Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice Meeting
July 29, 2020
11:00 a.m. – 1:01 p.m. EDT
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) held a virtual meeting on July 29, 2020. The meeting, which was open to the public, was hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Elizabeth Wolfe, Training and Outreach Coordinator for OJJDP, served as Designated Federal Official (DFO) for the meeting.
Caren Harp, OJJDP Administrator, led and moderated the meeting. FACJJ members participated, and members of the public observed. Keisha Kersey, Program Manager for OJJDP, provided staff support for the meeting. Bixal staff members Melissa Kanaya and Kathryn Mullan provided staff support, and NTTAC staff members provided technical assistance.
Fifteen minutes into the meeting, there were some significant technical difficulties with the Webex platform and Administrator Harp asked participants to take a 15-minute break while the IT support team fixed the issues.
A presentation was made on how OJJDP is addressing COVID-19 challenges. FACJJ members engaged in a discussion with Administrator Harp after her presentation on this issue.
A presentation was made on the remaining meetings and conferences for 2020: State Relations and Assistance Division Conference and FACJJ. Members engaged in discussion and feedback with Ms. Kersey after her presentation.
The FACJJ members then broke out into their respective subcommittees (Territories Outreach, Special Topics, and JJRA Compliance), and each subcommittee discussed programs of work and action items—moving toward recommendations for Administrator Harp. The Chairs of each subcommittee then reported out to the full FACJJ membership.
Welcome, Opening Remarks, and Introductions
Elizabeth Wolfe, Training and Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Designated Federal Official (DFO) for the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ), opened the committee’s quarterly meeting. She then turned the meeting over to Keisha Kersey, Program Manager for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, who went over general logistics and technical elements of the virtual Webex meeting for attendee participation. She noted that a summary of the meeting would be available on the OJJDP website within 60 days.
Administrator Caren Harp welcomed all participants and introduced the scope of the meeting. Administrator Harp noted that the FACJJ would discuss top-of-mind issues and then dive into subcommittee work in the latter half of the meeting. At this point in the meeting, there were some significant technical difficulties with the Webex platform, so Administrator Harp asked participants to take a 15-minute break while the IT support team fixed the issues.
How OJJDP is Addressing COVID Challenges
Caren Harp, Administrator, OJJDP
COVID-19 is a current situation that is greatly impacting how business is done across the nation—especially in the juvenile justice system (courts, corrections facilities, etc.). OJJDP recently hosted a great New Directors Training Seminar, checking in with various states and local jurisdictions to see how they are handling the pandemic in their juvenile facilities and programs. These directors all expressed an increased need for technology support, so youth can remain connected to their families (in lieu of in-person visits) during the pandemic. Administrator Harp also discussed how OJJDP may offer its support on this front.
She indicated that her office posted guidance in May 2020 on the OJJDP website (https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/), with core elements for facilities/states to consider when looking at accelerated release options for certain youth. This guidance offers considerations around what support-systems and infrastructure need to be in place before a juvenile is released: medical care, health services, accommodations, access to transportation, etc. Even during non-pandemic times, these “safety nets” are difficult to put in place, and now with no-contact supervision, this makes guaranteed-safe accelerated release nearly impossible. Administrator Harp asked each state/locality/facility to follow the executive orders and points of guidance in place when looking to pursue this course of action with individuals.
Discussion/comments: Is there a need for accelerated release of juveniles in facilities? Otherwise, what innovative methods are now being used to keep them safe?
Georgia: In this state, there is discussion about increased collaborative initiatives, working with states/localities to address where there can be an increase of communication among families and mitigating exposure. There is a focus on 24/7 operations to keep kids safe in this environment, so as to release them as early as possible, while still guaranteeing overall community safety and following quarantine/exposure requirements. In the near future, software platforms between the various state systems—courthouse, corrections facilities, homes—need to become more integrated and compatible, with smoother interfaces and increased connectivity. (Adolphus Graves)
New Jersey: In New Jersey, the juvenile justice system has remained very engaged in modified approaches in this “new normal” of the pandemic. There has also been strong leadership on this issue, as the NJ Supreme Court set clear guidelines/framework for the current accelerated release program. Procedures have been instituted to approach each juvenile case in an individualized way—addressing all levels of risk and threats from COVID-19 exposure. With the discouragement of in-person visits, technology should be leveraged to maintain contact and support efficient operations. (Anthony Pierro)
Minnesota: In Minnesota, the main concern is children’s connection to behavioral health upon release from a facility. Corrections officers are erring on the side of keeping them connected—or ensuring a solid handoff to embedded services in the community before that decision is made. Increased technology access for both facilities and for families/caretakers is critical before such a step is made (especially rural areas, lack of connectivity); everyone across the nation is in crisis mode, so strong mental health services are a critical safety net (as well as access to resources via technology). (Kate Richtman)
Ohio: Because of Ohio’s success in reducing the number of detained juveniles overall—there are currently only a few hundred in the state system—COVID-19 has been more prevalent in adult facilities. Juvenile release protocol features a hybrid approach and is controlled by parole authority vs. juvenile court. Throughout this time, the parole system has been working collaboratively with other agencies to access health screenings for juveniles—tailored to needs of the particular community and individuals involved. (David Hejmanowski)
Summary: Overall, it is critical to keep a nurturing network and frequent contact during any transition like early release—especially for high-risk/high-need kids. This remains a challenge in the midst of the COVID-19 environment and necessary public health protocols. Administrator Harp noted that OJJDP is not changing its posted guidance on this nationwide issue, so states and jurisdictions should refer to the website (noted above) as needed.
