a lot of folks from different children’s advocacy groups,” she said. “A lot of those groups are headquartered in Washington, so there were a lot of people who are involved with the juvenile justice system in the audience to hear what these individual states were doing in that area.”

What the audience, live and online, heard were presentations by Judge Teodosio and the other state officials about progress that they are making within their systems in the area of juvenile justice.

Judge Teodosio made a presentation on her court’s relationship to the Akron Regional Office if the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS), and specifically, she said, “about the fact that, because of the Responder program, we have been able to reduce the number of juvenile commitments to DYS from 139 in 2009 to 22 so far in 2013.”

Joining Judge Teodosio and Listenbee on the panel, which was organized by Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, were representatives of the juvenile justice systems of Connecticut and Texas.

“Each panelist gave a presentation about a particular program in that state, and then we took questions,” said Judge Teodosio, adding that the remainder of the 90 minute session was filled with questions from the audience.

“We gave people from national advocacy groups, national policy making groups, and representatives from across the country a look at different approaches, and it gave us a chance to showcase Ohio’s programs to the rest of the world.”

It was, she said an opportunity to “plant seeds” within organizations of ideas and programs that work, so that, perhaps, those ideas can spread to other states.

“From my personal point of view it was an opportunity to talk about the progress that we have made with our School Responder program, and especially how we have been able to work with kids who have mental health issues.”

Tis “seeds” can give states the opportunity to start from wherever they are, and create programs and progress of their own. “No matter where you are,” she said, “you can always work toward improvement.”