A series of eight reports that summarize effective strategies to improve services and treatment of juveniles in the justice system is now available through the Models for Change Research Initiative website. At a time of tight federal, state and local budgets, the aim of the “Knowledge Briefs” series is to share pioneering strategies that communities can study and possibly duplicate within their own juvenile systems. Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has spent some $100 million on juvenile justice reform efforts since 2004, the series outlines inventive approaches adopted by different states to cost-effectively improve the outlook for young people leaving the justice system and re-entering society. The series includes a study that examined whether young people at three sites in Louisiana and Washington state were treated differently in probation if they belonged to a minority race or ethnic group, and a cost-benefit analysis from a juvenile center in Cook County, Ill., that could serve as an example of how to determine whether certain reforms are worth the money. Although the reports were published last December, the MacArthur Foundation announced their release as a series a couple of weeks ago, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice promoted their availability in an email to its news subscribers yesterday. In January, the OJJDP announced a $2 million partnership with the MacArthur Foundation to support key reforms in the juvenile justice system.
Last week, Melody Hanes assumed the mantle of acting administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a temporary position held for three years by her predecesor. She may be there just as long. The Obama administration appears in no hurry to permanently fill the position and controversial legislation to remove Senate approval for the OJJDP administrator passed the Senate but is stalled in the House. While Congress debates the issue, Hanes, formerly the Deputy Administrator for Policy at OJJDP, faces an uphill battle as acting administrator of an agency that has had its budget slashed nearly $150 million by Congress in recent years. But former colleagues say Hanes, a one-time prosecutor and law professor, is uniquely qualified to make the most of a job hamstrung by its lack of permanence.
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.
A new report shows that nationally the total number of juvenile offenders in custody dropped by 12 percent from 2006 to 2008. The biannual census by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) surveyed juvenile residential facilities about population, size and security measures, among others. According to the report, the drop may be explained by a decline in juvenile arrests during the same period. OJJDP acting administrator Jeff Slowikowski writes in the report that while “crowding is still a problem in many facilities, improvements continue.” The number of facilities that were at or above their bed capacity dropped nearly 20 percent between 2000 and 2008. To read the complete report click here.
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.
The Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention offers funding for the Disproportionate Minority Contact Community and Strategic Planning Project. The project helps states find ways to ensure that all kids in the Juvenile Justice System are treated fairly. This grant offers as much as $50,000 for a one-year period. The deadline for this project is June 27, 2011 at 11:59 P.M.
The latest census by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention offers insight into the number of kids nationwide and in the south who are on probation for various crimes. The number of kids in the southern states make up more than a fourth of the crimes. The southern states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention may be close to hiring a new administrator. California Superior Court Judge Kurt Kumli has been named as a candidate, according to a report in Youth Today. Kumli worked for 17 years in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and spent 15 of those years focused on juvenile and child welfare issues. Governor Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench in 2006. Kumli may not be well connected to the Obama administration, but Youth Today points out that he seems qualified considering his background in juvenile justice reform in California.
Does the juvenile justice system really work? Reading comments from readers on news stories about youth in trouble, you’d think the juvenile justice sysem was a system designed to mollycoddle dangerous kids, turning them into super-predators. Nothing could be further from the truth. Among other reasons, we know this because of “Pathways to Desistance,” a research study led by Edward P. Mulvey, Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. (Dr. Mulvey and Carol Schubert contributed a post to us on their findings in April 2010.)
The “Pathways to Desistance” research study is a unique study of what works in the juvenile justice system.
The U.S. House funding bill passed Friday would cut juvenile justice programs by $191 million. Some $91 million of that is in earmarked programs, but it doesn’t tell the Office of Justice Programs where to trim the remaining $100 million. “It’s weird that they left that out,” said Joe Vignati, the National Juvenile Justice Specialist on the Executive Board of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. “If—and this is a big if — this becomes law, everybody will be clamoring and saying, ‘Cut this! Cut this!’”
HR 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, now moves to the Senate where the bill is expected to change significantly.