Chapter 3: 1996 and 1997 Program Plans

New Programs

OJJDP provided funds for nine new programs in 1996 and 1997. These programs address school-based gang intervention and prevention, juvenile sex offenders, cost-benefit analysis of juvenile justice programs, youth courts, youth gun violence, female juvenile offenders, technical assistance for Native-Americans, mentoring activities, and community and court responses to child abuse and neglect.

A new program to examine the cost benefits of juvenile justice programs is an example of an over-arching program in 1997. Jurisdictions are facing difficult questions in regard to adjudication programs: Which ones work best and how does their effectiveness compare with their costs? Should programs be continued, expanded, or discontinued? To help practitioners analyze programs in terms of cost and effectiveness, OJJDP provided funds in 1997 to develop an effective method of analysis. The University of Texas and the Dallas County Juvenile Department are performing a substantive cost-benefit analysis of juvenile adjudications in the county to determine the analytic method that can provide the most useful answers. The grantees will examine how to determine program effectiveness, estimate and allocate unit costs of different programs, identify types and monetary values of benefits, and determine the cost-benefit relationships of different programs.

In terms of prevention programs, youth courts are one approach to handling petty theft, vandalism, truancy, and other problem behaviors of youth. They emphasize accountability, positive peer pressure, competency development, and youth empowerment. These programs offer jurisdictions a way to hold young offenders accountable for problem behaviors for which they previously may have received little or no intervention. To determine how effective youth courts are, OJJDP awarded a 1997 grant to The Urban Institute of Washington, D.C., to research and evaluate programs across the country. The grantee will examine several dimensions of youth court programs, including recidivism and changes in juveniles' perceptions of justice and in their ability to make more mature judgments. To evaluate the effectiveness of youth courts, The Urban Institute will compare youth handled in at least three separate youth court programs with those processed by the traditional juvenile justice system. They also will look at the legal, administrative, and case process factors that affect the ability of youth court programs to achieve their goals.

Another new prevention program funded in 1997 addresses youth gangs, which continue to be a problem in this country. Schools have established a variety of programs to combat this problem, such as implementing a youth gang unit or promoting entrepreneurial skills through storekeeping, gardening, and similar programs. To help schools identify promising and effective programs, OJJDP funded a survey of school-based gang prevention and intervention programs. Researchers will classify and describe approaches used by a large sample of urban, suburban, and rural schools to prevent or reduce gang involvement among students. They will also review activities that States have undertaken to identify and evaluate school-based gang prevention and intervention programs. The research is being conducted by Gottfredson Associates, Inc., of Ellicott City, MD.

OJJDP supported several new programs to help strengthen and improve the juvenile justice system. A new research program will gather data about juvenile sex offenders. A lack of information about appropriate levels of placement, potential for rehabilitation, risk assessment, and intervention needs makes it difficult for policymakers, law enforcement officials, and practitioners to determine how to deal with this troubling population. To help remedy this, OJJDP awarded a grant in 1997 to the University of Illinois at Springfield to determine which methodologies are best suited to develop and validate an empirically based typology of the juvenile sexual offender. The grantee will create a database of current information identifying offender, offense, and treatment-linked variables considered significant in the field and will develop a Web site to disseminate findings from the research.

Another program to help strengthen the juvenile justice system addresses gender issues. It builds on training and technical assistance provided by OJJDP in 1995 to help States provide better services for female juvenile offenders. To further these efforts, OJJDP awarded a grant in 1996 to Green, Peters and Associates of Nashville, TN, to design and provide further training and technical assistance. During 1997, the grantee developed a training curriculum for policymakers, advocacy organizations, and community leaders; tested it at three pilot sites; and drafted a monograph for national dissemination.

Janet Reno has her finger on the "pulse" of juvenile justice and reinforces that we are on the right track.

1996 OJJDP National Conference Attendee

OJJDP is also helping Native-American programs strengthen their responses to juvenile delinquency and crime. Many reservations are experiencing the same problems that plague other communities: gang activity, violent crime, use of weapons, and increasing drug and alcohol abuse. From 1992 to 1995, OJJDP funded programs at the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation in Arizona, and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in Minnesota to help them deal with juvenile crime. Although programs at these sites have been successful, each needed to expand programming options, such as gang prevention and intervention programs. In 1997, OJJDP awarded a grant to American Indian Development Associates of Albuquerque, NM, to develop a national technical assistance program to provide additional programming for the four sites and to extend support to tribes and urban tribal programs across the country. During 1997, the grantee provided training and technical assistance to 95 tribes throughout the country. The grantee assisted tribal governments in strengthening their juvenile justice systems and juvenile detention practices, especially their abilities to provide immediate intervention and appropriate sanctions for delinquent youth, assess their justice system needs, and develop partnerships with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys, and legal and judicial organizations. The grantee also facilitated team learning activities during a Native-American youth gang prevention conference in Arizona, coordinated the first Native-American juvenile justice summit, and provided technical assistance to Native-American tribes on behalf of several DOJ offices, including OJJDP's tribal SafeFutures site.

Two new initiatives to help strengthen and improve the juvenile justice system -- the Juvenile Mentoring Program and the Safe Kids/Safe Streets Program -- are described in chapter 1.

The Partnerships To Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence Program is an initiative that began in 1996 to help communities and law enforcement work together to reduce youth gun violence. OJJDP awarded grants to four communities that had implemented or were in the process of implementing programs to reduce gun violence by juveniles. Grants were awarded to Youth Alive of Oakland, CA; the city of Baton Rouge, LA; Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Shreveport, LA; and Center for Community Alternatives of Syracuse, NY.

OJJDP's funding is helping these communities strengthen their efforts by coordinating strategies and strengthening links among residents, law enforcement, and the juvenile justice system. The grantees are incorporating a number of strategies, including providing positive opportunities (such as mentoring) for youth; developing conflict resolution programs; using a public information strategy that communicates the consequences of gun violence; expanding neighborhood communication through community policing; encouraging grassroots community activities that engage neighborhood residents (including youth) in community improvement; reducing juvenile access to illegal guns and gun trafficking through law enforcement, prosecution, and increasing sanctions; and applying appropriate treatment interventions that respond to the needs of juvenile offenders who enter the system on gun-related charges. OJJDP awarded a grant to COSMOS Corporation of Bethesda, MD, in 1997 to conduct an evaluation of the four programs.

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998