Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
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Federal Agency Ex Officio Members image

US Department of Justice
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Chair
Attorney General

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Robert Listenbee
Administrator

Corporation for National and Community Service
Wendy Spencer
Chief Executive Officer

U.S. Department of Education
Arne Duncan
Secretary

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Thomas S. Winkowski
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Shaun L.S. Donovan
Secretary

U.S. Department of Labor
Thomas E. Perez
Secretary

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Michael Botticelli
Acting Director

Federal Agency Affiliate Members image

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Thomas Vilsack
Secretary

U.S. Department of Defense
Chuck Hagel
Secretary

U.S. Department of the Interior
Sally Jewell
Secretary

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Pamela S. Hyde
Administrator

Practitioner Members

Reginald Dwayne Betts
Maura Corrigan
Laurie Garduque
Adele L. Grubbs
Gordon A. Martin, Jr.
Pamela Rodriguez
Deborah Schumacher
Trina Thompson
Richard Vincent

 

Quarterly Meeting Summary

March 29, 1999

Office of Justice Programs
Washington, D.C.

The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention held its quarterly meeting on Monday, March 29, 1999, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Office of Justice Programs in Washington, DC. A list of those who attended the meeting is included at the end of this summary.

Meeting Overview

  • Welcome and Introductions,
    The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General

  • New Issue: Resiliency Factors and Delinquency Prevention, Suzanne Stutman, M.A., M.S.W., President, Institute for Mental Health Initiatives; and Carolyn Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Albany, State University of New York

  • Issue Update: Lead Poisoning and Delinquency,
    Robin Delany-Shabazz, Coordinator, Child Abuse and Neglect Programs, OJJDP

  • New Issue: Juveniles, Capital Punishment, and Sentencing,
    Larry K. Brendtro, President, Reclaiming Youth International, Practitioner Member

  • Issue Update: Working Group on Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency,
    The Honorable Michael W. McPhail, County and Youth Court Judge of Forrest County, Mississippi, Practitioner Member

  • Issue Update: Missing and Exploited Children's Program,
    Ron Laney, Director, Missing and Exploited Children's Program, OJJDP

  • Closing Remarks,
    John Wilson, Acting Vice Chair and Deputy Administrator, OJJDP


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Welcome and Introductions
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General

Attorney General Reno thanked everyone for their continued interest and support of the Coordinating Council and welcomed the following individuals to the Council: Chief Keith Oubre, Director of the Mississippi Police Corps; Robert Babbage, Senior Managing Partner of InterSouth, Inc.; and Professor Larry EchoHawk of the J. Rubin Clark Law School of Brigham Young University.

Reno outlined the afternoon's agenda which included a presentation by practitioner members on juveniles, capital punishment, and sentencing; a presentation on youth resiliency and its impact on delinquency, mental health, and substance abuse; an update from the Council's Interagency Working Group on Child Maltreatment and Delinquency; an update from the Council's Interagency Working Group on Lead Poisoning and Delinquency; and a presentation by Ron Laney, Director of OJJDP's Missing and Exploited Children's Program. Reno looks forward to receiving a written report detailing findings and recommendations on international abductions in April.

Reno stated that employees at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and members of the Interagency Working Group on Lead Poisoning and Delinquency are working hard to address the issue of the effects of lead exposure on children. However, she thinks more can be done through collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies to determine other common interests and build on those interests. HHS and Education are doing some interesting work with children ages 0-3 years that DOJ could build on. If agencies can find connections on a governmentwide basis, a real difference can be made.

John Wilson, Deputy Administrator and Acting Vice Chair of the Coordinating Council, welcomed everyone on behalf of OJJDP, the Office of Justice Programs, and OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. He noted that the practitioners have been busy, and OJJDP has been busy on the legislative front, as evidenced by the morning meeting. In introducing the next speakers, Wilson commented that, in the past, it was believed that resiliency could not be built, but research today indicates that this is not so.

