OJJDP News @ a Glance banner

Printer-Friendly Version (September/October 2006)

OJJDP Sponsors Conferences on Protecting Children

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently supported two conferences with the theme of protecting our nation's children.

AMBER Alert Conference

Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, opened the 2006 AMBER Alert Conference, held July 17–21 in Albuquerque, NM, with a challenge to participants to work together to recover abducted children. In her welcome to conference participants, Ms. Schofield, who also serves the U.S. Department of Justice's National AMBER Alert Coordinator, said, "The challenges of finding missing and abducted children require us to be vigilant in our commitment and efforts…Taking on the responsibility of being an active partner in the AMBER Alert Program requires continuous team building, coordination, and the vigilance to never lose sight of the objective."

Much of the conference, which was sponsored by OJJDP's AMBER Alert Technical Assistance Provider Fox Valley Technical College, addressed issues of importance to Native Americans as tribes explore implementing or expanding AMBER Alert in Indian Country. Sessions were held on community partnerships among tribes, local law enforcement and AMBER Alert coordinators; as well as how the legal systems are different on tribal lands (i.e., what is involved in prosecuting child abductions and legal issues that law enforcement should be aware of when dealing with Native American communities). Other sessions addressed the history of border issues, progress AMBER Alert has made in stopping child abductions from crossing our borders, and the work that still needs to be done. Participants included AMBER Alert coordinators and their partners from the media/broadcast industry, law enforcement, transportation, and State Missing Children Clearinghouses.

Crimes Against Children Conference

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave the keynote address at the 18th Annual Crimes Against Children Conference held August 21–24 in Dallas, TX. Highlighting the special difficulties posed by modern technology, Mr. Gonzales emphasized the need to work together to keep our nation's children safe. "The Internet has made the global responsibility of protecting our kids even more challenging. While being perhaps the greatest invention of our generation, this tool has also, unfortunately, provided elements that criminals love: a cloak of anonymity, speed of communication, and global access to potential victims."

Sponsored in part by OJJDP and presented by the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center and Dallas Police Department, the conference brought together 2,700 law enforcement officers, child advocates, social workers, and others who work directly with cases involving crimes against children. Participants attended workshops on investigative techniques, forensics, legal issues, and other topics.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, with Michelle Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, views a demonstration of the Child Victim Identification Lab.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with Michelle Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, views a demonstration of the Child Victim Identification Lab.
In addition, this year marked the debut of the Child Victim Identification Lab. The lab was developed as a collaborative effort by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces. This computer lab will serve as a valuable tool to assist NCMEC in identifying children who are depicted in child pornography pictures and movies. Conference participants were able to view a demonstration (featuring only images of children in non-abusive situations) of the lab and were given training in identifying details in video and photograph backgrounds that might offer clues as to the location of the child.

The 5th Annual ICAC Conference was held in conjunction with the annual Crimes Against Children Conference. OJJDP Administrator J. Robert Flores welcomed the assembled ICAC Task Forces to the conference. Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield addressed the opening session of the ICAC gathering. Ms. Schofield stressed the need for continued efforts to address child exploitation and thanked the participants for all their work in protecting our Nation's children.

Conference Focuses on Law Enforcement Solutions for Reducing DMC

OJJDP's 11th Annual Conference on Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), held September 7–10 in New Orleans, focused on law enforcement approaches to reducing racial disparities and disproportionately high rates of juvenile justice system contact for minority youth. Marilyn Roberts, OJJDP's Deputy Administrator for Programs, welcomed participants on behalf of OJJDP, described the Office's DMC efforts, and provided an update on States' progress in addressing DMC. Presented through a grant to the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), the conference sought to expand partnerships among State Advisory Groups (SAGs), state juvenile justice agencies, local juvenile justice practitioners, and law enforcement officers.

The opening session featured a presentation by Steve Holbert, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and coauthor of The Color of Guilt and Innocence, who discussed policing practices, the effects of racial profiling and surveillance on communities and public safety, and ways in which law enforcement agencies can guard against racial bias. Luncheon speaker Garry Mendez, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Trust for African American Men, spoke about the urgency of recognizing and addressing systemic racial disparities that affect African American youth. The closing general session offered information on law enforcement-faith community partnerships to reduce DMC.

