We now turn our attention to the role that the federal government can play in promoting more developmentally appropriate juvenile justice policies and practices. We focus specifically on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the congressionally mandated lead agency for juvenile justice. Given the current state of the field, with its receptivity to change but need for assistance, two questions arise: Is OJJDP the appropriate federal agency to guide and assist state, local, and tribal jurisdictions toward the goal of a developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system? If so, how can its leadership role be strengthened? This chapter reviews the history of OJJDP, its relevant portfolio, its current status, and presents the committee’s views about the agency’s future role in promoting and facilitating juvenile justice reform.
THE HISTORY OF OJJDP
OJJDP is the only federal agency specifically directed to develop and disseminate knowledge to the juvenile justice field and to assist states in improving their systems. Established in 1974, the office has authority for federal programs under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), as amended. This legislation reflected basic understandings that delinquent behavior is preventable and that juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system should receive individualized treatment. It also acknowledged the deficiencies of juvenile courts and the services available to them, particularly the “critically needed alternatives to institutionalization” (P.L. 93-415, Sec. 102).
OJJDP and its predecessor agencies1 came into operation during the due process reform period of juvenile justice change described in Chapter 2 and reflected a new federal commitment to help state and localities strengthen their juvenile justice systems to make them more fair and effective (Matsuda and Foley, 1981). Congress established OJJDP to provide immediate and comprehensive action by the federal government. OJJDP was given a broad mandate to provide technical assistance and training, conduct a centralized research and evaluation effort, develop national standards, and coordinate federal activities related to the treatment of juvenile offenders and those at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. It was also given authority to provide formula grants to participating states and territories to help them meet the goals of JJDPA and develop their juvenile justice programs.
Although formula funds could be applied to a wide variety of delinquency prevention and intervention programs, receipt of this funding was tied to compliance with core requirements. The original JJDPA included two core protection requirements. Subsequent revisions to the JJDPA expanded the list of core mandates to the four that exist today (see Box 10-1). In order to receive formula funds from OJJDP, states must submit a plan every three years, which guides the development, implementation, and funding of programs to address the core requirements of JJDPA and improves state juvenile justice systems. Demonstrating compliance with the requirements necessitated the creation of adequate systems for monitoring jails, detention facilities, and correctional facilities (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2010). States receiving formula funds are required to distribute most of the monies to local jurisdictions.
Total funding for OJJDP from 1974-2010 is shown in constant 2010 dollars in Figure 10-1. In the early years, funds for the State Formula Grant Program (also known as Title II, Part B) constituted about two-thirds of OJJDP’s budget. These formula funds were awarded to states to encourage the separation of juveniles from adult inmates, the diversion of juveniles from the juvenile justice system to community-based alternatives to confinement, and the development of new and effective approaches to the treatment of juvenile offenders.
In the 1980s and 1990s, when state policies and programs were “getting tough” on juveniles (see Chapter 2), OJJDP continued to support
1 In 1912, the Children’s Bureau was created to investigate and report on juvenile courts. The Division of Juvenile Delinquency Services was created under the Children’s Bureau 40 years later. With the passing of the 1961 Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Offenses Control Act, the Office of Juvenile Delinquency was established within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974 replaced previous legislation and established the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) within the Department of Justice to oversee efforts in the United States to prevent juvenile delinquency and improve the quality of juvenile justice (Matsuda and Foley, 1981).
JJDPA’s Four Core Requirements
- Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO): Juveniles who are charged with or who have committed an offense that would not be a crime if committed by an adult, and juveniles who are not charged with any offenses, are not to be placed in secure detention or secure correctional facilities.
- Removal from Adult Jail and Lockup (Jail Removal): Juveniles are not to be detained or confined in any institution in which they would have contact with adult inmates. In addition, correctional staff working with both adult and juvenile offenders must have been trained and certified to work with juveniles.
- Sight and Sound Separation (Separation): Juveniles are not to be detained or confined in any jail or lockup for adults, except for juveniles who are accused of nonstatus offenses. These juveniles may be detained for no longer than six hours as they are processed, waiting to be released, awaiting transfer to a juvenile facility, or awaiting their court appearance. In addition, juveniles in rural locations may be held for up to 48 hours in jails or lockups for adults as they await their initial court appearance. Juveniles held in adult jails or lockups in both rural and urban areas are not to have contact with adult inmates, and any staff working with both adults and juveniles must have been trained and certified to work with juveniles.
- Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC): States are required to show that they are implementing juvenile delinquency prevention programs designed to reduce—without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas—the disproportionate number of minorities confined in their juvenile justice systems.
SOURCE: Nunez-Neto (2008).
states’ efforts to comply with the requirements of JJDPA and improve their juvenile justice programs. The office began to focus on issues that affect the system as a whole, such as drugs and serious juvenile offending, and to develop programs that would help coordinate system-wide responses. One of its training programs, the Serious Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program, called for the active participation and coordination of all agencies in the juvenile justice system—police, prosecution, courts, probation, corrections, aftercare, and human service agencies—to deal with serious juvenile offenders. OJJDP started looking outside the bounds of
the juvenile justice system and, in efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency, supported research and development on school policies and family interventions (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1988). One of its projects examined existing school disciplinary policies and developed and tested new policies and procedures designed to reduce school crime and disorder. Another project identified promising programs that would strengthen families in ways shown to reduce delinquency (Alvarado and Kumpfer, 2000).
OJJDP was given additional authority to support programs relating to child victimization and exploitation through the Missing Children’s Assistance Act (MCAA) and the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCA). These programs continue to receive support. Today, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as well as regional and local training for AMBER Alert activities are funded under MCAA. The Children’s Advocacy Centers are funded under VOCA to provide assistance for the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases.
In the 1992 reauthorization of JJDPA, reducing DMC2 was elevated to a fourth core requirement tied to formula and block funds. This reauthorization also established the Community Prevention Grants program, also referred to as the Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention, under Title V to encourage prevention efforts at the local level. This Title V program was designed to encourage local leaders to assess the risk factors in their neighborhoods and develop and implement data-driven delinquency prevention strategies. It provided additional funds to states, supplementing the formula funds but specifically directed at delinquency prevention at the local level. During the period of the 1980s and 1990s, the combination of Part B formula and Title V funds represented two-thirds of OJJDP’s budget.
The 1992 reauthorization also focused OJJDP’s attention on the legal representation of juveniles. It funded a study to examine problems facing public defenders and impeding legal representation (Puritz et al., 1995), which led to the development of training and technical assistance (TTA) for defenders in local jurisdictions. In addition, new language in the reauthorization directed states to use formula funds to identify gaps and biases in their systems in regard to gender-specific services. The increasing involvement of young women in the juvenile justice system was a significant concern at this time. OJJDP’s mandate and available funding through the formula grants as well as the new Challenge Grant Program provided a vehicle for states to address the needs of adolescent girls (Larance, 2009).3
2 In 1992, the DMC acronym referred to disproportionate minority confinement, but the scope was changed to disproportionate minority contact in the 2002 reauthorization after it was widely determined that disproportionally extended to all parts of the system.
3 For a description of federal leadership on gender issues, see Sherman (2012, pp. 1586-1595).
Public concerns about juvenile crime were intensified during this period. As such, OJJDP was able to grow its portfolios on illegal drugs, gangs, and serious, violent offenders. At the same time, OJJDP undertook several activities to assess the available evidence to determine the most effective programs for preventing delinquency and strengthening juvenile justice systems. The result of its efforts was a position paper entitled The Comprehensive Strategy on Serious, Violent, and Chronic Youth Crime (Wilson and Howell, 1993), which refocused attention on early intervention and prevention. Once youth entered the juvenile justice system, the strategy called for jurisdictions to provide a continuum of graduated sanctions tailored for first-time nonserious offending through multiple offending and serious violent offending (Krisberg, Barry, and Sharrock, 2004). As interest and support for the strategy grew, OJJDP developed an implementation guide (Howell, 1995a) and embarked on intensive TTA initiatives to pilot and push forward the adoption of the Comprehensive Strategy by local and statewide jurisdictions.
The office also embarked on efforts to involve other child-serving systems that have critical roles in delinquency prevention. It became an active supporter of the Blueprints for Violence Prevention Project (Mihalic et al., 2004) and helped promote the adoption of research-based prevention programs. It provided funding for TTA to nationwide replications of Blueprint programs aimed at reducing adolescent violent crime, aggression, delinquency, and substance abuse.
