UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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REMARKS OF THE HONORABLE JANET RENO,
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES,
CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
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Independence Room A
Grand Hyatt Hotel
1000 H Street, N.W., N.W.
Friday, March 13, 1998
P R O C E E D I N G S
GENERAL RENO: Thank you, David, and thank you all for making
me feel so welcome. But I am the one to thank you. Just in the brief time I have been
here, I have seen child advocates whom I have known for ages, I have seen some I
have met for the first time, I see some I recognize by name. But I see a dedicated
group of people who are on the front lines in one of the most critical efforts this
Nation is undertaking -- giving our children a strong and positive future.
There can be nothing more rewarding than child advocacy. There can
be nothing more frustrating than child advocacy. I think raising children is the single
most difficult thing I know to do. It takes love, hard work, luck, and intelligence.
To be the child advocate is probably even more difficult, but you do it
day in and day out, and we are all in your debt. You are but little lower than the
People ask me why I as a prosecutor for 15 years and now as the
Attorney General have focused so on the issue of children. Well, in those capacities I
am bound to protect the rights of all citizens, including children. But to me children
are more than just a segment, more even than the most vulnerable segment of our
population. Children are the measure of our effectiveness as leaders, as parents, and as
citizens. They are the gauge of our competence, our basic competence as guardians of
this Earth and its people.
As a law enforcement officer, I also believe that the protection of
children is the cornerstone of any effort in the fight against crime. The way I put it is,
as a prosecutor I pick up a pre-sentence investigation of a 17-year-old whom I've just
filed a petition against for armed robbery and I look at that pre-sentence investigation
and see four points along the way where I could have intervened and have made a
difference in that child's life.
That child did not need to be a delinquent. If that child had had an
afternoon program to keep them occupied, if that child had had intervention when he
saw his father beat his mother, if that child had had strong constructive child care in
the first three years, if that child had had appropriate health care to provide prevention
for medical problems that had besieged him, we wouldn't be there filing a petition for
As you know full well from the great work that's been done, children
what are abused, who are neglected or exposed to violence in a way that teaches them
that violence is acceptable, are at substantially higher risk for doing the same thing to
others. The higher risk is both evident -- is evident both as children and, later, when
they become adults.
Let's take a moment to review the trends concerning children in
America. You probably know these trends as well or better than I do, but I think it is
important to keep them in mind. First, we are in the middle of a steady increase in the
number of children in this country. According to the latest Census information, there
are 31 million children in the country between the ages of 10 and 17. That is about
four million more than in the late eighties and about two million fewer than is
projected for the year 2010.
Researchers tell us another and equally disturbing fact, that more and
more of these children are spending a significant amount of time during the day, in the
evening, in the summertime, unsupervised except with their peers. These children are
facing a complex, dangerous world of drugs, of guns, of violence, and they are left to
The next trend is that since at least 1980 victimization of children has
been on the rise. Currently about three million are reported abused or neglected per
year, almost double the number reported during the mid-eighties. While this trend
may be due on some part to a greater willingness to report suspected incidents, the
numbers are nonetheless staggering and totally unacceptable.
And while there seems to be a recent downturn in violence against
older children, juveniles in the ages of 12 to 17 are still nearly three times more likely
than adults to be the victims of violent crime. We cannot stand by and watch even one child killed on our streets by aimless
bullets or by something else that went wrong.
Moreover, more than two-thirds of violent incidents against teens are
never reported to law enforcement.
Against the backdrop of increasing juvenile populations and the
increasing victimization of children, the next trend is particularly noteworthy. From
the mid-eighties through the mid-nineties, juvenile crime and delinquency increased
steadily. Now, thankfully, in the last two years we've seen declines in the juvenile
arrest rates for homicide and for violent crime generally. But the overall levels of
juvenile crime remain about 50 percent higher than they were 15 years ago.
We have a long way to go to restore peace and safety to many
neighborhoods and to restore hope and confidence to children in their homes, in their
schools, and on the streets of the neighborhoods where they live. Fortunately,
however, demographics don't need to be our destiny. You know that as well as I do.
We can address juvenile victimization and delinquency fairly and effectively if only
we are willing to identify the problems correctly and approach them in a balanced,
There is a tendency amongst those of us who advocate for children just
to talk about prevention. But we've got to talk about a balanced approach that
recognizes that there is no excuse for putting a gun up besides somebody's head and
threatening them or hurting them, that we have got to design sensible programs that
correct and give our children a future, that provide aftercare, recognizing that the best
correctional programs in the world won't work if a child is returned to the apartment
over the open air drug market where they got into trouble in the first place, that we
have got to provide a continuity of support for our children no matter where they are
that gives them that chance for the future they deserve.
