Promoting Safe Communities: Juvenile Justice Recommendations from the Field
In February and March 2013, the National Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) -- a coalition comprising more than 300 national, state and local organizations working together to ensure healthy families, build strong communities and improve community safety -- released Promoting Safe Communities, recommendations to the Obama administration and to Congress urging them to restore a more effective system of juvenile justice for youth by focusing on five priority areas.
Recommendations to the Administration
In Promoting Safe Communities: Report and Recommendations to the Obama Administration, the NJJDPC recommends that the Administration restore federal leadership in juvenile justice policy by:
- Increasing funding for juvenile justice reforms
- Supporting the reauthorization and state implementation of the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)
- Strengthening the partnership between the federal government and the states
- Ensuring that program policies and practices involve families
- Implementing recommendations from the Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence (which he co-chaired)
- Improving data collection.
In the recommendations, the coalition advocates that the Administration ensure safety and fairness for court-involved youth. Ways to do this includes making efforts to reduce the disparate treatment of youth of color. This also involves fully implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) regulations and reducing the use of restraints and isolation.
The Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence recommended that children be removed from the adult criminal justice system. In tandem, the NJJDPC is recommending that the Administration assist states in ensuring this, and amend Department of Jutice policies and sentencing related to juvenile offenders.
Finally, NJJDPC encourages the Administration to support youth reentry with increased coordination and funding.Youth reentry requires a continuum of education and year-round programming delinquent youth. Young people out of the system need education and employment training services, as well as access to health care. With support from the Administration, these such programs can be implemented all over the country.
In early February 2013, the President announced his intent to appoint Bob Listenbee as the Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). With this step, the field is hopeful that the the ODJJP and Administration will spearhead the federal government's role in these vital juvenile justice reforms.
The coalition's recommendations above focus on the OJJDP, but it takes more than one office to implement these much-needed changes. To succed, these programs need the support of numerous other Department of Justice agencies as well as newer Department initiatives such as the National Center for Youth in Custody and the PREA Resource Center.
The Campaign for Youth Justice and other juvenile justice champions hope to meet with Bob Listenbee as soon as he sets foot in Washington to discuss ways the NJJDP Coalition can advance this important agenda. And we anticipate seeing some of these recommendations incorporated into the President's budget when it is released.
We encourage you to join with us in promoting this report with your networks, sharing a link to the report on your website, and get involved with the NJJDP Coalition.
Recommendations to Congress
In March 2013, the Coalition released their recommendations to the 113th Congress. Read more about these recommendations in a blog from Youth Advocate Programs, Inc: On Behalf of Our Youth: Recommendations for the 113th Congress to Promote Safe Communities
Download the full recommendations for Congress (in PDF format) here.
Liz Ryan is President & CEO at Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ).