The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention approved a 2010 workplan and identified priority issues for interagency collaboration at its quarterly meeting on January 25, 2010. The four issues the Council plans to focus on are education and at-risk youth, tribal youth and juvenile justice, juvenile reentry, and racial and/or ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and related systems. Attorney General Eric Holder, who chaired the meeting, spoke about the importance of the Council's work.
"For us at the Justice Department, I consider the work of this Council as a legacy," said Attorney General Holder. "The Justice Department will be integrally involved in this process. This is very, very important to us. This is something I hope our Justice Department will be remembered for. . . a time when the Council came up with real solutions to real problems."
The Council's 2010 workplan includes the creation of issue teams that will conduct an indepth assessment of each of the priority issues and produce a set of recommendations for action. Over the next year, the teams will analyze policies, legislation, budgets, regulations, and practices that foster as well as hinder effective collaboration between federal, state, and local partners, and will develop recommendations for enhancing the federal practice of coordinated assistance. A major aim is to maximize the potential of states and local jurisdictions to access and use resources to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families. The teams' recommendations will be incorporated into the Council's next Annual Report to Congress, slated for completion in early 2011.
The list of priorities is the culmination of extensive consultations between OJJDP, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) staff, and officials from the Council's member agencies and its four new affiliate federal membersthe U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, the Interior, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Melodee Hanes, Acting Deputy Administrator for Policy at OJJDP, said that emphasis was placed on "umbrella" issues that lend themselves to cross-agency collaboration and issues on which the Council can have the greatest impact. "This list of priorities is not exclusive," Hanes said. "It's just a starting point."
Hilda Solis, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, said she was "delighted" about the Council's decision to focus on education and job training. Secretary Solis emphasized the critical role employment plays in offering youth "discipline, respect, and dignity." She also commended the Council's focus on racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, and emphasized that, increasingly, Latino and Latina youth are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system.
Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, said, "It warms my heart to see that tribal youth is a proposed area of concentration. Because coordination [of federal, state, and local efforts to address tribal issues] is often what's lacking."
The Attorney General emphasized that the Council will address juvenile justice issues in a comprehensive manner, by seeking to improve coordination of federal efforts in the areas of prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation. "We plan to hit all phases: before, during, and after," he said. He cited the importance of supporting successful reentry of incarcerated youth into their communities. In providing recently released youth with the support and services necessary to stay in school or obtain employment and reconnect with their families and communities, successful reentry programs exercise a vital preventive function, helping youth avoid the destructive cycle of recidivism.
DOJ's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) hosted the quarterly meeting. Assistant Attorney General for OJP, Laurie O. Robinson, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for OJP, Mary Lou Leary, attended the meeting.
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