Foundation Strives to Create Legacy for Juvenile Justice Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nonprofit MacArthur Foundation has spent more than $100 million since 2004 on developing blueprints for reform within the juvenile justice systems of 16 states. Earlier this week, its reform initiative, Models for Change, brought together nearly 400 judges, advocates, probation officers and other juvenile justice professionals for two days of workshops in Washington, D.C.

It was the seventh such yearly gathering for Models for Change partners, and it came at a time when the foundation is beginning to wind down funding for new research into juvenile justice reforms and enter a new phase focused on defining, sustaining and disseminating to the rest of the country the reform models its state partners and networks have already developed. As the foundation moves toward solidifying the legacy of its blueprint initiative, its conference this year emphasized the power of storytelling and collaboration as a way to convey the impact of justice reforms to other states and to the public. The storytelling theme ran through several events over the two-day event. Public relations professionals held a plenary session to discuss how juvenile justice organizations could craft an effective public message.

Grant Works to Prevent Kids’ Exposure to Violence

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is offering a grant for the Defending Childhood Technical Assistance program. This project provides support to prevent and reduce the effects of kid’s exposure to violence. The deadline for this grant is July 11, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. E.S.T.

 

Scared Straight! Graduate Plays Starring Role in Cold Case Crime

Angelo Speziale may be the most infamous graduate of Scared Straight! As a scrawny 16-year-old, he appeared in the original Scared Straight! documentary filmed at New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison in 1978.  Now he’s back–serving 25-to-life in Rahway for the 1982 rape and murder of a teenage girl who lived next door to him. Proponents of “Scared Straight” claim the program literally scares kids away from a life of crime.  In a follow-up show called Scared Straight: 20 Years Later, Speziale echoed this, claiming the experience changed him.  Apparently not enough.  He was arrested for shoplifting in 2005 and a DNA sample linked him to the 30-year-old cold case murder for which he was convicted in 2010.  A New Jersey law enforcement source confirms Angelo Speziale is the same person who appeared in both documentaries.

Millions of Friends to get AMBER Alerts on Facebook

Facebook will now distribute AMBER Alerts to 140 million users in the U.S.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Office of Justice Programs announced the new partnership at the Washington, D.C. office of Facebook. It gives law enforcement a new tool to quickly spread the word about kidnappings and missing children to more people than ever across the entire country. Click here to watch the news conference

AMBER Alerts also go out to broadcast and print media, the trucking industry, wireless phone companies and Internet service providers.  The AMBER Alert program has helped rescued 525 children over the years.

Millions Go to Youth Programs Nationwide

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced $60 million in discretionary awards to leading national organizations to strengthen, expand and implement youth mentoring activities and youth development programming throughout the nation. An additional $37 million in grants to local mentoring organizations will be awarded in Fiscal Year 2010. These grants are administered by OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. “These awards are part of an ongoing commitment by the Department of Justice to give young people an opportunity to participate in activities that will enrich their lives,” said Laurie O. Robinson, OJP’s Assistant Attorney General. “Through these organizations, youth are provided programs that help keep them in school, out of trouble, and most importantly, put them in direct contact with caring adults who provide crucial support and guidance.”

Child Sex Crimes: New Arrests, More Money

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Decatur is getting a fresh infusion of money from the Justice Department to fight child prostitution and other forms of sex exploitation.  A 300- thousand dollar grant will go towards reaching children in trouble and arresting adults who exploit them, according to the Office of Justice Programs.

To emphasize the work that’s being done in the Atlanta area, federal prosecutors released new information about three men who were sentenced and four others arrested for child sex crimes, including these cases:

Former Baptist Minister Gregory Hunter, who got 18 years in prison for producing a pornographic webcast of a 9 year old girl. Former doctor Adam Lebowitz, convicted of child porn and trying to entice a child to have sex
Michael Young and James Lampru,arrested at hotels where they arranged to have sex with a 12-year-old girl

Earlier this week, a 280 page report from Attorney General Eric Holder detailed a national strategy to fight child sex exploitation. The GBI has received other grants to fight Atlanta’s child prostitution and pornography problems.  In 2009, the GBI got $1,438,937.00in Recovery Act funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  During the first half of last year, the ICAC made 96 arrests and helped local law enforcement with 60 cases. Read more:

Project Safe Childhood

Internet Crimes against Children Task Force

News Release from Department of Justice