Robert L. Listenbee, a highly respected public defender and juvenile justice system reformer, was appointed to the position of OJJDP Administrator by President Barack Obama in February 2013 and was sworn in to the position on March 25, 2013. Before his appointment, Mr. Listenbee was chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia for 16 years and a trial lawyer with the association for 27 years. Following are excerpts from an OJJDP News @ a Glance interview with Listenbee about his priorities for OJJDP and the juvenile justice field.
What is your vision for at-risk and juvenile justice system-involved children?
My visionand the vision of everyone at OJJDPis that our country be a place where all our children are healthy, educated, and free from violence. If they come into contact with the juvenile justice system, the contact should be rare, fair, and beneficial to them.
This means that we do everything we canin the way of prevention, positive youth development, and community-based services for children who are at riskto keep children from getting into trouble and involved in the courts. If children are charged and enter the justice system, they need to be treated in an equitable way, and they need the best standards of care so they can go on to lead successful and productive lives.
There’s a sea change that needs to take place in the way we approach children in the juvenile justice system; whether it’s in the courts or correctional facilities, people too often forget that kids are different than adults.
OJJDP sponsored a study by the National Academies’ Research Council, and the council has issued a report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, emphasizing the importance of developmental approaches to working with children in the justice system. Research has shown that neurobiological processes in the developing brain play a large role in the impulsiveness, susceptibility to peer pressure, and difficulty in assessing long-term consequences that characterize adolescence. These behaviors generally are transient and recede as youth mature into adulthood.
The findings have significant implications for the juvenile justice system. Because of what science has shown us about brain development, adolescent offenders are by definition less culpable than adult offenders, and they are more capable of changing their behavior because they’re still growing, they’re still developing.
What are your specific program priorities at OJJDP?
Since I arrived here at the Office, I have been discussing priorities with the experts on our staff, the Office of Justice Programs, and the Department of Justice. I have also spoken with juvenile justice experts across the country. I’m happy to discuss some of our current priorities:
OJJDP supports the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, the most comprehensive study ever conducted on this topic. The survey revealed that in a given year, almost 40 percent of American children are direct victims of 2 or more violent acts, and 1 in 10 are victims of violence 5 or more times. These numbers are of deep concern to me. The violence our nation’s children experience is pervasive. And this exposure is terrible for kids.
Research has shown that regular exposure to violence can interfere with brain development, emotional attachment and healthy relationships, physical health, and educational success. If these public health needs go unaddressed, this becomes a public safety problem. These young people can become the repeat offenders in our juvenile justice system.
Determined to act on the findings of the national survey, Attorney General Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in September 2010. And as part of that initiative, he appointed a National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence to hold hearings across the country and offer recommendations for a coordinated national effort to reduce exposure to violence.
I was co-chair of the task force along with baseball legend Joe Torre who, himself witnessed domestic violence as a child and now is chairman of the board of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation.
I’m happy to report that in December, our task force released a final report with more than 50 recommendations. There are too many recommendations in our report to mention in detail here, but they included universal screening, assessment, and treatment for children’s exposure to violence across all systems, including the mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems; universal training for child- and family-serving professionals in recognizing and addressing the impact of violence and psychological trauma on children; stopping the prosecution of children as adults in adult courts, the incarceration of children as adults, and the sentencing of children to harsh punishments that ignore their capacity to grow; providing juvenile justice services that effectively and compassionately address differences in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender; and setting up a special commission with the Department of the Interior to focus on children in Indian country, where there are extremely high rates of poverty and violence.
We had some great news in mid-April. The Attorney General signed off on our action plan, which is essentially the blueprint that will guide this national effort.
Another important project is the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, which aims to keep our children in school and out of the justice system. Again, the Attorney General took action in 2011 to launch this initiative in response to some startling research findings.
A study conducted by the Council of State Governments in Texas, Breaking Schools’ Rules, tracked nearly 1 million seventh graders for 6 years. The study showed that 60 percent of these public school students were removed from class at least once, and 15 percent had 11 or more suspensions or expulsions between 7th and 12th grades. Only 3 percent of these disciplinary actions were for conduct for which federal law mandates suspensions and expulsions. The overwhelming majority of disciplinary actions97 percentwere for discretionary offenses, including lateness, truancy, dress code violations, and less serious behaviors that had in the past been handled within the school system.
