Congressional Earmarks Fund Georgia Programs for Kids; Future Earmarks in Jeopardy

The Justice Department has published the list of OJJDP congressional earmarks for the 2010 fiscal year.  Twenty-one programs in Georgia got funding for a total of $3.2 million.  Here are some of the largest awards along with congressional sponsors:

  • $500,000   City of Valdosta    Sponsors: Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • $300,000   Georgia Bureau of Investigation     Sponsor:  Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • $250,000    University of West Georgia    Sponsors:  Rep. Phil Gingrey(R-Marietta), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • $250,000    Rockdale County    Sponsors:  Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia), Rep. David Scott (D-Jonesboro), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • $250,000    Project Rebound, Inc.    Sponsor:  Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany)
  • $200,000    City of Moultrie Police Department    Sponsors:  Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
  • $150,000    Truancy Intervention Project Georgia, Inc.     Sponsor:  Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Earmarks may be on the endangered list next year, according to Youth Today, which tracks federal earmarks for youth projects.  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tea Party supporters want a ban on earmarks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are also on board. President Obama wants to limit earmarks, and some congressional Democrats facing reelection in 2012 are under pressure to stop the practice.

Earmarks aren’t the only source of federal funding for juvenile justice projects. Another $2,480,463 in competitive grants also went to agencies based in Georgia. Here’s that list from OJJDP:

  • $349,969     Family drug court programs in Chatham County Juvenile Court
  • $300,000   GBI law enforcement strategies to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation
  • $409,390    Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at the GBI
  • $296,104     Juvenile Drug Courts and Mentoring Initiative in Columbus
  • $625,000     Young Adult Guidance Center, Inc. for the Second Chance Act Juvenile Mentoring Initiative
  • $500,000     The Center for Working Families, Inc. for Strategic Enhancement to Mentoring Programs

In addition, $42 million was allocated to the Boys and Girls Clubs for mentoring programs across the nation through their headquarters in Atlanta

Feds Target $37M to Fight Bullying and Other Childhood Violence

About 1 out of 10 kids in 6th – 10th grades are getting bullied, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and they believe that 13 percent of kids in that age group are doing the bullying.

“Bullying can have long-term consequences for the safety of youth, as evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of school shooters reported having been bullied or having bullied others,” Jeff Slowikowski, OJJDP’s acting administrator, points out in his Department of Justice blog.

The Department of Justice has launched the Defending Childhood Initiative, which is a nationwide campaign focusing on children exposed to different forms of violence including bullying. DOJ spent $5.5 million last year and hopes to increase the budget to $37 million in FY 2011.

Teen Crime Trends: Understanding Why

Juvenile crime rates have dropped in the past 20 years and new research is showing why.

The greatest reduction involves kids who commit crimes together, according to research from the OJJDP.   The study cites some reasons that could apply across the country:

  • More participation in religious and volunteer groups
  • A reduction in the use of guns
  • The drug market shifted from selling crack cocaine to selling marijuana

Which kids are more likely to offend? Those exposed to violence, childhood abuse and neglect, according to this research. Crime is also more likely to happen in small, geographical areas such as individual street blocks.

For the detailed report, click here.

OJJDP Praises Atlanta’s Art-at-Work as a Program that Works for At-Risk Kids

Looking for a way to help at-risk youth in your community? Start an arts program.

Arts programs for at-risk youth in Atlanta and two other cities show measurable success in helping kids stay out of trouble and develop a more positive attitude about their future, according to research sponsored by the OJJDP and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Art-at-Work in Atlanta started 14 years ago as a collaborative effort between the Fulton County Arts Council and Juvenile Court. The program was designed to provide art instruction, job training and literacy education to a small group of first-time status offenders, primarily truants, from 14 to 16-years old.

The program took in 15 kids recommended by their probation officers. The kids produced art and got public recognition for their work. Results show they developed more positive attitudes about school and drug use and they got in less trouble after completing the program. The OJJDP highlights feedback from some of the kids:

“I learned how to work with other people. The people skills I learned in the program have helped me. I am working and want to go to business school.”

“If I wasn’t in the program I probably would have gotten pregnant again and dropped out of school. Now I’m still in school and doing good.”

Similar programs in Portland, OR and San Antonio, TX proved to be just as successful.

For the OJJDP’s summary, click here.

For the detailed report, click here.

