Weekly Notes: PREA grants available, Walsh Act legislation, and next week’s council meeting

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***Hope everyone who cares enjoys the Super Bowl. True story: JJ Today grew up equidistant from the Giants and Patriots, but attached to the Raiders because of a childhood love for both Howie Long and N.W.A. Alas, hindsight is 20/20.

***There are 352 days left in the first term of President Barack Obama, and there has still not been a nominee to serve as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The new acting administrator of OJJDP, Melodee Hanes, will lead her first meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention next Friday.

For the uninitiated in federal tangents, this is a council of leaders from the Justice Department and other federal agencies that meet regularly to coordinate on some programs and policy positions related to delinquents or the prevention of delinquent behavior. To his credit, Attorney General Eric Holder has attended most of them since his confirmation, and that has kept some other federal agency leaders plugged into it.

We have seen our fair share of snoozer council meetings and some really interesting ones over the years; from a scan of the agenda for next week, it looks like Hanes will have a good one to start with. The first session will feature researchers Edward Mulvey and Carol Schubert discussing the Pathways to Desistance work, which in our humble opinion has not gotten enough attention since its initial findings started trickling out last year. The study of 1,354 serious offenders in Phoenix and Philadelphia found that community options and incarceration have equal, crummy odds of curbing criminal behavior among juvenile offenders, with the exception of family-involved substance abuse treatment.

The other session on Friday is essentially a brief from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on its partnership with GreatSchools, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides test-based ratings of schools along with parent reviews of the school performance (think Yelp for schools).

HUD’s website says it partners with the organization to “provider their free web-based tool to parents living in multifamily assisted housing, public housing or who receive rental assistance through HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

***Quick note on the OJJDP-MacArthur Foundation partnership we reported on last week: it will be paid for with $400,000 from fiscal 2011, and $600,000 from fiscal 2012. The 2011 portion comes from “unallocated Title II, Part B funds,” according to OJJDP, and the 2012 “funding source…has not been designated at this time.”

Presumably, this means the 2011 money is funds held back from formula grants to states because of compliance issues in 2010, and the 2012 funding is being made with some certainty that there will be $600,000 unallocated because of compliance this year.

***Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) dropped legislation on January 19 to reauthorize the Adam Walsh Act, which he also attempted to do in 2011 to no avail. Sensenbrenner’s bill would lower the minimum number of years that certain offenders would have to stay on the registry (from 25 years to 15 years). Last year he proposed slashing the authorization for juvenile sex offender treatment from $10 million to $3 million; this bill appears to leave that pot alone, although it appears that Congress has only actually appropriated funds for it once (in 2007).

***The Bureau of Justice Assistance is soliciting Prison Rape Elimination Act Demonstration Projects aimed at helping adult and juvenile facilities to implement “prevention, identification, and response mechanisms that will reduce the incidence of sexual abuse in confinement facilities.”

The awards will likely be in the neighborhood of two years, $600,000, and according to the solicitation, “facilities or systems that have reflected a higher than average number of reported sexual assaults on the annual administrative records review submitted to [the Bureau of Justice Statistics] will be given priority. ”

Much was made in the media about the 2010 BJS survey about sexual victimization, which found that 12 percent – or about one in eight – of youths held in large juvenile facilities in the U.S. report being victimized sexually while behind bars.

But the vast majority of the alleged victimization was done by female staff to male juvenile inmates, not exactly the type of inmate-on-inmate violence that inspired PREA in the first place.

Still, it might be worthwhile for one of the grants to help some juvenile system develop a training curriculum for staff on avoiding inappropriate personal relationships with incarcerated juveniles.

Eligibility is limited only to units of state government, although it is expected that in many cases collaborative partnerships must be established with local and tribal government agencies. The deadline is March 15, click here for more details.

***Defending Childhood Task Force, which is tasked with studying the issue of children who are exposed to violence, held its second public hearing in late January, this one in Albuquerque. It held its first hearing in Baltimore before the holidays, which we heard included some impactful testimony from young people in the city. Two more hearings are planned soon for Miami and Detroit.

Need to get up to speed on this issue? Sign up for National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ March 7 webinar, “The Truth About Trauma and Delinquency.” It will look specifically examine how traumatic events can have a long-term impact on those who experience trauma and how these events affect their families and communities. Click here to register.

***The National Juvenile Justice Evaluation Center, which is funded by OJJDP and run by the Justice Research and Statistics Association, has created the NJJEC Bulletin to keep people apprised of news related to research and evaluation. Nothing complicated here: the first edition is just a four-page rundown of projects that NJJEC is working on, and some available trainings and webinars.