Among the most disturbing findings was that suspension or expulsion of a student for a discretionary (i.e., nonmandated) violation nearly tripled the likelihood of juvenile justice contact within the next academic year.
The Supportive School Discipline Initiative emphasizes positive approaches to modifying adolescent behavior within the context of school rather than suspending and expelling students.
We’re also continuing our critically important work in the area of juvenile justice reform, a central aspect of OJJDP’s mandate and mission. Since the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was first passed in 1974, significant progress has been made but there’s still work to be done, particularly in the area of reducing DMC. And there are new issues that weren’t taken into account 40 years ago that we need to focus onsuch as the gender-specific needs of girls in the juvenile justice system; those needs at the moment are largely not met.
We’re moving forward in many areas. Through our partnership with The Annie E. Casey Foundation and our training and technical assistance grants to the W. Haywood Burns Institute, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and the National Partnership for Juvenile Services, OJJDP has been working to promote alternatives to juvenile detention, reduce reliance on secure confinement, and stop racial disparities and bias.
In a new public-private partnership, OJJDP and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are jointly supporting innovative and effective reforms in treatment and services for youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The targeted reforms are in the areas of mental health screening and risk/needs assessment, mental health training for juvenile correctional and detention staff, disproportionate minority contact reduction, and effective practices to reduce recidivism and out-of-home placement and to improve correctional alternatives for youth in the juvenile justice system with a history of maltreatment.
In 2011, we launched the National Center for Youth in Custody in response to the call from the field for assistance, leadership, and support to improve and reform youth detention and correction facilities and adult facilities housing youthful offenders. In 2010, the Office created the National Girls Institute, which is a research-based training and resource clearinghouse designed to advance understanding of girls’ issues and improve program and system responses to girls in the juvenile justice system. These are just a few examples in a broad array of OJJDP programs and activities in the area of juvenile justice reform.
We're also working hard to address domestic child sex trafficking. Almost 80 percent of human trafficking cases involve sexual exploitation, and most of the victims are women and children. Our Survey of Youth in Residential Placement shows that 42 percent of girls in custody have experienced past physical abuse, as compared with 22 percent for boys, and 35 percent have a history of sexual abuse, as compared with 8 percent for boys. Many of these girls desperately need a range of trauma-informed medical and social services; what they do not need is to be locked up.
The Office has a longstanding commitment to combating sex trafficking—a problem made more challenging by widespread access to the Internet. Established in 1998, OJJDP’s 61 Internet Crimes Against Children task forces represent more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. They are dedicated to developing effective responses to the online enticement of children by sexual predators, child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography cases.
The OJJDP-supported National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers critical intervention and prevention services to families and supports law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels in cases involving missing and exploited children. In addition, OJJDP's AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program convened the Trafficking in Persons Symposium a little over a year ago to examine child sex and labor trafficking in the United States. A report released last July summarizes best practices for responding to child trafficking, as identified by the 127 symposium participants. The report served as the foundation for the development of the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program’s current training programs for states and communities.
In addition, OJJDP has funded the Institute of Medicine and the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Academy of Sciences to study the commercial sexual exploitation of minors in the United States. This fall, the committee of independent experts conducting the study will release a report recommending strategies to respond to the problem, new legislative approaches, and a research agenda to guide future studies in this area.
Youth violence is another issue of deep concern to me. In 2010, at the direction of President Obama, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention was created by the Departments of Justice and Education in cooperation with many other agencies. The initiative was created because, in spite of consistent decreases in juvenile violent crime arrests nationwide since 1994, many localities continue to seek information and strategies to better prevent and respond to youth violence. Currently, the forum is active in Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Memphis, TN; Salinas, CA; San Jose, CA; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; Minneapolis, MN; and Camden, NJ. It brings together agencies from across the federal government, corporate partners, nonprofit groups, neighborhood and faith-based organizations, and youth representatives.
Our Community-Based Violence Prevention Demonstration program, active in Detroit, MI; Philadelphia, PA; Los Angeles, CA; and Baton Rouge, LA, aims to reduce violence through the replication of programs such as the Boston Gun Project, the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model, and the Cure Violence model.
