cludes that greater transparency will lead to greater accountability on the part of OJJDP and state, local, and tribal jurisdictions for reducing DMC.
OJJDP currently is constrained from carrying out its legislative mandate to help jurisdictions work toward a fair and effective juvenile justice system. It has been weakened in the last decade by budgetary constraints as funds for its formula and block grant programs have declined and discretion to determine its programmatic priorities has narrowed. The biggest impact has been felt by jurisdictions that need the funds to address juvenile justice system needs. Because set-asides from formula and block grant funds are the biggest source of TTA dollars, the activities designed to provide guidance and assistance to improve juvenile justice infrastructures have also been greatly curtailed.
During its long history, OJJDP has responded to important needs of the juvenile justice field. OJJDP-funded research has enhanced understanding of juvenile crime and its prevention. OJJDP’s training and technical assistance functions are greatly valued and needed by the juvenile justice field. Particularly during a time when state, local, and tribal governments are under pressure to adopt high-quality and cost-effective ways of dealing with juvenile crime, technical assistance and training are critical resources that communities need to identify and implement effectively evidence-based programs.
OJJDP will be able to draw on strategies that have been successful in the past to bring about change and improvements. But to do so will require that Congress remove the budgetary and political roadblocks that prevent OJJDP from making use of its legislative authority. As we have noted earlier, advocacy and juvenile justice practitioners continue to support OJJDP’s mandate because they believe in the importance of a federal role in assisting state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to prevent crime and improve their handling of juvenile offenders. They believe that OJJDP should act as a bully pulpit to call attention to the needs of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and to get the Congress and jurisdictions to respond appropriately to those needs. Restoring OJJDP’s authority and funding for its core mission will confirm the value of the purposes set forth in the legislation and will enable OJJDP to provide robust guidance for the developmentally appropriate treatment of juveniles in the justice system.