No More Delays Mr. President: Appoint the Nation’s Next Juvenile Justice Chief

Four years ago, President Obama was inaugurated, and we expected that within a few months the President would nominate a permanent administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). But this past week, as President Obama renewed the oath of office, we are still waiting. Each administration since the office was created in 1974 has made the appointment except President Obama’s. The President should end this delay and here’s why:

The OJJDP is the leading federal agency responsible for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention issues. Created under the landmark Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974, the OJJDP plays a vital role in assisting state and local governments in addressing juvenile delinquency through federal grants, research and guidance.

State Advisors to Federal Juvenile Justice Office Briefed on Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thirteen advocates and professionals from around the country who serve as advisors to the federal office for juvenile justice met for two days last week in Washington, D.C., to share information on reforms and funding at the state and federal levels. The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, which normally meets online every few months, gathered face-to-face for the first time in a year. Its last online meeting occurred Aug. 10. 

Some of the reforms the committee discussed lie within the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention itself. Melodee Hanes, the acting office administrator, told committee members on the opening day of the meeting that a structural reorganization of her office, which has been in the works for months, would be announced soon.

What About the Girls?

Juvenile crime has been declining for years and is now at historic lows. That’s the good news. The bad news is that girls are now the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system. Although the system is still dominated by boys, in 2009, girls made up 30 percent of all juvenile arrests; up from 20 percent in 2008. Two-thirds are girls of color.

Senate Subcommittee Approves Funding for OJJDP, Full Vote Expected Today

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science approved 2012 funding for a number of agencies at a meeting yesterday. Among programs receiving funds are the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), approved for $251 million. YouthToday has a breakdown of where the OJJDP funds are to be spent:

-$60 million for the Missing and Exploited Children Programs.

-$55 million for mentoring grants. -$45 million for state formula grants, given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system. -$33 million for delinquency prevention grants to be dispersed by state advisory groups, although Congress often designates the majority of it for grants to Native American tribes and enforcement of underage drinking laws.