Office of Local Programs and Services
Lisa Macaluso, Director
The Commission's Office of Local Programs and Services brings together several offices that support the development and enhancement of a local continuum of care which complements the programs offered by the Commission.
Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the Commission administers several funding initiatives and state-level services that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services and sanctions, from prevention programs to sentencing options for at-risk, court-involved and delinquent youth.
The Office is responsible for four funding areas including the State/Community Partnership Grant Program, the State Incentive Program, federal funding through the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program, and Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program. The Office also includes the Grant Management Unit, Court Liaisons, and the Juvenile Detention Monitoring Unit.
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)
Through its grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission is the lead agency responsible for the replication of the national Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The Initiative was created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation over ten years ago, and has as its overall goal to reduce the unnecessary and inappropriate use of detention while maintaining public safety and court appearance rates. In April 2004, New Jersey became an official replication site and is awarded $200,000 annually by the Foundation.
The Juvenile Justice Commission leads this Initiative in partnership with a State Steering Committee whose membership includes representation from the Attorney General's Office (including Police and Prosecutors), the Judiciary (including Administration, Judges and Probation), the Department of Children and Families, the Public Defenders Office, the Office of the Child Advocate, the Department of Education, County Administration Representatives, County Youth Services Commission Representatives, the New Jersey Juvenile Detention Association, the Governor's Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee and the Institute for Social Justice. In addition, each county operates its own local leadership through the JDAI County Steering Committees.
New Jersey's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative was initially piloted in five counties: Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Hudson and Monmouth. The Juvenile Justice Commission has documented the overall impact of JDAI as a statewide initiative by reporting annual trends in key indicators of detention utilization, including admissions, length of stay, and average daily population, the overrepresentation of minority youth in detention, and detention alternative program utilization.
The Juvenile Justice Commission and its partners are currently expanding the initiative to an additional five counties: Bergen, Burlington, Mercer, Ocean and Union.
The 2006 JDAI Annual Data Report highlights the following impacts of JDAI collectively in the five pilot counties:
Youth Services Commissions
The development and enhancement of a local community-based continuum is achieved through a cooperative effort between the state and its 21 counties through county youth services commissions. The county youth services commissions were established to examine the individual and unique needs of youth in their communities and to develop programs and sentencing options for their youth.
Experience and research has demonstrated the value of responding to the problems of youth within their own communities. Local development of correctional programs for appropriate youth can be more effective and less costly than placement of youth in State administered programs.
The State/Community Partnership Program provides fiscal incentives for county and local governments to establish prevention, intervention and aftercare services that address the root causes of delinquency. Each year, the Commission awards approximately $10 million in such block grants. More than 4,500 young people participated in one or more of the 224 partnership programs available throughout the state in 1999.
Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) afford both county and municipal level governments the opportunity to hold juveniles increasingly accountable for delinquent behaviors through Juvenile Crime Enforcement Coalitions (JCECs) and the allocation of funding across priority purpose areas. Additionally, the State maintains a share of JABG funding for Information Technology improvements and the provision of substance abuse assessment services.
The development of the State Incentive Program (SIP) is a key component of the Juvenile Justice Commission's Master Plan to improve New Jersey's juvenile justice system.
In tandem with the existing State/Community Partnership Grant Program, the State Incentive Program supports counties in their program planning and development efforts. It further enhances the county's ability to develop, at the local level, a continuum of effective sanctions and services for juvenile offenders. This desired continuum of options includes both efforts to prevent youth from becoming delinquent and to respond in the most effective way to a wide array of delinquent youth.
These sentencing options provide judges with more choices, thus helping ensure that the disposition best fits the offender and the offense. The 1983 Juvenile Justice Code allows judges to utilize a wide array of dispositions for youth. Despite that ability, available programs of sanctions and services to match that array of dispositions have been slow to develop. One result of this limited availability is that youth are often placed in State facilities when use of local facilities and programs would be more appropriate and effective. It is important to note that, parallel with the implementation of the State Incentive Program, the Commission is substantially increasing its institutional and non-institutional bed capacity with the goals of addressing existing bed shortages and enhancing overall Commission programming.