So, there are a lot of exciting things going on at the Department of Justice and in our Office.
A major change at OJJDP is the reorganization of the Office. How will the reorganization benefit the juvenile justice field?
OJJDP’s reorganization truly reflects the full breadth of the work we do every day: state and community development; audit and compliance; juvenile justice system improvement; youth development, prevention, and safety; and innovation and research. The new structure will enhance OJJDP’s ability to support states, the District of Columbia, the territories, tribal nations, and the broader juvenile justice community in their efforts to serve our nation’s children and their families.
I won’t go into all the details of the reorganization here, but here are a few ways in which the reorganization will have a positive impact:
OJJDP used to have a separate Policy Division. We now have policy experts working in every division. This more accurately reflects the way we work at OJJDP: policy informs every aspect of our operations and programs, and it’s central to everything we do.
As you look ahead, what legacy do you hope to leave as Administrator?
I would hope that part of that legacy would be the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The reauthorization will address an array of challenges presented by the valid court order exception, prioritize youth's right to access to qualified counsel, and strengthen the disproportionate minority contact provisions of the Act.
I am also hopeful that while I am Administrator at OJJDP that we can develop the tools and lay the groundwork to achieve substantial reductions in youth violence and children’s exposure to violence in rural, urban, suburban, and tribal areas throughout the nation. Along with this effort, we must also develop the institutions and professionals to mitigate the effects of that violence on our children.
I also would envision the education, public welfare, and juvenile justice systems substantially reducing the flow of children from our schools into the juvenile justice system. We must seize this great opportunity that has been provided to us by an array of public-private collaborations and partnerships.
On May 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) held its 30th annual National Missing Children’s Day ceremony at DOJ’s Great Hall in Washington, DC. The ceremony, organized by OJJDP, recognized the extraordinary efforts of America’s law enforcement officers, private citizens, and organizations on behalf of missing children.
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and then-Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary provided keynote remarks, along with John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Robert L. Listenbee, Administrator of OJJDP, offered welcoming remarks and served as master of ceremonies.
“Our progress is measurable, and it’s remarkable,” said Acting Associate Attorney General West. “Last year, investigations initiated by the 61 Internet Crimes Against Children task forces led to more than 6,200 arrests and forensic exams of more than 51,000 computers. The AMBER Alert program, which we are proud to support, now has returned 642 abducted children to their homes, while the AMBER secondary distribution network continues to expand.”
“The loss of a sibling is uniquely devastating and is frequently described as the loss of part of oneself by surviving siblings,” said Ms. Bish. “The unique depth of that loss is typically not recognized by others in the same way other types of familial loss are.”
Ms. Bish is a co-author along with her brother, John, and other siblings of abducted children, of the OJJDP guide, What About Me? Coping With the Abduction of a Brother or Sister, published in 2007. The guide contains information to help and support children of all ages when their brother or sister is kidnapped. Written in child-friendly language, the guide provides ideas on what children can expect in terms of the feelings they may experience, the events that may occur from day to day, and the things they can do to help themselves feel better. This guide was completed and distributed as part of the 2007 National Missing Children’s Day ceremony. It has received an overwhelmingly positive response. In 2012, OJJDP unveiled the Spanish version of this guide.
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West presented awards to recognize the outstanding efforts of law enforcement personnel and private citizens who have made a difference in recovering abducted children and protecting children from exploitation.
The awards and recipients included:
In 1999, OJJDP initiated a national poster contest to commemorate Missing Children’s Day. The contest’s annual theme is "Bringing Our Missing Children Home." The winning poster is used as the design theme for the following year, and the winner of this competition comes to Washington, DC, with his or her teacher and parents to participate in the Missing Children’s Day ceremony and receive the award.
The 2013 winner was Esther Jung, Edwin Rhodes Elementary School, Chino, CA. First and second runners-up were, respectively, Nacis Lapaix, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Universal Orlando Branch; and Craig Hammond, Frank Lamping Elementary School, Henderson, NV.
The event began and concluded with performances by the Benjamin Orr Elementary School Choir of Washington, DC. The Office of Justice Programs has had a relationship with the Orr School since 1991 as part of DOJ's volunteer outreach program. The ceremony also included a performance of the National Anthem by vocalist Darren Jones.