The first step is to respond aggressively to the link between child
victimization and subsequent delinquency. Studies like yours in Sacramento, showing
that 9 to 12 year olds referred to child welfare are 67 times more likely to be arrested
than those not known to the child welfare system, bring astonishing clarity to this
I just want to commend you. The work that you're doing in terms of
solid data showing problems, showing connections between cause and effect, showing
what programs are working, showing that prevention can and does work, are some of
the most valuable research that is being done in this country today, because again and
again I get the response: Janet, you know prevention doesn't work. You are proving
them wrong, and I thank you.
Moreover, we must understand that victimization can take different
forms. Too many children who are not themselves assaulted or neglected see violence
and abuse in their homes, their neighborhoods, and their schools. In a study conducted
at Boston City Hospital, one out of every ten children seen in the primary care clinic
had witnessed a shooting or stabbing before the age of six, 50 percent in the home and
50 percent in the streets. The average age of these children was 2.7 years of age.
As you know so well, children's experience of and exposure to violence
frequently lead to increased depression, anxiety, anger, alcohol, drug abuse, and lower
academic achievement. The violence shapes how children remember, how they learn,
and how they feel about themselves. And children who experience violence are at
increased risk of becoming the violent.
Where do we start? What is the Department of Justice, what is the
administration, trying to do to address these issues. I worried when I came to
Washington five years ago that I could talk a lot about advocacy and I wondered
whether we could deliver. One of the first things that everybody working together
delivered on was a Violence Against Women Act that focused on violence in the
home. If we do not end violence in the home, we will never end it on the streets of
America. Our children will never be able to interrupt the cycle of violence. And that
Act is now providing substantial moneys to every State in this Nation to develop
effective programs against domestic violence. That is one of the first steps.
And to show you how far we have come, I go later this morning to the
National Association of Attorneys General, who are devoting their meeting to a
conference on domestic violence, and I'm going to be speaking to them about domestic
violence and how far we have come.
But I'm also happy to report that the Department of Justice is working
hard in the area to improve systemic responses to child victimization and to try to stop
it from happening in the first place. With partners like the Child Welfare League and
our sister agency the Department of Health and Human Services, we are aiming to
help States and communities improve dependency court systems by streamlining
intake and interview processes. We are helping to train law enforcement officers to
respond quickly and appropriately to child abuse and neglect. We are assisting judges
in all the difficult dimensions of dealing with abused and neglected children. And
through the Safe Kids, Safe Streets program, we are working to improve a problem I
remember very well from my days as a prosecutor in Miami -- the need, the desperate
need, for greater coordination among the criminal, the delinquency, and the
dependency courts that too often see the same family members over and over in
different stages of the cycle of abuse, victimization, delinquency, and crime.
In that connection, I would like to share with you a moment that I had
this past week at a conference on community justice that the Department put on. A
year ago about 300, 350 people came to that conference. 800 people came to that
conference and there was standing room only. There were county commissioners,
there were tribal leaders, there were social workers, there were juvenile court judges,
there were police officers.
But it was reflective of the community coming together to reweave the
fabric of community around children and families at risk, of helping a community
come together, come back from behind locked doors to participate.
Just think and focus in this coming year on what you can do to
contribute to community justice, where a child is just not a name unknown except by
name, but a child is a real person, supported by a neighborhood, supported by a
community, that that judge knows; and he knows the father and he knows the
problems that exist in the home. And he may have handled the eviction problem and
he may have handled the action against the landlord.
But if the community can then provide support for that judge to help do
more than just ascribe blame or innocence, but to solve problems, we will come a long
One initiative in the President's 1999 budget request that I'm
particularly proud of would build on the partnership between the New Haven Police
Department and the Yale Medical School Child Study Center. This initiative would
expand the New Haven project to 15 cities, engaging community police, mental health
professionals, prosecutors, school personnel probation and parole officers, in rapid,
effective responses to children and families burdened by increasing levels of
community, family, and gang violence.
The Department is also supporting critical efforts to prevent
victimization in the first place. One very promising program is the University of
Colorado's nurse home visitation program for new mothers, which has demonstrated,
among other things, a 75 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect and a 50 percent
decrease in the children's delinquency rate 15 years later.
