Weekly Notes-Jan. 2


Happy New Year to everyone! And as today officially marks JJ Today's second calendar year of existence, thanks to everyone who dropped in to read our stuff in 2008.

***The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is fielding applications for three pots of money, all of which are due in about two months:

Family Drug Court Training and Technical Assistance: Winner will help state, local and tribal courts establish or build the capacity of family drug courts. OJJDP will select one winner for funds of up to $400,000 over two years; organizations can partner on an application as long as there is a clear primary applicant. This is not for juvenile drug courts; these are courts that handle substance-abusing adults (many of them young parents, of course) who are court-involved due to abuse/neglect of their children.

Deadline: Feb. 24.

National Mentoring Programs: Supports efforts to improve or expand mentoring services to at-risk populations. Applicants have to operate in at least one state in four of the six established regions (Atlantic, New England, North, South, Mountain, Pacific). Maximum award is $10 million over three years.

Deadline: Feb. 25

Gang Prevention Coordination Assistance Program: Funds sites to use any of these four strategies to address youth gang problems: community-wide prevention, targeted prevention for youths who are highly likely to join gangs, intervention for youthd in gangs, or law enforcement. Public agencies and community organizations can apply; 12 awards will be given for up to $200,000 each.

Deadline: March 4

To apply for any of these, you have to register at Grants.gov. But don't wait until the last minute, because it can take a few weeks for Grants.gov to process first-time registrants.

***Washington Post reporter Robert Pierre was prolific on the JJ front in December. He published this story about the Campaign for Youth Justice, which before Christmas took families of D.C. youth tried as adults to Devil's Lake, N.D., to a facility where all D.C. youth convicted as adults go until they are 18. Pierre also wrote this piece that takes a balanced look at the slippery slope of trying to reform a juvenile justice system while keeping the community on your side.

Two things about the holiday trip to North Dakota. First, CFYJ President Liz Ryan praised the staff at Lake Region Law Enforcement Center , who bent over backwards to make the trip work, driving hours to and from the Fargo airport in blinding snow and affording families more time over the weekend after flights to Fargo were delayed on Friday.

That said, Ryan says her meetings with U.S. Bureau of Prison (BOP) officials leave her convinced that they feel Devil's Lake is the right place for D.C. inmates. That will make it hard for CFYJ to sell them on a facility closer to Washington, even though BOP said they would hear Ryan out on the matter.

"If you asked them what their priority was, families would say they could go for a program not as good [as Devil's Lake] but much closer" to home, Ryan told JJ Today.

In 1998, Youth Today ran a story on the facility at Devil's Lake ("Sweating It Out in Uncle Sam's Big House"). Patricia Sledge, BOP's deputy assistant director at the time, told reporter Jack Kresnak that it intended to "house all federal juveniles within 250 miles of their homes by fiscal year 2008, unless the sentencing judge rules otherwise." What happened to that?

Secondly, it is ridiculous that the D.C. youths at Devil's Lake must leave that facility for  adult prisons when they reach 18, though all other juveniles housed by the Bureau of Prisons can stay out of adult prisons until age 21. BOP told Ryan instructions on transfers to adult lockups are dictated by U.S. attorneys.

***Great piece by Ted Rubin in the most recent  Juvenile Justice Update about the juvenile justice standards adopted by the Institute of Judicial Administration and the American Bar Association in 1980. Rubin, who helped draft the standards, compares the ideas behind them to the direction of the field today.

***This wasn't exactly released recently, but a piece on the use of psychotropic medications on youth appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Reclaiming Children and Youth. It was brought to JJ Today's attention at a December meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Reclaiming's Executive Editor, Larry Brendtro, is a member of the council).

The main thrust: Certain psychotropics may address symptomatic behavior in juveniles, but they can also hurt the chances that the juveniles will bond or relate to youth workers or anyone else who wants to help them over the long haul.

It brings to mind a recommendation made by the American Psychological Association at a recent JJ panel: pass federal guidelines on the use of psychotropics in locked facilities.