National Missing Children's Day has been commemorated in the United States since 1983, when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.
Resources:To access additional resources for parents of missing and abducted children, go to the OJJDP Web site. Also read the "Take 25" page on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Web site, which encourages parents, guardians, educators, and others to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety. Information about the Office of Justice Programs' AMBER Alert program is also available online. In recognition of National Missing Children's Day, the Office of Justice Programs' National Criminal Justice Reference Service has created a special feature, Missing Kids, which provides critical AMBER Alert information as well as access to resources for families and law enforcement.
On May 3, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee delivered a keynote address at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s annual conference in Washington, DC. Attendees included State Advisory Group members, judges, juvenile justice practitioners, advocates, and youth. The Administrator shared his views on a range of key topics, including juvenile justice appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2013 (see table below), the President’s FY 2014 budget, the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974, and OJJDP’s reorganization.
The Administrator reported that OJJDP received a slight increase in appropriations in FY 2013. Specifically, the Title II Formula Grants program increased from $40 to $44 million. Taking into account the sequestration decrease of approximately 5 percent, Formula Grants funding remains close to last year’s level. “Given the current economic environment, this is a positive sign for the Office and juvenile justice programs,” Listenbee said. He cautioned, however, that even with this increase in 2013, the FY 2012 and 2013 appropriations for the Formula Grants and Juvenile Accountability Block Grants programs are substantially lower than those in FY 2011.
|Appropriations for OJJDP||Fiscal Year 2012||Fiscal Year 2013|
|Under Juvenile Justice Programs|
|Part B: Formula Grants||$40,000,000||$44,000,000|
|Title V: Local Delinquency Prevention Program|
|Tribal Youth Program||$10,000,000||$10,000,000|
|Underage Drinking Enforcement/Alcohol Prevention||5,000,000||5,000,000|
|Juvenile Accountability Block Grant||30,000,000||25,000,000|
|Community-Based Violence Prevention||8,000,000||11,000,000|
|Missing and Exploited Children||65,000,000||67,000,000|
|Victims of Child Abuse Act Programs||18,000,000||19,000,000|
|Child Abuse Training for Judicial Personnel||1,500,000||1,500,000|
|National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention||2,000,000||2,000,000|
|Under State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance|
|Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program||$4,500,000||$6,000,000|
|Children Exposed to Violence||10,000,000||13,000,000|
|Total for OJJDP||$277,000,000||$298,500,000|
The President's FY 2014 budget brings core juvenile justice fundingFormula Grants and Juvenile Accountability Block Grantsback to levels of 2011 and earlier. The budget also restores funding for Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants. The budget also includes a new competitive Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative for states, in addition to the existing formula and block grants. This initiative supports state efforts to implement evidence-based reforms designed to save on system costs. The President's budget also includes funding for a new girls delinquency program. In addition, there is a substantial increase for Children Exposed to Violence (up to $23 million) and the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative (up to $25 million). The 2014 budget doubles funding for the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. “The President’s FY 2014 budget reflects the Administration’s firm commitment to youth justice and safety,” Listenbee said.
Listenbee noted that since the JJDP Act was first enacted almost 40 years ago, significant progress has been made in the juvenile justice field: the detention of status offenders has decreased nearly 98 percent, instances of youth held with adults have decreased 99 percent, and instances of youth held in adult jails and lockups have decreased nearly 98 percent. But he cautioned that “there’s still work to be done,” particularly in the area of reducing disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile justice system.
“As many of you know, the reauthorization has been stalled in Congress,” Listenbee said. “And we certainly plan to work with the folks on the Hill to see how we might be able to move forward. But in the meantime, that certainly doesn’t mean our work and your work in the field comes to a standstill.”
The Administrator also announced that the agency has completed its reorganization to enable the Office to better integrate its research, policy, program, and capacity development activities to support the juvenile justice field and other partners. For more information on the reorganization, read the article, “Interview With OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee,” in this issue.
More information about the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the President’s FY 2014 budget, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, and OJJDP’s reorganization is available online.
