Robert Listenbee Jr., who the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange calls “the embattled administrator” of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, has drawn support from juvenile justice advocates who credit him with laying the foundation for transforming the agency. Listenbee, entering his third year on the job, has come under increasing scrutiny. Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked DOJ to respond to whistleblowers' claims that OJJDP had knowingly violated federal law by giving grants to states that incarcerated runaway foster children and other “vulnerable minors.”
Marilyn Moses, president of a union representing rank-and-file OJJDP employees called for Listenbee's resignation, saying morale has eroded and the agency had “spiraled out of control” amid a climate of fear of retaliation for dissent. Listenbee says the agency’s parent Office of Justice Programs has been working to “address concerns” expressed by Moses, of AFSCME Local 2830. Juvenile justice advocates have lined up in support of Listenbee. Nate Balis of the Annie E. Casey Foundation says “OJJDP has promoted a national juvenile justice reform agenda rooted in research, guided by best practice and aimed at reducing racial disparities.” Listenbee is following recommendations of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.