Members of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) were pretty tight-lipped about this month's meeting in Chicago, at which its annual report subcommittee began discussing what it would recommend in its 2009 report.
FACJJ is responsible for producing two documents each year: a list of recommendations for the OJJDP administrator and an annual report to Congress and the President.
FACJJ chair Harry Davis (South Carolina) and subcommittee co-chair Michael Arrington (Delaware) politely declined to comment on what was discussed in Chicago. What is not shrouded in secrecy is that the report will be handed over to a new administration, perhaps before the new president has even appointed a person to lead OJJDP.
At least one FACJJ member is excited at that prospect.
"It's a real opportunity to educate and start from the bottom up," said Bernardine Adams, the FACJJ representative from Louisiana. "Especially in regard to leadership."
There is ever-dwindling respect among many of FACJJ's 56 members for current OJJDP Director J. Robert Flores, who created the committee in 2006.
In its annual recommendations to the administrator, FACJJ has complained that Flores has been slow to respond to FACJJ recommendations, and even slower in publishing the annual report to Congress and the administration. Neither of the 2008 reports are available yet on the committee's website.
Flores further angered then-FACJJ chair David Schmidt of New Mexico when he did not recommend reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last December.
"You explicitly and unequivocally committed to the FACJJ that you would testify in support of reauthorization of the JJDP Act," Schmidt wrote in a letter to Flores after the hearing. "Your failure ... to convey the advice of the FACJJ ... is very disappointing and is cause to question your support for your own Advisory Committee."
What might the new president's first FACJJ report contain? Details about the diminished staff at OJJDP is one concern, said Adams.
"There has been a great reduction in the number of people at OJJDP," she said. There has always been a "big carryover from previous administrations, you had people like John Wilson. With this group, it seems like old-timers left, switched out or were delegated to positions without authority."
The report will almost certainly push FACJJ's list of "core values," which the committee developed for its 2006 annual report (recommendation 3).