Kathy McNamara

Reporter’s Notebook: Probation Officer & So Much More

Kathy McNamara has played the roles of surrogate mother, mentor, big sister, coach, cheerleader, kindly counselor, confidante, inspiration and friend to her young charges. All the while, McNamara’s also served as their probation officer just outside Chicago in DuPage County, Ill. For 16 years now, she has worked on hundreds of the toughest of juvenile cases — those of so-called “dual-status youth,” kids entangled in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Here and there, on the juvenile justice beat, you discover someone who goes so far beyond the call of duty you want to tell the world about that person. Kathy McNamara, a senior probation officer for juveniles, is one of those people. I first learned about McNamara, 45, while reporting on a JJIE story on dual-status youths.

Kentucky Supreme Court Reviewing Teen Sex Offender Case

Should a 15-year-old boy who twice had sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend, then sexted her nude photos of himself be prosecuted, spend 11½ months in juvenile detention and be placed on a juvenile sex offender registry?

That question lies at the heart of a case before the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Federal Panel Takes Up JJDPA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON — Long-overdue reauthorization of the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act will be the focus today for a federal committee that advises the Obama administration and congressional lawmakers on juvenile justice matters.

Percentage of Youth in Gangs

Researchers Find More than 1 Million Youths in Gangs

More than 1 million youths in America are gang members — more than triple the number estimated by law enforcement, according to a new study that shatters some long-held beliefs about gangs.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, refutes the notions that gang members are overwhelmingly black or Latino males and that once youths join a gang, they cannot leave.

Lead author David Pyrooz, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, said gang members come from all backgrounds. The study found about 40 percent are non-Hispanic white, Pyrooz said, with the remainder disproportionately black and Latino.

Juvenile Justice Federal Funding Total Funding

Federal Juvenile Justice Funding Declines Precipitously

WASHINGTON — When congressional lawmakers last reauthorized the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in fiscal year 2002, they appropriated about $547 million for juvenile justice.

Today, federal spending on juvenile justice totals less than half that amount — about $251 million.

And that, say some juvenile justice advocates, falls far short of needs at a critical juncture for federal juvenile justice funding.

Robert Listenbee

Embattled Listenbee Draws Praise from Advocates

WASHINGTON — Robert L. Listenbee Jr., the embattled administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, has drawn considerable support from juvenile justice advocates who credit him with laying the foundation for transforming the agency.

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Casey Seeks Youth Voices in Juvenile Justice Reform

Few know the juvenile justice system better than youths who have been directly involved in it, and their voices should be a part of reform efforts, according to a new advisory council being established by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation’s acclaimed Juvenile Justice Strategy Group (JJSG).