Its Safe Futures Initiative, launched at demonstration sites in 1996, brought family and health services, education systems, and juvenile justice together in an effort to reduce juvenile delinquency and violence. It sought to establish public–private partnerships to leverage resources needed to provide a continuum of services appropriate for diverse needs of youth (Morley et al., 2000). Three years later, OJJDP undertook other federal collaborative efforts in the school violence and child victimization areas. The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, cofunded with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, provided federal funding to communities to create an infrastructure that would link and integrate existing and new services that promote student development, positive mental health, and prosocial behavior (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001b). OJJDP also partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and support the Safe Start Initiative, designed to address child victimization (primarily birth to age 6). Again the initiative sought to create comprehensive systems, which incorporated community assessment and strategic planning across services (Kracke, 2001).
As pressure to “get tough” on youth mounted in the mid-1990s, OJJDP was authorized to provide additional resources to states to build their juvenile justice system infrastructure through the Juvenile Accountability Block
Grant (JABG) Program.4 A core mandate of JABG is that states must show progress toward implementing a system of graduated sanctions in order to be eligible for funding. For five years, monies appropriated through JABG represented a significant boost to OJJDP’s budget and, very important, was a source of funding states relied on to build and strengthen their juvenile justice system infrastructure. Congressional support of this program even in the face of opposition by the Clinton administration5 reflected Congress’s priorities and its desire that support to the states for their juvenile justice system infrastructures should receive precedence over prevention programming. The JABG program continues today, but its funding is about one-sixth of what it was when introduced. See Figure 10-1.
Around the same time as the introduction of the JABG program, Congress began to direct OJJDP to address other areas, such as underage drinking and tribal youth justice. Congress initiated the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) Program in FY1998 and appropriated $25 million annually to EUDL through FY2010. The Tribal Youth Program (TYP) was established in FY1999 and awards funds to federally recognized tribal governments to improve their juvenile justice systems. The program addresses the chronic underfunding of juvenile justice systems and services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities and the limited training and assistance available to law enforcement and justice personnel in these areas. Both programs have been appropriated funds through carve-outs from Title V funding.6 An example of carve-outs is illustrated in the 2009 appropriations language in Box 10-2.
During the late 1990s, OJJDP entered a new stage in its development. After 1998, its total operating budget nearly tripled. See Figure 10-1. However, funds for its hallmark State Formula Grant Program dropped to less than 20 percent of the agency’s operating budget from 1998 to 2010. As the number of appropriated carve-outs continued to rise, OJJDP’s portfolio was increasingly shaped by congressional priorities, and its ability to support the agency’s original mission declined. See Figure 10-2. By 2008, the
4 JABG was originally known as the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) Program. JABG funds can be spent on local programs in distinct purpose areas: graduated sanctions, corrections/detention facilities, court staffing and pretrial services, prosecutors (staffing and/or funding equipment or training), training for law enforcement and court personnel, juvenile gun courts, juvenile drug courts, juvenile records systems, information sharing, accountability, risk/need assessment, school safety, restorative justice, juvenile courts and probation, corrections/detention personnel, and reentry (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009c).
5 OMB did not include JABG in its annual budget submissions.
6 Carve-outs are programs that Congress requires an agency to support and for which it usually specifies the budget category from which the funds should come. For example, tribal youth justice and underage drinking programs are carve-outs, and the funds to support them come from the funds allocated to the delinquency prevention program area.
budget for its combined state formula and block grant programs7 dropped to one-third of OJJDP’s total budget.
JJDPA was last reauthorized in 2002 through the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (P.L. 107-273), and, as of the writing of this report, has yet to be reauthorized. As a result, formal authorization for OJJDP’s programs expired in FY2007 and FY2008.
7 Combined state formula and block grant programs refers to the Title II Part B Formula Funds, Title V Incentive Grants, EUDL, and the Challenge Grants (old Title II, Part E) under JJDPA as well as block grants authorized under JABG.
Legislative Language from 2009 Appropriations (excerpt)
JUVENILE JUSTICE PROGRAMS
For grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and other assistance authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (“the 1974 Act”) … and other juvenile justice programs, $374,000,000, to remain available until expended as follows….
(3) $80,000,000 for youth mentoring grants;
(4) $62,000,000 for delinquency prevention, as authorized by section 505 of the 1974 Act, of which, pursuant to sections 261 and 262 thereof—
(A) $25,000,000 shall be for the Tribal Youth Program;
(B) $10,000,000 shall be for a gang resistance education and training program; and
(C) $25,000,000 shall be for grants of $360,000 to each State and $4,840,000 shall be available for discretionary grants, for programs and activities to enforce State laws prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors or the purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, for prevention and reduction of consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, and for technical assistance and training.
SOURCE: Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, H.R. 1105.
However, many of OJJDP’s programs continue to receive support through appropriations. The remainder of this chapter highlights several of OJJDP’s programs that have had a major impact on the juvenile justice field, and then turns to discuss its current status.
OJJDP’s mandate is a broad one. Its responsibilities include collecting and documenting data on juveniles in the system, guiding and assisting efforts to prevent delinquency or improve state justice systems, ensuring states’ compliance with the goals of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974, and sponsoring relevant research. We highlight some of its accomplishments in three areas: (1) data collection, (2) national standards, and (3) the core requirements of the JJDPA. We also provide an example of OJJDP’s capacity to link research to practice.
Since its inception, OJJDP has worked with other agencies both inside and outside the U.S. Department of Justice to develop a national statistics program that captures data on juvenile arrests, court cases, and placements. All these data are updated annually or biennially and made publicly available online through its Statistical Briefing Book (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2011b). With OJJDP’s continued support, the statistics readily available to practitioners, policy makers, and researchers have steadily expanded to provide information on juveniles and cases at multiple points in the juvenile justice system.
Drawing on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, OJJDP produces the annual series Juvenile Arrests to document rates, patterns, and trends of arrests involving youth under age 18. The latest data reflect the continuing decline of both juvenile arrests overall and juvenile arrests for violent crime (Puzzanchera and Adams, 2011b).
OJJDP also funds the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) to oversee the National Juvenile Court Data Archive. This archive currently contains more than 15 million automated case records from U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction; the majority of these records are delinquency and status offense records (National Center for Juvenile Justice, n.d.). The data archive produces the annual report Juvenile Court Statistics and maintains data sets for use by researchers as well as a web-based application tool for online access to analyze the databases from the report.
Finally, three OJJDP sponsored surveys provide data on youth in out of home placement. The biennial Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP) is a one-day census of all youth in both private and public residential facilities. CJRP collects data on characteristics of juveniles (age, race, gender, and most serious offense), court of jurisdiction (juvenile or criminal), adjudicatory status (pre- or postadjudication), and the state or county with jurisdiction (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001b). The biennial Juvenile Residential Facility Census (JRFC), first fielded in 2000, supplements the CJRP and captures facility-level information about the residential environments and the services juveniles receive while in facility placement. It requests data on facility ownership, security, capacity and crowding, as well as on injuries and deaths in custody (Hockenberry, Sickmund, and Sladky, 2011). Finally, the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) complements these two censuses by collecting information directly from youth through anonymous interviews. To date, the survey has been administered only once, but it has provided valuable data regarding youth characteristics and backgrounds, conditions of confinement, youth needs and services, and the nature and risk of victimization (Sedlak and Bruce, 2010; Sedlak and McPherson, 2010a, 2010b). It also provides information previously unavailable, such as the overall prevalence of all offenses for which youth are incarcerated as well as the characteristics (e.g., drug/alcohol use, accomplices) of these offenses and insight into the backgrounds, expectations, and beliefs of juveniles in custody (Sedlak, 2010).
National Performance Standards for Juvenile Facilities
OJJDP’s role in developing national performance standards for juvenile facilities has been multifaceted, reflecting both its mission and its authority. It sponsored, at the request of Congress, the research study that examined
the conditions of confinement and demonstrated the need for such standards (Parent et al., 1994). It provided the start-up funds for the development of standards, outcome measures, and tools. It sponsored pilot sites to test the program and provided incentives for participating facilities with funds for improvements identified by the program (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001b).
The mandated study (Parent et al., 1994) found poor conditions at the turn of the 1990s—increased injuries to staff and youth due to overcrowding, high rates of suicidal behavior, few timely or professionally conducted health surveys, and high levels of staff turnover at detention and correctional facilities (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2001b). The study also found that existing national procedural standards, those that focus on developing policies and procedures and maintaining specific staff ratios, had no discernible effect on conditions (Parent, 1993).
OJJDP responded to these findings by initiating the Performance-based Standards (PbS) Program through a grant to the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators.8 In 1998, the program was implemented in 20 facilities (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 1999). As of April 2011, 198 facilities in 27 states subscribe to the PbS process (PbS Learning Institute, 2011). Although enrollment is increasing, current participation represents about 10 percent of total facilities in the United States.
