Weekly Notes: Funding for juvenile mentoring; Supreme Court juvenile case coming up; youth court training; and more

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***Democrats and Republicans struck a deal to keep the federal government open for another two weeks, delaying the most short-term of the myriad financial hurdles for federal youth services money. If you had to order those hurdles, it would go: keeping the government from closing; passing a spending plan for the rest of 2011; actually going through the appropriations process for 2012; reaching a sane agreement on long-term domestic spending that both sides can live with.

Anyway, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention put out a solicitation for some 2011 money this week: the Second Chance Act grants for juvenile mentoring. Grants will be for up to $625,000 to cover a three-year project period, and a 25 percent match of the federal money is required.

This is another pitfall that juvenile service providers will face in the coming years: Even if you can snag a piece of the shrinking federal pie, can you match it with funds from a shrinking donor base or shrinking state resources?

***Youth Today covered oral arguments before the Supreme Court this week in the case of Camreta v Greene, which dealt in part with the issue of a child’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure when it comes to child abuse investigations on school grounds.

Next up for the high court on youth: JDB v North Carolina, in which the justices will hear arguments about whether police need to Mirandize some or all juveniles before questioning them on school grounds in connection with crimes they are suspected of committing off of school grounds. Click here and here for previous Youth Today entries on this case.

Nobody expected the court to dwell too much on what constitutes “seizure,” because both parties in the case agreed that the young girl (“S.G.”) in Camreta had, in fact, been seized. But Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer peppered S.G.’s lawyer about what should constitute seizure.

It will be interesting to see if that becomes the focal point for the court in JDB as well: What constitutes being “in custody” for a kid on school grounds? More than likely, that debate will center on what parties were in the room during the interrogation.

***President Barack Obama will host an anti-bullying conference next week at the White House. The administration has been vocal on the issue, issuing a firm reminder in October to public schools about their responsibilities when it comes to dealing with bullies.

JJ Today will be in attendance for the conference, with a keen interest in hearing what is said about how schools should intervene with bullies. There are some in juvenile justice advocacy who have expressed quiet concern that if schools are leaned on to ramp up attention to bullying, some school districts will opt to let the juvenile justice system handle the problem, which could mean that even more youths are involved in the court system.

***The cover story of Sports Illustrated this week reports that of the 2,837 players on college football rosters for 2010, 204 had been arrested before or after entering college. Of the 277 total incidents involving those players, 56 were violent offenses. Because most juvenile records cannot be accessed for background checks, the number of arrests could be significantly higher than the total cited in the article.

The investigation was quite a journalistic undertaking; Sports Illustrated and CBS News collaborated on it, and conducted a total of 7,030 background checks using state records and private background check services to get the information.

The reaction by NCAA President Mark Emmert caught our eye. His quote to reporters George Dohrmann and Jeff Benedict:

“[It is] a set of facts that obviously should concern all of us… Seven percent, that’s way too high. I think 2 percent is too high. You certainly don’t want a large number of people with criminal backgrounds involved in activities that represent the NCAA.”

Obviously, Emmert has a brand to protect. College sports, particularly football and basketball, is big business, and it certainly does not help draw new fans or keep the old ones when players are in the news for arrests.

But if his organization takes steps to act on these findings, one hopes there is someone in the room asking: What should athletes with criminal backgrounds do other than being involved with the NCAA? Keeping high expectations of behavior once those players are on rosters is one thing. Curtailing their ability to join that roster – which could allow them to leave behind a life that involved criminal involvement – is  entirely different.

One other observation: These are numbers without context. The finding is that 7 percent of players had an arrest in 2010. There is no indication is that number is down from 20 percent of players in 1994, or up from 2 percent.

*** Global Youth Justice will convene its 2011 Global Youth Justice Training Institute, titled “Establish or Enhance a Youth Court/Teen Court,” June 7-9 in Las Vegas. The training will address topics such as identifying appropriate juvenile offender referrals, training youth and adult volunteers, providing quality mandated peer-imposed community service/sanction programs, implementing operational and administrative procedures, identifying resource and funding opportunities, grant writing, and more.

Registration is $195, and hotel rooms are available for $35 a night. Click here for more details.

***The National Juvenile Justice Network is looking for a staffer and participants for a leadership development opportunity. NJJN is looking for a state budget analyst for its new Fiscal Policy Center, and it is taking applications for its inaugural Youth Justice Leadership Institute, which has the mission of “developing a strong base of well-prepared and well-trained advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.”
The institute will focus on developing minority professionals this year.