CJJA’s Early Years: 1994 – 1999
The Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators was originally incorporated as the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators on July 1, 1994 after Edward Loughran’s proposal to create a formal national organization to unify and support the nation’s juvenile correctional chief executive officers was accepted and the foundation awarded a startup grant of $50,000 for two years.
CJJA was founded in the midst of sweeping juvenile justice policy changes across the country. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention’s 2006 National Report, from 1992 through 1997 all but five states in the country changed laws relating to transfer provisions, making it easier to waive juvenile offenders into the adult criminal justice system. Additionally, 31 states gave criminal and juvenile courts expanded sentencing options and 47 states changed or eliminated confidentiality provisions.[i]
The numerous changes to state statutes, along with passage of federal policies such as the Violent Crime Control and Enforcement Act of 1994, exemplify the nation’s sense of urgency during the mid-1990s to curtail rising crime rates by getting tough on violent juvenile offenders. By the late 1990s, there was growing commitment among various stakeholders to building and managing juvenile systems that balance the demands of public safety and offender accountability with the rehabilitation services youths need to prevent future offending.
CJJA’s early years were spent helping its members adjust to and implement new policies, establishing the structure of the organization, learning about members’ needs and launching numerous projects aimed at improving youth correctional services and practices. During the first five years of operations, CJJA launched two major national research and technical assistance projects—Performance-based Standards and the New Directors Seminar—in addition to developing and participating in various education activities aimed at improving youth correctional services and practices such as launching its quarterly newsletter, surveying members on various juvenile justice topics and convening national meetings.
The New Millennium: 2000 – 2004
Despite steadily dropping crime rates, state statutes and the general public attitude toward juvenile offenders remained punitive in nature throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century. However, after the 9/11 attacks, issues like terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq naturally took precedence over adult and juvenile justice issues that had dominated the public’s attention during the previous decade. Because of shifting national priorities, federal juvenile justice funding dropped from $545 million in fiscal year 2000 to less than $360 million in fiscal year 2004.[ii]
During this period, juvenile correctional administrators faced challenges such as vanishing budgets, evidence of high prevalence rates of mental illness among youths in their care, uncertainty about how to deal with increasing numbers of females entering their systems and a large amount of negative media attention related to conditions of confinement. Members turned to CJJA for encouragement and support during these trying times, and CJJA continued to serve its members by expanding existing programs and by developing new activities and projects such as the Mental Health Services Model, the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute (PbS Li) and the annual CJJA Yearbook to advance the vision outlined in its mission.