The effects of the PbS Program have been promising. Facilities and jurisdictions that participate in PbS are in a position to make data-informed decisions and to monitor the progress of their changes. To date, the database contains more than 75,000 incident reports, more than 30,000 youth records, and more than 70,000 youth and staff surveys (PbS Learning Institute, 2011). The large volume of data allows the program to provide facilities with reliable averages and statistics for comparison. It also can be used for research. For example, Kupchik and Snyder (2009) used the PbS data to develop a model to predict victimization and fear among individual juvenile inmates.
Despite the fact that the PbS program has always been voluntary and its OJJDP support has dwindled, it continues to expand. In 2004, the PbS program transitioned from a free, federally supported program to an income-generating nonprofit, the PbS Learning Institute.
8 National performance standards were developed and tested in critical areas—safety, security, order, health and mental health services, justice and legal rights, programming, and reintegration planning (PbS Learning Institute, 2011). In 2004, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators was a recipient of the Innovations in American Government Award, bestowed by Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Council for Excellence in Government, in recognition of the PbS program as an effective government program that inspires public confidence.
The JJDPA, as amended, lays out four requirements that states must comply with to receive OJJDP’s formula and block funds for improvements to their juvenile justice systems (see Box 10-1). Each of the core requirements reflects a developmentally appropriate practice.
States must submit a comprehensive three-year plan for meeting the JJDPA core requirements within the framework of their particular systems. Of the 56 eligible states and territories, only Wyoming has chosen not to participate in the formula grants program. Compliance with the deinstitutionalization of status offenders (DSO), jail removal, and separation is demonstrated through verified data from secure juvenile and adult facilities provided in the state’s annual compliance monitoring report and a biannual monitoring audit. Determining compliance with the DMC requirement is less straightforward. It involves submission of a three-year DMC reduction plan, annual updates and the annual submission of data, known as Relative Rate Indices (RRIs) that measures disproportionality at different stages of juvenile justice system processing (see Chapter 8 for an explanation of RRIs). In addition, states must also submit updated DMC data in their three-year plan for at least three jurisdictions with the highest minority concentrations or, preferably, the localities with focused DMC reduction efforts. Failure to comply with each core requirement results in a 20 percent reduction in formula funds. Fifty percent of the remaining funds must then be used to support efforts to bring the state into compliance.
Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, Jail Removal, and Separation
OJJDP’s greatest impact on the juvenile justice field has probably been its role in ensuring compliance with the core requirements (Howell, 1997). The JJDPA requirements spawned a permanent infrastructure for improvements (Howell, 1997). State advisory groups (SAGs) appointed by governors were created to develop and oversee state plans, and systems were established to monitor compliance. In 2010, 80 percent of the participating states and territories were in compliance with all four core requirements (Hornberger, 2010). Figure 10-3 shows the reduction in state violations of DSO, separation, and jail removal requirements between the baseline years9 and 1993. Percentage reductions in violations for each mandate were 98 percent for DSO, 99 percent for separation, and 96 percent for jail removal.
Figure 10-4 shows the dramatic decrease in detention of status offenders since OJJDP was established. In 1975, 40 percent of status offense cases in juvenile court were detained; in 2008, only 5 percent of status offenders
9 The baseline year is 1975 for DSO and separation and 1980 for jail removal.
were detained. Throughout this period, about 20 percent of delinquency cases were detained. The decline in detention of status offenders represents the most significant change in the administration of juvenile justice brought about by the JJDPA.
These accomplishments are impressive, especially when one considers that the amount of federal funding states receive is a very small proportion of the overall state and local dollars going to support juvenile justice system services and consequently does not pose much of a financial incentive. Also, most states have maintained compliance with the core requirements even during periods when punishment and deterrence were emphasized.
This picture is mixed, however. During the past decade or so, many youth have not been afforded these protections because of exceptions in the JJDPA legislation, new state laws since JJDPA’s passage, and policy inter-
pretations that have narrowed the categories of offenses that are considered status offenses and have changed the definition of an adult inmate thereby reducing the range of cases to which the protections apply.
Reclassification as Delinquent. In 1980, six years after its enactment, the JJDPA was modified because of pressure from judges to exclude youth who violated a valid court order (VCO) from the deinstitutionalization provision.10 Today, although the federal legislation still excludes youth with
10 For example, a youth who comes to the attention of the juvenile justice system because of truancy who then violates the judge’s order to attend school regularly can be brought back before the judge and sentenced to detention even though truancy is considered a status offense.
VCO violations from the DSO protection, state practices vary. A total of 25 states and territories do not allow an exemption for a VCO violation, but 30 states do allow such an exception. OJJDP estimates that these jurisdictions use the exception about 12,000 times per year (Hornberger, 2010).
In the 2002 amendment of JJDPA, the provision was made to exclude juveniles held in accordance with the interstate compact on juveniles as enacted by the state.11 It permits the temporary detention of status offenders, particularly runaways, in order to secure their return to the jurisdictions where they reside or where other appropriate custody exists while allowing states to remain in compliance with the DSO requirement and eligible for federal funding. Under interstate compact guidance, out-of-state youth placed in custody for a status offense can be detained if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others (Montana Board of Crime Control, 2005; Interstate Commission for Juveniles, 2012).
Another factor that is affecting the detention of juveniles for status offenses is the passage of new laws that make what was formerly a status offense a criminal offense. For example, legislation passed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia classifying possession of alcohol by adults ages 18-20 as a criminal offense (minor in possession or MIP) eliminates MIP as a status offense because it is a criminal offense when committed by an adult.12 In its direction to the states, OJJDP continues to maintain its policy that MIP offenders should not be securely detained (as either adults or juveniles) and is working with Congress to amend the language of the JJDPA.13
Furthermore, in the past two decades, the rise of domestic disputes charged as simple assaults, rather than incorrigibility or unruliness, has occurred particularly for girls (Stahl, Sickmund, and Snyder, 2004). Some researchers contend that the perceived increase in the delinquency of girls may actually reflect a relabeling of status offenses (Feld, 2009). With limited or nonexistent alternatives for girls who cannot or will not go back home, the juvenile court may be pressured to process girls as delinquents. As noted
11 The interstate compact on juveniles is “a multi-state agreement that provides procedural means to regulate the movement across states lines of juveniles under court supervision” (Holloway, 2000).
12 Memorandum to the states from OJJDP acting administrator, Jeff Slowikowski, regard ing Status Offenders and Non-Offenders and the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act (October 20, 2010); Memorandum to the states from OJJDP acting administrator, Jeff Slowikowski, regarding Status Offenders and the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act, Follow-up on Data Reporting for Annual Core Requirements Determination (March 17, 2011).
many times, the committee thinks confinement of noncriminal juveniles is not an acceptable solution and is likely to be more harmful.
Adult Inmate Label. In establishing the adult jail and lockup removal requirement, the JJDPA sought to promote the appropriate confinement of youth in juvenile facilities to provide for both public safety and the specific evaluation and treatment of youth needs. Exceptions in the act allow youth to be held in adult facilities for short periods of time; in these circumstances, the sight and sound separation requirement is in place to protect them from emotional and physical harm. However, currently these protections are afforded only to youth processed under the juvenile justice system and do not apply to youth under the jurisdiction of adult criminal courts.
The JDDPA currently defines an adult inmate as “an individual who has reached the age of full criminal responsibility under applicable State law; and has been arrested and is in custody for or awaiting trial on a criminal charge, or is convicted of a criminal charge offense.” Under this definition, youth who are detained under criminal court jurisdiction are considered adult inmates, even in situations when they are younger than 18 at the time of offense and even when they are being held in juvenile facilities under progressive state laws. This classification has the perverse effect of requiring states to separate youth prosecuted as adults from other youth in juvenile facilities if they want to remain in compliance with the JJDPA.
Support for eliminating these exceptions to the JJDPA requirements continues to grow (Campaign for Youth Justice, 2007a, 2007b; Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009; Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2009; Soler, Shoenberg, and Schindler, 2009; National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 2010). Modifications to the JJDPA were previously considered in Senate bill S. 678 (111th Congress, 2009), that would (1) require all states participating in the formula grants program to phase out the VCO exception; (2) extend the jail removal and sight and sound core requirements to keep youth awaiting trial in criminal court out of adult lockups and to ensure sight and sound separation in some limited circumstances in which they are held in adult facilities; and (3) allow states to continue to serve youth tried in adult court in juvenile facilities without jeopardizing federal funding. Groups like the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (n.d.) are calling for even stronger measures that would better serve all youth under age 18, but they viewed Senate bill S. 678 as a good step toward more developmentally appropriate policies. However, the bill failed to pass and the JJDPA has yet to be reauthorized.