Conference workshops highlighted a wide variety of approaches to DMC reduction (see Workshop Topics sidebar). At facilitated forums, small discussion groups explored ideas for partnerships and next steps. Meetings involving State Juvenile Justice Specialists and DMC Coordinators provided opportunities for information sharing, and training sessions offered guidance to SAG members regarding their roles in working with designated state agencies in DMC reduction planning.

OJJDP's release of its new DMC Technical Assistance Manual, 3rd Edition, coincided with the conference. This comprehensive online tool, designed to be used with OJJDP's Web-Based DMC Data Entry System, covers DMC identification and monitoring, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

Other conference highlights included the presentation of two awards: Pat Cervera of Denver, CO, was named 2006 Tony Gobar Outstanding Juvenile Justice Specialist, and the CJJ Spirit of Youth Award went to Marvin Gumba of Gods X Gangsters, Norfolk, VA. CJJ also arranged for conference attendees to take part in a local youth-related service project working to restore New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Workshop Topics

  • Law enforcement perspectives: processing, public safety requirements, and custody decisions as they pertain to DMC.

  • Youth/family perspectives: strategies for building bridges between at-risk youth and law enforcement.

  • Partnerships between law enforcement and community-based agencies designed to reduce DMC at the point of arrest (Louisville, KY).

  • A community policing approach to increasing positive police-youth interactions and reducing arrests of nonwhite youth for minor offenses (Boston, MA).

  • Strategies for addressing disproportionality in child welfare through community engagement and cross-system collaboration (Texas).

  • A DMC arrest diversion program in which police suspend the arrest process upon apprehension, referring youth for a 60 to 90-day assessment outside of the juvenile justice system in a restorative justice context (New York).

  • Forums to bring together law enforcement and minority community leaders (Pennsylvania).

  • A "stationhouse adjustment" program in which law enforcement and community-based agencies collaborate to divert minority youth from the system (New Jersey).

  • A one-day training curriculum on "Effective Police Interactions With Youth" (Connecticut).

  • Use of police-generated data in reducing DMC, police participation in community mapping projects, and police collaboration with diversionary and alternative programs (W. Haywood Burns Institute).

  • Reducing racial disparities in arrests of students by school resource officers.

NCJFCJ Holds Conference on Juvenile Probation and Justice Management

On September 17–20, 2006 in Providence, RI, OJJDP cosponsored a conference held by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and the National Juvenile Court Services Association (NCSA).

The conference addressed issues such as juvenile probation, dispositional alternatives, and mental health issues in juvenile justice, as well as case management of juvenile sex offenders. Marilyn Roberts, Deputy Administrator for Programs, OJJDP, was a keynote speaker. OJJDP staff member Scott Peterson served on the conference faculty.

Dedicated to improving the effectiveness of the nation's juvenile courts, NCJFCJ members include more than 1,700 judges, referees, commissioners, masters, and other juvenile and family professionals. NCJFCJ provides training, technical assistance, and research to help the nation's courts address a variety of juvenile and family-related issues, including child abuse and neglect, adoption and foster care, juvenile delinquency, and family violence. Among the NCJFCJ projects funded by OJJDP are the Permanency Planning for Children Department and the National Juvenile Court Data Archive.

Permanency Planning

The Permanency Planning for Children Department (PPCD) works with judges, jurisdictions, and communities nationwide to implement best practices and improve outcomes for the nation's abused and neglected children and their families. Through national projects and initiatives, training and technical assistance, and research, PPCD assists judges to ensure that each child's case is handled expeditiously and that safety, permanency, and well-being are paramount.

In one such initiative, PPCD assists OJJDP in implementing the Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act (SANCA) in six states: Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, New Jersey, and Virginia. Project partners in each of these sites are helping to improve automated information systems, implement performance measurement, and perform other related management functions specifically for child abuse and neglect (dependency) litigation.

Data Archive

Established by OJJDP and maintained by the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJFCJ's research arm), the National Juvenile Court Data Archive houses the automated records of cases handled by courts with juvenile jurisdiction. The Archive provides juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, researchers, and the public with the most detailed information available on the activities of the nation's juvenile courts. In addition to identifying, collecting, and documenting data, the Archive analyzes data, prepares special analysis reports, and serves as an information clearinghouse, responding to information requests from Federal, State, and local justice agencies, researchers, data suppliers, and the media.

