Weekly Notes: Reentry funding available; additional thoughts on Supreme Court Case; and more

***Day number 872 of the Obama administration and still no nominee to serve as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. JJ Today asked the White House press office whether the administration would nominate someone or just make an appointment, given the reported gentlemen’s agreement reached by Congress to skip the confirmation process for a number of positions, including the OJJDP position.

We were told it will be a nomination, not an appointment, unless the legislation to officially cut off confirmation quirements is enacted.

***As mentioned in a recent column, the next administrator will receive advice from a newly constituted advisory group, the final structure of which is still being decided by Acting Administrator Jeff Slowikowski and other OJJDP leadership. In general, the group will include 10 State Advisory Group members representing 10 regions, along with experts assigned to particular subcommittees.

Whatever comes next replaces the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, which was established in 2004 and held its final meeting in December. We asked the final FACJJ chair, Richard Gardell, what he thought of the newly proposed entity.

“I think the structure they’ve suggested, with work groups, is perfectly fine to advise the administrator,” said Gardell, a former police officer who now serves as CEO of Minneapolis nonprofit 180 Degrees.

But, Gardell said, a group in that mold will not fulfill the legislative requirement that OJJDP supports a group that will provide independent advice and recommendations to the president and Congress, based on the input of each state.

Actually, Gardell and others on the defunct FACJJ didn’t think they fulfilled the requirement, either. FACJJ did involve members from each state, and did provide reports to the president and to Congress that were not edited by OJJDP staff.

But at the final December meeting, a number of FACJJ members suggested that the Justice Department was able to influence FACJJ work at the front and back end of the reporting process. First, one member told us, Justice has final say on the agenda for FACJJ meetings, what issues will be discussed and who will be made available to speak with the committee. Second, the department sometimes would take forever to publish and circulate the FACJJ’s advice, weakening its impact.

“They should either have a presidential commission,” Gardell said, or “do what the department did for 20 years and support an independent group that represents the State Advisory Groups around the country.”

***OJJDP published a solicitation recently for state and local government agencies interested in planning and demonstration grants for juvenile reentry programs. The funding, which comes from the Second Chance Act, will provide up to $50,000 over a year for planning grants and up to $750,000 over a year for demonstration projects.

Read the solicitation carefully before throwing your hat in the ring. Three reasons:

-50 percent match, as with any Second Chance Act demonstration grant funding. Of the money that agencies need to come up with, half of that can be in-kind and not cash.

-Ten required components of any eligible reentry model.

-Grantees will have to collect a lot of data and provide for an independent evaluation of the work. 

Click here to read the solicitation; deadline is July 11.

***We reported yesterday on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in J.D.B. v. North Carolina, in which the court found that age must be taken into consideration when determining whether a juvenile suspect needs to be Mirandized in order to question him or her.  

There are two groups of people this decision most directly affects:

1) Police officers. For the first time, they will have to take into account an objective factor about a person when they are asking themselves, “Does this person understand that they can walk away from my questioning at any time?”

The only situation in which police will not have to factor in the age of a juvenile is when the age is not readily known. That exception will almost certainly come up with juveniles arrested for prostitution, many of whom lie and say they are older or even present fake identification.

Juvenile Law Center co-founder Marsha Levick, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of J.D.B., said that plenty of states and jurisdiction have moved toward age-factoring already.

“Some police departments have been doing this for years, and do precisely what the Supreme Court directed them to do,” Levick said. “North Carolina itself now has guidelines for police about how to interrogate kids.”

2) Judges. Soon, defense lawyers will be appealing juvenile court adjudications and criminal convictions of teens on the grounds that law enforcement got incriminating information from them without taking them into custody.

The question before judges – did the officer make an effort to account for the age of the then-suspect? – is a tough one to determine in hindsight.

Levick suggested that all adult parties involved – lawyers, judges, cops and school officials who are often present for questioning on their grounds – need to be trained on what the ruling means in the real world.

***A few upcoming events we have heard tell of:

July 24-27: American Probation and Parole Association’s 36th Annual Training Institute in Chicago. The training will have more than 60 workshops for community corrections professional with JJ-related subjects including: disproportionate minority contact, mentally ill offenders and community corrections and juvenile reentry.

Click here to register.

Nov. 2-8: Center for Juvenile Justice Reform’s Multi-System Integration Certificate Program for Private Sector Leaders, which is a certificate program for current and future leaders at private providers that are active in both the child welfare and juvenile justice industry.

Click here for application materials; deadline to apply is July 27.


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