Weekly Notes: DOJ funding recap; LWOP cases next week?; Coalition for Juvenile Justice conference; and more

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Note: this piece was updated on Monday morning

Funding

No new funding solicitations put out by the Department of Justice since we last wrote Notes. Heard something interesting, though, about the national mentoring grants competition. We speculated that the solicitation was crafted in a way that made Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America the clear favorites to get the grants. But word in Washington is that a number of other organizations have already put in for the money, and everyone is proposing big numbers, around $20 million.

Why is that interesting? Because Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) categorically barred national organizations from competing for the other pot of mentoring money, the Multi-State Mentoring Initiative.

National programs are defined as those groups who have “an active program or programs with a financial relationship with affiliates in at least 45 states.” Not coincidentally, an organization has to have affiliates in 45 states to get a national grant.

Translation: By throwing in against the likes of BGCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters in the national competition, you are precluding yourself from competing in the other solicitation. And some of the names we heard in the mix for national grants could probably have sold themselves as non-national programs to OJJDP.

The prospect for a huge grant is more likely to come from the national mentoring account though, but applicants are up against pretty well-established names in youth work. JJ Today can’t help but wonder if BBBSA getting shut out of the national grant picture last year emboldened some organizations.

Here are links to all of the funding notices we have mentioned in the past month or so:

*Internet Crimes Against Children Program Support

*Title V Community Prevention Grants Program

*Strategic Enhancement to Mentoring Programs

*National Mentoring Programs

*Multi-State Mentoring Initiative

*Family Drug Court Programs

*Second Chance Act Juvenile Mentoring Initiative

*National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children 3

*State Advisory Group Training and Technical Assistance Project

*Research on Technology-Facilitated Crimes Against Children

 * Research on Sentencing and Community-Based Alternatives to Incarceration

* Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program         

News

***The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to release opinions on Tuesday, and one (or two) of them could be on the juvenile life without parole (LWOP) cases for which it heard oral arguments in November.

If we were bettors here at JJ Today (and based on our NCAA tournament picks, we are not…stupid Syracuse!), here’s generally how we’d have the odds on this:

-Court bans LWOP for all juveniles, for any crime: 1,000-to-1

-Court bans LWOP for any juvenile not convicted of a homicide: 500-to-1

-Court bans LWOP as a sentence for any youth 14 or under: 50-to-1

-Court takes no action on LWOP as a result of the cases: 2-to-1

***The Justice Department published Delays in Juvenile Justice, a report by Jeffrey Butts, Ruth Cusick and Benjamin Adams. The report discusses the various points at which cases handled in the JJ system get bogged down, and presents three examples of courts that have made efforts to reduce delays.

***There are two conferences of note coming up in early April:

--April 10-13, Washington, D.C.: Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s annual national conference, which also includes a convening of the state advisory groups (SAG). This year’s theme is “Ensuring School Engagement and Success for Youth at Risk.”

Click here to register online, and click here for a copy of the tentative agenda. JJ Today will be roaming the halls during the conference; we are looking forward most to the workshop on how No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization can address the overreliance on police and JJ systems by some schools.

--April 8, St. Louis: Ninth Annual Youth Violence Prevention Conference, hosted by the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. This year’s conference will focus on the “extent to which juvenile justice system disproportionately arrests and commits minority youth.” Click here to register online.

Headlines

***Great article by Abigail Goldman in the Las Vegas Sun about the Clark County judges’ conundrums when it comes to dealing with juvenile prostitutes. Vegas is obviously not the typical location when it comes to this issue, but it is a good on-the-ground look at what judges must weigh: locking up a victim, or leaving a juvenile prostitute in position to return to a dangerous lifestyle.

***Despite slashing bed space because of budget cuts, Oklahoma JJ boss Gene Christian is still committed to building a charter school for juvenile offenders, reports Oklahoman reporter Vallery Brown. Nice story, since what we mostly see on the news ticker are alternatives to incarceration getting nixed amidst budget shortfalls.

***Tennessee State Rep. Debra Maggart (R) reached out to critics of her bill to include juvenile sex offenders on public registries, and compromised on a more thoughtful piece of legislation, according to a piece on the website of Nashville Public Radio. Offenders would be evaluated by mental health professionals for their amenability to rehabilitation before a decision was made to add them to the public registry.

***Philadelphia’s head juvenile judge recognized the growing problem of flash-mobs -- teens drawn to mayhem in public places by texting and other forms of communication – and took the cases on himself instead of delegating them out, reports Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Joseph Slobodzian.

***L.A. Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske covers the beginning of a long, hard look at the troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department. One of its most glaring problems is that backlog of 170 employees whose actions warranted discipline, but who have not been punished because there are not enough staff assigned to investigate and mete out punishment. About half of the transgressions involve abuse of juveniles.

We wonder if Los Angeles is alone there. Anybody know of other big-city probation departments that struggle with a backlog of abuse cases involving personnel?