Weekly Notes: Funding from HHS, JDAI in Wyoming, Dallas Curfews Begin, and more

***The Department of Health and Human Services is taking applications for its Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), which provides grants of about $300,000 each to public and private organizations seeking to address unhealthy behaviors in at-risk minority youth. There are six health and safety issues specified in the grant offering, and successful applicants will have to address at least two. Included on that list of six are violence and substance abuse and mental health.

Hustle up though, because the application is due Sept. 3.

Based on the allotted $5 million, looks like that will pay for 16 or 17 grants. Information on YEP grants can be found here.

***At the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) conference earlier this month, JJ Today had the change to chat briefly with Rand Young, who coordinates the initiative in Washington, one of the more successful state efforts. Young is often dispatched by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to speak with juvenile justice leaders about JDAI, particularly leaders in the Western states.

This month, Young visited Wyoming, which most definitely caught our attention. As did his comment to the state’s Joint Interim Judiciary Committee about the potential for reform in the state, which was reported by Joan Barron in the Casper Star-Tribune: “You have all the horsepower but for some reason you don’t have the political will,” Young said. “I don’t have the answer for that.”

That confirmed what we were told recently about Wyoming: that there is a groundswell of people pushing for a better system and to participate in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and some politicians like things the way they are.  

But an initiative that focuses on ways to handle pre-adjudicated youth without detaining them in Wyoming? On first read, it sounds almost laughable even to discuss it. In order to talk about alternatives to juvenile detention, it kind of goes without saying that you currently detain people in juvenile detention centers. Many of the youth that get locked up in Wyoming land in adult jails; the state puts juveniles in adult facilities at three times the national rate. Its one major juvenile detention center is a condemned adult facility, and it is pretty much full of status offenders and youths who violated probation.

Wyoming has a lot of work to do.

***Monday begins Dallas’ great experiment with daytime curfews for youths, which means that anyone under 17 cannot be in a public place or business between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Things to look for on this story going forward:

1) Do police start grousing publicly (or at least anonymously to reporters) about the curfews? Law enforcement officials told JJ Today that cops’ workload would not change because of this law, back when we covered the proposal in February.

2) What do police use to measure the curfew’s “success”? There are several ancillary numbers the department could choose to use; a change in the daytime home robberies figures, for example, or the number of truancy tickets issued during the day. But the only real way this is a success is if truancy declines, if more youth actually stop skipping school.

***The North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council paid $200,000 to settle false claims allegations made by the Department of Justice. NEMLEC (not to be confused with the richly-coffered NCMEC, the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children), could not account for “several hundred thousand dollars in grant funds” made to it by OJJDP in 2001 and 2002. The grants were made for a School Threat Assessment and Response System (STARS), which assists local teams at 500 school in devising safety plans and mitigating conflicts on school grounds.

Add this to the file of “reasons to stop earmarking all of the juvenile justice money.”

***Libertarians support alternatives to incarcerating juveniles. Or at least this one does.



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