Hello! I am Liz Ryan, the new Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP.
For more than two decades, I have been a proud advocate for juvenile justice reforms. I cofounded and cochaired a campaign to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Most recently, I served as president and CEO of the Youth First Initiative, a national effort focused on ending the incarceration of youth by investing in community-based alternatives. I am eager to apply the knowledge I have gained in these positions to my new role as Administrator.
I plan to pursue three key priorities:
- First, treating children as children.
- Second, serving children at home, in their communities, with their families.
- And third, opening up opportunities for young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
An overarching focus that runs through each of these priorities is a commitment to racial equity and fairness. Our juvenile justice system simply cannot be fair as long as youth of color are overrepresented. We will address this inequity!
My first priority is rooted in common sense and validated by the science of brain development. We must treat ALL children as children. Children are NOT mini adults. They need support, and they deserve hope!
My second priority is to serve children at home, in their communities, with their families. Community-based alternatives to incarceration are much more effective at promoting community safety. They are also widely accepted.
The vast majority of Americans support juvenile justice reforms that invest in community-based alternatives OVER incarceration. And the public strongly favors involving families and keeping young people at home.
My final priority focuses on opening up opportunities for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. That means making sure that youth in the system have access to the same programs and opportunities that other youth have.
I look forward to working with—and listening to—all of OJJDP’s stakeholders—especially impacted young people and their families. We are partners—and we welcome your input. Together, we can help more young people find positive paths forward!