November | December 2013

News in Brief

U.S. Department of Justice Awards More Than $62 Million in Grants To Strengthen Reentry Programs

On November 14, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced more than $62 million in competitive and supplemental Second Chance Act (SCA) awards to reduce recidivism, provide reentry services, conduct research, and evaluate the impact of reentry programs. The SCA programs are administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and OJJDP.

Of the funding provided, more than $57 million (91 BJA awards and 19 OJJDP awards) supports smart probation projects, treatment of returning adults and juveniles with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, adult and juvenile reentry demonstration projects, adult mentoring programs, technology career training projects for incarcerated adults and juveniles, and demonstration field experiments to test a parole reentry model. The remaining $5.4 million supports two awards for evaluation activities and training and technical assistance for SCA grantees and the reentry field in general.

DOJ Announces Investigation of the St. Louis County Family Court

On November 13, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has opened a pattern or practice investigation of the Family Court of St. Louis. The investigation will focus on whether the court provides constitutionally required due process to all children appearing for delinquency proceedings and whether the court’s administration of juvenile justice provides equal protection to all children regardless of race. For more information, visit the DOJ Web site.

Office of Justice Programs Awards $6.7 Million To Improve Indigent Defense Services

On October 30, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced $6.7 million in grants to improve criminal and civil legal defense services for the poor at the state and local levels. The grants—which OJJDP, the National Institute of Justice, and Bureau of Justice Assistance will administer—will support training, mentoring, technical assistance, leadership development, and research to improve indigent defense practices for adult, juvenile, and tribal populations nationwide. Announcing the grant awards, the Attorney General said, "The Department of Justice has made a commitment to improving the delivery, quality, and availability of legal services for everyone in our country, including the very poor. Today's significant grant awards will help ensure America’s criminal justice system is fair for every defendant, regardless of wealth." Learn more about the Justice Department’s Access to Justice initiative, which works to strengthen and improve legal services for disadvantaged groups.

OJJDP Partners With National Tribal Youth Organization To Advance Youth Leadership in Indian Country

UNITY logoOn November 22, 2013, OJJDP announced a new partnership with United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY). UNITY will receive $850,000 from OJJDP to plan and implement the National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative. The initiative will offer training and learning opportunities for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth to increase positive outcomes in their school, community, and family environments.

“The National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative brings needed resources to Indian country to support and enhance tribal efforts to prevent delinquency and improve the juvenile justice system for American Indian and Alaska Native youth,” said OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee. “The initiative will build on the successes of past OJJDP National Intertribal Youth Leadership Summits and further expand the leadership development support that OJJDP offers to tribal youth.”

UNITY is a national organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among AI/AN youth ages 14–24. Its network currently includes 132 affiliated youth councils in 35 states.

OJJDP's Model Programs GuideOJJDP’s Model Programs Guide Aligned With CrimeSolutions.gov

OJJDP has relaunched its Model Programs Guide (MPG), an online resource of more than 180 evidence-based prevention, intervention, and reentry programs for juvenile justice practitioners, policymakers, and communities. MPG now uses the Office of Justice Programs’ CrimeSolutions.gov review process and includes programs addressing a variety of topics, including child victimization, substance abuse, youth violence, mental health and trauma, and gang activity. In addition to providing program profiles, MPG offers information on program implementation, literature reviews, and resource links.

OJJDP Holds Research-to-Practice Meeting To Enhance Juvenile Drug Court Programs

On December 5, 2013, in Washington, DC, OJJDP hosted a meeting with researchers to discuss the current state of juvenile drug court knowledge, what works and what does not, key OJJDP and Office of Justice Programs initiatives to advance evidence-informed juvenile drug court practice (including the 16 Strategies in Practice and the Juvenile Drug Courts/Reclaiming Futures Model and Evaluation), and how to most effectively translate research into practices that improve juvenile drug court services. The meeting will help shape OJJDP’s juvenile drug court strategic framework in the areas of policy, programs, research, and training and technical assistance.

Nominations Being Accepted for National Missing Children’s Day Awards

Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice, through OJJDP, recognizes individuals, organizations, and agencies that have made a difference in recovering abducted children and protecting children from exploitation. The awardees are recognized at the annual National Missing Children's Day ceremony in Washington, DC. Nominations are being accepted for the 2014 Law Enforcement, Citizen, Child Protection, and Attorney General’s Special Commendation awards. Nomination forms are available on each category’s Web page. Nominations must be received by January 17, 2014.

Blog Discusses OJJDP’s Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative

In a blog posted on December 4, 2013, on the Web site of the Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB), Shay Bilchik, Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, and Kristen Kracke, Social Science Specialist at OJJDP, examine the Office’s Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative, launched in fiscal year 2012 with support from the Office of Management and Budget’s Partnership Fund. The initiative, which is currently being piloted in three sites, is a practical and comprehensive approach to reform the juvenile justice system by using a research-based decisionmaking platform to inform system improvements and service delivery. CBKB is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Vera Institute of Justice.

OJJDP-Supported Youth Program Impact Toolkit for Law Enforcement Available

In collaboration with OJJDP, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has developed a Youth Program Impact Toolkit. The toolkit will help law enforcement agencies outline key features of their youth programs, including goals, objectives, activities, and what data they need to show impact. The toolkit includes an overview of the impact evaluation process, an 8-step guide for impact evaluations, sample youth-focused policing program diagrams, and a  customizable evaluation template. The toolkit can be accessed through IACP's Youth Focused Policing Resource Center.

