Remarks of Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
International Association of Chiefs of Police Juvenile Justice Committee Annual Meeting
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thank you, Dr. Schembri.
I'm very glad to be here, and I'm pleased the Department of Justice is once again engaged with our nation's law enforcement leaders and focusing on Juvenile Justice issues.
I'm also delighted to announce that we've now awarded all $2.7 billion in Recovery Act grants, including $97.5 million for national and local youth mentoring programs intended to reduce juvenile delinquency, violence, and gang participation.
The next phase is reporting on progress. And we'd like to enlist your help.
Starting October 10, grantees will be required to submit their first progress reports to Recovery.gov. The President has emphasized the importance of transparency, and grant recipients will be held strictly accountable for how they use funds. Please help us underscore to your colleagues how important it is that they submit full and complete reports on time.
I'd like to spend the few minutes I have talking about a topic of great importance to the Attorney General and one of our top priorities at OJP – promoting evidence-based approaches for reducing crime.
We're working now to improve the way we do that through our Evidence Integration Initiative, which has three aims:
o First – improve the quantity AND quality of evidence we generate through our research, evaluation, and statistical functions.
o Second – better integrate evidence in program and policy decisions.
o Third – improve the translation of evidence into practice.
Our goal is to help the field better understand what has been shown to work, based on accepted scientific principles. Yes, we are getting back to the science.
This idea of incorporating research into practice is one that has been embraced by many of you. It's very encouraging, and we want to build on that momentum.
We now have a substantial body of research in the criminal justice field, and the knowledge we're gaining is having a greater influence on practice than ever before and I'd like to highlight three current efforts related to juvenile justice.
The first is Hot Spots. Criminologists and practitioners spent decades focusing on why certain people commit certain crimes. Until recently, few people really considered that context might play a central role in criminal activity.
Today we're now looking at place as the focus of crime reduction efforts.
One of the tools available from our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is the Socioeconomic Mapping and Resource Togography or SMART system. This free, Web-accessible tool enables local government and law enforcement officials, grantees, and others to connect SMART maps of hot spot crime locations with maps of local intervention programs and community resources.
The implications of this are enormous because this knowledge about the place-based nature of crime makes it easier to focus law enforcement resources.
Many cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, are using this knowledge to redesign their approaches to crime – and to great success.
The second effort that shows great promise is the Juvenile Justice Programs and Services Database website, which OJJDP funds and IACP has developed.
In addition to being a repository for law enforcement programs and services, this website will allow law enforcement officials to search for relevant programs and services based on a defined location.
While the public will be able to access this information, it is designed specifically for law enforcement professionals who have long expressed the need for peer-to-peer exchange of information related to the profession's youth services and juvenile justice missions.
This website is in its final stage of beta testing and it is projected for release shortly after this conference.
The third resource that I'd like to mention is the Law Enforcement Training and Technical Assistance Initiative (LETTA) sponsored by OJJDP. In cooperation with IACP, we conduct periodic nationwide surveys to set priorities that result in the design, development, and delivery of youth-focused training topics that better equip police officers to deal appropriately with juveniles. The most frequently requested courses include Juvenile Interview and Interrogation Techniques, Partnerships for Safe Schools, and a newly released course, Law Enforcement Responses to Adolescent Girls.
More details about LETTA and SMART are on our Web site and I hope that you'll take a look at these programs.
I realized that I've only mentioned a few of the resources we have collaborated on together; however, I hope there will be more partnerships as we move ahead in our efforts to build on data-driven approaches that have been shown to work. I look forward to continuing to work with you!