U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Innovation. Partnerships. Safer Neighborhoods.
Justice Resource Update. Advancing the Field of Criminal Justice. JANUARY 2011
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Protecting Children, Defending Childhood

Defending Childhood. Protect. Heal. Thrive.Too often, juvenile justice is characterized as a system for punishing "bad kids." At The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), we know that this viewpoint is not only inaccurate, but it is also dangerously incomplete. OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supports state, local, and tribal programs to prevent delinquent behavior, provide appropriate interventions for juvenile offenders, and protect youth from crime and violence.

As part of our efforts to protect children, OJP recently announced a partnership between the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Facebook to expand the distribution of AMBER Alert postings. AMBER Alerts are named for Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered 15 years ago. They are issued by law enforcement in serious child abduction cases that meet specific criteria. AMBER Alerts involve the entire community in the search for, and safe recovery of, a missing child.

OJP coordinates the National AMBER Alert program, assisting state and local officials with developing and enhancing AMBER Alert plans and promoting regional coordination. The new partnership with Facebook will enable users to receive AMBER Alerts directly on Facebook.

This is just one of many current initiatives aimed at protecting our nation’s youth. Last September, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative, which is harnessing resources from across the federal government to prevent children’s exposure to violence, mitigate the negative impact of exposure to violence, and develop knowledge and raise awareness about this issue.

As part of Defending Childhood, OJP launched a multiyear demonstration program in 2010. Currently, eight community-based demonstration sites throughout the country are building partnerships and creating strategic plans to address children’s exposure to violence. In January, grantees from all eight sites convened in Washington, D.C., to share preliminary plans and collaborate with their peers and federal experts. The sites provide a unique opportunity to simultaneously pilot and evaluate diverse programs to protect children, and we are thrilled to support their work.

Juvenile justice is a major priority for this administration, and our juvenile justice efforts will continue to grow and evolve to ensure that children are safe in their homes, schools, and play areas. We welcome your questions, comments, or feedback as we continue our work to better protect children and defend the right to a childhood free from violence.

IN THIS ISSUE
Bullet Protecting Children, Defending Childhood
Bullet Correctional Population Declines
Bullet Bulletin on Youth Gang Research and Programs
Bullet Evaluation of OJJDP’s Gang Reduction Program
Bullet Identity Theft Victimization Report
Bullet Substance Use and Delinquent Behavior Among Serious Offenders
Bullet Mark Your Calendar
Correctional Population Declines

In 2009, the United States experienced the first measured decline in the total number of adults under correctional supervision since the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) began reporting on these populations in 1980, according to a recent report. The number of adults under correctional supervision in the United States declined by less than one percent to 7,225,800 (down by 48,800 offenders) at yearend 2008.

One in 32 adults, or about 3.1 percent of U.S. adult residents, was under correctional supervision at yearend 2009. BJS noted decreases in the probation population (down by 40,079 offenders) and the parole population (down by 5,526 offenders). The growth in the prison population during 2009 was the slowest annual increase in the current decade and marked the third consecutive year of a declining rate of growth in the prison population. While the federal prison population increased by 3.4 percent (up 6,838 prisoners), the state prison population had the first measured decline since 1977 (down 0.2 percent or 2,857 prisoners).

The full report provides additional detailed statistics on the U.S. correctional population.

Bulletin on Youth Gang Research and Programs

Over the past half century, gangs and the violence they cause have grown and evolved to the point that all 50 states and the District of Columbia now report gang problems. Despite the steady growth in the number and size of gangs in the United States, little is known about the dynamics that drive them and how best to combat their growth.

OJJDP recently published a bulletin summarizing the existing research—Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs. The bulletin presents a compilation of current research on gangs, including research findings on the state of gang problems in the United States, why youth join gangs, the risk factors and attractions that increase youth’s propensity to join gangs, and how gangs form. The author examines how communities can begin to assess their gang problems and provide necessary enhancements to prevention and intervention activities. The bulletin also describes a number of effective and promising programs that may help prevent youth delinquency and gang violence.

Evaluation of OJJDP’s Gang Reduction Program

A new bulletin presents findings of an independent evaluation of OJJDP’s Gang Reduction Program (GRP), a $10 million, multiyear initiative to reduce crime associated with youth street gangs in Los Angeles, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; North Miami Beach, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia.

Findings from the Evaluation of OJJDP’s Gang Reduction Program focuses on program implementation and outcomes in each of the four sites. The implementation component of the evaluation assesses the progress of GRP in each site, from the initiative’s launch in the spring of 2003 through mid-2008. The outcomes component considers the effects of the initiative on each site from implementation through early 2008 and examines whether each site experienced significant changes in gang-related crime, serious crime, and other measures associated with the goals of GRP.

