Weekly Notes: OJJDP Speeding Up Publishing; JDAI Coming to Mississippi; Exec Job Open at YouthBuild; and more

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***Last year, JJ Today reported that the turnaround of data at OJJDP had become molasses-slow, lessening the value of the information. Under Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski, the agency seems to be getting the molasses out of the works. 

The agency released Juvenile Arrests 2007 this week, just four months after publishing Juvenile Arrests 2006. For comparative value, the length of time between the 2004 and 2005 reports was a year and a half. So OJJDP is on a path back to the late 1990s, when reports like this were released within a year.

Not a whole lot of dramatic changes in this report. Homicide/manslaughter arrests ticked up 3 percent, and robbery arrests went down 1 percent after climbing for a few years. We asked Public/Private Ventures Vice President of Research, Jeff Butts, what stood out most and he said that the drop in weapons arrests is a relief. There were 43,900 arrests in that category in 2007, down 7 percent from 2006. The peak year for weapons charges was 1994 (63,000 arrests).

Embezzlement arrests are up 43 percent since 2003 and 25 percent since 2006. If anyone can explain to us what type of criminal acts usually lead police to charge juveniles with "embezzlement" for, we'll send you a Youth Today mug.

A side note on Butts: count him among the legion of juvenile justice leaders that felt the sting of Bernie Madoff. He had a grant lined up from the JEHT Foundation to design, implement and evaluate a positive youth development program. And then JEHT abruptly shut its doors when its controllers discovered that their assets had been lost by Madoff. 

***Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is headed for Mississippi. Can't think of a place that needs it more. Whether JDAI succeeds in lowering the number of youths placed in detention, its presence should at least force that state to make data about juvenile justice more transparent. That can't hurt in a system that has basically thumbed its nose at the core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act of 1974.

Patti Marshall, Mississippi assistant attorney general, will serve as the state JDAI coordinator, and the first official action will be the JDAI Fundamentals training scheduled for June 2. The counties involvedare  Adams, Leflore and Washington.

***Further along I-10, the Shreveport Times ripped the state for putting the brakes on JJ reform.

***For the plan-way-ahead crowd, the First Annual International Youth Court and Teen Court Staff Institute & Retreat  is scheduled for June 7-10, 2010. Location: Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. Totally underrated location, JJ Today spent many a summer on the beaches nearby in Wellfleet. For more information, contact the organizer, Global Youth Justice.

***And here is info on an OJJDP conference about using national juvenile corrections data. This one you will probably miss (it's next week), but you can probably get some good resources from the conference after the fact. 

***YouthBuild USA, which helps train and assist sites for the federal YouthBuild program, is looking for a president. No, the legendary Dorothy Stoneman will not be retiring; this person will work with Stoneman on the organization's ambitious goal of annually serving more than 70,000 youth in the near future (it serves about 8,000 a year now).

***Congratulations to Jordan Bechtold, who won the Campaign For Youth Justice's first ever Student Paper Competition for her paper, A Tale of Two Courts. A $500 award is given to the best piece about juvenile transfer to adult court. Bechtold is a graduate student at the University of Californie, Irvine.