35th Annual Conference on Juvenile Justice Recently Held in Knoxville

September 14, 2018

The 35th Annual Conference on Juvenile Justice was recently held in Knoxville, bringing together an array of judges, lawyers, advocates, and experts to discuss some of the biggest issues facing children and families who become involved with Tennessee’s legal system.

The conference touched on a number of different topics, from the opioid epidemic, to LGBTQ youth in the justice system, to TennCare. It also saw the election of a new president to head the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Henry County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Vicki Snyder had served as vice-president of the TCJFCJ for the past year, but was elevated to the top post at the conference. She takes over as president from Roane County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Dennis Humphrey.

The opening session of this year’s conference was a two-part presentation on the over-representation of LGBTQ youth in the justice system. It was led by Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Stacy Miller  and Pamela Sheffer, the director of the Just Us program at the Oasis Center. That program is geared toward empowering LGBTQ high school students.

Another session centered on the ongoing opioid epidemic. That session was led by 4th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Duane Slone, Dr. Stephen Loyd, and Amy Coble. Judge Slone has taken a leadership role in combating the opioid epidemic by spearheading the innovative TN ROCS docket in his district. Dr. Loyd served formerly as the State of Tennessee’s medical director of substance abuse services and is now with the addiction treatment provider JourneyPure. Amy Coble is the state director of investigations at the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

TennCare Behavioral Health was the subject of another of the conference’s sessions. Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Deputy Commissioner Michael Leech, DCS Executive Director of the Office of Continuous Quality Improvement Crystal Parker, and TennCare Director of Behavioral Health Operations Dr. Mary Shelton presented this session.

Further sessions looked at other juvenile justice issues and featured CASA Executive Director Lynne Farrar, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Director of the Council on Children’s Mental Health Melissa McGee, and TDMHSAS Director of System of Care Across Tennessee Keri Virgo, among others..

The TCJFCJ was created by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1982. The TCJFCJ is the official organization of Tennessee judges who have juvenile court jurisdiction.