In case you missed it, during the December holidays, (December 18, 2017), the White House announced the appointment of Caren Harp as the new head of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) in the Justice Department. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Harp is currently a professor at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg Virginia, a university that promotes itself as a law school where, “law is taught from a distinctively Christian worldview, which makes Liberty unique from other law schools.” Her resume includes being former director of the National Juvenile Justice Prosecution Center at the American Prosecutors Research Institute. She served as chief deputy prosecuting attorney in El Dorado, AR, and served as chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department. Ms. Harp served as the managing public defender for the 13th Judicial District in Arkansas, and as a trial attorney in the Capital Conflicts Unit of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.

Authoring an article Adolescent Brain Science: Proceed With Caution, this past spring Harp wrote:

“Some of the most successful interventions with youth to reduce reoffending involve community-based diversion programs. Accepting responsibility for one’s conduct is a life skill, one that youth need to develop sooner rather than later if they are to function productively in society. Creating safe, age-appropriate environments for youth to accept responsibility for the harm they’ve done to victims and communities, without the onerous consequences of conviction or adjudication, is the first, best option for most youthful offenders.”

The JJDP was established under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974. Its responsibility is to provide leadership and coordination and support in the prevention and response to juvenile delinquency and victimization. OJJDP supports states to develop and implement effective prevention and intervention programs. The JJDPA was last reauthorized in 2002 with the current programs operating without an authorization since 2007. In the last Congress a bipartisan reauthorization almost made it through enactment but faced significant opposition and hurdles largely erected by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) who had placed the lone public Senate hold on the Senate bill last year. There is hope it can get done. That would become even more likely if rumors in the news earlier this fall, that Senator Cotton would move into the Administration become true.

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