The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, raps President Obama for failing to name a director for the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention more than two years into his term. Says the Times: “Across the nation, juvenile crime rates are falling, giving states some time and breathing room to restructure delinquency programs. Momentum is building for meaningful and cost-saving reform. All that’s lacking is national focus and strong leadership.”
In California, for example, prisons are bursting, the state’s failing Juvenile Justice Division has turned over much of its mission to counties, and Los Angeles County’s troubled Probation Department is operating under a federal consent decree. What California and other states need, says the Times, “is efffective and creative support from the federal office that for many years sorted through policies, promoted best practices and offered research and technical assistance.” OJJDP, says the newspaper, could help states and counties sort through what works and what doesn’t — and then advocate for legislation and funding to continue reducing juvenile delinquency. The Times notes that Congress has failed to reauthorize the 1974, federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, that federal funding for juvenile justice programs has dropped precipitously, and states have suffered as a consequence.