Federal Officials Advocate for Youth Justice Reinvestment and Community Support in Houston Visit

Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon and Liz Ryan, Administrator of OJP’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, recently visited Houston to discuss strategies for enhancing services for justice-involved youth. The officials joined juvenile justice leaders and federal agencies in a meeting with the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, where they emphasized the importance of family and community connections for young individuals. They advocated for alternatives to youth incarceration, underlining the significance of reducing youth contact with the justice system.

During the meeting, three new council members appointed by President Biden were introduced: Amiyah Davis, Michael Anthony Mendoza, and Liz Simons. The discussion focused on the necessity of supporting youth well-being and providing opportunities for personal growth through mentoring and community engagement. Ryan highlighted the essential role of partnerships with various agencies in achieving these goals.

As part of their visit, the officials toured the Opportunity Center, a facility that has been repurposed to reinvest in young people in the juvenile justice system. The center offers academic programs, vocational training, mental health treatment, and life skills training, along with services like food and housing assistance. They also visited Workshop Houston, a youth development program in the city’s Third Ward, which provides workshops on music, media, graphic design, dance, and fashion. The visit was organized by Civic Heart, a community organization serving the greater Houston area.

Civic Heart, an OJJDP grantee, acts as the intermediary host organization for Houston’s Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund. This fund supports grassroots organizations, including Workshop Houston, working in communities most affected by the juvenile justice system. Council members heard from various experts, including Henry Gonzales, Dr. Sujeeta E. Menon, Vidhya Ananthakrishnan, Danielle Lipow, Tiffany Echevarria, Dr. Mike Feinberg, Kelly Venci Gonzalez, Karlton Harris, and Charles Rotramel, about the benefits of reinvesting in youth and innovative approaches to youth justice.