We are also supporting family-strengthening efforts to teach better
parenting skills, such as Parents Anonymous, a self-help group for parents abusing or
at risk of abusing their children. And we will continue to evaluate and work with you
so that we can go to Congress, so that we can go to State legislators and to county
commissioners and to city commissioners and say prevention does work. It sometimes
takes time to prove it, but prevention can work.
The research tells us that these activities will not only result in healthier
children, but will also reduce delinquency.
When I first came to Washington, I started talking about prevention and
what needed to be done and the fact that the Department of Justice must focus on
children. And people kind of laughed at me and called me a social worker.
(Laughter and applause.)
They haven't laughed at me, except about Saturday Night Live --
-- and now Ali MacBeal. And I think that's probably a good way to
But I in these five years have seen it change, and President Clinton has
been so supportive of these efforts. More than a year ago we presented our anti-gang
and youth violence legislation, an approach that demanded accountability, but also
provided moneys or would have provided moneys to help youngsters stay out of
trouble in the first place.
The first part of our approach is to crack down on adults who corrupt
children, particularly by supplying them illegal guns or drugs. The administration
would raise penalties substantially for those adults who sell illegal drugs or guns to
children, use children to sell drugs or sell drugs on or near school property.
Next the administration's approach recognizes something that is very
important for us to tell this Nation, that only a very small fraction of juveniles in this
country are violent. Most children in this country want peace.
We have organized young people to be sounding boards, to participate
with us, to give us recommendations. I go to close-up programs as youngsters come to
participate in Congressional activities. It is so exciting to talk to young people, but it
is so heart-breaking to have wonderful young people stand up and say: Why do they
call us a generation of vipers? Why do they think we're so bad?
And I said: I don't think you're bad and most Americans don't think
you're bad; most Americans want to work with you to give all of you a future. And
their face just breaks into a beam, like: Oh, there is somebody that understands.
While clearly the very small, small fraction -- there are some who have
exhausted opportunities in the juvenile justice system, who have expressed absolute
contempt for human life, and those youth need to be treated severely. But it would be
foolish, very, very foolish, to design an entire juvenile justice policy around those very
I believe there are essentially three types of children to be considered in
shaping juvenile policy. First, there is a small group of repeat and violent offenders,
who should be prosecuted as adults.
But then there are others that have committed a violent act, but it may
be their first, or in the first go-round they may not have gotten the programs, the
resources, the support necessary to break out of it. We need to make sure that when
we have those children in detention facilities or correctional programs that we don't
spread ourselves too thin. We tend to put children in programs where the counselors
have caseloads that can't begin to give them the opportunity to provide the support and
the counseling and the love and the understanding and the supervision and the
discipline that that child needs to get off on the right foot.
We need to learn more than we know now about how we effectively
intervene with youngsters who have drug problems. That's probably one of the most
difficult tasks anyone has. It's hard enough to treat an adult who has hit rock bottom
and is pleading for help. You have a rambunctious 16-year-old that sometimes thinks
they're 26 and sometimes thinks they're 6, and then complicate it with a drug problem.
We must learn more, but we can do more to effectively intervene in that
We must look at the problem as a problem to solve. Sending that child
home after a very excellent correctional program at the end of six months won't make
a bit of difference if we haven't approached the family to see how we can provide
support for that family as that child returns.
And if it's the apartment over the open air drug market, you know that
child's going to be back with us pretty soon unless we develop aftercare and support
programs in the community. We've got to use common sense to make that child's
transition back to a law-abiding world an effective one.
The second type of youth to be considered is the larger group of
children who started down the road to trouble, but who cannot yet -- who can still be
turned around. This is one of the most complicated. You all are better experts at it
than I am, but some people tell me most of the children coming into the juvenile
justice system will never be back there, so let's not focus resources on them.
But there are some that are crying out for help. How do we assess?
How do we understand how we use our precious resources? We need to do more
research in that regard.
The third group is the vast majority of children in America, the ones
who are not in trouble, but who present some or many of the known risk factors for
school dropout, drug abuse, or delinquency. These are the children we must focus on
with prevention programs that can truly work, prevention programs which are
initiatives that get caring adults meaningfully involved in the lives of children,
teaching them about responsibilities and rewards.
As I go to a community, I talk to people. I talk to young people who
are in detention programs. One of the most remarkable incidents that I had was at a
juvenile detention facility in Madison, Wisconsin. I was taken there by the chief
justice of the State of Wisconsin because she knew I cared and she cared. We had the
best conversation with those young people.