On May 30, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee offered opening remarks at a meeting of OJJDP's tribal grantees in Arlington, VA. The meeting was attended by representatives of about 100 tribes from 22 states who are participating in OJJDP’s Tribal Youth Program, Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Program, and Tribal Juvenile Accountability Discretionary Grant Program. Representatives included program coordinators, program staff, and tribal leaders. The event was organized by Educational Development Center, Inc., OJJDP’s training and technical assistance provider.
Among other topics, Mr. Listenbee discussed the creation of a new American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) commission on children exposed to violence. The commission, which is part of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, will be a joint effort between the Departments of Justice and the Interior and tribal governments to improve the identification and treatment of AI/AN children exposed to violence. The creation of the commission was a key component of the final report and recommendations issued in December 2012 by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. Mr. Listenbee was co-chair of the national task force.
The 2-day meeting included plenary sessions, small-group talking circles, and four workshop tracks: Justice Systems, Capacity Building, Adolescent Programming, and Youth Health and Wellness. The topics and tracks were identified primarily from a survey of grantee needs and interests. Workshops covered a range of topics, including:
More information about OJJDP’s programs for tribal youth is available online. To learn more about the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, and the national task force’s final report and recommendations, visit the Web site of the U.S. Department of Justice.
With support from OJJDP, Children and Family Futures has partnered with leading drug court organizations and practitioners to develop Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines. The publication will serve as a roadmap for states and local jurisdictions to implement evidence-based practices in family drug courts. The authors synthesized the results of a national review of family drug court policies and practices and the relevant research literature.A diverse group of subject matter experts from across the country developed the guidelines, which include
Family drug courts are a rapidly growing and effective response to serving families in which parental substance use disorders contribute to child maltreatment. Well-functioning family drug courts bring together substance abuse treatment, mental health, and social services agencies with the court and attorneys to meet the diverse needs of these families. The courts also provide intensive judicial monitoring and interventions to treat parents’ substance use disorders and their effects on children.
Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines is available online.
Basic Forensic Interview Training: June, August, October, and December 2013
During June, August, October, and December, CornerHouse will host 5-day courses in Minneapolis, MN, during which law enforcement and child protection investigators, prosecutors, and forensic interviewers can learn the CornerHouse Forensic Interview Protocol—a developmentally flexible and nontraumatic forensic interview protocol appropriate for child, adolescent, and adult victims of sexual abuse. Training methods include lecture and discussion, review of video-recorded interviews, skill-building exercises, and an interview practicum. Registration information is available online.
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Annual Colloquium: June 2528, 2013
Sponsored by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the institutes and workshops offered at the colloquium, taking place in Las Vegas, NV, will address all aspects of child maltreatment, including prevention, intervention, assessment, treatment, and cultural considerations. Seminars have been designed primarily for professionals in the mental health, medicine and nursing, law, law enforcement, education, prevention, research, advocacy, child protection services, and allied fields. Registration information is available online.
National California Gang Investigators Association Conference: July 912, 2013
This training conference will explore approaches in enforcement and prevention of street gangs and their criminal activity. Sponsored by the California Gang Investigators Association, the conference will take place in Anaheim, CA. Registration information is available online.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 76th Annual Conference: July 1417, 2013
This conference, to be held in Seattle, WA, will feature a wide range of juvenile and family law topics, including child abuse and neglect, trauma, custody and visitation, judicial leadership, juvenile justice, domestic violence, drug courts, and substance abuse. The mission of the annual conference is to provide cutting-edge information and tools to juvenile and family courts to support their efforts to improve case processing and outcomes for children, youth, families, victims, and communities with whom they work. Registration information is available online.
School Safety Conference: July 1419, 2013
The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) will hold its annual School Safety Conference in Orlando, FL. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in sessions; complete a NASRO training course onsite; view products, technology, and innovations in the exhibit hall; and network with peers. Session topics include School Safety and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Why Teens Kill, Violence and Victimization, Communicated Threats in Schools, and Benefits of Nonconfrontational Interview and Interrogation Techniques With the Millennial Generation. Registration information is available online.
Advanced Forensic Interview Training: July 1518, 2013 and November 1922, 2013
In July and November, CornerHouse will host 4-day courses in Minneapolis, MN, during which experienced law enforcement officers, prosecutors, child protection and forensic investigators, and tribal social service interviewers who have completed the prerequisites can learn advanced forensic interviewing skills. Registration information is available online.