Disproportionate Minority Contact
Although historically few states have ever been out of compliance with this requirement, there is widespread agreement that it is still a significant, if not the most intractable characteristic, of the juvenile justice system (Pope and Feyerherm, 1990; Engen, Steen, and Bridges, 2002; Pope, Lovell, and Hsia, 2002; Bishop, 2005; Mendel, 2009). For a detailed review of the research on racial/ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, see Chapter 8.
OJJDP’s Strategy. OJJDP carries out its federal mandate by requiring states to identify the extent to which DMC exists in their jurisdictions. Once its existence is verified, states must assess the reasons for DMC and develop and implement intervention strategies. States are then required to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of chosen intervention strategies (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009b). These five activities—identification, assessment, program implementation, evaluation, and monitoring—comprise OJJDP’s DMC reduction model (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2010).
States are explicitly not held to any “numerical standard or quotas” (see Box 10-1)—that is, states are not required to actually reduce DMC. Instead, compliance is measured by a state’s implementation of the DMC reduction model, which includes the annual submission of data known as RRIs.14 OJJDP also reviews each state’s annual report that describes its progress toward meeting the goals spelled out in its three-year DMC reduction plan.
Given that implementation of the model and progress toward carrying out the DMC reduction plan can be broadly construed, it is not surprising that noncompliance with DMC is a rare occurrence. Since 2007, only Mississippi and American Samoa have had their formula grant allocation reduced by 20 percent for failing to comply with the core requirement.15 Each year OJJDP also identifies states that are at risk for noncompliance16 and provides them a three-year window to act on their deficiencies. OJJDP does not make public the information on the at-risk states, but the numbers are not insignificant. In fiscal year (FY) 2011, 13 at-risk states were in the process of trying to achieve compliance. OJJDP staff acknowledged that, in
14 The RRI compares the rate of juvenile justice contact experienced by different groups of youth. See Chapter 8 for a fuller explanation.
15 Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/compliance/compliancedata.html [February 2010].
16 Some of the reasons states are determined to be at risk include failing to submit annual reports, submitting incomplete or nonverifiable RRIs for the different decision points, having fewer than three local jurisdictions in the state addressing DMC, or failing to follow through on interventions outlined in their three-year plans.
the past, the agency provided considerable leeway to states in determining their compliance, but in recent years it has been much stricter.17
To assist state and local jurisdictions, OJJDP now employs a full-time senior-level DMC coordinator and designated staff to review DMC plans and provide assistance and supports a network of consultants for TTA. In addition, it has created a DMC Best Practices Database and a DMC virtual resource center website. The agency has sponsored research on DMC measurement tools and state-of-the-art reviews of DMC research and evaluated DMC interventions. Recently, OJJDP made a sizeable investment from its limited research funds to support three grants to identify successful programs and strategies to assist states and local communities to achieve and maintain compliance with the DMC requirement.18
Impact of the DMC Core Requirement. By its own standards (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009a), the DMC initiative has had only limited success and, in fact, OJJDP has conceded that “states and localities, except for a few jurisdictions, have not reduced DMC” (Coleman, 2011, p. 28).
This lack of progress is not surprising, given the nature and extent of disproportionality (see Chapter 8).19 Nonetheless, OJJDP’s efforts to ensure compliance with the DMC core requirement have had a positive impact on the states’ willingness to address the problem. Almost half the states use formula funds to support full-time state-level DMC coordinators, and the remaining states (with one exception) have part-time or other state-level staff designated as DMC coordinators. About three dozen states have ongoing committees under their SAGs that give sustained attention to DMC (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009b), and some states support DMC initiatives with their own dollars. Approximately 22 states submit RRI data to OJJDP for all contact points in their juvenile justice systems, and 39 states submit data for six or more (out of nine) contact points (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2009b).
17 Remarks of Andrea Coleman, OJJDP DMC coordinator, at the NRC Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform meeting, October 11, 2010.
18 The grants were 2009-JF-FX-0072 “Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative to Decrease DMC and the Detention of Status Offenders,” Chris Hartney, principal investigator, National Council on Crime & Delinquency: 2009-JF-FX-0103 “Expand ing the Use of DMC Data: Analysis of Patterns to Identify Best Practices,” Marcia I. Cohen, principal investigator, Development Services Group, Inc: 2009-JF-FX-0101 “An Impact Evaluation of Three Strategies Created to Reduce Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Detention Population,” Nancy Rodriquez, principal investigator, Arizona State University.
19 This should be juxtaposed with the fact that there are 3,033 organized county or county-equivalent governments in the United States according to 2007 Census of Governments. The OJJDP DMC initiative requires each state and three local jurisdictions to report on how they are addressing racial/ethnic disparities.
Several jurisdictions appear to have been effective in reducing DMC. In a recent analysis of three years of RRI data from more than 800 counties, Cohen and colleagues (2012) found that three states and seven local jurisdictions showed improved and/or stable and low RRI values at three of the five juvenile justice decision points (referral, diversion, detention, confinement, and transfer). When the number of decision points was reduced to two, 15 additional jurisdictions showed improvement and/or stable and low RRI values.
Obstacles to DMC Reduction. Several obstacles stand in the way of jurisdictions making greater progress toward reducing DMC. First, as described in Chapter 8, insufficiency of data needed to determine RRIs, especially data on ethnic groups, prevents jurisdictions from getting a clear picture of the extent of racial/ethnic disparities and their impact on specific minority groups.
A second obstacle is the failure of many jurisdictions to complete the critical analytical phase before initiating interventions (Coleman, 2011; Poulin, Orchowsky, and Iwama, 2011). The only states that OJJDP identifies as having conducted adequate assessments are Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. These assessments involve an investment of time, resources, and expertise that many jurisdictions have been unwilling or unable to make.
A third obstacle is the lack of rigorous evaluations and scientific evidence regarding the impact of interventions undertaken to reduce DMC (Poulin, Orchowsky, and Iwama, 2011). While some interventions at the detention stage show promise, studies to date are more likely to uncover the limitations of states’ efforts than the effects of their interventions. These limitations include gaps in recordkeeping, misuse of RRI data, absence of assessments for the contributors to the RRI findings, and selection of generic prevention programs without considering their own jurisdiction’s needs and the impact on racial/ethnic disparities (Coleman, 2010, 2011; Poulin, Orchowsky, and Iwama, 2011).20
20 OJJDP’s DMC Best Practices Database may be contributing to the confusion regarding the selection of interventions. The searchable database assists jurisdictions in “identifying both multicomponent jurisdictional DMC initiatives that have demonstrated a basic level of effectiveness in reducing DMC as well as single-component programmatic interventions that were not necessarily developed to reduce DMC but may prove useful as a tool in the arsenal against DMC.” The committee had difficulty understanding the overall rationale for the database itself or the scientific basis for the interventions and questions whether the ease of conducting this kind of database search discourages jurisdictions from pursuing a more careful and thoughtful review.
OJJDP’s Future Role in Addressing DMC. In the past four years, OJJDP has focused increased attention and resources on its DMC core requirement. But the scope of the problem and the complexities of addressing DMC call for a stronger federal policy and more intensive efforts. The committee agrees with juvenile justice advocacy groups that the DMC core requirement in OJJDP’s authorizing legislation needs to be strengthened (Campaign for Youth Justice, 2007a; Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2008, 2009; Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009; Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, 2009; Krisberg and Vuong, 2009; Soler, Shoenberg, and Schindler, 2009; National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 2010).
Recommendations by Nellis and Richardson (2010) for strengthening the federal DMC requirements, embraced in large measure by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2008) and the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (2011a, 2011b), require states to take concrete steps to reduce racial/ethnic disparities, including the improvement of data systems. Interestingly, Nellis and Richardson (2010) also suggested that the JJDPA be amended to require states to have a nongovernmental auditing body report on DMC initiatives and findings, a suggestion the committee thinks has considerable merit.
Strengthening the DMC core requirement will hold the states more accountable and will provide OJJDP with authority to monitor state progress more closely. Even in the absence of new legislation, OJJDP can increase the effectiveness of its DMC initiative by enforcing its own compliance guidelines and supporting evaluations of interventions.
OJJDP could be more transparent not only about the progress states are making but also the problems they are having. As mentioned earlier, information about states at risk for noncompliance of DMC is not made public. Nor are state plans or other compliance determination documents made available by OJJDP. In particular, the committee endorses greater transparency of all OJJDP and jurisdictional DMC activities because we think transparency will lead to greater accountability on the part of the states as well as OJJDP. However, we also recognize that decisions regarding transparency may need the support of the Office of General Counsel of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). (For a discussion of OJJDP’s relationship with OJP and its offices, see the section on reauthorization.)