My question was: What could have been done to have prevented the
problem in the first place? Their answer was the same as I hear from young people in
trouble across America: Some adult to talk to, somebody who knows how hard it is to
grow up in this country today, somebody who can give me a pat on the back, but also
knows when to give me a stern word of rebuke, somebody who can communicate with
me and not put me down and demean me, but give me encouragement that's realistic
about what I can do in this life.
Mentoring programs can make such a vital difference for our children.
These programs are working. They've been evaluated in a sound fashion. Let's make
them work. Let us spread the word that prevention can indeed work.
What is so encouraging to me is that, after all of these years, some of
the most vocal champions for delinquency prevention and intervention strategies have
become the police chiefs and now the cop on the beat. I saw the transition in the 15
years I was in Dade County. At first: Janet, that kid was back out on the streets before
I left youth hall; that juvenile justice system isn't doing anything; they're bleeding
hearts. Policeman after policeman would tell me that.
Now the police chiefs of this country are joining together to advocate
for prevention programs, advocate for mentoring programs. It is they who say that
without investments in children, especially those most at risk for crime, all the police
and the prisons in the world won't ever make any difference.
But I've been talking about those that are on the verge of getting in
trouble or who are in trouble. What about the others? What has the administration,
what has the President, done in that regard? Now, these are areas that I don't have as
much voice in, though I talk about it a lot.
One of the areas where the President has focused his attention is
improving health care for our children. Ladies and gentlemen, it makes no sense for a
70 year old person to be able to have an operation that extends their life expectancy by
five years and turns to the family, the working poor family of a three year old child
who needs preventative medical care, this working family, makes too much money to
be eligible for Medicaid, but doesn't have health insurance and doesn't have the money
to afford preventative medical care. Something is wrong, and I think we are trying to
But you've got to help me. I expect there are over -- the majority of
people in this room that can tell me specific instances of where the failure to get either
primary or secondary health care has led either to delinquency or very costly tertiary
medical care that just didn't need to be -- we didn't even need to face those issues if we
had made the relatively minor investment up front.
We're going to have to become better salesmen: A dollar invested here
will save X dollars in detention costs. A dollar invested here will save X dollars in
remedial education. A dollar here will save money here in terms of crime and tragedy
When the crack epidemic hit Miami, the doctors took me to the public
hospital to try to figure out what to do about crack-involved infants and their mothers,
and it was the doctors and the child development experts and probably people in this
room or their counterparts in Miami who taught me that the ages of zero to three were
the most formative in a person's life.
When I came to Washington and started talking about that, people said,
what is the Attorney General talking about zero to three for? They don't ask that any
Some of the finest scientific research we have points to the long-term
effects, especially for delinquency, of improving child care or improving care for
children in the critical years of zero to three. White House conferences have been held
on it. And that is why I'm so pleased that the President's child care initiative proposes
$3 billion over five years for early learning programs, for improving the quality and
safety of children in these earliest years.
The President's program also proposes an increase of $3.8 billion over
five years for Head Start and for Early Head Start, which can help more than a million
children take advantage of these programs.
Finally, the President's plan would quadruple current spending on after-school programs that keep young people, not just tots but young people, safely and
constructively occupied in the afternoons and early evenings, when most violent
juvenile crime occurs.
We have got to press hard to make sure these budget requests become
realities, because if we do we have made an investment that will provide returns for us
over the years that stagger the imagination. We can make it a reality.
Let me mention one more thing about juvenile crime prevention and
government's role in it. Clearly the best place for a child to get care and to learn
responsibility and reward is at home under the tutelage of nurturing and caring parents.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of children don't have that. In any event, each of those
children need to believe that there is an adult who cares.
That's the reason I have been so proud of what the Office of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention has done with mentoring programs, with
programs that encourage tutors and coaches that become involved in their child's life.
But think about it for a moment. What can happen if we start thinking about
communities again and neighborhoods again? What if we reach out and identify
adults who care, adults who can become involved in that child's life?
Through these grants, through initiatives, through private sector
undertakings, we can truly make a difference. One of the things that has made me
proudest is to hear from a child I mentored in Miami. She continues to write. She
continues to send me pictures of her baby and of her progress. Each of us can make a
Now that I've detailed how the administration believes we should
approach the problem, I'd like to reflect briefly on what's happening on Capitol Hill.