Prevention and the Child Protection Professional: Implementing Effective Child Abuse Prevention Programs: July 2224, 2013The National Child Protection Training Center’s 3-day conference, to be held in Bloomington, MN, is intended to help child abuse prosecutors, investigators, and other child protection professionals recognize factors that contribute to child abuse and expose them to evidence-based prevention programs that can be implemented in their communities. Registration information is available online.
National School Safety Conference: July 2226, 2013
Hosted by the School Safety Advocacy Council, the conference will take place in Las Vegas, NV. Topics include Bullying and the Link to School Shooters; Mental Health, Trauma, and Violence; Critical Incident Planning and Assessments; and Drugs, Alcohol, and Violence Trends Among Youth. Registration information is available online.
Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Meeting: July 26, 2013
At the summer meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, presenters will discuss the findings of the National Research Council’s report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. The report emphasizes that legal responses to juvenile offending should be grounded in scientific knowledge about adolescent development and tailored to an individual offender's needs and social environment. Registration for the meeting is available online. The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s primary functions are to coordinate federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children. The council meets quarterly in Washington, DC.
Coalition for Juvenile Justice 2013 Youth Summit: August 23, 2013
The Coalition for Juvenile Justice will host its 2013 Youth Summit in Washington, DC. In accordance with the summit theme, “Empowering Young Leaders for Juvenile Justice Reform,” sessions will offer youth leaders information on juvenile justice basics, disproportionate minority contact, the school-to-prison pipeline, and leadership development. Registration information is available online.
National Forum on Criminal Justice: August 46, 2013
Hosted by the National Criminal Justice Association, the forum will take place in Chicago, IL, and will focus on how to integrate research, policy, and technology to improve public safety. Registration information is available online.
Virginia School and Campus Safety Training Forum and State D.A.R.E. Conference: August 57, 2013
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, in conjunction with the National Association for School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials, will host this training conference in Hampton, VA. Topics include Bullying and School Climate, DARE Updates, Making of a Psychopath, Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Search and Seizure, and How To Prepare Students and Classes for Student Return. Registration information is available online.
Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice Meeting: August 12, 2013
Save the date for the next Web-facilitated meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ). The meeting is scheduled for 3–6 p.m. ET. The agenda and registration information will be posted online in the coming weeks. Composed of members of state advisory groups on juvenile justice, FACJJ advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice, evaluates the progress and accomplishments of juvenile justice activities and projects, and advises the OJJDP Administrator on the work of OJJDP.
Crimes Against Children Conference: August 1215, 2013
Cosponsored by Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Police, the goal of the conference is to provide practical instruction to professionals responsible for combating crimes against children. Workshop topics include Perpetrators in Positions of Power and Trust, Preparing Children to Testify in Court, Prosecuting the Improper Teacher-Student Relationship, Resiliency 101: From Victim to Survivor, Modifying Assessments for Child Sex Trafficking Cases, Secondary Traumatic Stress and Multidisciplinary Team Functioning, and Sexual Victimization of Children: A Law Enforcement Perspective Over 40 Years. The conference will take place in Dallas, TX. Registration information is available online.
Karol V. Mason Sworn In as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs
On June 3, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder welcomed Karol V. Mason as the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). As head of OJP, Mason oversees an annual budget of more than $2 billion dedicated to supporting state, local, and tribal criminal justice agencies; an array of juvenile justice programs; a wide range of research, evaluation, and statistical efforts; and comprehensive services for crime victims. From 200912, Mason served at DOJ as Deputy Associate Attorney General with oversight responsibility for the Tax Division, the Office of Justice Programs, the Office on Violence Against Women, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Juvenile Justice Reform Report Discussed at Public Briefing
On June 10, 2013, the National Research Council's Committee on Law and Justice held a public briefing in Washington, DC, on its recently released report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. The report aims to consolidate the progress that has been made in both science and policymaking and to establish a strong platform for a 21st-century juvenile justice system. Key findings and messages of the report were presented at the briefing, and experts, including OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, examined how the report’s recommendations can be used to reform juvenile justice systems. The audience included advocates, academics, government officials, and funders. The outgrowth of a 2-year independent study of the juvenile justice system commissioned by OJJDP, the report supports strategies that emphasize positive youth development rather than a reliance on detention and incarceration and other harsh forms of punishment to meet the juvenile justice system's goals of holding youth accountable for their actions, preventing further offending, and treating youth fairly. A Webcast of the briefing is accessible online.
