Some states routinely violate a 1974 federal law designed to protect youths accused of juvenile offenses because of U.S. Department of Justice lack of enforcement, charges Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA). “Last year, multiple whistleblowers contacted me about the Justice Department's failure to follow the law,” said Grassley at a hearing yesterday, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. “The whistleblowers allege that it is common knowledge among the states that the Justice Department did not take the four core requirements [of the law] seriously.” Grassley said whistleblowers claimed they faced retribution from DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Whistleblowers “claimed the states know the Justice Department does not even check if they are submitting accurate reports in their annual application for grants,” he said.
The grants go to states in exchange for their complying with the requirements. Whistleblowers assert that oversight failures may have led to unlawful OJJDP grants to Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Andrea Coleman said she had been stripped of the duty of “disproportionate minority contact coordinator” for calling out OJJDP supervisors on their orders not to comply with the law. Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, acknowledged “a number of errors and systemic flaws” at OJJDP.