One would hope that the Obama administration's top priority for juvenile justice is finding a new administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is responsible for the majority of federal JJ funding.
But for the folks actually at OJJDP and its parent agency, the Office of Justice Programs, distributing Recovery Act money is top of mind this summer.
As of this moment, two youth-related Recovery Act streams have started to trickle down:
Internet Crimes Against Children: 59 awards for $41.5 million. These grants go to law enforcement agencies at the state and local level to pursue perpetrators of child pornography or sexual abuse of children that begins with enticement over the internet. OJJDP estimates that the funds have created 158 positions within the 59 ICAC task forces.
State Justice Assistance Grants: 53 awards, $1.2 billion. These go to state and territory agencies and can be used for a wide universe of things. Twelve jurisdictions specified juvenile justice spending in their applications: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Hold them to it!
Local Justice Assistance Grants: Hundreds of awards, $443.6 million. No explanations were attached to the announcement of these awards, but it stands to reason that plenty of grantees will use some money for JJ-related purposes.
But the biggest juvenile justice prize of the Recovery Act - the local and national mentoring grants - remains unannounced. The money doesn't officially have to be awarded until the end of the fiscal year, but it's possible it could be out by August.
It will be interesting to see who walks away with funds, for this reason: It's really the first crack at a pure review process of JJ-only funds for this administration. The OJJDP discretionary dollars for 2009 were almost entirely gobbled up by earmarks, as usual.
The last time OJJDP had free reign to determine its grantees was in 2007, when Congressional earmarking was halted for a year, under President Bush. And we all know how that went.