Attorney General Addresses Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation
In his welcome address at the National Law Enforcement Training on Child
Exploitation, Attorney General Merrick Garland underscored the necessity of attendees’ collaborative work, calling partnerships “the most effective tools we have to keep our communities and our children safe.” OJJDP and its Department of Justice partners hosted the annual training June 14–16 in Atlanta, GA. Sessions focused on the investigation and prosecution of technology-facilitated crimes against children, with workshops designed to expand the efforts and knowledge base of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors.
The Attorney General’s recorded remarks highlighted OJJDP’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces—called ICACs—representing more than 5,400 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. In 2021, the ICACs conducted more than 145,000 investigations and performed more than 88,000 digital forensic analyses—work that led to more than 10,000 arrests, Attorney General Garland said.
The 2022 training featured more than 160 speakers who offered 38 hands-on, computer-based workshops and 99 lecture-based sessions. They addressed a wide range of topics, including legal issues, sextortion, investigative tools, officer wellness, Internet safety, and how to process and investigate CyberTips. More than 1,600 professionals attended in person or via livestream, with some traveling from Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
OJJDP Committed to Serving Youth Impacted by Substance Use
When OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan addressed the Office’s virtual convening of Opioid Affected Youth Initiative grantees on July 26, she emphasized OJJDP’s commitment to assisting those seeking help to prevent or address substance misuse. “Empowering Community Voices Through De-Stigmatizing Approaches to Substance Use Prevention,” a 3-day event, was attended by OJJDP grantees whose projects are funded under the initiative.
The convening focused on effective strategies for improving community connectedness and engagement via an equitable, trauma-informed lens. Experts from the field addressed stigma and recovery support services; the conference also featured a moderated panel of mental health advocates and youth with lived experience. Attendees included professionals in law enforcement, the child welfare and foster care systems, the juvenile and criminal justice system, and treatment and mental health providers. The Administrator called on them to develop and implement treatment program strategies that recognize and embrace diversity, and that incorporate culturally relevant and sensitive practices.
“Substance use and dependence touch every community in this country,” Administrator Ryan said. “It is up to us to give youth and families the tools and resources they need to cope with the challenges this epidemic poses for their safety, their health, and their ability to pursue happy and productive lives.”
The Opioid Affected Youth Initiative currently supports 35 active awards that serve 5,300 youth and their families nationwide—and it is growing, the Administrator said. In fiscal year 2022, the Office anticipates awarding $9 million to fund an additional 12 sites.
OJJDP Administrator Conducts Listening Sessions With Stakeholders and Youth
In June, OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan began hosting a series of listening sessions and town halls with stakeholders, national partners, and youth. The ongoing virtual series offers OJJDP opportunities to learn about practitioners’ challenges and successes, and the lived experience of youth who have encountered the juvenile justice system. The events also allows attendees to make recommendation on how Administrator Ryan should advance her three priorities:
- Treating children as children.
- Serving young people at home with their families, in their communities.
- Opening up opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
The listening sessions include five topic-specific sessions addressing the Administrator’s three key priorities, how to build and promote an integrated continuum of care, and provisions in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Two other sessions feature feedback from national organizations on OJJDP’s priorities, and six are regional events convening professionals from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southern, Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest regions. At the two town halls, the Administrator will hear from youth with lived experience in the juvenile justice system.
Feedback from the discussions will help OJJDP to:
- Improve its services to meet the needs of justice-involved youth more effectively.
- Identify gaps and barriers youth face when accessing resources in their communities.
- Create and open opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
- Refine its vision of racial equity and fairness in juvenile justice.
The last event will be held August 29. Summaries of each listening session with key takeaways are being posted on the OJJDP website.
OJJDP Administrator’s Blog Posts Introduce New Initiatives
Administrator Liz Ryan is sharing her priorities and plans for OJJDP through regular blog posts on the Office website, highlighting Office initiatives and underscoring OJJDP’s pursuit of a nation where all children are free from crime and violence, and where youth contact with the justice system should be rare, fair, and beneficial.