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New Issue: Resiliency Factors and Delinquency Prevention
Suzanne Stutman, M.A., M.S.W., President, Institute for Mental Health Initiatives
Carolyn Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Albany, State University of New York

Suzanne Stutman took the floor first to present what she believes is some of the most important information about children that is known today. Although its definition is still in process, she noted resiliency is the ability to overcome multiple risks and adversity and to adapt, grow, and be transformed by such adversity. The study of resiliency began 4 decades ago, Stutman explained, when Dr. Emmy Werner studied youth ages 0-18 years in Hawaii and found evidence of delinquency, mental health problems, and pregnancy. It was Dr. Werner's study of the one-third of the youth who did not have these problems that formed the basis for considering resiliency. Dr. Norm Gramercy also addressed resiliency as he studied schizophrenia in children and recognized the need to study the forces- individual strengths and the environment-that protected children and prevented them from getting the disease. Michael Rudder in England similarly found that the process or mechanism-not the variable-is what protects against risk.

The fact that some children rise to the challenge has led to the development of the challenge model, which focuses on strengths or protective factors. Rudder found that one-third of the young women in one study developed into well functioning adults. One explanation for this result, Rudder found, was positive school experience, which entailed not only a positive academic experience but achieving excellence in sports or music, holding positions of responsibility, or having a positive experience with a teacher. Pleasure therefore translates into resilience. As a result, these women chose healthy partners and planned their marriages rather than marrying to escape a difficult situation.

Success in school and intelligence also play an important role, as do emotional intelligence and competence which make a profound difference in the lives of youth. While the study of resilience teaches that there is a continuous possibility for change, it should be noted that individuals apply resilience differently. Developmental changes and turning points determine when an individual is more or less able to change. In addition, what may be a protective factor for one person may be a risk factor for another.

The common denominators or characteristics of resiliency include a facilitative environment (schools, caring relationships), skills (social, problem-solving, and planning skills, and mastery of emotions), and inner strengths (sense of worth, power, confidence, virtue, and hope).

Following Stutman, Dr. Smith took the podium to discuss those characteristics and the protective processes found to insulate children from conduct problems. Her information is based primarily on the Rochester Youth Development Study and other studies.

Smith first stressed the connections that can be made and the value of interdisciplinary research in making such connections. Longitudinal research is important, she explained, because it yields a diversity of outcomes. Common risk factors lie behind a range of adolescent problems such as substance abuse, mental health problems, school dropout, pregnancy, and poor parenting. If programs address this constellation of risk factors, they will generate more results for the investment of resources. Some children experience a multitude of risks, and problems may be interlinked or co-occur, such as attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, school underachievement, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. These problems, Smith noted, should be addressed in a coordinated way early in a child's life, before the onset of delinquency. Other common factors that can protect youth are internal resources, family climate, and the social environment.

Resilience has to be evaluated over time and across domains of functioning. Competency in one area does not mean an individual is competent in another. For example, high-risk, crime-free people may not necessarily be competent in the job sphere. Two of the four protective principles are reduction of risk and interruption of chains of risk that lead to later problems. Applying these principles, programs should work to strengthen family resilience and prevent and intervene with constitutional and developmental difficulties. Much of this work has to take place in the schools.

The onset of delinquency usually occurs in early adolescence. Other problems occur during developmental transitions. Resilient teens have been exposed to risk factors but maneuver without problems. Critical factors relative to resilience change through the life cycle. In early childhood, for example, constitutional factors and attachment to one's caregiver are important, while in adolescence interpersonal issues and environments are more critical.

The Rochester Study investigated risk and protective factors. Those with five or more of nine risk factors were considered at risk and three times more likely to be delinquent as teenagers. Authors of the study identified two high-risk groups: one that had not been engaged in delinquency and one that had. Factors that distinguished the two groups included educational achievement, connections to teachers, aspirations to college, conventional values, and parental supervision and support. Each protective factor alone did not contribute much to resilience; they only worked in combination with one another. As the number of protective factors increased, the study found, so did the level of resilience, indicating the importance of protection across several areas and the need for broad-based intervention programs that are specifically targeted. Researchers also need to investigate more closely what protective resources come into play in later adolescence.