The lack of empirical data on effective programs needs to be addressed by OJJDP, as does the tendency of jurisdictions to sponsor interventions that are not data driven or appropriate. OJJDP should actively assist jurisdictions to establish partnerships with universities or other research organizations to develop evaluations and carry them out. It should also clarify the limitations of its DMC Best Practices Database. Although support for research initiatives has become increasingly difficult, OJJDP should make
evaluations of DMC interventions a priority and should continue its practice of an annual research solicitation on DMC.
Linking Research to Practice
Unlike many other agencies,21 OJJDP is authorized to support a broad range of activities, including research and evaluation, TTA, and the dissemination of information, as well as to provide direct funding to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. Over the years, it has developed a research-to-practice continuum in which it has been able to leverage research knowledge and statistics to inform program development and shape juvenile justice policies and practices. This continuum provides important feedback to guide future research.
From the beginning, OJJDP’s research portfolio has focused on issues of interest to practitioners in the juvenile justice field. In the 1970s, OJJDP supported work to better understand youth gangs in America as well as violent and chronic juvenile offending. In the 1980s, OJJDP supported the initiation of two longitudinal studies that continue today, with additional funding from other federal and private sources: the Seattle social development project22 and the Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency (see Box 10-3). In the 1990s, OJJDP turned its attention to juvenile justice systems and sponsored a study on the conditions of confinement as well as a study of the American Indian and Alaskan Native justice systems. It also collaborated with other federal agencies and private foundations to support a longitudinal component to the Northwestern Juvenile Project, which examined alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders. In 2000, OJJDP launched another longitudinal study, Pathways to Desistance, to investigate the factors that lead youth who have committed serious offenses to continue or desist from offending. The agency also developed research programs to respond to girls’ involvement in delinquency and to bullying and its potential impact on truancy and delinquency. In each decade, OJJDP funded research to review the practice of transferring juveniles to the adult court system (Hamparian et al., 1982; Fagan, 1991; Snyder, Sickmund, and Poe-Yamagata, 2000; Lanza-Kaduce et al., 2002; Fagan, Kupchik, and Liberman, 2007; Griffin et al., 2011).
21 For example, other agencies in the Office of Justice Programs—the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office for Victims of Crime, the Bureau of Justice Statistics—do not have this full complement of authorities.
22 The Seattle social development project, primarily funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is a longitudinal project that has tracked more than 800 youth from 1985 to present in order to examine aspects of youth development, such as substance use, delinquency, violence, school dropout, and changes in health status. For more information on the project, see http://www.ssdp-tip.org/SSDP/index.html [May 2012].
The Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency was begun in 1986 with three studies: the Denver Youth Survey, the Pittsburgh Youth Study, and the Rochester Youth Development Study. For each project, in addition to data collection from records, researchers conducted individual, face-to-face interviews with urban youth considered at high risk for involvement in delinquency and drug abuse (Browning et al., 1999). The repeated contact with youth during a substantial portion of their developmental years has generated knowledge about pathways to delinquency, chronic offending, substance use, and neighborhood influences, to name a few areas (Thornberry, Huizinga, and Loeber, 2004).
The Causes and Correlates research program reached great stature in part because it constitutes the largest shared measurement approach ever achieved in delinquency research. The three research teams worked together to ensure that certain core measures were identical across the sites. OJJDP encouraged the collaborative analyses across the sites, which in turn have advanced understanding of delinquency by replicating some findings across sites, distinguishing why certain other findings apply to one site or population rather than other sites or populations, and aggregating data across sites to study phenomena that otherwise could not be studied at one site because of its low base rate (e.g., illicit drug use other than marijuana) (Loeber, Huizinga, and Thornberry, 1996).
OJJDP initially funded the research program, but this longitudinal investigation is ongoing because of its continued support as well as funding from other sources.* This long-term support has extended data collection on the samples into adulthood, allowing examination of the transitions from adolescent to adult offending and desistance. From over two decades of research, a huge data set is available on young individuals as they grow up in inner cities from age 6 through their 20s (Loeber, Huizinga, and Thornberry, 1996).
The following findings from the Causes and Correlates program, in conjunction with statistical trends in juvenile crime and other research knowledge available at the time, guided the development of OJJDP’s Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders:
- Three pathways to chronic delinquency can be distinguished: (1) the overt pathway from aggression to fighting then violence, (2) the covert pathway from minor covert behavior to property damage then serious delinquency, and (3) the authority conflict pathway from stubborn behavior to defiance then authority avoidance.
- Most chronic juvenile offenders start their criminal careers prior to age 12.
- Early-onset offenders tend to come from poorer, inner-city disadvantaged neighborhoods.
- Gang members are responsible for a very large and disproportionate share of delinquent acts, especially more serious and more violent acts.
- Membership in adolescent street gangs facilitates involvement in serious and violent delinquent behavior. That is, delinquent behavior is highest during periods of active gang membership compared with either before or after such periods.
- While relatively few in number, chronic violent delinquents self-report committing the majority of violent offenses.
- Any successful effort to reduce youth violence and juvenile delinquency must deal with chronic offenders.
- No current ability enables accurate prediction of who will be chronic offenders.
- Chronic violent offenders tend to be less attached to and less monitored by their parents; have less commitment to school and attachment to teachers; have more delinquent peers and are more apt to be gang members; and are more likely to reside in poor, high-crime areas.
- Coordination is often lacking among different agencies in their efforts to curtail the emerging delinquent career of early-onset offenders.
*Other sources of funding include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Science Foundation.
SOURCE: Wilson and Howell (1993), with findings from Huizinga, Loeber, and Thornberry (1992).
Throughout the years, OJJDP has supported the transfer of knowledge gained from research to practice through its many program demonstrations, evaluations, and technical assistance efforts. For example, early research examined strategies to remove status offenders from secure confinement and to prevent their entry. Based on the evaluation findings, TTA were formulated and provided to help states meet the DSO requirement. Similar efforts were made to link research on serious violent offenders to program development efforts.23 In recent years, OJJDP has focused on developing online tools to assist practitioners with identifying relevant research as well as promising strategies and programs: the model programs guide and database; the national DMC databook; the strategic planning tool for youth gang programming; and the DSO Best Practices Database.
OJJDP funds an array of services to assist practitioners and to provide training to them, including a number of TTA centers. The National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC)24 was established in 1995 to coordinate requests for assistance and to direct practitioners to appropriate resources and/or deliver customized assistance as applicable. It provides assistance relating to five of OJJDP’s initiatives: the Title II formula grants program, the Title V community prevention grants program, the JABG program, the girls’ delinquency and crime initiative, and the DMC initiative. Training has also been expanded to a wider juvenile justice audience. Other centers supported by OJJDP include the Center for Advancement of Mentoring, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Center for Youth in Custody, the National Gang Center in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Tribal Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, and the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center.
A signature program of OJJDP that evolved more than a decade ago, the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Offenders, illustrates OJJDP’s research-to-practice continuum. The comprehensive strategy started as a theory of reform (Wilson and Howell, 1993)
23 These demonstration programs included the Violent Juvenile Offender R&D Program, with its focus on dispositional options for the treatment and reintegration of violent juvenile offenders; the Serious Habitual Juvenile Offender/Drug Involved Program, which examined justice system resources on serious crime by juvenile drug users; the Habitual, Serious, and Violent Juvenile Offender Program, which focused on swift, intensive prosecution and improved correctional programs; and the Intensive Aftercare Program for Serious, Violent Juvenile Offenders, which identified and tested a model for providing effective aftercare services for juvenilesz
based on available research and evaluation. Findings from various lines of research, including OJJDP’s Causes and Correlates research program (see Box 10-3), served as a basis for the strategy. The strategy framed a proactive response to juvenile delinquency as a continuum of programs aimed at both prevention and graduated sanctions (see Figure 10-5 and Box 10-4).
The development of the comprehensive strategy identified critical research gaps and served as a guide to three subsequent national research reviews supported by OJJDP and designed to fill these gaps (Howell, 2003c). The first review focused on research findings from prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders and youth at risk of offending and was incorporated in a guide for the comprehensive strategy (Howell, 1995a) and in the sourcebook (Howell et al., 1995). Both documents were intended to provide considerable detail about the strategy, its research underpinnings, and planning activities. The second review, conducted by the Study Group on Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders (Loeber and Farrington, 1998), expanded on the earlier assessment, with particular attention to risk and protective factors for serious and violent juvenile offenders and promising and effective prevention and treatment programs for them. The third review, conducted by the Study Group on Child Delinquents, explored what was known about the causes and treatment of problem behaviors in children ages 12 and younger (Loeber and Farrington, 2000, 2001).
The comprehensive strategy spawned research on program interven-
Program Framework of the Comprehensive Strategy
In the Comprehensive Strategy Framework, program interventions and sanctions move from least to most restrictive.
- Community primary prevention programs oriented toward reducing risk and enhancing strengths for all youth.
- Focused secondary prevention programs for youth in the community at greatest risk but not involved with the juvenile justice system or perhaps diverted from the juvenile justice system.
- Intervention programs tailored to identified risk and need factors, if appropriate, for first-time minor delinquent offenders provided under minimal sanctions, such as diversion or administrative probation.
- Intervention programs tailored to identified risk and need factors for nonserious repeat offenders and moderately serious first-time offenders provided under intermediate sanctions, such as regular probation.
- Intensive intervention programs tailored to identified risk and need factors for first-time serious or violent offenders provided under stringent sanctions, such as intensive probation supervision or residential facilities.
- Multicomponent intensive intervention programs in secure correctional facilities for the most serious, violent, and chronic offenders.
- Postrelease supervision and transitional aftercare programs for offenders released from residential and correctional facilities.
SOURCE: Lipsey et al. (2010, p. 38).
tions supported by OJJDP. Meta-analyses of juvenile delinquency research were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment programs (Lipsey, 1995); they also showed that there was a relatively small amount of variability by gender,25 age, race, or ethnicity (Lipsey, 1992, 1995; Lipsey and Wilson, 1998). For a discussion of the findings from meta-analyses, see Chapter 6.
The comprehensive strategy was well received at both the national
25 Note that intervention research has been heavily dominated by studies of male samples. Although the few studies with girls show similar variability as that among boys, there is not yet sufficient evidence to draw confident conclusions.
and the state levels by juvenile justice practitioners and researchers. OJJDP released the guide (Howell, 1995a) through a national summit and a series of workshops at annual association meetings. More than 70,000 copies of the guide were distributed (Krisberg, Barry, and Sharrock, 2004), and OJJDP undertook extensive TTA initiatives to help jurisdictions and communities engage stakeholders and develop plans that would lead to jurisdictions adopting a continuum of prevention and juvenile justice system programs and identifying additional funding sources for new programs. A critical role for technical assistance was to sustain enthusiasm for the difficult and time-consuming planning process (Krisberg et al., 2004). By 2001, 42 local comprehensive plans had been completed since the TTA initiatives began (Mondoro, Wight, and Thell, 2001).
Comprehensive Strategy as a Model for Reform
The comprehensive strategy demonstrates the importance of the planning model and the role that OJJDP plays in influencing the field. OJJDP’s assistance to the states and localities focused on a four-phase planning process that included (1) mobilization of community groups (justice components as well as schools, social services, businesses, and parents); (2) inventory and assessment of risk factors and systematic responses to those factors; (3) development of a plan for creating new programs and enhancing existing services; and (4) implementation of the plan. It encouraged people to think about risk and protective factors and to tailor programs to specific youth. Participants in the comprehensive strategy planning reported improved communication and coordination among agencies and increased awareness of the prevention services and sanction options available for juveniles (Coolbaugh and Hansel, 2000). Local officials chose to reallocate resources to support effective programs, to avoid duplication of services, and to promote greater accountability (Mondoro et al., 2001). Plans were also used to secure funds from other state and federal sources (Krisberg et al., 2004).
The comprehensive planning strategy demonstrated that many communities had an interest in strengthening their services for youth and their families but often lacked information about delinquency and treatment patterns in their areas and needed the assistance in obtaining and interpreting accurate data (Krisberg et al., 2004). Data collection efforts proved to be challenging. Difficulties in identifying appropriate data and data sources as well as accessing these data were commonplace. Even when available, data were difficult to analyze because of the inconsistencies in definitions and recording mechanisms across agencies (Coolbaugh and Hansel, 2000). Communities expressed a need for continuing technical assistance to update
their planning data, establish management information systems to track their progress, and to identify promising programs (Krisberg et al., 2004). OJJDP supported the development of guides for TTA to communities in the comprehensive strategy process (Howell, 1995a; Crowe, 2000). For the comprehensive strategy initiatives, pilot sites received extensive multiday training to orient key leaders to the strategy, to provide the information and tools necessary to create a data-based profile of community strengths and needs, and to assist communities in developing an outcome-focused, data-driven five-year plan (Coolbaugh and Hansel, 2000). This model of extensive TTA was repeated in several OJJDP’s initiatives, such as the Safe Futures, Safe Schools/Healthy Students, and Safe Start initiatives. For all these initiatives, OJJDP’s support focused on a few pilot sites. Other states and jurisdictions took on the implementation of the comprehensive strategy on their own through efforts of state juvenile justice specialists and advisory groups, guided by OJJDP publications (Howell, 2003c). At this writing, the comprehensive strategy serves as a platform to help states translate research knowledge into policies and practices in the juvenile justice system improvement project conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (Lipsey et al., 2010).26
OJJDP’S CURRENT STATUS
Over nearly four decades, OJJDP has compiled an impressive record of leadership and achievement. We now turn to OJJDP’s current budget and political status.
The following sections examine how recent appropriations, which have included numerous carve-outs and earmarks, have diminished the capacity of OJJDP’s authorized programs—particularly its state formula/block grant programs, mandate to coordinate federal efforts, nonearmarked research and data collection, and technical assistance—to carry out the core requirements of the JJDPA.
Funds for State Grant Programs
Earlier Figures 10-1 and 10-2 indicated that OJJDP funding authorized through JJDPA has been relatively stable over the last decade but that funding available to support juvenile justice improvements by state and local
governments has steadily declined by 83 percent from 1999 to 2010 in constant 2010 dollars. The reason for this decline is the dramatic decline in funding available through JABG since 2003 as well as the increase in appropriated carve-outs under Title II and Title V (e.g., Enforcing Underage Drinking, Tribal Youth Program, mentoring) and earmarked programs (see
Figure 10-6). Note that recent restrictions on earmarks have not restored OJJDP’s base funding, as monies continue to be appropriated through carve-outs to special programs.
The 2002 reauthorization of JJDPA replaced the challenge grants program with the demonstration projects program under Part E, Title II.27 Both programs authorized OJJDP to make grants to state, local, and tribal governments and private entities to carry out programs to develop, test, or demonstrate promising new initiatives that may prevent, control, or reduce juvenile delinquency. For FY2004 to FY2010, monies allocated under Part E went to awards directed by statutory earmarks. As such, funding was dedicated to specific programs in specific states and could not be directed otherwise by either OJJDP or the states. Significant portions of earmarked funds, particularly in the last two or three years, were directed toward mentoring programs for youth (Fitzpatrick, 2010). (The increase in appropriated funding specifically directed for mentoring programs is discussed later in the chapter.)
Funds for Federal Coordination
The original JJDPA established an independent organization in the executive branch known as the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as a vehicle through which OJJDP was intended to exert its leadership to coordinate the federal government’s juvenile delinquency programs. JJDPA, as amended, has changed the composition of the coordinating council28 over the years but continues to address the need for coordination at the federal level.
The coordinating council holds quarterly meetings that are open to the public and serve as forums for member agencies to share information on their initiatives and to hear about relevant research efforts from guest presenters. These meetings serve to engage agencies and organizations that might not normally interact (Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2008).
Funding for federal coordination is appropriated under the JJDPA Part A. In the past, there was a cap of $200,000 to support coordinating council meetings, with additional funding to support other agency activities, usually at OJJDP’s discretion, including some interagency projects. Appropriated funding for federal coordination under Part A dropped from $6.8 million in FY2002 to zero in FY2010. In 2005-2006, when OJJDP had
more than $1 million in Part A funds, the agency was able to convene the 2006 coordinating council conference and to support various partnerships with coordinating council member agencies. As Part A funding decreased significantly between 2006 and 2008, it was used solely to support the coordinating council meetings and a few other specific interagency projects. With partial support from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, OJJDP was able to develop the resource portal http://www.cciToolforFeds.org. In recent years, there has been no appropriation for the coordinating council, whose meetings have been funded by carryover, set-aside, and other discretionary funds to support continuation of meetings and basic cross-agency work. OJJDP doesn’t have the resources to fund the necessary research, evaluation, and data collection on its own. It needs a strong mechanism to coordinate funding and activities among other federal agencies in pursuit of improving prospects for all youth.
Funds for Research, Evaluation, and Data Collection
The original JJDPA of 1974 established the National Institute for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (NIJJDP) within OJJDP to conduct research and evaluation, development and review of standards, training, and collection and dissemination of information. A research institute of significant size and stature never materialized. Instead, from FY1975 to FY2003, OJJDP maintained a research and program development division to direct its research program, which was supported by appropriated funds to the NIJJDP, as well as set-aside funding (up to 10 percent) from its other programs.
