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May | June 2015

OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee Delivers Remarks at Coalition for Juvenile Justice Conference

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice annual conference, co-hosted by OJJDP, was held on June 10–13, 2015, in Coalition for Juvenile Justice logoWashington, DC. Titled “At the Forefront: Emerging Challenges and Solutions to Reforming Juvenile Justice,” the event brought together key leaders of juvenile justice reform and other stakeholders from various state agencies across the nation.

OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee, introduced by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, spoke at the conference. In his remarks, Mr. Listenbee stressed the Office’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of the nation’s children and reforming the juvenile justice system to better meet the needs of system-involved youth.

Recalling OJJDP’s commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act last year, and the mandate set by its authorizing legislation, Administrator Listenbee noted the progress OJJDP and its state partners have made in addressing the core protections outlined in the Act, reducing out-of-home placement, and reforming the juvenile justice system.

Despite significant advances over the past 40 years—such as decreases in violent crime arrest rates for youth and drops in the number of youth in residential placement—Mr. Listenbee acknowledged that more work needs to be done. “Research shows—and we’ve all seen firsthand—that troubled youth often have better outcomes when they receive targeted, appropriate, community-based treatment and services,” Mr. Listenbee said. “Narrowing the ‘front door’ to the juvenile justice system is one of the most important ways we can continue to improve outcomes for youth. We have to provide the right services to the right kids at the right time to keep them out of the juvenile justice system.”

Listenbee assured conference participants of OJJDP’s dedication to working with state agencies, maintaining that the Office will continue to take a leadership role in reform and reinvestment efforts and “stand with states that are already working to transform what we know is excellent research into good policy and quality practice.”

The theme of collaboration to foster juvenile justice reform also ran through workshop sessions facilitated by OJJDP staff. Presenters detailed strategies for better collaboration between OJJDP and the states, offered practitioners tools to provide quality education to youth in juvenile justice facilities, and explored ways that federal and state partners can better work together to end racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system.

One OJJDP-facilitated session also provided opportunities for participants to learn more about the juvenile justice system reforms taking place in Georgia, Hawaii, and Kentucky and supported by the Office under the Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative. Another OJJDP session offered a forum for youth and law enforcement to engage in dialog through a listening session designed to improve relationships and increase trust between communities and law enforcement.

In a session on ending racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system, panelists highlighted current disproportionate minority contact (DMC) data trends, discussed new and expanded ways of using the DMC-Reduction Model, provided examples of DMC-reduction success stories, and discussed the new standards for compliance with the DMC core requirement. Presenters also provided an overview of OJJDP's new training and technical assistance center, established to assist states and communities develop strategies to address racial and ethnic disparities within the system. The session was attended by 75 participants.

In addition to the sessions touching on various aspects of juvenile justice reform, the conference presented an opportunity for OJJDP to announce its new Core Protections Division, a division created to help states in their compliance activities by providing them with greater transparency and increased resources and support. The new division is headed by LeToya Johnson, who was on hand to answer questions from conference participants.


Learn more about OJJDP’s Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative.

Visit the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s Resource Library.