Letters to the Editor

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Coalition Deserves Praise, Not Derision

Vincent Schiraldi
Executive Director
Justice Policy Institute

Mark Soler, President
Youth Law Center
Washington, DC

We read your article about the troubles at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) with some dismay (In re CJJ vs. OJJ: Clash of the Midgets, September), not only because of the cuts facing that important agency, but also because your coverage distorted CJJ’s record and the struggle it’s engaged in with the Justice Department.

Under David Doi’s leadership, CJJ has taken courageous and important stands to combat disproportionate minority confinement, transfer of juveniles to adult court and the overuse of locked custody for juveniles, among other issues. Far from “playing it safe,” Doi has taken a collection of state advisory group members, most of whom are appointed by conservative Democrat and Republican governors, and molded them into an influential voice for meaningful reforms. He’s done this through data, education and hard work, and deserves high praise, not derision, from Youth Today.

Ironically, our second point is driven by the first: That is, CJJ is having its budget cut by Justice precisely because of some of the more reactionary elements at Justice. CJJ’s 2002 report to Congress on trying juveniles as adults still hasn’t been published because Justice has held it up for over a year over philosophical differences.

We hope that CJJ makes it through this difficult time intact. It is far too important an organization to be undermined either by Justice or Youth Today.