Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update, June 28, 2023
For the inaugural monthly call series called "Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update" that was held June 28, 2023, OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan focused on racial equity and fairness in the juvenile justice system and how OJJDP is addressing this issue.
Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the June 28, 2023 installment of "Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update." We’re glad that you are able to join us today. All audio lines are muted, as this is a listen-only briefing. For reference, the recording will be posted tomorrow to the OJJDP website. At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Liz Ryan, OJJDP Administrator, for today’s update.
Hello, my name is Liz Ryan. I am the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP.
Welcome to my first monthly call with juvenile justice professionals in the field!
I have been OJJDP’s Administrator for just over a year and I am really excited to use this new platform to share our activities and plans with you.
We’re calling the platform “Today in Juvenile Justice” and—as the name suggests—the content will be timely and pertinent to the work many of you do every day.
Because this is my first call, I want to begin with a brief introduction to OJJDP.
OJJDP was founded nearly 50 years ago, under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.
We are the only federal agency dedicated solely to serving youth who are involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.
We support state, Tribal, and local efforts to enhance the welfare of America’s youth and transform the juvenile justice system.
Last year, we awarded more than 370 grants totaling more than 405 million dollars in funds to state, Tribal, and local communities to help safeguard youth and prevent delinquency.
- To support youth and create safer communities, three very important priorities guide our work:
- Treat children as children;
- Serve youth at home, with their families, and in their communities; and
- Open up opportunities for young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
- We are also driven by two equally important overarching principles:
- A promise to partner with youth and families who are directly impacted by the juvenile justice system; and
- A commitment to racial equity and fairness.
I’d like to focus this first call on racial equity and fairness.
As I mentioned, OJJDP is committed to combating racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. We promote fairness in everything we do.
Data show that youth who are Black, American Indian, or Alaska Native are disproportionately arrested, even when charged with the same offenses as white youth.
The disparity in arrest rates between white and Black youth has increased in recent years.
Youth of color are disproportionately prosecuted in adult criminal court, detained in adult jails, and sentenced to adult prisons—again, even when charged with the same offenses as their white peers.
Over the last year, OJJDP has intensified efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
As a first step, we are enhancing transparency. We recently posted the Racial and Ethnic Disparities National Data Book on the OJJDP website.
The Data Book presents a national picture of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and identifies the decision points in the system where the biggest disparities exist.
We’ve engaged the National Center for Juvenile Justice to provide training and technical assistance to states on data collection methods. Accurate data will enable us to monitor and track progress on reducing racial and ethnic disparities.
We are partnering with our sister agency, the National Institute of Justice, to support research that identifies best practices in reducing racial and ethnic disparities.
We are making progress, but there is so much more to be done.
I assure you, OJJDP's commitment to equity is true and it is lasting.
I encourage you to learn more about our work on racial and ethnic disparities—and on the wide range of other issues in youth justice—by visiting our website, ojjdp.ojp.gov.
Thank you for joining me today. I look forward to our next call on July 27th at 3 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.