The 2002 reauthorization of JJDPA amended Title II to eliminate NIJJDP and provide authority directly to the OJJDP administrator to oversee research, training, technical assistance, and information dissemination. Funding for this “new” research program (known as Title II, Part D) was appropriated in FY2004 and FY2005 but discontinued thereafter. Currently, OJJDP has to piece together funding from the set-asides across its programs and collaborations with other agencies in order to continue its mandated research program. As a result, research funding has been cut in half from $40 million in FY2002 to $23 million in FY2010 (in constant 2010 dollars).
OJJDP has been directed by Congress to use set-aside monies for research, evaluation, and statistics activities that benefit the authorized programs. Given the increasing carve-outs by Congress, OJJDP’s research portfolio in the areas of youth mentoring and tribal youth have experienced a significant boost in the last three years. The set-aside money under the state formula program is primarily being used to support continuing efforts, like the statistics program discussed earlier, a research data archive, the
model programs guide, and longitudinal studies begun in the 1980s. Very little funding is available to support new research that can inform states’ efforts to improve their juvenile justice systems.
Funds for Training and Technical Assistance
Funding to support TTA is also drawn from appropriations to OJJDP’s individual programs. Some set-asides for TTA are legislatively limited; others are not. For example, TTA programs under MCAA, VOCA, and Title V of JJDPA do not have a limit. The programs under Title II of JJDPA29 and JABG had a 2 percent set-aside limit for TTA until FY2011, when that limit was increased to 5 percent. There is also an additional appropriation specifically for TTA directly to the states under the Title II Part B Formula Grant program, so that the TTA funds represent 4 percent (now 7 percent) of the total appropriation to the formula grant program.
Overall, OJJDP’s funds for TTA have fluctuated modestly between $40 and $60 million annually in the past decade. However, because of the legislative restrictions and declining funds to the state grant programs, 75-80 percent of OJJDP’s TTA dollars have supported training and technical assistance outside the scope of JJDPA since FY2004. Specifically, these funds support programs under MCAA and VOCA. Remaining funds support TTA to states related to the formula grants program (8 percent) and special initiatives under Title V (the carve-outs), such as EUDL and TYP (12 percent). Note, however, that from FY2008 to FY2010 there has been insufficient TTA funding available under the Title V community prevention grants program to support local assessment of prevention needs and development of appropriate programs. As funding for the state grant programs continues to decline, the set-aside limit for TTA is increasingly inadequate to support the needs of the field.
Juvenile justice practitioners have identified the need for more thorough guidance on complying with the core requirements, particularly the DMC requirement, citing the inadequacy of the guidance currently provided under the JJDPA and by OJJDP (Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2009). Many states have turned to establishing partnerships with private foundations and organizations, such as the W. Haywood Burns Institute, that are engaged in DMC reduction efforts and can provide assistance. Given OJJDP’s limited resources, it should continue efforts to partner with other organizations to provide TTA, such as its recent partnership with the MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Foundation is providing $1 million per initiative
29 This would include the Part B State Formula Grant Program, the Part E Demonstration Projects Program (which generally does not use its TTA set-aside), and the Part G Mentoring Program.
in matching funds to OJJDP to support mental health screening and risk assessment, the integration of juvenile justice and child welfare services, mental health training in juvenile justice, and DMC. Among the activities the DMC initiative will support is intensive technical support and funding to two communities willing to engage in a “strategic, data-driven effort” to reduce DMC.30
OJJDP’s Mentoring Portfolio
One can see how a weakened budget and lack of programmatic discretion might play itself out when one examines OJJDP’s mentoring portfolio. Mentoring is an example of a program for which an extensive privately and publicly funded network has grown up to provide prosocial experiences to at-risk youth. OJJDP has supported this network through its grant programs for almost two decades. Mentoring has great congressional support and, in the last few years, OJJDP has been directed to increase its support of mentoring programs. At this writing, mentoring programs consume approximately 50 percent of funds appropriated to OJJDP under the JJDPA.
As discussed in Chapter 4, the committee recognizes that an authoritative, supportive adult plays a significant role in the healthy development of an adolescent. For many adolescents, this critical relationship happens naturally through engaged parents, relatives, teachers, and/or coaches. But for many at-risk youth, there is no one who fulfills this important role. Despite its recognition of the important role mentoring can play, the committee has serious reservations about the recent surge in funding for mentoring programs in OJJDP’s portfolio. First, federal support for mentoring appears to have outpaced what is known about its effectiveness and second, OJJDP’s core budget and portfolio are increasingly consumed by mentoring programs. The state of the research on mentoring as well as OJJDP’s support for mentoring programs over the past two decades are discussed further in Appendix C.
The increase in funds directed at mentoring programs comes at a price (see Figure 10-6). Because funds to support OJJDP’s hallmark state formula and block grants are declining, OJJDP is constrained from helping states and localities with other interventions that may better fit their local needs for preventing delinquency. Mentoring is but one intervention. Research has shown that it takes a succession of effective experiences (or interventions) for adolescents to develop into prosocial adults. No single program can serve all youth or incorporate every feature of positive developmental environments (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2002).
Therefore, excessive resources in one program, like mentoring, do a disservice to the juvenile justice field more generally and to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions more specifically by overriding or ignoring their efforts to assess their own identified needs and efforts.
Foundation executives, youth advocates, and juvenile justice practitioners, including a former OJJDP administrator, describe OJJDP as being in a state of decline in both capacity and stature (Bilchik, 2008, 2010).31 A Washington Post editorial described OJJDP as being “hampered, to the point of being ineffectual, as a result of serial budget cuts; the absence of an administrator at the helm has only exacerbated its woes” (The Washington Post, 2011).
OJJDP’s authorizing legislation (P.L. 107-273) expired in 2007 and 2008, although funding support has continued. Numerous efforts to reauthorize the agency have been unsuccessful.32 Since 2009, OJJDP has been without a presidentially appointed administrator—the only OJP bureau that does not have one.33 Both circumstances have contributed to its weakened state. For that reason, the committee was very interested in the context in which reauthorization efforts have occurred, the views of the field regarding the reauthorizing legislation, and the implications for OJJDP’s future.
OJJDP Management and Grant Administration Issues
At the same time that reauthorization of OJJDP has been under consideration, its grant monitoring and grant award processes have come under scrutiny (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2009). OJJDP’s reputation suffered serious damage in spring 2008 when it was discovered that the OJJDP administrator and OJP assistant attorney general
31 Presentations by Laurie Garduque, director, Juvenile Justice Program on Human and Com munity Development, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to the committee, October 11, 2010, and Bart Lubow, director, Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, Annie E. Casey Foundation, to the committee, January 19, 2011. In addition, a written statement to the com mittee, Nancy G. Hornberger, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, provided a field perspective on JJDPA compliance (August 4, 2010).
32 Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sponsored reauthorizing legislation for OJJDP. Known as the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009 (S. 687), it cleared the Senate subcommittee but was never voted on by the full committee. No new bill was introduced during the 113th Congress. Several House bills were also introduced during the same period. H.R. 1873 was closest to the Senate bill but never moved forward.
33 In February 2012, Laurie Robinson, the assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs resigned, and as of December 2012, a permanent appointee has not been nominated.
had overruled the recommendations of peer reviewers and program staff in awarding FY2007 grants. A number of well-publicized congressional hearings were held, and Congress requested a full investigation (June 27, 2008). The resulting report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General strongly criticized OJJDP for its poor review processes and nondocumentation of reasons for selecting grants that had not been highly rated.34 The OJJDP administrator was also criminally investigated for his hiring practices, travel expenses, and personal ties to groups that receive funding from OJJDP (Johnson, 2008).
Relationship with the Office of Justice Programs. OJJDP’s lack of an appointed leader affects its ability to negotiate and argue its position on numerous matters with its oversight agency, the Office of Justice Programs, and the assistant attorney general (AAG) who directs it. As described in the National Research Council report on the National Institute of Justice (National Research Council, 2010), the AAG wields a great deal of authority through oversight of the budget and control of the various offices that support the component agencies of OJP.35 Since 2005, many functions and activities previously undertaken by the individual offices have been centralized. Examples of these functions include peer review and dissemination activities. In addition, numerous budgeting, staffing, and grant awarding documents must go through various OJP offices during review and must receive AAG approval. A strong OJJDP leader is necessary to maintain a balance between the interests and needs of an individual agency and those of its oversight agency.