Office of Justice Programs Officials Participate in Conference on Children Exposed to Violence
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Director Joye Frost, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General Phelan Wyrick, and National Institute of Justice Executive Senior Science Advisor Tom Feucht attended the conference, “Children Exposed to Violence: Strategies for Investigation, Prosecution and Treatment,” held at Catholic University on June 56, 2013. The conference was organized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, with support from OVC. More than 200 victim services providers, law enforcement officers, and attorneys working with children and adolescents exposed to violence engaged with experts on topics such as child sexual abuse, investigating child porn cases, child advocacy centers, trafficking, trauma response, and the medical and legal implications of child abuse. Remarks delivered at the conference on June 6 by Administrator Listenbee may be accessed online. In 2011, Listenbee was appointed to the position of co-chair of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, a central component of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative.
SAMHSA Launches Underage Drinking Prevention CampaignThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched "Talk. They Hear You," a national campaign to provide parents, guardians, and communities with the information and resources they need to increase their awareness of the prevalence and risk of underage drinking and to address the issue of alcohol with youth. The campaign also features public service announcements in English and Spanish.
OJJDP Updates Statistical Briefing BookOJJDP has updated its Statistical Briefing Book (SBB). Developed by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the SBB offers easy access to a host of juvenile justice resources. The following SBB resources have recently been updated:
In addition, FAQs in the Juvenile Justice System Structure and Process resource section have been reorganized and new FAQs have been added, including state comparisons on how probation and aftercare are administered.
Court Diversion Video Available Online
The Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs has posted a new online video that explains how Vermont’s court diversion program, an alternative to the traditional court system, works. The 9-minute video highlights how the program’s restorative justice approach benefits participants and the community. Approximately 10 percent of misdemeanor charges in Vermont are handled through diversion at significant savings to the state; participants who successfully complete the program avoid a criminal conviction.
NCMEC Issues New Standards for Protecting Child Athletes from Sex Abuse
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), in partnership with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, has released Safe to Compete: An Introduction to Sound Practices for Keeping Children Safer in Youth-Serving Organizations. This document, published in the wake of the summit “Safe to Compete: Protecting Child Athletes from Sexual Abuse," sets precise guidelines and standards for youth-serving organizations that seek to eliminate occurrences of child sexual exploitation.
OJJDP Releases Spring 2013 Issue of Journal of Juvenile Justice
The Spring 2013 issue of OJJDP’s Journal of Juvenile Justice is now available online. Articles in this issue of the journal include:
The Journal of Juvenile Justice is a semiannual, peer-reviewed journal sponsored by OJJDP. Articles address the full range of issues in juvenile justice, such as juvenile victimization, delinquency prevention, intervention, and treatment.
Campaign for Youth Justice Develops Family Engagement Workbook
The Campaign for Youth Justice has released FAMILY Comes First: A Workbook to Transform the Justice System by Partnering with Families, the first comprehensive analysis of current family engagement and family partnership practices in juvenile justice systems across the country. The workbook, which was funded in large part by a generous grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides practical tools and resources for juvenile justice system practitioners invested in undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice, and provides a frameworkThe FAMILY Modelto guide efforts to create and sustain meaningful family-system partnerships.
Global Youth Justice Launches 250 Youth Justice Web SitesOn May 1, 2013, Global Youth Justice, in conjunction with the American Bar Association and its celebration of Law Day, helped local youth courts in 41 states launch 250 Web sites to promote their juvenile justice diversion programs. More than 1,400 communities and tribes worldwide currently operate a youth justice program associated with their local peer, student, youth, or teen courts. These courts train teenagers to be judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and jurors who handle low-level offenses of their peers, promote accountability, provide access to youth resources, and model peer leadership. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in these youth justice programs for both adults and youth, visit the Global Youth Justice Web site.
