May | June 2017

OJJDP Welcomes Utah as a Smart on Juvenile Justice State

On May 22, 2017, OJJDP Acting Administrator Eileen M. Garry met with state leaders during Utah’s first Smart on Juvenile Justice implementation meeting. She congratulated the state on passing legislation to end unnecessary youth incarceration and reduce recidivism, and pledged agency support for legislation implementation. “We at OJJDP understand the challenge of building consensus around comprehensive reform legislation and we admire your hard work and commitment to the process,” Ms. Garry said.

OJJDP launched the Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative in 2014 to support programs that promote juvenile justice system improvements, address racial and ethnic disparities within the system, and provide training and technical assistance (TTA) to juvenile prosecutors and defenders.


In March 2017, Utah successfully enacted House Bill 239, a comprehensive package of policies designed to improve the state’s juvenile justice system by expanding and strengthening effective early intervention and diversion; standardizing responses to reduce disparities based on race, ethnicity, and geography; and reserving system resources for youth who pose the highest risk to public safety. Ms. Garry met with Utah State House Representative V. Lowry Snow, who sponsored the bill; Ron Gordon, Executive Director of the state's Juvenile Justice Reform Oversight Committee; and other committee members as part of the implementation kickoff proceedings.


Utah began its system improvement effort with an indepth, statewide examination of its juvenile justice system. Upon request, The Pew Charitable Trusts' Public Safety Performance Project and the Crime and Justice Institute provided technical assistance to Utah's Juvenile Justice Working Group. The group reviewed national research, state data, and evidence-based practices and issued a report that became the basis for House Bill 239.


OJJDP’s TTA provider, the Crime and Justice Institute, will help Utah implement its new policies as part of the Office's Smart on Juvenile Justice: A Comprehensive Strategy to Juvenile Justice Reform program. Utah’s technical assistance will be based on collaboratively developed priorities, with input from stakeholders across the state’s juvenile justice system.


Utah joins Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, South Dakota, and West Virginia as states that have passed comprehensive juvenile justice legislative reforms and that have received assistance from OJJDP to support implementation.


To learn more about the Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative, visit the OJJDP website.