The Senate in particular has heard the call for measures to hold children accountable
and to punish the adults who would corrupt children. But an effective juvenile crime
bill must also commit to prevention and to intervention and must be very, very careful
that in its haste to hold youth accountable it does not risk making the juvenile crime
Let me particularly focus on two concerns I have with the bill currently
pending. The Senate bill sets aside no funding for delinquency prevention. First,
opponents claim that we cannot commit funds to delinquency prevention because we
don't know what works. You'll prove them wrong on that.
We do know from proven scientific research that the programs we're
advocating for do work. We also know that there are distinct, identifiable protective
factors that help even the children at highest risk resist delinquency. We can and will,
I think, succeed in making sure that some moneys are guaranteed for prevention.
Although at the moment the Senate seems poised to tell the States how
to spend more than half of their new Federal juvenile justice funds, it is curiously shy
about telling them to spend money for prevention. As long as Congress is going to
impose requirements concerning how States must spend their Federal money, I think it
must require prevention spending and a specific proportion set aside.
Now, I want to prepare you because I've heard a newer argument, an
argument that is advanced that says we've already spent enough. Here opponents tend
to cite a 1997 General Accounting crime report -- General Accounting Office report
for the proposition that the Federal Government already spends $4.1 billion on crime
But that is not what the report said. In fact the report tallied programs
that may benefit at-risk youth, meaning that, while the programs might have incidental
effects on crime, they are for the most part not geared towards delinquency risk
factors, not targeted toward the most crime-prone population, and not evaluated in
terms of their effect on youth crime.
The real amount the Federal Government spends on targeted
delinquency prevention programs, such as the kind we've discussed this morning, is
far, far less, probably under $400 million. By no means have we spent enough on
I think it is important, too, that we look at how we are spending dollars.
There's a tendency to spend a dollar on a wonderful program over here affecting ages
eight to ten and then not do anything for the child 11 to 12. Each of us in our
community and in our government are going to have to make sure that the partnerships
we create in communities, the partnerships between the public and private sector, the
schools, the police, the parks and recreation specialists, the youth advocates, look at
the continuum of a child's life and make sure that we do not create gaps in that
continuum in which the child can fall into violence, into drug abuse, or into the
victimization that we must avoid.
The next concern I have, a grave concern about the Senate bill, is that it
dangerously retreats from the core principles governing delinquents in custody. 25
years ago, in response to crisis levels of youth suicide and assault in adult jails,
Congress enacted a law requiring that juvenile delinquents be housed separately from
adult detainees. It also prohibited the secure detection of status offenders. Several
years later when it was determined that even separation by sight and sound was not
sufficient to protect juveniles, Congress amended the law to require States to remove
juveniles from adult jails altogether.
Now the Senate seems ready to reverse those longstanding rules,
including the protection for status offenders, perhaps our most vulnerable population.
Such a reversal would be flat-out dead wrong.
Now, if you can't get them to believe it's wrong just because of
common humanity, point out to them that it would threaten public safety by
substantially increasing the likelihood that children who enter the system as
delinquents will come out as hardened criminals. Who do you think they're going to
learn from? If the final legislation includes this provision, it may well make the
juvenile crime problem worse, not better.
We face a tremendous challenge in the area of juvenile justice, but you
are not afraid. You face those challenges on your streets, in your advocacy, in all that
you do. But we can commit now to addressing children's needs and problems in a
comprehensive and a balanced way.
We can go forth from here, me back to the Justice Department, you
back to your child advocacy program, to your juvenile court, to your school, to your
church, each of us can go back, I think, more heartened than ever, ever before. We
have begun to see programs that can make a difference. We've seen juvenile crime
begin to drop. We have seen children improve test scores in schools. We have seen
children who are healthier. We have seen that we can make a difference.
Now we've got to go back and try even harder to make sure that we
make a difference in the lives of all the children in America.
As I said, you are but little lower than the angels. I know the
frustration. I know what it's like when a child that you've tried to help gets into
trouble and gets into worse trouble. It breaks your heart. But just know that there is
somebody in Washington who admires you so much for never ever giving up on the
most precious thing we have, our children.
MR. LIEBERMAN: Attorney General Reno has graciously agreed to
take two or three questions. Is there anybody? There are some microphones out there.
Go ahead, Howard.
MR. WISE: Thank you, Madam Attorney General, for being with us
this morning and for your leadership in this area.
I'm Howard Wise from the Children's Home Society of Florida.
GENERAL RENO: A great institution.
MR. WISE: Thank you.
