Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones recalled a time of personal transformation—her battle with cancer—when addressing the Transformation of Youth Justice Symposium. Presented by the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, the event took place on September 8–9, 2021.
Drawing parallels between the needs of justice-involved youth and her own needs as a patient, Acting Administrator Jones shared that she was "stunned, shocked, dazed—completely overcome" when she was diagnosed. She learned to lean on her mother and sister, who attended every medical appointment. "They heard what I couldn’t hear," she said in recorded remarks. “They believed in me…when I simply didn’t have the energy.” Youth entering the juvenile justice or child welfare systems feel just as overwhelmed, Acting Administrator Jones said.
“Justice-involved youth also need a support system. They deserve a network of dedicated professionals who believe in them—who they can count on for support, rehabilitation, education, guidance, and treatment. They need a reason to believe and to not give up.”
—OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones
The Acting Administrator provided an overview of OJJDP programs that support juvenile justice system reform and emphasized the Office’s commitment to youth who return to their communities following residential placement. In fiscal year 2020, OJJDP awarded nearly $20 million to support state efforts for system reform.
Acting Administrator Jones also highlighted OJJDP’s ongoing work with the RFK Resource Center. With OJJDP funding, the center’s Dennis M. Mondoro Probation and Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Project has provided training and technical assistance since 2018 to local jurisdictions seeking to improve community supervision. The project is currently helping six sites incorporate adolescent development into their practices, screen for and treat trauma, and find alternatives to formal involvement in the juvenile justice system.
OJJDP funds the Mondoro project through the 2018 Second Chance Act: Ensuring Public Safety and Improving Outcomes for Youth in Confinement and While Under Community Supervision program. The program name comes from the 2008 Second Chance Act, which authorizes federal grants for reentry services to help youth who are transitioning from detention or treatment to life in the community. In fiscal year 2020, OJJDP awarded $11.2 million in Second Chance Act funding.
The Acting Administrator closed her remarks by recognizing the vital work of the juvenile justice and child welfare professionals in attendance and thanking them for their devotion to improving the juvenile justice system.
OJJDP’s Implementation Guide: Juvenile Reentry Programs outlines recommended steps for juvenile justice agencies that wish to implement reentry programs but need background information or help with choosing an evidence-based program. It is intended for use with OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide, which contains information about evidence-based juvenile justice and youth prevention, intervention, and reentry programs.