Chapter 3: 1996 and 1997 Program Plans

The positive news about the drop in juvenile violent crime should not lead to a relaxation of efforts to lower still unacceptably high rates of juvenile violence and delinquency. As the accomplishments highlighted in the previous two chapters illustrate, OJJDP built on the positive momentum of the recent decrease in juvenile crime by continuing to focus on programs and strategies that work.

The Comprehensive Strategy remained at the heart of OJJDP's program plans and guided its efforts during the past 2 years. In addition to the activities already highlighted, OJJDP developed and funded a number of other programs promoting effective juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. In determining which programs to fund, the Office designed its 1996 and 1997 program plans around three goals.

The primary goal was to identify and promote programs that prevent or reduce the occurrence of juvenile offenses, both criminal and noncriminal, and that intervene immediately and effectively when delinquent or status offense conduct first occurs. Such programs operate on a broad scale, providing positive youth development or targeting juveniles at high risk of delinquency with activities designed to reduce future juvenile offending. During 1996 and 1997, OJJDP developed prevention programs that draw on the basic principles of the public health model, which encourage people to avoid or change behaviors that put them at risk of health problems and introduce behaviors that can help them lead healthy lives. OJJDP's prevention programs identify the root causes of juvenile crime by examining the factors that put children at risk, then implement a range of programs and services to prevent delinquency from occurring in the first place. They provide services to juveniles whose noncriminal misbehavior indicates that they are on a pathway to delinquency, or to first-time nonviolent delinquent offenders or nonserious repeat offenders who do not respond to initial system interventions. They are designed to deter future misconduct and to reduce the negative or enhance the positive factors in a child's life.

OJJDP's second goal was to support programs that improve the juvenile justice system and facilitate the most effective allocation of system resources. Such programs hold delinquent juveniles accountable for their conduct, especially serious and violent offenders, and improve the way the system deals with dependent, neglected, and abused children. To meet this goal, OJJDP funded programs that assist law enforcement, courts, and the corrections system. A community-policing program, for example, is helping law enforcement prevent and control delinquency and child victimization. OJJDP also developed programs to help family courts, and the prosecutors and public defenders who practice in those courts, provide a system of justice that maintains due process protections. The Office also funded programs that use juvenile detention and correctional facilities in appropriate circumstances and under conditions that maximize public safety while at the same time providing effective rehabilitation services to juveniles. Finally, the Office funded programs that provide the research and statistics necessary to understand how the juvenile justice system works in serving children and families.

OJJDP's third program goal was to support programs that keep the public safe from juvenile delinquency and crime by using a balance of secure detention and corrections along with community-based alternatives. These include community-based programs and services for juveniles who have formal contact with the juvenile justice system and programs that maintain the safety of the public, are appropriately restrictive, and promote and preserve positive ties with the youth's family, school, and community.

Underlying each of these goals was the premise that their achievement is vital to ensure public safety from increased juvenile delinquency and violence.

Before deciding which programs to fund in 1996 and 1997, the Administrator of OJJDP sought input from OJJDP staff, other Federal agencies, and juvenile justice practitioners. Feedback from the 1996 national conference was particularly helpful for developing program priorities for 1997. This combined input led OJJDP to identify a range of research and evaluation projects needed to expand knowledge about juvenile offenders; the effectiveness of prevention, intervention, and treatment programs; and the operation of the juvenile justice system.

Combined with continuation programs, the new programs OJJDP funded in 1996 and 1997 form a continuum that supports the eight objectives outlined in the Coordinating Council's Action Plan (see page 4). The Office also continued to support a number of programs identified by Congress for funding. This chapter provides brief summaries of the new programs OJJDP funded during the past 2 years and examples of some of the Office's continuation programs.

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998