Other research has identified additional resiliency factors such as high intelligence, cognitive skill development, even temperament, sociability, a harmonious relationship with a parent, warm relationships with an adult, good experiences in school, and prosocial peer groups.

In the substance abuse field, similar findings concerning resilience have emerged, but in that context there is an emphasis on building community resiliency. It is better to target the capacity of the community to change by mobilizing leaders and community-based organizations to provide services. Implementation of these actions, however, is difficult.

Building protective factors in difficult environments is also important. A caveat to the discussion of resilience is that these principles sound as if they are distinctive issues, but they are more complicated than that. They have underlying processes that researchers do not yet understand. For example, intelligence is usually thought of as a protective factor, but in African- Americans and Hispanics with limited opportunities, the two factors can interact and result in greater substance abuse and antisocial behavior. Therefore, an individual's opportunity structure is also important. Self-esteem is also thought to be a protective factor but aggressive youth who have high self-esteem actually have distorted self-images. Social support is often a protective factor for adults, but for adolescents peer support can have negative results. Family support is also complicated. As a protective factor, it can increase support and partnership, but the findings on this factor are uneven. If other members of a family are struggling to remain crime free, they may have a limited positive influence on adolescents living in the household.

The last life stage considered, late adolescence, provides turning points, new environments, and opportunities for youth, but there is not much research on this stage. The protective factors at this life stage include dating or cohabiting with partners who are not deviant. Unfortunately, these partners will be limited and difficult to find. Other protective factors include being able to make the transition to work and family or other support. Thus, new opportunities for relating to those with more prosocial norms, changes in skills and qualifications that open opportunities in work, and changes in planning capacity can all be protective factors contributing to resiliency. The challenge is finding institutional opportunities for these. Focusing on protective factors, however, is a helpful perspective when working with teenagers and families because it focuses on resources and positive development, including community resources, and redirects everyone's energy toward positive outcomes.

Stutman concluded by saying that Nancy Davis, Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), has written an excellent paper entitled "Resilience: Status of the Research and Research-Based Programs." Stuntman also provided examples of several programs which have been successful in promoting resilience for children different ages. Programs for 0- to 3-year-olds focus on emotional and neurological development and include the Kempe Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health, the Infant Health and Development Program, and Dare to Be You. Programs for preschool children, ages 4 and 5, include the High Scope Educational Research Foundation's Perry Preschool Project. Programs for kindergarten to elementary school students include Be a Star. Middle and high school programs include Learn and Serve America; Say It Straight: Youth-Centered Communication Skills Training; Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; and Adventure Education and Outward Bound.

Stutman concluded by recommending early intervention, periodic assessment of resilience, augmenting a child's environment and building inner strengths, continuing proven programs, encouraging school collaboration, and targeting different populations with information about resiliency through the mass media.

The discussion that followed acknowledged that our language and tools of pathology are finely tuned while our tools for finding and discussing resiliency are blunt. Smith and Stutman said that the fields of social work, psychotherapy, and recovery, and the fields' emphasis on finding and working with client strengths have influenced their own work in resiliency.

The Council also discussed the importance of early intervention in the 0-3 age group because many of those children spend a great deal of time in day care. Stutman mentioned an article on the Zero to Three Ounce of Prevention Fund which emphasizes the need to focus on parents and other caregivers.

Reno noted that Senator Stevens, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, had asked her to work on issues of 0-3, brain development, and parenting. She asked Stutman and Smith for help in providing a presentation. They are to provide her with the material so that she can have it for her discussion with Senator Stevens. Reno said that the research must be examined in an interdisciplinary way to determine the impact of ages 0-3 on older adolescents and delinquency. Reno urged everyone to think of new ways to work together because so much more can be done.

