The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice’s (FACJJ’s) Webinar-facilitated meeting on February 7, 2014, included presentations and discussion with FACJJ members on developmental approaches in the juvenile justice system as well as a federal initiative to address the school-to-prison pipeline. OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee offered introductory remarks.
“I am inspired by so many areas we are working on at OJJDP,” said Administrator Listenbee. “We’re incorporating advances in scientific knowledge about adolescent brain development and trauma-informed care into our efforts to improve the juvenile justice system. . . . We’re addressing the harsh and exclusionary disciplinary practices that send so many of our children needlessly out of the classroom and into the courtroom. And we’re working hard to bring that day closer when our justice system is a place where all children are treated fairly.”
Arlene Lee, J.D., director of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Law and Justice, presented the findings of the committee’s OJJDP-commissioned report Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. The report emphasizes that, for the nonviolent offenders who make up the majority of youth in residential placement, a developmental approach that focuses on positive youth development produces better outcomes for youth and for public safety than relying on detention and incarceration and other harsh forms of punishment.
In addition, OJJDP senior fellow Jamie Koppel briefed FACJJ members on the Supportive School Disciple Initiative, launched by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education in 2011 to address harsh and exclusionary school discipline policies and practices that push children out of school and into the justice system. OJJDP is a key member of the initiative.
A study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center found that students who were suspended or expelled were nearly three times as likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year. To learn more about recent activities of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, read the article “Justice and Education Departments Release School Discipline Resource Package” in this issue.
At an in-person meeting on December 9, 2013, FACJJ members approved final recommendations for submission to the President, the Congress, and the OJJDP Administrator in four key areas: evidence-based practices, youth engagement, school discipline, and disproportionate minority contact.
FACJJ meetings are open to the public; anyone may register to attend and observe. Additional information is available on the committee's Web site.