On any given day, 93,000 juvenile offenders are held in residential placement facilities. For their benefit, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) was created to help state and local governments deal with juvenile delinquency.
Additionally, the OJJDP is designed to guide the administration’s policy on juvenile justice issues.
There is, however, one problem. The OJJDP has no permanent administrator. No voice to reach out to the White House and actually guide the policy it is making.
So who is speaking up for kids?
The absence of an OJJDP administrator was most recently felt when the Obama administration released its fiscal year 2012 budget proposal calling for a dramatic restructuring of the administration of juvenile justice funds.
The proposed restructuring was problematic because it undermined the purpose and intent of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974. The JJDPA’s core protections include keeping status offenders, such as truants and runaways, out of locked custody, protecting children from the dangers of adult lockups, and requiring states to take steps to reduce disproportionate minority contact.
The ACLU and our friends spoke up, and the administration heard us.
The administration dropped this controversial plan, which would have left juveniles in some states vulnerable to the very things the JJDPA was designed to protect. Instead, they developed an alternative funding strategy that leaves core protections for vulnerable youth intact.
The ACLU will continue speaking up in support of appointing a permanent OJJDP administrator and strengthening and reauthorizing the JJDPA.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated 307 million as the number juveniles incarcerated in the U.S. That was incorrect. The post has been amended.