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Issue Update: Lead Poisoning and Delinquency
Robin Delany-Shabazz, Coordinator, Child Abuse and Neglect Programs, OJJDP

Lead poisoning and environmental risks can affect physical, neurobiological, and cognitive abilities and skills in children. They can also affect school performance, thus becoming risk factors for delinquency. Since the last Coordinating Council meeting, the Interagency Working Group on Lead Poisoning and Delinquency has been working on the issue of lead poisoning and environmental risks. Given Stutman and Smith's presentation, it seems evident, Delany-Shabazz said, that we should begin addressing healthy homes and healthy communities.

The working group is comprised of members from HHS, DOJ, EPA, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and national organizations. They have prioritized the actions recommended at the last meeting. First, they will inventory programs across Federal agencies and nationwide to identify best practices and programs in lead and environmental hazard work to disseminate information and use it to inform new initiatives. Second, they will integrate lead poisoning and environmental hazard risk identification, prevention, and remediation into existing Federal programs. The group is looking into the feasibility of a possible interagency project that would provide training and technical assistance to local communities to educate them about lead and other environmental hazards and help them make use of existing delivery systems.

DOJ formed the Environmental Risks to Children Working Group under Mary Lou Leary to enhance its efforts in reducing environmental risks in communities in coordination with the Council's working group and Federal agencies. Five areas of focus have been identified for the working group: enforcement of the lead disclosure rule; training for police officers, prosecutors, and environmental units; community outreach and education; research; and legislation. The working group has begun to work with Weed and Seed to see that information about lead hazards is distributed to all Weed and Seed sites. A workshop will be given at the annual Weed and Seed conference to focus on Child Health Champion Pilots which seek to empower communities to protect children from environmental threats. Weed and Seed is also conducting a survey on environmental risks which it will use to inform future efforts.

Reno asked if the working group were addressing the concerns expressed in Dr. Needleman's letter. Delany-Shabazz said that the article referenced had been distributed to all members of the working group.

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New Issue: Juveniles, Capital Punishment, and Sentencing
Larry K. Brendtro, President, Reclaiming Youth International, Practitioner Member

Amnesty International released some months ago a report entitled "Rights for All: Betraying the Young" on the sentencing of juveniles to capital punishment and life imprisonment without parole. A group of practitioner members, including several judges, discussed this issue because they work with it on the front lines. They felt it was important to bring this emerging issue to the attention of the Coordinating Council.

Brendtro noted that in 1642, a 15-year-old from Massachusetts was the first child executed in America. Not many youngsters have been submitted to that punishment, but it is nonetheless an important issue, particularly now during the one hundredth anniversary of the juvenile court. Brendtro noted that violence goes in cycles. For example, he explained, many youth development initiatives were in place in the 1920's, but by the Depression the country had the highest murder rate in the century (except for a blip in the 1990's).

Brendtro stated that he has worked with challenged kids for 35 years and has seen many youth who have committed murder but who are capable of rehabilitation. The faith-based programs of Straight Ahead Ministries have succeeded in rehabilitating kids who have completed sentences, even those for homicide. At any one time, six youths who have committed homicide are receiving services in Boys Town and are reclaimable. A few years ago, Brendtro began doing developmental audits of high-profile kids because there was no protocol for finding out what had gone wrong with them. Trials can determine guilt but not what happened. This lack of knowledge, Brendtro explained, feeds citizens' fear of crime and prevents the justice system from finding out what happened to each child. Each case has to be assessed individually to identify the trajectory of failure.

Brendtro noted that many positive things can be done, but the dilemma is that increasing numbers of young people are tried as adults and face preexisting or absolute penalties such as the death penalty or life in prison without parole. These penalties for juveniles have been eliminated from the legal codes of virtually all other nations and are contrary to international law. Preexisting adult penalties were probably never intended for juveniles. In addition, there is no consensus among Americans that it is acceptable to sentence juveniles to death or life in prison without parole. Therefore, the practitioners recommend that:

  • The sentence of death should not be imposed for a crime committed when a person was not an adult.

