OJJDP's National Conference for Children's Justice and Safety: October 1214, 2011
OJJDP's National Conference for Children's Justice and Safety featured 7 plenaries, 330 speakers, and more than 65 workshops and sessions.
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Youth participation in the conference included two performances by Chicago's South Shore Drill Team. Approximately 85 percent of team members come from inner-city neighborhoods where they are at risk for gang and drug activity. In addition to training in precision drilling, the South Shore Drill Team offers youth educational support and employment training.
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In highlighting a $20 million mentoring partnership between the U.S. Departments of Justice and Defense, Dr. Jill Biden called on all Americans to contribute time and resources to support military families.
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Attorney General Eric Holder underscored the importance of helping children of military service members develop resiliency skills and of promoting the stability of military families. The Attorney General also emphasized a range of other issues on which the Justice Department places a high priority, including ensuring that the education system is a doorway of opportunity and not a point of entry to the criminal justice system; expanding the juvenile justice field's knowledge base and investing in research that can help law enforcement identify crime "hot spots" and target resources more efficiently; and working to reintegrate juvenile offenders more effectively into their communities.
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At OJJDP's National Conference, Deputy Associate Attorney General Karol Mason announced the creation of a new National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, to be co-chaired by Joe Torre (shown above), Major League Baseball's Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations and Chairman of the Board of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, an organization that educates students, parents, and teachers about the effects of domestic violence.
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In remarks offered at a plenary session on October 13, Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries, the nation's largest gang intervention and reentry program, said the goal of the organization is not only to deliver services, but to develop a sense of "kinship" and "mutuality." Former gang rivals work side by side in Homeboy Industries' bakery and other businesses.
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Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 and recovered 9 months later, stressed the importance of empowering children through activity-based programs that offer concrete skills for resisting a would-be abductor and keeping them safe.
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In a workshop on October 12, panelists discussed the impact of the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) on youth in Indian country. President Barack Obama signed TLOA into law in July 2010. Panelists are (from l. to r.) Walter Lamar, Lamar Associates; Chris Chaney, Office of Tribal Justice, Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Brendan Johnson, U.S. Attorney, District of South Dakota. The moderator for the panel discussion (shown speaking at the lectern) was Laura Ansera, OJJDP's Tribal Youth Program Coordinator.
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In a forum entitled "Effective Youth Engagement and Best Practices for Sustaining Youth Leadership," youth leaders with first-hand experience in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems shared their perspectives about ways to foster youth leadership and actively support youth engagement and partnership. Shown above (from l. to r.) are Brandon MacMillian (Washington, DC); Drew Peterman (Boise, ID); and Tawana Burks (Detroit, Michigan).
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Maria Pineda Cruz (l.) and Debbie Aguilar, who attended the conference as part of a group of 30 youth and families sponsored by Casey Family Programs, participated in the "National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention" and workshops related to family and youth engagement. Both women have both lost sons to gun violence in their city (Salinas, CA) and are working with the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention to create safer communities in Salinas and throughout the country.
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