The Administrator’s first post, released on June 30, introduces OJJDP’s new Youth and Family Partnership Working Group, an internal group comprising OJJDP program managers and policy staff. Members have been tasked with developing recommendations for Office activities, establishing best practices, and assessing programs and performance measures. Working group input will influence how OJJDP functions and help ensure that funded programs address youth wants and needs. Assignments include updating policy guidance on youth and family engagement, and developing a strategic plan for elevating the voices of youth and their families.
Administrator Ryan’s second blog post, released on July 11, discusses OJJDP’s fiscal year 2022 Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration Initiative solicitation. Funding under the initiative is intended to:
- Support state efforts to close and repurpose youth correctional facilities,
- Assess and respond to the impact of closures on facility staff and surrounding communities, and
- Reinvest state and local resources to support more effective community-based services and supports for justice-involved youth and their families.
In the post, the Administrator notes that the United States currently spends an estimated $5 billion each year to incarcerate children. “And research shows that locking up kids doesn’t work,” she writes. “This money is better spent on community-based alternatives, which are safer and more effective and offer youth the tools they need to grow into responsible citizens.”
Administrator Ryan will add new blog posts regularly.
Number of Youth Homicide Victims Rose Sharply in 2020
The number of youth suicide victims changed little from 2019 to 2020, but the number of youth homicide victims rose 47 percent, according to a new OJJDP Data Snapshot. Characteristics and Trends of Youth Victims of Suicide and Homicide, 2020 spotlights trends involving victims between the ages of 10 and 17. The snapshot also shows that in 2020:
- The suicide rate for males was more than twice the rate for females.
- The homicide rate for Black youth (15.4 per 100,000 youth) was 11 times higher than the rate for white youth (1.4 per 100,000 youth).
- The suicide rate for Native American youth (17.7 per 100,000 youth) was significantly higher than the rates for white (5.7 per 100,000), Black (3.8 per 100,000), Asian (3.9 per 100,00), and Hispanic (3.9 per 100,000) youth.
OJJDP Meets With Justice and Treatment Professionals at Drug Court Conference
At RISE22, the annual conference of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, OJJDP Program Manager Leanetta Jessie presented OJJDP grant opportunities for services to help youth and families overcome the effects of substance use. The in-person conference was held in Nashville, TN.
Ms. Jessie also discussed OJJDP’s substance use portfolio, including its three drug court programs, and the Mentoring for Youth Affected by Opioid and Other Drug Misuse and Opioid Affected Youth initiatives. OJJDP Program Manager Geroma Void helped plan the session, titled Federal Priorities and the Future of Treatment Courts. Other participants included representatives from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
OJJDP has supported numerous efforts by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals to expand treatment and recovery options for youth affected by substance use, including the Adolescent Recovery Oriented Systems of Care project. The project is designed to help youth build personal resources and increase their access to other supports—including social, financial, and community—that promote long-term recovery.
Researchers Identify Tips for Reducing the Likelihood of Mass Attacks
A team of researchers funded by the National Institute of Justice has created a toolkit designed to help reduce the likelihood of mass shootings and other public attacks, and to reduce casualties when attacks occur. The Mass Attacks Defense Toolkit was developed by researchers who reviewed 600 mass attack events and hundreds of references, and interviewed dozens of experts. They identified a three-phase “mass attacks defense chain,” outlining the key components of each phase:
- The prevent phase concerns deterring, detecting, and stopping plans for a mass attack.
- The mitigate phase concerns halting mass attacks as quickly and with as few casualties as possible.
- The post-attack followup phase concerns actions needed to investigate the attack, provide for the well-being of responders and the wider community, and learn from the incident.
The researchers also identified resources available to support efforts to prevent, mitigate, and respond to mass attacks, including grants and other funding opportunities.