  • The sentence of life imprisonment should not be imposed without periodic reviews or parole for a crime committed when a person was not an adult.

About 60 young people are now awaiting execution in America. They will be beyond the age of minority when their various appeals are completed. The number of young people serving life sentences is more difficult to document, but this sentence is imposed frequently.

Reno asked Brendtro to give some instruction on the types of sentences that would be most appropriate in these cases. She said it would be helpful to have the practitioner members' views on what sentencing should be in these cases to figure out the alternatives.

Brendtro likened these types of juvenile crimes to the "glide path" leading to an airplane crash, saying that a better protocol or process for assessing these high-profile cases is needed in order to design a sentencing plan. His organization has a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to look at that question. Reno said that we need to understand the ingredients for strengths along the continuum of a child's life and not focus solely on one area.

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Issue Update: Working Group on Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency
The Honorable Michael W. McPhail, County and Youth Court Judge of Forrest County, Mississippi, Practitioner Member

Child maltreatment is at the heart of crime and serious social problems. The term refers to a range of scenarios that harm the health and welfare of children under age 18, including abuse, neglect, physical injury, sexual exploitation, and serious emotional harm. While many maltreated children go on to lead healthy lives, others suffer immediate negative consequences and are at high risk of delinquency and low academic achievement. Established by the Coordinating Council in February 1998, the working group set as its first goal a preliminary assessment of the research literature, policy issues, and programs dealing with child maltreatment and its link to delinquency.

The working group has recently worked to coordinate its activities with the Deputy Attorney General's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative. That initiative targets child witnesses to violence by:

  • Improving the juvenile system response to child victims and witnesses.

  • Proposing a model for Federal and State legislation.

  • Developing programs based on proven initiatives.

  • Developing community outreach, which includes sponsoring the national summit cohosted by DOJ and HHS in June on best practices and developing a blueprint for Federal, State, and local action in preventing children's exposure to violence.

  • Increasing public awareness through a satellite teleconference using the press and television.

The working group has identified areas of collaboration and will seek to explore the possibility of coordinating the dissemination of information on programs and legislation. It will also explore the possibility of recommending experts and speakers to invite to the summit.

In December 1998, the working group reported that it had completed a preliminary assessment of the resource literature, referent policies and programs. The discussion is now focused on how to better address the links between child maltreatment and delinquency. The group is making plans to convene State legislative forums. The forums are intended to increase public awareness, identify promising strategies, and outline how community-based collaborative efforts can work.

The working group is also developing advanced reading material for the State forums and drafting talking points for local speakers. In addition, working group members plan to convene a forum for those foundations which may be interested in initiatives related to child maltreatment and delinquency. The group is addressing longitudinal research and resiliency and identifying promising programs (from the standpoint of early intervention) in five victim target groups as well. At subsequent meetings, the group will identify intended audiences for these program materials. The group plans to meet again in April to develop a timetable for these activities.

Reno asked the working group to look into the possibility of establishing model courts for children under age 6 who have been maltreated and abused. These courts, she explained, would give judges the time and resources to perfect changes in the family or make swift decisions about terminating parental rights. She also wondered about the best way to spread the message about what works.

Reno suggested that, along with the model court, police officers could be trained to work with the community to identify abused children and work with parents through home visitation and as mentors. Reno said John Wilson would provide the working group with the names of any courts moving in that direction.

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Issue Update: Missing and Exploited Children's Program
Ron Laney, Director, Missing and Exploited Children's Program, OJJDP

Ron Laney provided an update on international parental kidnaping and Internet crimes against children. When the Federal Agency Task Force on Missing and Exploited Children was created in 1995, Laney explained, it began to look at how to better coordinate services and it has published two or three documents since then. Since 1997, it has addressed the issue of international parental kidnaping, and found that there are about 1000 cases per year of incoming and outgoing kidnapings. The program examined the issue with 16 agencies and found that no single agency knew how to handle these cases in their entirety. Some agencies had authority; some had resources. Law enforcement often did not know how to proceed with these cases.