The primary responsibility of the Program Development & Prevention Services Office (PD&PS) is to oversee federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) funded programs totaling $3.5 million and to staff the state level JJDP Committee, chaired by Judge B. Thomas Leahy. In addition, the Office is responsible for state level compliance monitoring of the core requirements of the JJDP Act, notably that youthful offenders not have sight or sound contact with adult offenders, that juvenile non-offenders or status offenders (runaways, truants, etc.) not be kept in a secure setting and that delinquent juveniles not be detained in any adult jail or lockup.
The Office also ensures that the Juvenile Justice Commission develops a plan to address the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Currently, the JJC is in the assessment phase of this process.
Annually, the State of New Jersey, through the Department of Law & Public Safety - Juvenile Justice Commission, receives a Title IIB Formula Grant, a Title IIE Challenge Grant, a Title V Delinquency Prevention Grant and a Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) award from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in Washington, DC.
67% of the Title IIB Formula Grant must be spent on community-based projects while the remaining 33% may be spent on state level initiatives in accordance with the program areas listed in the State's Three Year Comprehensive Plan. Currently, the JJC allocates Title IIB Funding for compliance monitoring, disproportionate minority confinement, serious crime, innovative local law enforcement programs and systems improvements.
Title IIE Challenge Grant funding allows the State broad discretion in targeting spending for special populations or projects. Recent grants have been awarded to institute a detention reform project and to develop a gender specific model program.
Title V Risk Focused Delinquency Prevention Program Grant provides local communities with funding to develop primary prevention programs based upon identified problem behaviors and priority risk factors.
Along with the State Community Partnership and the State Incentive Programs, the grants administered through this office provide for a community-based continuum of sanctions and services for juvenile offenders and those at-risk of offending.
The Juvenile Justice Commission Court Liaisons act as the bridge between the Family Court and the Juvenile Justice Commission. In this role, Court Liaisons are responsible for diverting juveniles from the Juvenile Justice Commission to community-based programs when deemed appropriate by the courts. When local diversion is not appropriate, Court Liaisons will seek placement in a JJC residential group center, the New Jersey Training School or a contracted bed.
Court Liaisons are involved in all aspects of the juvenile justice system. Additional responsibilities include: coordinating juvenile justice system issues with counties, representing the JJC on County Youth Services Commissions, and supporting the JJC's continuum of care not only through coordinating initial placement, but also by working with aftercare to ensure that youth returning to their communities are properly supported.
The Commission's Grants Management Office is responsible for seeking grant funds that address the needs of the juveniles under the Commission's jurisdiction and support the Commission's mission. The Grants Management Office researches funding sources and reviews grant announcements to identify those that coincide with the needs of the Commission not supported by the state budget. Funds are sought via proposal/budget development and submission for a variety of initiatives inclusive of staff training, education programs, workforce development programs, parenting programs, mentoring programs, substance abuse education and residential treatment, restorative justice projects, transitional programs, aftercare step-up programs, mental health programs, sex offender programs, bullet proof vests, drug testing and capital projects. The Grants Management Office in conjunction with the Education, Operations and Fiscal Offices, monitors program implementation /operations and expenditures.
The Juvenile Detention Compliance Monitoring Unit conducts programmatic and physical facility inspections on the 17 county-operated detention facilities to ensure compliance with the Manual of Standards for Juvenile Detention Facilities (N.J.A.C. 13:92). In addition, the Unit approves all juvenile detention construction projects, including new and renovation projects. The Unit also responds to problems and investigates major incidents occurring within juvenile detention facilities to ensure all areas of concern are addressed. Finally, the Unit provides technical assistance to juvenile detention facility staff and administrators regarding physical plant, security, suicide and operation issues.