In fiscal year 2005, the Archive collected case-level data on several million delinquency cases handled by the Nation's juvenile courts dating back to 1985. Data from state and local administrative information systems were standardized for reporting in the annual Juvenile Court Statistics report and various presentations on OJJDP's online Statistical Briefing Book. These data provide users with national estimates of juvenile court delinquency case processing and profiles of the youth involved. The Juvenile Court Statistics report released in fiscal 2005 was one of the most popular OJJDP publications.

Technical Assistance

NCJFCJ also provides support for OJJDP's Juvenile and Family Drug Courts programs by offering technical assistance on a variety of subjects to adult, juvenile, family, and tribal drug courts and state agencies. In addition, through NCJFCJ, OJJDP offers training programs to those interested in implementing drug courts.

Finally, OJJDP and NCJFCJ together developed the Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency Cases. The Guidelines set forth essential elements of effective practice for each court process involved in handling delinquency cases, from intake through post-disposition review.

For More Information

To learn more about the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, visit www.ncjfcj.org. For information about the National Center for Juvenile Justice, visit www.ncjj.org.

NCJJ Bulletins

The National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) is the research arm of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. NCJJ's Technical Assistance to the Juvenile Court Project, supported by a grant from OJJDP, periodically develops bulletins on important juvenile justice issues and emerging topics for best practices. Three recently-released new bulletins are the following:

  • The Guide to the State Juvenile Justice Profiles guides users through the layout and content of the State Juvenile Justice Profiles Web site.

  • The Importance of Timely Case Processing in Non-Detained Juvenile Delinquency Cases lists seven steps for achieving timely court processing and describes promising practices to help courts accelerate court processing of non-detained delinquency cases.

  • How Does the Juvenile Justice System Measure Up? Applying Performance Measures in Five Jurisdictions presents a case for measuring and reporting juvenile justice system performance outcomes.

Bulletins can be downloaded for free from http://ncjj.servehttp.com/NCJJWebsite/publications/serial/taspecial.htm.

President Signs Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was signed into law by President Bush on July 27, 2006, the 25th anniversary of Adam's abduction and murder. The Act helps protect America's children against the dangers posed by sexual offenders.

The Act has a number of important provisions:

  • The Act amends the Crime Control Act by authorizing grants to jurisdictions in enforcing the sex offender registration requirements.

  • The Act establishes the "Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking" or "SMART Office" within the Office of Justice Programs.

  • The Act provides for consistency in information provided by the sex offender, including a DNA sample, and for the maintenance of the National Sex Offender Registry for updated information to be transmitted immediately to all relevant jurisdictions.

  • The Act strengthens national standards for sex offender registration and notification by requiring sex offenders to periodically verify the information.

  • The three-tier classification for sex offenders expands the length of time from 15 years to life that a sex offender must remain on the registry depending on the severity of the sexual abuse.

  • The Act provides for law enforcement agencies to take action when a sex offender fails to register and enhances penalties for various federal violent crimes and sexual offenses against children.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales praised the Act as a valuable tool in keeping children safe. "America's children will be better protected from every parent's worst nightmare—sexual predators—thanks to passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006…The protection of our nation's children has been, and will continue to be, one of the Department's highest priorities, and we believe this bill will help us do our job even better."

In keeping with the Attorney General's focus on protecting children, OJJDP supports and works in close cooperation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). John Walsh, of the television program "America's Most Wanted," founded NCMEC following the abduction and murder of his son, Adam, in 1981. NCMEC's mission is to help prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

OJJDP also helps protect children from sexual predators through the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Program. In response to the rapidly increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims, the ICAC Program helps State and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases.

Upcoming Training Events Address a Wide Range of Topics

OJJDP is sponsoring a number of training events for law enforcement and juvenile justice professionals during November and December 2006. For details (including information on how to register), visit www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/events/EventList.asp.

OJJDP Regional Training Programs

Child Fatality Investigations. November 13–17, Jacksonville, FL. Provides law enforcement, child protective services workers, medical professionals, and other juvenile justice system professionals with comprehensive training on cases involving child abuse and neglect, including detection, intervention, investigation, and prosecution.

School Resource Officers. November 13–7, Jacksonville, FL. Demonstrates standards of excellence and best practices in the enhanced role of school resource officers as leaders in planning and maintaining a safe school environment.

Responding to Missing and Abducted Children. November 13–17, Jacksonville, FL, and December 4–8, Tucson, AR. Provides law enforcement investigators with the information needed to understand, recognize, investigate, and resolve cases involving missing and abducted children.