Bureau of Prisons Holds First Universal Children’s Day

On the first weekend in December 2013, nearly 8,500 children visited more than 4,000 federal inmates during the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP’s) first-ever Universal Children’s Day. The visiting event offered an opportunity for inmates to deepen bonds with their children through storytelling, face painting, parenting workshops, family worship services, holiday-themed arts and crafts, and other activities. BOP is an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. To read a blog about the event posted courtesy of BOP’s Director Charles E. Samuels, visit the DOJ Web site. For more information and additional resources and supports for children of incarcerated parents, visit FindYouthInfo.gov.

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Releases National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged With Status Offenses

On December 6, 2013, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice released National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged With Status Offenses, concrete policy and practice recommendations for avoiding or limiting court involvement for youth charged with nondelinquent offenses. A status offense is conduct that would not be a crime if committed by an adult (e.g., truancy, running away, violating curfew laws, or possessing alcohol or tobacco).

The National Standards call for an end to all secure detention for these young people. Research shows that status offense behaviors are often the result of unmet child and family needs, and that pushing these youth into the juvenile justice system worsens individual and community outcomes. The National Standards promote system reform and changes in system culture, and the adoption and implementation of research-supported policies, programs, and practices that effectively meet the needs of youth, their families, and the community without unwarranted justice system involvement.

Online Resources for Status Offense Reform Now Available

On December 13, 2013, the Vera Institute of Justice launched the online Status Offense Reform Center. Supported by funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, the site features a toolkit and other resources designed for developing community-based alternatives to the courtroom that connect young people and their families to the services and support they need while reducing family court caseloads, lowering government costs, and providing meaningful and lasting support to children and families. On December 9, the Vera Institute of Justice and the Models for Change Resource Partnership released From Courts to Communities: The Right Response to Truancy, Running Away, and Other Status Offenses. This publication is also available online.

Indian Law and Order Commission Releases Final Report and Recommendations cover pageIndian Law and Order Commission Releases Final Report and Recommendations

On November 12, 2013, the Indian Law & Order Commission (ILOC) released A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer, one of the most comprehensive assessments of public safety and the criminal and juvenile justice systems in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Among other reform activities, the report recommends that tribal consent be required for federal prosecutions of juveniles, including whether to charge younger AI/AN offenders as adults; that the federal government and states should notify tribes at all key stages of juvenile justice proceedings involving tribal citizens; and that federal courts hearing Indian country juvenile matters should be required to establish pretrial diversion programs for cases that allow sentencing in tribal courts. To read the full report, visit ILOC's Web site.

Federal Interagency Report Documents Gender-Responsive and Trauma-Informed Approaches

The Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma has released Trauma-Informed Approaches: Federal Activities and Initiatives. Developed with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, the report demonstrates the application of trauma-informed approaches across a wide range of settings and systems and encourages other governmental and nongovernmental agencies to implement a cross-sector response to trauma. The report documents the projects, programs, and initiatives of more than three dozen federal agencies, departments, and offices—one of the largest interagency collaborations in federal government history. The report addresses the growing national interest in implementing gender-responsive and trauma-informed approaches, the work of the Federal Partners Committee, and the specific progress that participating agencies have made during the past 3 years (2010–2013), since the Committee published its first report in 2011.

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Holds Webinar on Incorporating Youth Voices Into Juvenile Justice Reform

On November 21, 2013, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice held the Webinar "Recruitment, Re-engagement, & Re-entry: Incorporating the Youth Voice into Juvenile Justice Reform." The Webinar highlighted two system reform efforts in the state of Washington that illustrate how youth voices serve as an effective advocacy tool and often provide a perspective that moves leaders to implement change. It also emphasized that including young people in reform efforts empowers them to become the next generation of advocates and at the same time develops their leadership and life skills. To access a recording of the Webinar, visit the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Web site.

New Suicide Prevention Publications Available for Juvenile Justice Professionals

Action Alliance logoThe National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has released nine suicide prevention publications to support the work of juvenile justice professionals. These online publications address critical program areas and promote life-saving practices, including effective screening, risk assessment, and the drafting of model policies in collaboration with other child-serving agencies, particularly those that address mental health issues. The resources were developed by the alliance's Suicide Prevention for Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force, co-led by OJJDP and the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. In the upcoming months, OJJDP and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will host several Webinars on the contributions of these resources.

Juvenile Justice Resource Hub Adds Indigent Defense Section

Developed by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and the National Juvenile Justice Network with support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Resource Hub provides timely, indepth information on juvenile justice issues and trends. In addition to sections on mental health and substance use and community-based alternatives, the Hub recently added a section on juvenile indigent defense. The new section offers comprehensive information about key issues, reform trends, and resources related to this topic.

Download Changing CoursePreventing Gang Membership Report Available Online

The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership. Written by leading public health and criminal justice researchers, Changing Course offers principles to help practitioners and policymakers make decisions based on the best available evidence to prevent youth from joining gangs. The report examines why youth are attracted to gangs, explores key child development issues and risks for joining a gang, and offers prevention strategies that a variety of stakeholders—such as schools, law enforcement, public health, and communities—can use to address their specific needs. Watch an interview with Tom Simon, Deputy Associate Director for Science at CDC, on preventing youth from joining gangs. Access related resources from the National Gang Center.

Technology and School Safety Report Examines Resources To Address School Crises

The National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, a program of the National Institute of Justice, has published Sharing Ideas & Resources to Keep Our Nation's Schools Safe! This report examines new products and apps to assess and prevent potential school crises. The report also identifies new uses for familiar, standard-bearing technologies in school settings and highlights successful safety programs in urban and rural schools nationwide.