Since January 1998, the International Kidnaping Subcommittee has considered the Federal response to international parental kidnaping. Members of the subcommittee now know that two or three laws, eight or nine agencies, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) are involved. Attorney General Reno wanted the subcommittee to consider how it could expand outreach and educational programs, manage cases more effectively, improve statistical recordkeeping systems, develop ways to prevent abduction, and ensure that investigation guidelines were disseminated. Reno also spoke about establishing a senior level policy group to review with the Office of Management and Budget the level of resources that could be devoted to the issue and to review NCMEC's role. In response to these questions, a report containing recommendations will be submitted to the policy group in April. After approval, the report will be sent to the Attorney General, after which it will be submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The report contains current Federal responses to international kidnaping and civil remedies to recover children and bring abductors to justice. It also identifies problems with existing laws and practices.

In 1998 Congress earmarked $2.4 million to OJJDP under the Missing and Exploited Children's Program to deal with Internet crimes against children. The program awarded 10 State law enforcement agencies money to prevent and combat Internet crimes against children. This year Congress appropriated $5 million, $2.4 for the existing sites and the remainder for eight additional sites. The program has worked with many other agencies to develop operational and investigative standards to prevent Internet crimes against children. The program has also developed a certification course for participating agencies and has made sure that the regional task force abides by the same regulations. The program also conducts the law enforcement training program, "Protecting Children Online."

OJJDP's "Family Survival Guide," which won a Blue Pencil Award, will now be translated into Spanish, and 10,000 more copies will be distributed. A total of 48,000 copies of the guide already have been distributed. A Portable Guide to preventing the computer and sexual exploitation of children is also being distributed to law enforcement. In addition, the Missing and Exploited Children's Program is working with the Office of Victims of Crime to expand the child reunification travel program to send parents to other countries to retrieve their children.

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Closing Remarks
John Wilson, Acting Vice Chair and Deputy Administrator, OJJDP

John Wilson concluded the meeting. He mentioned that the Missing and Exploited Children's Program plan is out for comment in the Federal Register. The report on international child abductions will be given to Coordinating Council members as soon as it is available. Copies of the Davis article and the National Crime Prevention Council's "Six Safer Cities" are also available. He thanked the working groups for their solid plans and urged everyone to continue their interagency efforts to meet the challenge of maintaining and sustaining these partnerships.

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Participants
Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention
Quarterly Meeting

Monday, March 29, 1999
1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Robert A. Babbage
Senior Managing Partner
InterSouth, Inc.

Larry K. Brendtro
President
Reclaiming Youth International

John Calhoun
Executive Director
National Crime Prevention Council

Devon Corneal
Policy Analyst
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Darlind Davis
Chief
Prevention Branch
Office of National Drug Control Policy

Larry EchoHawk
Professor
J. Reuben Clark Law School
Brigham Young University, Utah

Valerie Gompf
Highway Safety Specialist
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation

The Honorable Adele Grubbs
Judge
Juvenile Court of Cobb County, GA

Julie Herr
Juvenile Justice Program Specialist
Concentration of Federal Efforts Program
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice

Elizabeth Herskovitz
Detention and Deportation Officer
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

Herb Jones
Director
Office of the Undersecretary
Project Outreach
U.S. Department of Treasury

Lee Kessler
Director of Federal Partnerships
National Endowment for the Arts

Theodore Mastroianni
Associate Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

The Honorable County and Youth Courts Judge
County and Youth Courts of Forrest County, MS

William Modzeleski
Director
Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
U.S. Department of Education

Keith Oubre
Director
Mississippi Police Corps

Gladys G. Vaughn
National Program Leader, Human Sciences
U.S. Department of Agriculture

John Wilson
Deputy Administrator
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice

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