March | April 2014

News in Brief

"Kids for Cash" Screened at Office of Justice Programs

Kids for CashOn April 9, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs screened “Kids for Cash” at the Office's headquarters in Washington, DC. The documentary chronicles the stories of the children, families, and judges involved in a major corruption scandal in the juvenile courts of Luzerne County, PA. Judge Mark Ciavarella and another judge received approximately $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builder of two for-profit juvenile facilities. According to the Juvenile Law Center, from 2003 to 2008, the judicial corruption scandal involved more than 6,000 juvenile cases. More than 50 percent of the children who appeared before Judge Ciavarella lacked legal representation. Many were sent to the two for-profit juvenile facilities.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion that included two young people who were among the many children sent to juvenile facilities for minor, nonviolent offenses; Robert May, the film's director; and Emily Keller, a staff attorney with the Juvenile Law Center.

OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, who is featured in the documentary, was then the Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Listenbee was selected to be part of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, which was established in response to the scandal. In 2010, the commission issued a report recommending major reforms to the statewide system to ensure that a similar injustice did not occur again.

Girl inc. logoRobert L. Listenbee Highlights Needs of Girls in the Justice System

On April 8, 2014, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee addressed the Girls Inc. National Conference in Washington, DC. Girls Inc. is a national network of nonprofit organizations that deliver education programs to help girls navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Administrator Listenbee reported that girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system. He cited key recommendations in the Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence about the need to provide care and services to address the special circumstances and needs of girls in the juvenile justice system.

For the most part, girls enter the system for nonviolent offenses and do not pose a threat to public safety. “Many girls would be far better served in nonresidential treatment facilities close to their own homes,” Administrator Listenbee said. “For those who do pose a serious risk, our task force recommended the use of small, gender-responsive, culturally competent residential facilities that are staff secure.”

OJJDP Second Chance Act Reentry Program Grantee Honored at FBI Award Ceremony

Big Brothers Big SistersIn a ceremony at FBI headquarters on April 4, 2014, Director James B. Comey recognized the recipients of the 2013 Director’s Community Leadership Award. The award honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to their local communities through service.

Included among the award recipients was the OJJDP-supported Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest Second Chance Act Program, which serves youth in Oregon's Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Launched in 2010, the program offers mentoring to youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who are currently involved in the juvenile justice system. Mentors encourage the development of positive behavior and provide guidance to young people on transitioning back into their communities and completing their education. Accepting the award on behalf of the organization was Tami Wallis, Second Chance Act Program Manager.

Attorney General and Education Secretary Announce Release of Civil Rights Data Collection From Public Schools

On March 21, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released the first comprehensive look at civil rights data from every public school in the country in nearly 15 years.

The Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2011–12 school year was announced by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder at J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington, DC. In 2011, the two departments launched the Supportive School Discipline Initiative to reduce harsh and exclusionary disciplinary practices that send children into the juvenile justice system. OJJDP is coordinating the Justice Department’s work on the initiative.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights recently released “Civil Rights Data Collection: Data Snapshot (School Discipline),” which provides an analysis of information from the Civil Rights Data Collection. The data reveal significant racial and ethnic disparities in school discipline. On average, 5 percent of white students are suspended, as compared with 16 percent of black students. The Civil Rights Data Collection was a focus of discussion at the most recent meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more, read “News From the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.”

OJJDP Offers Training in Implementation Science as a Tool To Assist Violence Prevention Efforts

In collaboration with Development Services Group, Inc., OJJDP hosted a Science of Implementation Training Institute in Washington, DC, on March 3–5, 2014. The training focused on how to ensure systemwide change in efforts to prevent and reduce youth violence and children’s exposure to violence. Allison Metz and Melissa Van Dyke, codirectors of the National Implementation Research Network, led the training.

The institute brought together teams from the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Defending Childhood Initiative, Community-Based Violence Prevention demonstration program, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE). Training topics included building a supportive framework for violence prevention initiatives, creating community connections and identifying systems gaps and barriers, developing a sustainable infrastructure, and using data for continuous improvement. For more information on implementation science, visit the Web site of the National Implementation Research Network.

Tribal Youth Hone Leadership Skills at UNITY's Mid-Year Conference

United  National Indian Tribal Youth'sAs part of OJJDP’s National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative, 200 youth leaders gathered at the United National Indian Tribal Youth’s (UNITY's) 2014 Mid-Year Conference for training designed to increase positive outcomes in their schools, communities, and family environments.

