Plenary Sessions -- Overview

State of the Nation and Juvenile Crime

Crime has been one of the main issues on the public agenda for a quarter of a century. Today, the public has ample reason to be concerned about crime in general and juvenile crime in particular. This session will examine the extent and nature of juvenile crime from a national perspective, highlighting current thinking about the causes and the key problem areas on which we should focus our efforts. In addition, the session will examine the Nation's response to juvenile crime, providing perspective on programs and activities that address the problem and on related issues and policies being debated about potential solutions.

Critical Juvenile Justice Issues at the Federal, State, and Local Levels: Policymakers Respond

Given the scope of juvenile crime and challenges facing policymakers to develop appropriate policy responses, this session will highlight critical juvenile justice policy issues. The OJJDP Administrator will discuss the role of the Federal Government. In addition, the role, responsibilities, and citizen expectations of State legislatures across the country will be discussed along with the impact of juvenile crime on counties and the response of local elected officials. Also included in the discussion will be the media's perspective on what makes news.

The Role of Community in Responding to Juvenile Delinquency

The key role communities play in solving many problems has become increasingly apparent in recent years. Several Federal agencies, State and local governments, and national organizations have launched community-based initiatives in response to the juvenile crime problem. This session will discuss how communities can come together to create change and highlight promising strategies that offer long-term outcomes toward delinquency prevention. In addition, the session will address why the community's role is important and why all elements of a community (e.g., churches, private sector/businesses, schools, families, social service organizations, practitioners, and local government) must be involved in the solution.

The Question Is . . . Has the Juvenile Court Outlived Its Usefulness?

The nature and pattern of juvenile delinquency are changing, presenting new challenges and complexities for the juvenile justice system and communities throughout the Nation. As the juvenile court approaches its 100th anniversary in 1999, a debate has developed over whether the system remains relevant and if it is a viable option for responding to juvenile crime. A diverse panel of experts will explore this issue during a live satellite teleconference. The viewing audience will have the opportunity to place phone calls to the panelists and interact with the audience of conference participants during the broadcast.

The Drug Challenge: A Reason for Hope

America's problems with drugs affect us all -- whether in our homes, our schools, or our workplaces. Although the challenge is great, many believe there is reason for hope. This session will encourage participants to address the drug challenge and highlight some innovative approaches being used to break the cycle of drug abuse.

Wrap-Up: Implications for the 21st Century

The goal of the conference is to facilitate a dialog concerning the critical juvenile justice issues influencing the formulation of youth policy into the 21st century. The conference will also highlight and promote those strategies and efforts that are making a difference at the State and local levels. This closing session will reflect on the conference dialog, emphasizing key issues and implications for the future. Discussion topics will include the importance of youth involvement in shaping the solutions to juvenile delinquency; the roles of key institutions in the development of youth; and the "balanced approach" that will allow us to meet the needs of children and protect the community from those youth beyond our reach.

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