Reducing Gang Activity: OJJDP Best Practices

Looking for some help to reduce gang crime in your neighborhood? Doing a thorough assessment of the nature and scope of the youth gang problem in your community is just one of the Best Practices from OJJDP.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has just released a new report called Best Practices To Address Community Gang Problems: OJJDP’s Comprehensive Gang Model, which includes nationwide research on effective gang reduction methods.

Some of these Best Practices include:

  • Addressing the problem
  • Holding youth accountable
  • Providing relevant programming
  • Coordinating community participation

For the full model, click here.

New Census Counts Children on Probation

New data is coming in about how many children are on probation.  It’s a national snapshot from October 21, 2009.  Here’s a breakdown:

  • Total youth on probation:  196,806
  • 16 year olds on probation:  49,841 (largest category)
  • 10 – 12 year olds on probation:  3,923

The latest available data from Georgia shows 9,486 kids on court-ordered probation in April, 2005.   To get this number, researchers polled probation offices.  It is not clear whether they polled both DJJ probation offices, as well as independent court probation offices.  Georgia’s independent courts handle about 50% of the state’s juvenile cases, and may not always share data with the rest of the state.

The 2009 Census of Juveniles on Probation was conducted by George Mason University for the OJJDP at the U.S. Department of Justice.  Researchers are still working with the data, so we may get new information as it becomes available.   Currently you can search for data based on gender, age, case load at juvenile probation offices, and more.

Thanks to reclaiming for the alert.

DMC and DSO are Priorities for GA

Disproportionate minority contact and detention of status offenders are the core issues for Georgia’s juvenile justice system, according to Joseph Vignati, Justice Programs Coordinator at the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.  Vignati will testify at a hearing on reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in Washington D.C. this week.  He speaks with a loud voice, because he’s also the National Juvenile Justice Specialist for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, representing 56 states and territories.

Vignati says the JJDP Act requires states to focus on four core issues:

  • Removing juvenile offenders from adult jails
  • Separating juveniles from adults if they are held in the same lockup
  • Disproportionate minority contact
  • Minimizing the detention of status offenders

He believes the first two issues are less significant now than they were 20 years ago, because Georgia and other states have laws against housing children with adults, and separate detention centers for kids.  Vignati points out, “In FY 2009 we had only 23 juveniles locked up as adults across the state, and 20 of them lied about their age. We track it. We feel like we’ve addressed it. So this is not really an issue for us. Let us focus where we need to.”

At a time of shrinking resources, Vignati  wants the federal government to allow states to focus on the current issues of DMC and DSO.  “Our focus is on getting good data and using that data to help courts make changes.”  Vignati believes , “if you’re tracking DMC in your state and you have a plan to deal with it, that’s not enough.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009 has been the subject of numerous hearings, and much research. Hearings set for Wednesday and Thursday are being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which is doing a 2-year study for the Justice Department, to assess juvenile justice policies and practices.   The study, announced on Monday, lists six goals:

  • Assess OJJDP’s activities to implement the JJDP Act
  • Review the legislative history to ascertain congressional intent and identify major changes in the Act’s core requirements
  • Assess research on delinquency prevention and treatment and implications for public policy
  • Review research on the transfer of juveniles to adult courts
  • Evaluate data on the conditions of confinement for juveniles in juvenile and adult facilities
  • Provide recommendations to improve federal and state policies.

Disproportionate Minority Study

African American teens are 2.3 times more likely to get arrested in Georgia than Caucasian teens, and 5.5 times more likely to land in adult court, according to the latest numbers from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.  This level of disproportionate minority contact  (DMC) is not unique to Georgia.  It’s a problem across the country.   The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is launching a study to reduce the number of minorities in contact with the juvenile justice system.  The agency has awarded a 3-year grant to Development Services Group, Inc., a Maryland consulting company.  The mission is to compare the rates of contact with the justice system for white and minority teens. Researchers will study what happens at nine different points of contact from arrest, to diversion, to detention, imprisonment or transfer to adult court.  They hope to identify promising programs that states like Georgia can use to end the DMC problem.

Child porn, sexting and online crimes

On June 16, 2010, at 2 p.m. E.T., the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will host a Web Forum on preventing child victimization using high tech devices, including the internet and cell phones.  The session is expected to cover topics such as child pornography, sexting and cyber bullying. 

The 1-hour session, which is cosponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will be led by Laurie Nathan, who manages national outreach and partnerships for the NetSmartz Workshop, an educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.    For further information and instructions on how to participate, visit the OVC Web Forum

–Photo courtesy of