Failure to Promulgate Regulations. Since the passage of the JJDPA reauthorizing OJJDP in 2002, OJJDP has failed to publish formal federal regulations to implement the law, despite the criticism of the juvenile field for failing to do so (Bilchik, 2008; Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2009). Regulations prepared by OJJDP staff have been submitted several times to the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) but have failed to move forward.36 In the absence of regulations, OJJDP relies on OGC for guidance, and the
34 Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, Audit Report 09-24, “Procedures Used by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to Award Discretionary Grants in FY 2007” (April 2009).
35 These include the Office for Administration, the Office for Audit, Assessment and Management, the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Communications, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the Office of the General Counsel.
36 In 2003, regulations were prepared by Roberta Dorn, former director of the state relations and assistance division, OJJDP and recently by OJJDP’s Kathi Grasso, attorney advisor. There may have been other versions of regulations that were submitted to OGC of which the committee’s staff is unaware.
result has been described as “federal policy by executive memo” (Bilchik, 2008). This kind of policy making does not adhere to federal rule-making standards or to the JJDPA, which stipulates that the OJJDP administrator is required to consult with states when establishing rules, regulations, and procedures that affect the federal/state partnership and compliance with JJDPA requirements (JJDPA Sec. 299A).
In 2003, the juvenile justice field became particularly alarmed by an OGC ruling that youth convicted as adults in criminal court, including youth under the age of majority at the time of the offense, were classified as “adult inmates” under the JJDPA. This interpretation had perverse effects as applied to youth in states with so-called blended jurisdiction because youth under the age of majority who are tried in criminal court can be sent to a juvenile facility until they reach the maximum age of a state’s juvenile court jurisdiction; the youth then finishes the sentence in an adult correctional facility. However, because the juveniles were adult inmates under the DOJ interpretation, states found themselves facing sanctions if they failed to remove these youth from juvenile facilities. This policy was reversed in 2008 after what has been described as “unrelenting education and advocacy efforts” by those who understood the devastating effect this “rule” would have on youthful offenders (Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2009). States were particularly concerned that such a policy could be developed without seeking public comment or consultation from those in the juvenile justice field. Subsequently, the states have urged that JJDPA be amended to affirm that rule-making functions of the OJJDP administrator are subject to the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946 (Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2008).
Challenges to OJJDP’s Research and Statistics Functions. Even though OJJDP is mandated to undertake juvenile justice research and had a robust research program until 2002, questions have arisen as to whether it should retain its research function. In 1999, the assistant attorney general proposed a reorganization plan for OJJDP that placed responsibility for all criminal and juvenile justice research with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). OJJDP successfully argued the case for retaining the research and the statistics function within OJJDP,37 and although steps were taken to reorganize OJP, the proposed transfer of research to NIJ did not occur. Since 1999, there have been other challenges to OJJDP’s research function. In 2002, NIJ staff was asked to develop a plan for phasing in OJJDP research to NIJ,38 and in 2003 OJJDP was required to transfer funds to NIJ to conduct
37 Terence Thornberry, recommendations to the Assistant Attorney General regarding Juvenile Justice Research, Statistics and Evaluation (January 14, 1999).
38 Personal communication from Betty M. Chemers, former director of NIJ’s evaluation division.
evaluability assessments and outcome evaluations of OJJDP juvenile justice program earmarks (National Research Council, 2010).
The most recent challenge occurred in FY2011 when the assistant attorney general sought and received approval for a policy requiring OJJDP, along with the Office for Victims of Crime and the Bureau of Justice Assistance—offices that do not have a legislatively authorized research and statistics function similar to OJJDP—to transfer 2 percent of their total program funds to the NIJ and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to support their research and statistics activities.39 An internal working group among the sister agencies is providing some input into the planning process for these dollars, but there is no requirement that their concerns or recommendations must be addressed by the directors of NIJ or BJS.
Support from the Field
The simplest explanation for why OJJDP has not been reauthorized is its lack of champions from the current administration or the Congress. In contrast, the juvenile justice field overwhelmingly supports OJJDP’s reauthorization and its leadership role. More than 360 organizations support the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign (Act4JJ), which has been leading the reauthorization effort for the past three years.40 The Federal Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and the National Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Coalition have issued statements urging Congress to reauthorize OJJDP and the president to appoint the OJJDP administrator (Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2008; Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, 2010; National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, 2011a, 2011b).41 In addi-
39 Similarly to OJJDP, NIJ and BJS have also experienced budget reductions and increasingly less funding discretion. It is worth noting that OJP’s Office for Victims of Crime, the Bureau of Justice Assistance and occasionally, OJJDP had transferred funds to NIJ and BJS for designated research activities. In an effort to provide more funding to them, the AAG determined that it was logical that states and local jurisdictions that benefit from the fruits of criminal justice research should support them. The congressional appropriators agreed.
41 The Coalition for Juvenile Justice was established by JJDPA, Sec. 223(f)(2)(A)-(E), and is a national organization of 1,500 members representing state advisory group members and juvenile justice practitioners. Its council is composed of 48 state advisory group chairs/chair-designees from states, territories, and the District of Columbia; the Federal Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) is a consultative body established by the JJDPA (Section 223—check for full citation) of appointed representatives of the state advisory groups that advise the president and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice and the progress and accomplishments of OJJDP. The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition is a broad-based collaboration of youth- and family-serving, social justice, law enforcement, corrections, and faith-based organizations working to improve public safety by
tion, the committee heard from leaders in juvenile justice who voiced a strong commitment to the JJDPA and to the leadership role that OJJDP should play (Bilchik, 2010).
Although there are some variations in the specific recommendations of various youth advocacy groups supporting JJDPA, there is consensus that the reauthorizing legislation should substantially strengthen the core requirements; enhance OJJDP’s capacity to advance best practices, promote prevention, and achieve and maintain compliance with the core protections; expand OJJDP’s training, technical assistance, research and evaluation efforts; and enhance transparency and communication among OJJDP, the states, and Congress (see Box 10-5 for a list of specific recommendations by Act4JJ).
OJJDP’s authorizing legislation clearly envisions a strong partnership between the federal government and state juvenile justice agencies, as well as a strong leadership role for OJJDP. The Congress anticipated that OJJDP would “help states and communities prevent and control delinquency and strengthen their juvenile justice systems and coordinate and administer national policy in this area” (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2011a, p. 40394).
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 reflects several basic understandings that have set the nation on the path toward developmentally appropriate juvenile justice policies and practices. The guiding premises are that youth who offend should be treated differently and separately from adults who offend, that juvenile offending is preventable, and that youthful offenders should receive individualized treatment and services (P.L. 93-415, Sec. 102). The legislation’s four core requirements reflect several normative principles that underlie developmentally appropriate policies and practices: youth who are not a risk to society or themselves should not be detained or removed from their existing support systems; youth are vulnerable and should not be in contact with adult criminals; and youth need to be treated fairly and equitably as a matter of justice.
The policies and principles reflected in JJDPA remain as valid today as they were almost 40 years ago. The core requirements of the JJDPA and OJJDP’s efforts to ensure compliance have helped young people avoid detention when not warranted and unsafe conditions when detained. But progress has been impeded by new laws and policy interpretations that did not exist at the time JJDPA became law. In the case of the DMC require-
promoting fair and effective policies, practices, and programs for youth involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Act 4 Justice Recommendations for Reauthorization Legislation
- Extend the jail removal and sight and sound separation core protections to all youth under age 18 held pretrial, whether charged in juvenile or adult court.
- Change the definition of “adult inmate” to allow certain states to continue to place youth convicted in adult court into juvenile facilities rather than adult prisons without jeopardizing federal funding.
- Strengthen the disproportionate minority contact (DMC) core protection by requiring states to take concrete steps to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
- Strengthen the deinstitutionalization of status offenders (DSO) core protection, which prohibits the locked detention of status offenders, by removing the valid court order and interstate compact exceptions.
- Provide safe and humane conditions of confinement for youth in state and/or local custody by restricting the use of JJDPA funds for dangerous practices and encouraging states to promote adoption of best practices and standards.
- Assist states in coming into compliance with the JJDPA and establish incentive grants to encourage states to adopt evidence-based or promising best practices that improve outcomes for youth and their communities.
- Enhance the partnership between states and the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) by expanding training, technical assistance, research and evaluation, and the partnership between OJJDP and Congress by encouraging transparency, timeliness, public notice, and communication.
- Expand juvenile crime prevention efforts by reauthorizing and increasing funding for JJDPA Title V and Mentoring.
SOURCE: National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (n.d., p. 1).
ment, failure to set clearer expectations as to what is required and to monitor jurisdictions’ progress in an objective and transparent way has limited its impact. The committee has noted the lack of publicly available reports on state plans, compliance status, and compliance determinations. It has also noted the desire on the part of juvenile justice policy makers for clear guidance on how to reduce racial/ethnic disparities. The committee con-
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.