Caren Harp, a law professor at Liberty University, will be named to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the White House announced. Harp is a former director of the National Juvenile Justice Prosecution Center at the American Prosecutors Research Institute. She has been chief deputy prosecuting attorney in El Dorado, Ar., and chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the Family Court Division of New York City’s Law Department. Harp also has been a public defender in Arkansas and a trial attorney in the Capital Conflicts Unit of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission. Harp is a member of the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Standards Task Force.
Last spring, Harp wrote that, “The renewed focus on adolescent development in juvenile justice is welcome and overdue,” but she contended in an article for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that “much of the brain science that is influencing the justice system hasn’t been offered into evidence in a courtroom. It hasn’t been subjected to rigorous challenge, or its limits defined or tested. Instead, through an avalanche of media and advocacy campaigns, it has simply been accepted as fact.” She also wrote that, “Incarcerating youth may solve a crime problem in the short term, but it does not, with rare exception, deter future offending or enhance public safety in the long run. To the contrary, it typically makes everyone less safe.”