Child Sexual Exploitation Investigations. December 4–8, Tucson, AR. Provides law enforcement professionals with the information needed to understand, recognize, investigate, and resolve situations involving child sexual exploitation.

Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases: December 3–6, Santa Fe, NM

Presented by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and funded by OJJDP, this 3-day interactive workshop provides an essential foundation for new and experienced judges who handle criminal, civil, and family law cases involving domestic violence.

Youth for Justice Seminar for School Resource Officers and Community Police: December 11–13, Las Vegas, NV

This 3-day interactive seminar is designed for school resource officers and community police who work with youth, as well as teachers and school administrators. Participants will learn how to engage students in learning about issues related to law enforcement and public safety. The seminar, part of the OJJDP-funded Youth for Justice project, will be hosted by the Constitutional Rights Foundation and Street Law, Inc.

New Publications

All OJJDP publications (with the exception of some titles in the Portable Guides to Investigating Child Abuse series) may be viewed and downloaded at ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications. Print publications may also be ordered from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse (order online at puborder.ncjrs.gov or call 800–851–3420).

Portable Guides to Investigating Child Abuse: Reprints Released

Portable Guides to Investigating Child Abuse: Reprints (cover)OJJDP's Portable Guides series provides practical information on investigating child abuse and neglect. Written by nationally recognized experts, the guides are presented in a user-friendly format for quick on-the-job reference by police officers and detectives. The guides are also useful for social workers, physicians, attorneys, and others on the frontlines of reporting, investigating, and prosecuting crimes against children. The series currently includes 14 titles, each addressing a specific topic.

OJJDP recently released reprints of the following guides:

Criminal Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse (NCJ 214371). Describes techniques for conducting an investigation that will successfully support or disprove an accusation of child sexual abuse in a court of law.

Interviewing Child Witnesses and Victims of Sexual Abuse (NCJ 214124). Describes and illustrates practical techniques for interviewing children to elicit useful, factual information.

Photodocumentation in the Investigation of Child Abuse (NCJ 214123). Describes equipment and methods that will help investigators obtain the best possible photographic evidence in child abuse cases.

Recognizing When a Child's Injury or Illness Is Caused by Abuse (NCJ 214125). Provides criteria for determining whether a child's injuries are the result of abuse.

Now Available

AMBER Alert: Best Practices Guide for Public Information Officers. Describes the public information officer's (PIO's) job responsibilities and provides tips to maximize the PIO's effectiveness before, during, and after an AMBER Alert activation. (July 2006, NCJ 212703)

National Evaluation of the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program. Presents findings from a national evaluation of the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program that examined sites in six states. (August 2006, NCJ 212214)

Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual, 3rd Edition (e-pub)New Online: Updated and Expanded DMC Technical Assistance Manual

Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual, 3rd Edition, provides detailed guidance on DMC identification and monitoring, assessment, intervention, and evaluation. Its intended audience is Juvenile Justice Specialists, members of State Planning Agencies and State Advisory Groups, DMC researchers and consultants, and policymakers and practitioners involved in the juvenile justice system at the state and local levels. The manual incorporates lessons learned in DMC efforts over the years, bringing states and localities the latest information and tools for understanding and effectively addressing minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system.

Funding Update

The following is a brief summary of OJJDP's recent funding activities. Be sure to check the Current Funding section of the OJJDP Web site for the latest news on OJJDP funding opportunities. To receive e-mail notification of new funding opportunities, subscribe to JUVJUST.

Recent Awards

OJJDP recently made 21 awards totaling more than $7 million for two programs developed in the Office's Demonstration Programs Division. OJJDP's Field-Initiated Research and Evaluation Program supports original, rigorous, scientific research and evaluation studies to inform the disciplines of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and child maltreatment prevention and intervention. The Office's Field-Initiated Demonstration Program fosters innovations and advancements in juvenile justice related practice at the local, state, and tribal government levels as part of OJJDP's overall effort to support programs that enhance juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

Awards were given to organizations and academic institutions from around the country. The funds will support a variety of demonstration programs and research activities focusing on a number of topics, including preventing and responding to the sexual exploitation of adolescent girls, reducing the online sexual victimization of children and increasing children's Internet safety, job readiness programs for incarcerated adolescents and young adults, and substance abuse and delinquency prevention in American Indian communities.

