TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice has been awarded a federal grant to implement expanded training for assistant prosecutors and detectives who handle juvenile cases throughout New Jersey. The training, which will emphasize rehabilitation and diversion, is part of a comprehensive plan by the Attorney General and Juvenile Justice Commission to overhaul the youth justice system in New Jersey.
Attorney General Grewal made the announcement during National Youth Justice Awareness Month. The new training program will be funded with a grant for $226,054 from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The initiative was developed by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Prosecutors Supervision & Training Bureau, which secured the federal grant and will implement the training.
The OJJDP grant will be used to expand training opportunities across all 21 counties for assistant prosecutors and detectives who handle juvenile criminal cases. The goal is to conduct two in-house trainings each year where the Prosecutors Supervision & Training Bureau will host experts from across the United States to train juvenile assistant prosecutors and detectives. In addition, the program will send juvenile assistant prosecutors and detectives to national trainings once per year. The U.S. Department of Justice grant will fund the training program for a period of three years.
“New Jersey already is a national leader in juvenile justice reform, but we are determined to completely overhaul our youth justice system,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As the Juvenile Justice Commission works to replace large secure juvenile facilities with smaller, state-of-the-art facilities that offer educational opportunities and therapeutic services closer to the home, this initiative will allow our juvenile prosecutors and detectives to learn and incorporate ideas from successful models to further their goals of achieving positive outcomes through rehabilitation and diversion.”
“Thanks to this federal grant, the Division of Criminal Justice will be able to offer assistant prosecutors and county detectives in all 21 counties access to the training and national expertise needed to keep New Jersey in the vanguard of criminal justice reform – in this case, juvenile justice reform,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend the attorneys and staff in our Prosecutors Supervision & Training Bureau who developed this program and secured this grant.”
The vastly different issues and concerns that arise in juvenile cases necessitate specific training. In addition to interacting with juvenile defendants, prosecutors and detectives handling these cases interact extensively with juvenile victims and witnesses. Because prosecutors’ offices often assign new assistant prosecutors to juvenile units before moving them on to other units, there is a constant need for training. Currently, juvenile-specific training consists primarily of on-the-job training within a single prosecutor’s office. The new program developed by the Division of Criminal Justice will offer statewide and national training opportunities for juvenile prosecutors. In addition, because juvenile cases are a team effort, opening the opportunities to juvenile detectives is an integral part of this training expansion.
The new program involves three distinct categories of training:
- Bringing in national experts to speak on juvenile issues that prosecutors and detectives will face during their juvenile cases;
- Sending juvenile prosecutors and detectives to juvenile-specific national trainings hosted by federal partners; and
- Identifying and connecting with jurisdictions where new models of rehabilitation and diversion have demonstrated a measurable impact and giving juvenile prosecutors the opportunity to observe these models on a first-hand basis.
To facilitate the training enhancement, the Division of Criminal Justice will continue to work with the New Jersey Juvenile Prosecutor Leadership Network to assess specific areas of need, connect with national experts, and identify juvenile prosecutors to attend training and partnership opportunities. Prosecutors selected to attend national trainings or travel to jurisdictions to collaborate on new initiatives and rehabilitation models will further benefit juvenile prosecutors and their offices statewide by bringing knowledge back to the New Jersey Juvenile Prosecutor Leadership Network.
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