Weekly Notes: New grants doled out by Public Welfare, MacArthur; research on school crime; and more

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***There are 331 days left in the first term of President Barack Obama, and the president has still not nominated someone to serve as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

***No new grant announcements from OJJDP this week, but the Public Welfare Foundation Board of Directors made a few juvenile justice organizations very happy:

Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, Chicago, $250,000 over two years to “advance policies that protect youth against wrongful convictions in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.”  

Correctional Association of New York, $350,000 over two years to advocate for alternatives to incarceration in New York’s juvenile justice system and for an end to the automatic prosecution of 16- and 17-year-olds in adult criminal courts. 

Legal Services for Children, San Francisco, Calif., $320,000 over two years to work

with the W. Haywood Burns Institute and Immigrant Legal Resource Center to promote the fair and equitable treatment of immigrant youth by juvenile justice systems.

National Juvenile Justice Network, Washington, D.C., $275,000 to support its

Fiscal Policy Center to provide technical assistance on budget analysis to juvenile justice advocates and for the Youth Justice Leadership Institute to provide leadership development among juvenile justice advocates of color.   

Texas Appleseed, Austin, $150,000 over two years to “conduct policy advocacy and litigation to challenge the use of juvenile and municipal courts in Texas for minor misbehaviors by youth in schools.”

Texas Public Policy Foundation, Austin, $150,000 to continue advocacy work with conservative and libertarian policymakers and advocates for criminal and juvenile justice reform in Texas and throughout the country.

Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, $400,000 over two years to a membership organization of prosecutors across the country to increase the group’s capacity to advance prosecutorial innovations in charging, sentencing and prisoner reentry.

An interesting slate of grants. The funds to Correctional Association of New York could immediately make it a key player in the juvenile justice overhaul in New York. There are really three potential reforms going on: downsize the state capacity, realign the city’s system, and increasing the age of jurisdiction from 16 to either 17 or 18.

It does not appear, from the outside, that there is anyone with their finger on the pulse of all these efforts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Close to Home” plan in his new budget proposal would bring the state and the city into closer partnership on reform. It cannot hurt to have an organization with local credibility that will be involved in both systemic reform and the overarching push to include more teens in that revamped system.

The grant to the prosecutors’ association is even more intriguing. This is a progressive foundation reaching out to work with a group whose members are often viewed as the enemy to juvenile justice reform. At the very least, JJ Today is interested in learning about the innovations referenced here.

***The John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation has forged a new partnership with OJJDP, but it is winding down its Models for Change Initiative, which will likely mean that the three action networks created by the initiative – Disproportionate Minority Contact, Juvenile Indigent Defense and Mental Health - will have to fend for themselves to some extent. Each one of those action networks is overseen now by a point agency.

MacArthur took care of its indigent defense partner, the National Juvenile Defender Center, led by longtime advocate Patty Puritz, by giving it one of MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, which only go to former MacArthur grantees. The award comes with a one year, $750,000 grant.

The DMC action network is coordinated by the D.C.-based Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and the mental health network is overseen by the Delmar, N.Y.-based Policy Research Associates.

***The Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics released 2009 data on school crime and safety last week, and it shows a significant decline in physical violence reported by students. The percentage of high school students who reported being in a physical fight dropped from 42 percent in 1993 to 31 percent in 2009.

Figure 6.1 on page 47 of the report is worth checking out, because it compares recording of criminal incidents versus reporting of such incidents to police. Nearly three quarters of schools recorded at least one violent incident in 2009 but only 40 percent of schools said they reported such an incident to the police. When it comes to offenses deemed “serious violent crimes,” the gap is far narrower: 16 percent of schools recorded one, 10 percent of schools reported one to police.

The report counts the following in the “serious violent” category: “rape, sexual battery, physical attack or fight with a weapon, threat of physical attack with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon.”

It is hard to imagine a school not reporting a rape, sexual batter or fight involving weapons to the police. The latter two are more subjective, and perhaps this is where the gap between recorded and reported occurs.

***Civic Research Institute has published “Home-Based Services for High-Risk Youth,” by Stacey Cornett. Its 17 chapters cover four major themes: types of interventions and services, building a workforce that can provide them, conduction youth and family assessments, and implementation.

We have not had a chance to read it yet, but CRI is the standard in juvenile justice manuals, and there could not be a better time for a comprehensive guide on alternatives to incarceration, right?

Click here for ordering information.