Who Should Be Next at OJJDP?

JJ Today recently posed this question to a few juvenile justice contacts: Who should be the next administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention?

Not “who” as in a particular person, per se; rather, what type of background should the OJJDP boss have?

But we did get a specific nomination. “Barry Krisberg or David Steinhart should run OJJDP in the next administration,” says Dan Maccallair, executive director of the San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, who works closely with both on juvenile justice issues in California. Krisberg runs the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in Oakland, and Steinhart directs the juvenile justice program for California nonprofit Commonweal.

Krisberg, whose name has been in the mix for that job before, laughed when he heard his name had been proposed.  He’s a tireless advocate for youth by anyone’s standards, but says he enjoys the simple things (such as Oakland Raiders football) at this stage of his life too much to be in that accountable a position.

We received two other substantive responses so far (they follow); e-mail with your thoughts and we’ll post a Part II!

Earl Dunlap, CEO of National Partnership for Juvenile Services: Priority number one would be to AVOID a repeat of the J. Robert Flores debacle. The Democrats applied far less scrutiny to this Bush appointment than they applied in the Clinton era. The juvenile justice leadership at every level was “asleep at the wheel” with the Flores nomination and as a result we now have a “train wreck” that we must recover from in the years to come.

I would hope that whoever is appointed has a genuine appreciation for “troubled youth,” and a track record of practical, creative and successful experience in leading juvenile justice initiatives at the local, state and national level. This seems logical and reasonable, but then there is nothing about either that is compatible with political.

Jim Moeser, former administrator of the Division of Juvenile Corrections for the State of Wisconsin:

A few very quick thoughts on what I would place a high value on:

*Experience and knowledge across a spectrum of youth development and juvenile justice issues.

*Experience in leadership position(s) – not necessarily CEO, but demonstrated leadership capacity that suggests not only the technical skills of managing an agency but also providing a vision for the future related to juvenile justice.

*Fundamental awareness of best practices research and emerging effective programs.

*Government experience at the state or federal level preferable, but not required.

*I would be less interested in focusing on a history of advocacy/reform unless they have the experience in actually implementing change.

I guess this means someone that juvenile justice folks could look at and say, “That makes sense.” This would be a start.

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