OJJDP has released its Tribal Consultation Response, a summary of issues discussed at the June 25, 2020, tribal consultation and OJJDP commitments to respond to concerns identified by tribal representatives.
Through the consultation, OJJDP sought input on the best ways to collaborate with and support tribes when implementing Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) provisions that impact tribal youth. OJJDP also sought to support and encourage applications for nontribal-specific funding for youth programs.
Passed by the U.S. Congress in 2018, the JJRA reauthorized and substantially amended the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Provisions in the JJRA specifically related to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes include language about Title II formula grants, funding transparency, and tribal representation in state advisory groups (SAGs).
Consultation attendees included tribal leaders and representatives from across the country. In addition to JJRA implementation and funding opportunities, they discussed how OJJDP can address barriers that keep tribes from accessing resources, provide desired training and technical assistance (TTA), promote existing tribal programs and innovations, and help increase state-tribal partnerships and tribal representation on SAGs. OJJDP provided a 120-day comment period after the consultation to solicit further input.
Tribal representatives uniformly stressed the importance of acknowledging and respecting the validity of tribal culture and culturally based approaches to working with youth, both within and outside the justice system. Participants also emphasized the need for culturally relevant standards when measuring the effectiveness of tribal programs; Western standards fail to recognize the value of traditional approaches, they said.
Tribal nations need and expect regular, ongoing dialog with OJJDP to guide their implementation of JJRA provisions, the representatives said. They recommended creating a work group or advisory committee to collaborate with the OJJDP Administrator and the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. They also voiced a need for funding to establish and support the basic infrastructure of tribal justice systems, including law enforcement officers, tribal courts, judges, court clerks, and court facilities. Some tribal courts currently rely solely on volunteers, for example, and do not have designated meeting spaces.
In response to the attendees' input and the needs expressed, OJJDP pledged to take a number of actions, including:
- Add a consultation or listening session to the biennial Tribal Youth Conference, and request tribes' feedback on the possibility of holding a similar session at the annual State Relations and Assistance Division National Training.
- Recommend that at least one tribal representative should serve on the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Coordinating Council. OJJDP will also recommend that both of these advisory groups create a subcommittee devoted to tribal concerns.
- Ensure that each SAG includes a tribal representative, and provide TTA to ensure states can meet this JJRA requirement.
- Collaborate with the Department of the Interior and the Census Bureau to strengthen the tribal pass-through process for Title II funding and consult with tribes whose Title II funds are impacted by the pass-through formula and methodology.
- Coordinate across federal agencies to identify programs that support tribal juvenile services, and make that information available to tribes in anticipation of issuing a solicitation for a comprehensive needs assessment of those services.
Several additional commitments pertain to OJJDP-provided TTA, such as ensuring that TTA providers facilitate the exchange of tribal best practices. OJJDP will also investigate whether some solicitations should include language allowing applicants to propose using Indigenous practices rather than standard, evidence-based programs in which tribal youth are underrepresented.
"We convened the tribal consultation to ensure that we tailor OJJDP's work with tribal youth in ways that respect American Indian and Alaska Native culture and values. OJJDP will continue to listen and act in accordance with the wisdom and expertise of tribal nations."
—Chyrl Jones, Acting OJJDP Administrator
Visit OJJDP's Tribal Consultation webpage to read the full consultation response, and watch or read a transcript of the consultation webinar. OJJDP's Consultation Framing Paper on the Juvenile Justice Reform Act and Tribal Youth Delinquency Prevention and Intervention Programs outlines JJRA tribal provisions and explains both the Title II Formula Grants program and discretionary grant funding for youth programs.
The OJJDP website also includes a fact sheet on JJRA tribal provisions.