Karen Baynes, a former Georgia juvenile court judge, has been recommended by the Justice Department to head the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Youth Today reports. Baynes, 42, is associate director for governmental services and research at the Carl Vinson Institute for Government at the University of Georgia. Previously, she was a juvenile court judge in Atlanta’s Fulton County and before that a staff member of the juvenile court.
Youth Today says Baynes would be the first African-American and first female to head OJJDP. Youth advocates were “less than thrilled” with OJJDP’s handling of the issue under Bush-era Administrator J. Robert Flores, Youth Today says. “There are conversations Baynes could have with state [juvenile justice] leaders that might be easier because she is African-American.” Baynes is also knowledgeable about child welfare, and the nexus between that system and juvenile justice has gained attention in Washington, much in part to the work of former OJJDP administrator Shay Bilchik's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.