The “Yes We Can” attitude at President Obama’s Justice Department must have resonated with Laurie Robinson.
The Clinton-era assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs was on Obama’s transition team for the office, and agreed to serve as acting leader while the administration searched for a permanent choice. But she made it clear to Youth Today the she had no intention of staying.
“I did it for SEVEN years!” Robinson told us in an e-mail back in January, when we asked her if she had some desire to give the federal life another go-round. “Seriously, no. I’ve been there and done that. I’ll be helping find someone to do it. Thought I could help out until someone comes in.”
The ensuing months have obviously changed her mind, because this month Obama announced his intention to nominate her for the job.
“It’s an important time, with OJP charged with giving out nearly $3 billion in Recovery Act funds,” said Robinson when asked what made her reconsider. That, and Attorney General Eric Holder “can be a very persuasive person.”
Since her first stint at OJP (1993-2000), Robinson has been at the University of Pennsylvania, most recently as director of the school’s Master of Science Program in Criminology. Before joining the Clinton administration, Robinson led the American Bar Association’s criminal justice programs for 14 years.
The biggest juvenile justice impact boils down to two words: Vinny Schiraldi. Robinson is a fan, and she knows there is a lot of support among national juvenile justice leaders for Schiraldi, who is currently director of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, to be the next administrator at OJJDP. Some Schiradli supporters feel that the litany of scathing columns by Colby King of the Washington Post, make Schiraldi a longshot. But Robinson becoming a permanent hire at OJP can only help his chances.