Researchers found evidence that GRP was associated with generally positive changes in the levels of crime and gang-related incidents in three of the four demonstration areas, although the strength of the evidence varied. Each site experienced significant success in building partnerships to address local gang and crime issues and raising awareness of such issues.

Identity Theft Victimization Report

An estimated 11.7 million persons were victims of identity theft over a two-year period prior to 2008, BJS recently announced. This represents five percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States. Additionally, these identity thefts led to financial losses of more than $17 billion.

Identity theft was defined in the survey as the attempted or successful misuse of an existing account, such as a debit or credit account, misuse of personal information to open a new account, or misuse of personal information for other fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining government benefits.

Approximately 6.2 million victims experienced the unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing credit card account, the most prevalent type of identity theft. An estimated 4.4 million persons reported the misuse or attempted misuse of a banking account, such as a debit, checking, or savings account.

About 23 percent of all victims suffered an out-of-pocket financial loss due to the victimization. Of the victims who experienced a personal loss, the average out-of-pocket financial loss was $1,870, with half losing $200 or less.

The 2008 Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) surveyed more than 56,000 persons age 16 or older in the United States about the types of identity theft experienced within a two-year period. The report, Victims of Identity Theft, 2008, provides additional details about the crime of identity theft.

Substance Use and Delinquent Behavior Among Serious Offenders

OJJDP released a bulletin detailing the link between adolescent substance use and serious offending. The authors found that substance use and offending at one age is a consistent predictor of continued serious offending at a later age. They also noted that substance use and serious offending fluctuate in similar patterns over time and that both decrease in late adolescence.

This study provides the most comprehensive data available about serious juvenile offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood. It is based on findings from a longitudinal study, Pathways to Desistance: A Prospective Study of Delinquent Offenders, which was sponsored by OJJDP.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month, a time to celebrate the responsible adults who serve as role models for countless children throughout the country. Through various programs and grant opportunities, OJJDP is guiding the development of mentoring programs and offering financial support. More information on OJJDP’s mentoring initiatives is available online.

Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking Awareness Month, observed every January, is an opportunity to spotlight the serious nature of stalking and enhance efforts to combat it. An estimated 3.4 million adults in the United States are the victims of stalking every year, according to a report by BJS.

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is also National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and February 1 is National Freedom Day. More information about OJP’s efforts to combat human trafficking is available online.

5th Annual Gang Training Conference

The 5th Annual Gang Training Conference will be held on March 6–9, 2011, in Annapolis, Maryland. This training is restricted to sworn law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and other criminal justice professionals. Additional information is available online.

2011 National Victim Assistance Academy

The Office for Victims of Crime invites professionals who assist victims and survivors of crime in the United States to attend the National Victim Assistance Academy. This skill-based classroom training will be held on March 14–18, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Application information is available online.

30th Annual National CASA Conference

The National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) 30th annual conference will be held in Chicago, Illinois, on March 19–22, 2011. The conference will feature a wide range of workshops and general sessions to enhance the skills and knowledge of professionals working to help children and youth in the dependency system. To register online, go to the CASA Web site.

National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has scheduled its national conference for March 27–30, 2011, in Reno, Nevada. The conference will address a wide range of topics, including child abuse and neglect, mental health, delinquency, family law, domestic violence, and substance abuse. To register online, visit the NCJFCJ Web site.

27th National Symposium on Child Abuse

The National Symposium on Child Abuse will take place on March 28–31, 2011, in Huntsville, Alabama. Workshop tracks are designed specifically for professionals in the areas of administration, child protective services, interviewing, law enforcement, law, medicine, mental health, prevention, victim advocacy, and wellness. To register online, visit the National Children’s Alliance Web site.

Crime Mapping Research Conference

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Crime Mapping Research Conference will be held on April 13–15, 2011, in Miami, Florida. This conference, which brings together researchers and practitioners, is focused on crime, criminal justice, and public safety and their effect on geographical places. Registration is free and will open in mid-January. More information is available online.

2011 NIJ Conference

On June 20–22, 2011, NIJ will host its annual conference in Arlington, Virginia. For more than a decade, the NIJ conference has brought together criminal justice scholars, policymakers, and practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels to share the most recent findings from research and technology. Registration is free and will open in February 2011. More information is available online.

Funding Opportunities

OJP’s Web site includes a complete listing of all open solicitations. Just click on Funding at the top of the site to review all funding opportunities. Don’t forget to check the Web site regularly for updates.

Contact Us

If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please contact OJP’s Office of Communications. To register to receive Justice Resource Update in your inbox, please visit www.ncjrs.gov.

Justice Resource Update is designed to help criminal justice practitioners stay informed and better serve their constituents by providing valuable information about federal resources, advancements in the field, and training opportunities. We strive to provide information you can use, and we welcome your input.

E-mail: AskOJP
Web site: www.ojp.gov
Phone: 202-307-0703