Spring 2013 Issue of National Gang Center Newsletter Available Online
The Spring 2013 issue of the National Gang Center’s (NGC’s) online newsletter features a range of topics, including talking to youth about gangs, getting out of and staying out of gangs, information on The National Alliance of Gang Investigators Associations, and NGC’s updated gang-related legislation page. NGC is jointly funded by OJJDP and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. NGC conducts research on street gangs and serves as a clearinghouse for individuals and agencies seeking information, technical assistance, and training in the areas of gang prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry.
DOJ Web Site Features Public Service Announcements by Tribal Youth
At the National Intertribal Youth Summit, held in July 2012 outside Washington, DC, native youth worked with Buffalo Nickel Creative, a group that produces Web-based products for nonprofit organizations, to develop a public service announcement (PSA) video about youth as champions of change in Indian country. The PSA may be viewed online at the Web site of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The PSA represents the hopes, fears, expectations, and challenges that tribal youth experience on their reservations and in their communities. "That's My People," a PSA developed at the 2011 National Intertribal Youth Summit, is also available online.
All OJJDP publications may be viewed on and downloaded from the publications section of the OJJDP Web site. Print publications may be ordered online at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Web site.
Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2010 (Bulletin)
Survey of Youth in Residential Placement Series
This bulletin presents key findings from the OJJDP-sponsored Survey of Youth in Residential Placement on youth’s victimization in placement, including their experiences of theft, robbery, physical assault, and sexual assault. The bulletin describes a variety of youth characteristics and facility conditions that correlate with victimization rates and identifies a core set of risk factors that predict the probability of a youth experiencing violence in custody. Study results indicate that 46 percent of youth had their property stolen in their absence, 10 percent were directly robbed, 29 percent were threatened or beaten, 9 percent were beaten or injured, and 4 percent were forced to engage in sexual activity.
PTSD, Trauma, and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth (Bulletin)
Beyond Detention Series
This bulletin examines the results of the Northwestern Juvenile Projecta longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL, cosponsored by OJJDP. The authors discuss their findings on the prevalence of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among juvenile detainees and PTSD’s tendency to co-occur with other psychiatric disorders. Of the study sample, 92.5 percent of youth had experienced at least one trauma, 84 percent had experienced more than one trauma, and 56.8 percent were exposed to trauma six or more times. Among participants with PTSD, 93 percent had at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder. Among males, having any psychiatric diagnosis significantly increased the odds of having comorbid PTSD.
Children’s Exposure to Violence and the Intersection Between Delinquency and Victimization (Bulletin)
National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence Series
This bulletin presents data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV). Sponsored by OJJDP, NatSCEV is the most comprehensive nationwide survey, to date, of the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence. This bulletin examines the rates of delinquency and victimization among children and youth ages 1017. Among other findings, boys ages 1314 and girls ages 1112 were found to have an elevated risk of becoming delinquent-victims (i.e., experiencing high levels of both delinquency and victimization), suggesting that interventions with at-risk youth should be timed with their entry into middle school or high school.
Disproportionate Minority Contact: A National Overview (Report)
Disproportionate Minority Contact Series
This report provides an overview of OJJDP’s national efforts to combat disproportionate minority contact (DMC) through pilot projects, funding of empirical research and best practices, publications, and training and technical assistance to states and localities. It looks at a technique for measuring DMC at each of nine decision points within the juvenile justice system, from arrest to final disposition, using the Relative Rate Index. The report also provides an overview of DMC measurement and reduction efforts in five states, which can serve as national models, and concludes with a series of recommendations for overcoming the barriers to reducing DMC.
Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2010: Selected Findings (Bulletin)
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: National Report Series
The biennial Juvenile Residential Facility Census (JRFC) collects information about facilities in which juvenile offenders are held. Respondents provide information about facility characteristics, including facility type, capacity, and type of security. The OJJDP-sponsored JRFC also reports the number of youth who were injured or died in custody during the past 12 months. This bulletin provides findings from the 2010 survey. The juvenile offender population dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2010. Issues of crowding and overcapacity at these facilities, however, continue to be of concern. In 2010, about 18 percent of facilities were at their standard bed capacity, and 2 percent were over capacity. The 2010 JRFC data also describe the range of services that facilities provide to youth in their care.