FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH AND ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO R. GONZALES OPEN NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AT-RISK YOUTH
Conference to Focus on Interagency Coordination to Better Address the Needs of Youth
WASHINGTON, D.C. - First Lady Laura Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today opened the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's first-ever national conference, Building on Success: Providing Today's Youth with Opportunities for A Better Tomorrow.
The national conference evolved from themes identified in the final report of the White House Task Force on Disadvantaged Youth: trends in victimization, delinquency, and the juvenile justice system; strengthening families to develop our youth; holding programs and ourselves accountable; and demonstrating efforts that have been successful in meeting the needs of youth. The conference will focus on further development of federal interagency coordination to better address the needs of youth.
"Education and prevention play a vital role in keeping young people away from the trap of gangs and gang-related violence," said Attorney General Gonzales. "In addition to enforcing the law, the Department of Justice works diligently to ensure that resources and training are available to guide and encourage our Nation's youth."
Over 70 workshops and plenary sessions offer participants opportunities to discuss topics such as: truancy reduction; juveniles in correctional facilities, early childhood maltreatment and later delinquency; mentoring resources; and community responses to public safety. The conference includes a plenary session on best practices in juvenile justice programs and a town hall-style meeting on youth gangs.
The week-long conference will feature prominent speakers including Claude Allen, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Additional information about the conference, the agenda, speakers and the Coordinating Council can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an independent body within the executive branch, which coordinates federal delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children. The council also examines how federal, state, and local governments can coordinate programs to better serve at-risk youth. The current membership comprises eight federal agencies: the Departments of Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Homeland Security, as well as the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Corporation for National and Community Service; and nine practitioner members. Attorney General Gonzales chairs the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is administered by the Department of Justice.
During the past year, the council has expanded the scope of its activities by initiating an unprecedented number of interagency projects. Member agencies share federal resources to best leverage taxpayer resources to address many issues that affect disadvantaged and delinquent youth—including gangs, child welfare, truancy-information sharing among agencies, and federal custody of juveniles.
The conference will conclude by marking the progress of the AMBER Alert program honoring the memory of Amber Hagerman who was abducted while riding her bicycle and brutally murdered, 10 years ago, January 13. The AMBER Alert system stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy after Amber's tragic death.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and an office: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.