The award recipients are Justice Resource Institute, Boston, MA; ETR Associates, Scotts Valley, CA; Justice Research and Statistics Association, Inc., Washington, DC; University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN; University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK; James Bell Associates, Inc., Alexandria, VA; University of Oregon, Eugene, OR; Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI; The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, Alexandria, VA; University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Baylor University, Waco, TX; National Indian Youth Leadership for Funding Using TYP Funds, Gallup, NM; and University of Colorado, Aurora, CO; The Home for Little Wanderers, Boston, MA; University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT; I Keep Safe Internet Coalition, Arlington, VA; Ohio Department of Youth Services, Columbus, OH; INMED Partnerships for Children, Sterling, VA; New York State Unified Court System, New York, NY; Missouri Office of State Courts Administration, Jefferson City, MO.

News from the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an independent body within the executive branch of the federal government. The Council's primary functions are to coordinate federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children.

The Council's most recent meeting, hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice, was held September 8, 2006, at the Office of Justice Programs. Following opening remarks by J. Robert Flores, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the meeting featured an overview of research findings about at-risk youth and other juvenile justice issues and trends. Howard Snyder, National Center on Juvenile Justice; Rolf Loeber, University of Pittsburgh; Joseph Cocozza, National Center on Mental Health in Juvenile Justice; and Andrea Sedlak, Westat, Inc. discussed the latest findings from the juvenile justice field. In addition, the meeting addressed such issues as disproportionate minority contact, waivers and transfers, gangs, and research on runaway youth and transitional living programs.

The Council's next meeting will be held on Friday, December 1, 2006. For meeting summaries, information about the Council's mission, and links to related resources, visit the Council's Web site at juvenilecouncil.gov.

The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is chaired by the Attorney General and includes the Administrator of OJJDP (vice chairperson); the Secretaries of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development; the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security; the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Eight expert practitioners appointed by the President, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives also serve as Council members.

News from the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice

The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice is a consultative body established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002 and supported by OJJDP. Composed of representatives nominated by the Governors, the Committee advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice, evaluates the progress and accomplishments of juvenile justice activities and projects, and advises the OJJDP Administrator on the work of OJJDP.

The next meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) will be held on October 23–24, 2006, in Columbia, SC. The Committee will review drafts of the 2006 Reports to the President and Congress and to the OJJDP Administrator. Observers are invited to open sessions only. Individuals who wish to attend as observers must preregister by October 17, 2006. Go to http://www.facjj.org/meetings.html for details and to see the preliminary agenda.

Meeting summaries and other information about the Advisory Committee are available on the Committee's Web site.

OJJDP Staff News

Ron Laney Receives Congressional Record Commendation

Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield presents Ron Laney with his Congressional Record commendation.
Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield presents Ron Laney with his Congressional Record commendation.
Ron Laney, Associate Administrator of OJJDP's Child Protection Division, was officially commended in the Congressional Record this summer for his forward-looking leadership and commitment to child protection. A commemoration of this recognition was presented to him by Assistant Attorney General and National AMBER Alert Coordinator Regina B. Schofield at the 5th Annual Internet Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, TX, in August. An excerpt from the commendation reads as follows: "Mr. Laney's commitment to child protection for over 30 years is evidenced by the training of over 500,000 child protection specialists from multiple disciplines… Mr. Laney's legacy to our society is the protection of our children and advocacy for abused children and their parents."

OJJDP Staff Participate in Kids' Day

Several OJJDP staff members were among the many volunteers from the Office of Justice Programs who participated in the Attorney General's Kids Day event at the FBI Headquarters on August 23, 2006. Nels Ericson, Darren Jones, Donni LeBoeuf, Lucia Turck, and Ruby Qazilbash represented OJJDP at the event, which highlighted several OJJDP- and OJP-supported programs.

McGruff, The Crime Dog, from the National Crime Prevention Council's "Taking A Bite Out of Crime" program posed for photographs and handed out comic books, stickers, and badges.

Representatives from NetzSmartz, the Internet Safety Program for Children at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), responded to questions about the program and distributed program brochures, trading cards, and temporary tattoos.

NCMEC also sent Special Agents to take and provide parents with digital photos and fingerprints of their children to keep in case of an emergency. More than 100 children participated in this activity and received valuable information.

OJP staff members who participated in Kids' Day included Mark Harmon, Lisa Kline, Darren Jones, Donni LeBoeuf, Lucia Turck, Lindsay Amber, Ruby Qazilbash, and Nels Ericson.

Back to Home