Presidential Proclamation Highlights OJJDP Funding for Youth
President Biden underscored the importance of modernizing the youth justice system and advancing equity and racial justice when he declared October 2021 National Youth Justice Action Month. The President's proclamation refers to OJJDP grants, which “are giving young people access to high-quality legal representation and resources to help them better manage the consequences of their contact with the system.” The President also noted that youth of color disproportionately encounter both the youth justice and child welfare systems, and he vowed to address those inequities. “By shifting our focus from incarceration to prevention, we can bring about a brighter future for our young people and our country as a whole,” the proclamation states.
OJJDP Recognized for Excellence in Communications
OJJDP received two Awards of Distinction from The Communicator Awards.
OJJDP’s 2020 National Missing Children’s Day campaign received recognition in the Design & Print category for Special Event Marketing/Promotion. Held annually in May, National Missing Children’s Day highlights child safety and honors individuals and organizations dedicated to serving children, protecting them from harm, and reuniting missing children with their families. When designing the campaign, the OJJDP team drew inspiration from the 2019 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest winner, an elementary school student from Kentucky.
The September/October 2020 issue of OJJDP News @ a Glance received recognition in the Newsletter category for Digital/Branded Content. The lead article highlighted OJJDP’s work to help communities address gang activity and violence. The issue also highlighted the OJJDP-supported Bigs in Blue mentoring program, a youth leader who cohosted a virtual town hall for tribal youth, and the new JustGrants system for managing Justice Department grants.
An international awards program, The Communicator Awards receive thousands of entries annually and extend Awards of Distinction to projects “that exceed industry standards in quality and achievement.”
Data Briefs Discuss COVID-19 Impact on Juvenile Justice Facilities
OJJDP’s Performance-based Standards (PbS) Learning Institute has released three Data Snapshots summarizing the impact of COVID-19 in juvenile justice facilities. Data were reported voluntarily by 148 correction, detention, assessment, and community-based residential programs in 32 states. The briefs highlight data from April 2021—1 year into the pandemic—on average daily population, prevention practices, and COVID-19 positive test rates:
- Responding to the Pandemic: Fewer Youths in Custody discusses a decline in the average daily population of youth in detention centers, contributions to the trend, and how to sustain it. The daily population averaged 44 youth in October 2019; 6 months later, as COVID-19 spread, it was 22. The average has continued to decline slightly, remaining below prepandemic levels in April 2021.
- COVID-19 Prevention and Protection Strategies discusses prevention and protection strategies at PbS participating facilities, including screening; use of sanitizer, gloves, masks, and personal protective equipment; and social distancing. During April 2021, at least 90 percent of facilities implemented most pandemic-response practice recommendations.
- Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Testing Practices discusses testing and prevention strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In April 2021, facilities tested more than 2,250 youth and approximately 7,000 staff for COVID-19. The positive test rate for youth was 4 percent; it was less than 2 percent for staff.
Police Chiefs Association Holds Annual Conference
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) held its Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans, LA, September 11–14, 2021. Public safety professionals attend this annual training to learn new techniques, advance knowledge, network, and equip their departments for success. The 2021 conference offered more than 175 educational workshops on law enforcement topics, including live, prerecorded, and hybrid sessions.
Staff from OJJDP’s Special Victims and Violent Offenders Division developed two sessions for the conference’s leadership track: “Mentoring: An Essential Law Enforcement Tool for Working With Youth” and “Reducing Gang Violence While Building Impactful Police-Community Relationships: An Introduction to the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model.” Associate Administrator James Antal and Senior Program Manager Scott Pestridge designed the sessions for law enforcement executives, highlighting the critical role law enforcement plays in supporting community-based violence prevention and intervention efforts.
Youth Respond to Telehealth Counseling During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth (NCSBY) helped several counseling agencies offer telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling them to maintain programs for youth with problematic sexual behaviors. With OJJDP funding, NCSBY—part of the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center—offers training and technical assistance and helps ensure that information about the youth it serves is accurate and accessible.
In response to social distancing and other pandemic-related challenges, three NCSBY partners turned to telehealth:
- In Chicago, IL, Youth Outreach Services used interactive online games to adapt its curriculum and therapeutic strategies. A mix of virtual and in-person services enabled caregivers to respond to referrals and develop relationships with youth.
- Therapists at the Joseph J. Peters Institute in Philadelphia, PA, quickly mitigated client barriers to telehealth participation, creating interactive virtual sessions. The institute maintained all of its groups while offering comprehensive evaluations and individual psychiatric services.
- Cayuga Counseling Services in Auburn, NY, transitioned from full telehealth to a hybrid model in September 2020 without interrupting services. Dedicated “zoom rooms” allowed families without Internet access to participate in support groups.
Report Will Inform Research and Programming on Gang-Related Issues
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has published Advancing Knowledge To Reduce Gangs and Gang Violence: Perspectives From Researchers and Practitioners. The report summarizes input offered by researchers and practitioners during a virtual meeting convened by NIJ in May 2020. NIJ sought expert insights to inform its development of evidence-based programs, policies, and practices to address gangs and gang violence, and sought advice on how to proceed with research on the topic.
Meeting presentations focused on gang research funded by NIJ since 2012; CrimeSolutions information on responses to gangs and gang violence; a trial gang intervention program in Denver, CO; and a prevention program in Philadelphia, PA. Discussions emphasized learnings to date, challenges to conducting rigorous research, and knowledge gaps that merit further research.
Participants recommended research for better understanding the impact of external factors on the success of gang prevention and intervention programs. The report is intended to assist communities and organizations as they develop and implement programs to address gangs and gang violence, and to improve their assessments of programs and outcomes.