Change Comes Slow in Juvenile Justice

Cynthia Gordy, The Root | May 27, 2011

In 1974 the U.S. Congress mandated the creation of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Made up of representatives from 12 federal agencies (including the departments of Education, Housing and Development, and Health and Human Services), the council’s purpose is to synchronize government efforts around improving juvenile detainment facilities and delinquency prevention, making sure that each agency charts the same objectives and goals. This week the council, chaired by Attorney General Eric Holder, convened for its quarterly meeting in Washington, D.C.

“It was a very successful meeting,” Melodee Hanes, acting deputy administrator for policy in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, told The Root. “We provide the attorney general with the best information possible to address relevant issues … It’s the job of OJJDP to then take those action steps and, on a state level, help states implement the nuts and bolts of what helps generate change.”

At the request of Holder, the council presented research and case studies on several priority issues, including the link between school discipline and delinquency, re-entry and college access. Another priority is reducing the vast racial disparities in the juvenile-justice system: African-American minors make up about 15 percent of the general child population but account for nearly 70 percent of children in juvenile detention.  (Read more)