2020 State Relations and Assistance Division Conference/FACJJ Meeting Updates
Keisha Kersey, Program Manager, OJJDP
Ms. Kersey manages CCAS, OJJDP’s TTA provider to states and territories. Part of her work is to help host the SRAD national conference, which was planned for San Diego, California, October 6-8, 2020, but will now be fully virtual.
Content is now being slated for this October conference. Ms. Kersey will ask FACJJ members for topic suggestions and feedback on how they want to be involved in the conference, whether sharing helpful information and/or best practices in key areas. The FACJJ meeting held at this meeting (date/time TBD) will also be virtual.
Subcommittee Breakout Sessions
Administrator Harp thanked the subcommittees for their work over the past year. FACJJ members then broke into subcommittee sessions to discuss their focus and plans for 2020. These sessions were closed to the public.
Subcommittee Report: Facilitating Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) Implementation
Members of the Facilitating Compliance with the Juvenile Justice Reform Act (JJRA) Implementation Subcommittee are Judge David Hejmanowski (Chair), Corey Haines, Danica Rubenstein, and Joe Vignati.
The focus of this subcommittee is on identifying and responding to barriers to states’ involvement with OJJDP federal grant-programs and compliance. Members and OJJDP staff reviewed cost-based appropriation documents related to Title II funding and implementation over the last five years, broken down by state. The group then discussed whether the minimum funding level should be raised, so as to meet compliance requirements and then utilize extra funds to implement additional programs. They moved toward making a recommendation to increase the state minimum from $400,000-$600,000. A more formal proposal will follow after the next meeting (August 5).
Subcommittee Report: Special Topics
Members of the Special Topics Subcommittee are Kate Richtman (Chair), Thomas Frawley, Russell Riehl, Melanie Shapiro, Korey Solomon, Kenneth Tramble, and Danica Rubenstein.
The mission of this subcommittee is to leverage a continuum of learning to keep kids engaged in schools via a multi-system collaborative practice approach. The subcommittee’s recent work focuses on state truancy programs, with a specific emphasis on status offenders and supporting schools with workable strategies. Questions: How do we get schools to buy-in on this process before courts intervene? How is truancy monitored, when the school environment is virtual/online and will be for the near future, due to COVID-19? SRAD staff will speak with TeNeane Bradford and Administrator Harp on how to make online resources available to states.
For the SRAD Virtual Conference in October 2020, the group is proposing that Russ Riehl and Danica Rubenstein lead a joint presentation on truancy, attendance, and engagement. There was a suggestion to add another voice from a more diverse jurisdiction, as well as including a coverage of runaway intervention programs.
Administrator Harp noted her support of these ideas and OJJDP’s ability to help provide and/or develop training resources. From the YouTube channel of videos to a variety of other existing resources available to states, additional elements could also be created. Harp will follow up with Catherine Doyle (OJJDP Communications department) about next steps.
Subcommittee Report: Outreach to Territories and States Not Participating in Title II
Members of the Outreach to Territories and States Not Participating in Title II Subcommittee are Anthony Pierro (Chair), Adolphus Graves, Berlina Wallace-Berube, and Tiffany Wilkerson-Franklin.
Introductory letters will be emailed to territories in July/August, setting up Listening Sessions with prompt questions for preparation. The first Listening Session is being scheduled for August with the Virgin Islands. Anthony Pierro outlined the plan and approach for these sessions by way, as well as how subcommittee members are preparing for this discussion with in-depth background research of each territory. Once the Virgin Islands Listening Session is complete, the other territory calls will be scheduled.
Administrator Harp noted her support for this initiative and is impressed with the quick progress on this front. She noted the importance of this work to help improve juvenile justice programs in these regions and help protect kids everywhere. She stated that OJJDP is here to help and support in whatever way possible.
Summary, Next Steps & Wrap-Up
Caren Harp, Administrator, OJJDP
Administrator Harp expressed her gratitude toward members of this Committee and all the progress they are making toward solving a few core issues. Elizabeth Wolfe closed the meeting.
Written comments from the general public may be submitted to Ms. Kersey at [email protected].
The meeting was adjourned at 1:01 p.m.
Members in Attendance
Judge Thomas Frawley, MO
Adolphus Graves, GA
Corey Haines, MI
Judge David Hejmanowski, OH
Anthony Pierro, NJ
Kathryn (Kate) Richtman, MN
Russell Riehl, ND
Danica Rubinstein, WV
Melanie Shapiro, MD
Korey Solomon, ID
Joe Vignati, GA
Berlina Wallace-Berube, USVI
Tiffany Wilkerson-Franklin, LA