This is certainly not a finger-pointing exercise because we're all in this
together, but one of the concerns I think across our field is with the judges around the
issue of termination of parental rights. We agree with you that this zero to three age is
so significant and that so often when cases come before the judges the legal rights of
the parents tend to supersede the best interests of the child.
I think we need to mobilize all of the resources as hard and stringently
as we can to try to make a difference as early as we can. But there certainly comes
that point when it appears to all who would look at the case that the situation is not
going to improve and in likelihood the child will be in jeopardy or worse for most of
his or her life.
I would argue that there needs to be a mass education of our judges
around what we mean by the best interest of the child and how the judges can assist us
as we work together to promote those best interests. I'd appreciate your comment.
GENERAL RENO: What I would like you to do, because this has been
one of the most troubling issues that I have confronted over time and, to be frank with
you, I have not spent that much time on it since I came to Washington -- and before I
came to Washington I had the sense, and you can correct me and I would love to be
corrected and I would love to be educated, I think what we need in order to really
address this issue is the soundest research possible, because I think one of the things --
and then I think we need to build on that research to see what can be done to make
sure that we have resources that give that parent a chance.
What has hurt me is that in the instances where I have seen and thought
the judge may or may not be right where he or she refused to terminate parental rights
was in a situation too often where the State of Florida simply did not give that woman
the resources necessary to begin to cope.
So I would propose and would like to work with you to the extent that
the Department of Justice is involved, but I will reach out to Donna Shalala, let us see
what the best research is and then let's try to sell the idea in terms of this is the best
research, these are the resources, they were committed, and now it may be appropriate.
But I think this has been one of the murkiest areas.
Then I will also tell you, it really wasn't my bailiwick, but in the 15
years that I was state attorney I got some of the most touching calls from people who
were reaching out to find their birth parents. It is one of the most difficult, difficult
issues I know. So I might not go as far as you, but I do think it is an area that we must
join together to know the best answer, to get the best resources, and then to make the
most informed decision.
MR. DICHE: Madam Attorney General, I'm Al Diche from North
Can I ask you to expand on this juveniles in adult jails? In our State we
just had a governor's juvenile crime commission has recommended that they change
this policy slightly and house juveniles in adult jails in certain circumstances when the
detention centers are full and they have to drive a certain amount of miles. They're
saying that they want to keep sight and sound differences, only sight and sound
So this seems to be a hot issue in our State, and I wonder what you
think about it.
GENERAL RENO: It is a very hot issue. I am not the expert on some
of the nuances, and Shay Bilchik is over there and he may be able to address it for you.
But let me just tell you what we've tried to do. Shay held some
hearings around the country to address the concerns of sheriffs and others about the
problems they faced with the core requirements. And it became clear that there were
some perhaps rigid interpretations of them and that there could be some flexibility
without in any way harming juveniles.
What I will do is turn it over to Shay. This is a very special person to
me. I first met him when he headed the juvenile division of the State Attorney's Office
and he was with me for 15 years in Miami. So he's a person that I am indebted to for
continuing his public service with me as head of the Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention. He can give you the precise nuances that I might not be able
And with that, thank you all so very much.
MR. BILCHIK: To try to follow up on the Attorney General's
response, we have worked very hard over the past two years to re-examine the
regulations that pertain to these laws providing for the separation of juvenile and adult
offenders, including the very critical protection of status offenders -- run-aways,
ungovernables, truants -- in facilities around the country.
We have created more flexibility in our regulations that have allowed
some co-located facilities to be used, where they really have separate juvenile
facilities, although co-located on the same premises as adult facilities, where you truly
have sight and sound separation.
We believe that you can maintain good juvenile practice within those
more flexible regulations and actually protect the children's interests. We don't want
to go so far as to look at answers that are really a matter of convenience, and that's
where we tend to backslide. We look at, we have overcrowded facilities, let's hold the
kids for a week now, or two weeks in these facilities. That's not where we want to go
with our policies.
So when we work with local jurisdictions, we look for creative options.
And there are States all over this country that have solved this problem, rural States,
that don't commingle these populations. So we want to work with the individual
States that are trying to address the problem and look for solutions.
One of the things the Congress has done through the use of this
accountability block grant money that came through this past year, David, is to allow
for more funds to be used for correctional facilities for juveniles, to expand those
facilities, to use other means to keep juveniles separate from adult offenders. So it's
$230 million that will be coming into the States, much of which can be used to
improve the juvenile facilities in your States. Some of that money can be used to
make sure we keep juvenile offenders separate from adult offenders and protect their
(Applause and, at 8:59 a.m., end of remarks.)