Third Time a Charm for Juvenile Justice Nomination?

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Justice Department officials are close to completing interviews with a third round of candidates to lead the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, JJ Today has learned. The next step will be determining which of the new candidates to recommend to the White House.

“We are interviewing new candidates for the OJJDP Administrator position,” confirmed Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, who oversees the Office of Justice Programs, where OJJDP is housed. “This is a high priority for this administration and this Department of Justice.”

Two previous rounds of interviews both yielded a candidate whom the department was set to recommend to President Barack Obama: former juvenile judge Karen Baynes first, followed by Texas Juvenile Probation Commission boss Vicki Spriggs.

But Baynes withdrew citing family concerns, and Spriggs decided to stay in Texas to protect her agency from budget cuts.

It took months for Justice to hone in on Spriggs once Baynes had withdrawn, so the process has moved more quickly this time around. That's good news for advocates who want to see the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act reauthorization process get going. The House Education and Labor Committee was supposed to introduce a  reauthorization bill weeks ago, and it could be that committee chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) is waiting for the White House to make a nomination at OJJDP before he moves.

The agency has been led by Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski since before Attorney General Eric Holder took the reins in January 2009. Holder himself has had an active role in juvenile justice thus far, chairing the past two meetings of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.