Held in Arlington, VA, on February 26 to March 2, the conference offered workshops and information sessions on public speaking, financial planning, fundraising, career readiness, tips for successful community service projects, bullying prevention, and healthy lifestyles. Youth also helped set priorities and plan the agenda for UNITY’s annual national conference for youth, scheduled for the summer of 2014 in Portland, OR. On February 27, youth leaders visited Capitol Hill to share information and communicate tribal youth priorities to members of Congress and their staff, including the Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

On February 28, 2014, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee presented an overview of OJJDP’s tribal youth initiatives and afterwards opened up the floor for an informal discussion about the importance of mentors, the school-to-prison pipeline, exposure to violence and trauma, and other issues affecting youth.

OJJDP Holds Juvenile Drug Court Research-to-Practice Meeting

On February 26–27, 2014, OJJDP convened a meeting of juvenile drug court researchers and practitioners, technical assistance providers, and youth to review the current state of juvenile drug courts. Juvenile drug courts are a specially designed court calendar or docket within a juvenile court to which youth having problems with alcohol and other drugs are referred. The drug court judge closely oversees each case and both leads and works as a member of a team composed of representatives from treatment, juvenile justice, social services, school and vocational training programs, law enforcement, probation, the prosecution, and the defense. OJJDP supports juvenile drug court programs through financial grants and other assistance, including assessment tool development and state standards guidance.

The meeting focused on what works as well as the gaps in research, knowledge, and practice. The meeting served as a followup to an initial meeting with researchers on December 5. The two meetings are part of a wider OJJDP effort to examine approaches to implementing juvenile drug courts and to ensure that current practice keeps pace with the latest research developments.

“OJJDP is poised to advance the knowledge and effectiveness of juvenile drug courts and has been actively engaged in discussions and planning around national guidelines and better outcomes for youth involved in these specialized courts,” said OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee. “Our goal is to help young people get the treatment they need and back on track to a successful future.”

OJJDP-Supported Report Examines Youth's Unsolicited Online Experiences and Sexting

The Crimes against Children Research Center has released Trends in Unwanted Online Experiences and Sexting: Final Report. The report, supported by funding from OJJDP, summarizes key findings from the Third Youth Internet Survey. Topics include youth reports of unwanted sexual solicitations, online harassment, unwanted exposure to sexual material, and sexting.

Institute of Medicine Releases Infographic on OJJDP-Funded CSEC Report

Confronting  Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United  StatesThe Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council have released an infographic focusing on highlights of their OJJDP-funded report Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States.

The infographic illustrates how schools, police, victim services, businesses, the legal system, and health care providers can collaborate in preventing, identifying, and responding to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Professionals who interact regularly with youth may not recognize those who are at risk or who may be victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. The report offers strategies, legislative approaches, and a research agenda around this victimization.

Juvenile Justice Resource Hub Adds Racial-Ethnic Fairness Section

The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub provides timely research and information on juvenile justice issues and trends. The hub was developed by the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and the National Juvenile Justice Network with support from the MacArthur Foundation. In addition to sections on mental health and substance use disorders, community-based alternatives, and juvenile indigent defense, the hub recently added a section on racial-ethnic fairness. Youth of color are overrepresented at nearly every point of contact with the juvenile justice system. The new section covers the persistent problem of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system (often referred to as disproportionate minority contact) and details some promising reforms aimed at addressing this inequity. Along with the resource hub section, there is also a story series on racial-ethnic fairness in the juvenile justice system and the overrepresentation of youth of color.

RFK Children's Action CorpsRobert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps Launches Juvenile Justice Resource Web Site

The Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps has launched the online Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice. This Web site, funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, serves as a resource hub for state and local jurisdictions nationwide that seek to improve outcomes for youth and families involved in juvenile justice and youth-serving systems and to enhance system performance. This site provides models, tools, research, onsite consultation, technical assistance, and a newsletter.

Cover of A Roadmap for Collaborative and Effective Evaluation in Tribal  CommunitiesChildren's Bureau Releases Resource for Evaluating Tribal Child Welfare Programs

The Children’s Bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released A Roadmap for Collaborative and Effective Evaluation in Tribal Communities. Developed by the Bureau’s Tribal Evaluation Workgroup, this guide outlines methods for conducting culturally and scientifically rigorous evaluations of child welfare programs in tribal communities. Two brief videos, to be released in spring 2014, will introduce concepts described in this publication.