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July | August 2015

Administrator Listenbee Asks Juvenile and Family Judges To Help Create Equality Throughout the System

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges logo

This year’s National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) conference, held on July 26–29, 2015, in Austin, TX, gave OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee an opportunity to take his message of reform to the more than 400 judges, probation officers, judicial officials, and other stakeholders in attendance.

In his remarks, Administrator Listenbee commended NCJFCJ for partnering with the Office on a number of OJJDP-sponsored efforts aimed at keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system. He acknowledged NCJFCJ for its work in implementing the School Justice Collaboration Program: Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court; for establishing the National Resource Center on School Justice Partnerships, a center that provides research, training, and technical assistance to help educators and court stakeholders respond appropriately to student behavior needs; and for initiating the School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System Project, which is designed to evaluate the replication of successful school and court partnerships.

Mr. Listenbee also gave a special mention to NCJFCJ’s research arm, the National Center for Juvenile Justice, for leading the work on several OJJDP-funded national data collections that he called critical to the development of the field.

Praising the attendees for their unsurpassed work in and out of the courtroom, Administrator Listenbee encouraged the attendees to help create equality and fairness throughout the system and to ensure more uniform treatment for system-involved youth across the nation. “A child can commit an offense in one county and have an overall positive experience with our system,” he said. “That same child could commit the same offense in an adjacent county and have a very different and negative experience. This is justice by geography; but it is not equal justice and it is not acceptable.”

Mr. Listenbee also urged the judicial officials to set concrete goals for the immediate future. “Make the match on each kid you place. Provide the right services for the right child at the right time, and commit [yourselves] to reducing your out of home placements by 10-percent in the next year.”

NCJFCJ is the oldest judicial membership organization in the country for juvenile and family court judges. It is committed to continuously improving the family court system and court practices, and to raising awareness of the core issues that touch the lives of the nation's children and families. This year's conference featured topics on child abuse and neglect, trauma, custody and visitation, sex trafficking of minors, family violence, psychotropic medications, children testifying in court, detention alternatives, substance abuse, and the adolescent brain, among others.