News in Brief

Attorney General Speaks at the U.S. Department of Justice's American Indian Heritage Month Program

Attorney General Eric Holder (back row, center) poses with a group of tribal youth representatives who participated in this year's American Indian Heritage Month Program at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Attorney General Eric Holder (back row, center) poses with a group of tribal youth representatives who participated in this year's American Indian Heritage Month Program at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized the Administration's commitment to meeting the public safety challenges of Indian country at a celebration of American Indian Heritage Month on November 23, 2010.

"This Administration and this Justice Department are committed to fulfilling our nation's obligations to American Indians and Alaska Natives, to strengthening the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the United States, and to building more secure, more prosperous tribal communities," Mr. Holder said.

The Attorney General in January 2010, directed U.S. Attorneys to meet annually with the tribes in their districts and to develop plans for addressing the specific public safety issues affecting tribal communities in their jurisdictions. As part of that effort, he also instructed U.S. Attorneys Offices to work closely with tribal law enforcement to develop strategies for reducing violent crime—in particular, violence against women. In the upcoming year, the Justice Department will be working closely with congressional leaders to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. In July 2010, following an Administration-wide effort, President Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act into law. This landmark legislation is strengthening tribal law enforcement and supporting substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts across Indian country.

"This new law has allowed the Justice Department to achieve one of its longstanding goals—the establishment of a permanent Office of Tribal Justice," said Mr. Holder. "[The Office] is now a formal component of the Justice Department, dedicated to collaborating with our partners in tribal government and to advancing our work in Indian country."

Office of Justice Programs' Research Is Recognized at American Society of Criminology Meeting

The American Society of Criminology (ASC) held its annual meeting on November 17–20, 2010, in San Francisco, CA. Entitled "Crime and Social Institutions," the conference explored the relationship between crime and the economy, the family, education, the polity, and religion. Among its more than 300 panel sessions and individual presentations, the conference highlighted numerous OJJDP research projects, including studies of trends in violent juvenile crime, gangs and gang programs, predictors of and protective factors against delinquency and substance abuse, juvenile arrest trends, and juveniles in custody.

Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), participated in three panels during the conference and highlighted the U.S. Department of Justice's commitment to restoring science to the criminal and juvenile justice fields, with a focus on OJP's role in those efforts. In particular, she emphasized OJP's Evidence Integration Initiative.

ASC presented the prestigious August Vollmer Award to Howard Snyder, Chief of Recidivism, Reentry and Special Projects for OJP's Bureau of Justice Statistics for his outstanding contributions to research in criminology. In addition, John H. Laub, Director of OJP's National Institute of Justice, was announced as a winner of the prestigious 2011 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his research on why and how criminals stop offending. Robert Sampson, a researcher at Harvard University who co-authored the studies, is a co-recipient of the 2011 award.

OJJDP Hosts Webinar on Relative Rate Index

OJJDP's State Relations and Assistance Division hosted a Webinar, "Five Steps to Interpreting and Analyzing the Relative Rate Index (RRI)" on December 1 and 2, 2010. The RRI, which compares the rates of contact with the justice system for white youth with the rates for minority youth, has proven to be a highly accurate tool for comparisons across time and racial groups. The accurate interpretation of the RRI and its application to disproportionate minority contact (DMC) reduction efforts are critical as states work to implement systems improvement and delinquency prevention strategies. Dr. Bill Feyerherm, a national authority on DMC, and Andrea R. Coleman, OJJDP's DMC Coordinator, discussed the five steps to interpreting the RRI and how RRI data can facilitate decisionmaking.

Top Federal Officials Address Meeting of International Association of Chiefs of Police

Logo for the International Association of Chiefs of Police 2010 conference.

Vice President Joseph Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano provided remarks at this year's conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), held on October 23–27, 2010, in Orlando, FL. Vice President Biden and Secretary Napolitano spoke about issues and legislation related to terrorism. Attorney General Holder described federal initiatives to improve officer safety and credited the police with the fact that "national crime trends are heading in the right direction."

In addition to speeches by federal officials, the conference featured exhibits of the latest law enforcement technology and educational sessions on a wide variety of topics, including enhancing information sharing and collaboration capabilities for emergency responders; crime victims assistance: what every chief needs to know about resources to assist victims; missing persons: how volunteers help, not hinder; fairness and neutrality: trust building strategies for 21st century policing; and the latest green trends in police station design. A new training developed by OJJDP, "Law Enforcement Responses to Adolescent Girls," was available during the first 2 days of the conference. For more information on the training, see the article entitled "Understanding and Responding to the Needs of At-Risk and Delinquent Girls" in this issue of News @ a Glance.

Report Reviews Victimization in Juvenile Detention Facilities

The U.S. Department of Justice's Review Panel on Prison Rape has released its Report on Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Correctional Facilities.

In compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, the review panel conducted public hearings and gathered data based on the survey described in the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008–09. The review panel's report provides observations and recommendations to assist practitioners and advocates in preventing sexual victimization in the nation's juvenile correctional facilities.

Juvenile Justice Briefing Held on Capitol Hill

On October 26, 2010, in Washington, DC, the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy conducted the congressional briefing, "Juvenile Justice in the Age of the Second Chance Act, the Youth Promise Act, and the JJDP Reauthorization Bill: Research Guided Policy Implications for Maximizing Reentry Initiatives for Adolescents."

The 2-½-hour briefing, which was cosponsored by the Center for Justice Leadership and Management, was held in the Capitol Visitor Center. It was led by Dr. Catherine Gallagher, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University, and featured briefs on key topics from 12 experts in research and policy, including staff from OJJDP.

OJJDP Ad Campaign Urges Prospective Mentors To Step Up to the Plate

Major league baseball mentoring ad

Mentoring programs have been shown to build self-esteem, enhance academic performance, and improve behavior. OJJDP has long supported mentoring as an effective way to prevent at-risk youth from becoming involved in delinquency.

Continuing its Be a Mentor campaign, OJJDP expects to reach some 3.5 million people through its ad in the game programs for Major League Baseball's 2010 American League and National League Championship Series and the World Series. The ad, which invites adults to "step up to the plate" by becoming a mentor, will also appear in the program for the 2011 All-Star game.

For information about mentoring-related resources, visit the OJJDP Web site.

DOJ and Federal Partners Host Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

On October 5, 2010, the Departments of Justice and Education officially launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention along with participating localities and other federal agencies. The forum was created at the direction of President Obama as a context for participating localities to share challenges and promising strategies with each other and to explore how federal agencies can better support local efforts.

On October 4 and 5, 2010, teams from the cities of Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Memphis; Salinas, CA; and San Jose, CA; met with federal agencies and each other in Washington, DC, to share information and experience about what works in preventing youth and gang violence. Participating cities have pledged to develop or enhance comprehensive plans to prevent youth and gang violence in their city, using multidisciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches, and data-driven strategies. The cities' comprehensive plans will be presented at a Youth Violence Summit to be held in Washington, DC, next spring. These plans will aim to reduce violence, improve opportunities for youth, and encourage innovation at the local and federal levels.

OJJDP Selects DMC Coordinator

OJJDP has selected Andrea Coleman as the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Coordinator for the Office. The full-time senior position will be housed in OJJDP's State Relations and Assistance Division, which provides funds to help state and local governments achieve compliance with the four core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended. Ms. Coleman will also be working with other divisions of OJJDP to coordinate the Office's DMC strategies.