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Turnover damaging among administrators.

This is not a new story, but nonetheless it bears repeating: Juvenile justice administrators are being asked to do more with less money and to get things done quickly and effectively--without complaining. When things go wrong under these circumstances and they frequently do--administrators are blamed and often dismissed.

Most juvenile justice administrators serve at the pleasure of the state executive, which is usually the governor. As a result, turnover is extremely high. In September 1992, of the 50 state juvenile corrections administrators, four had more than 10 years on the job, eight had between five and 10 years, 15 had between two and five years, six had between one and two years, and 17 had less than one year.

With such high turnover, it is impossible for any agency to develop a consistent vision and maintain operational procedures that serve the juveniles under their care while protecting the public. Staff of these agencies, expecting the leadership to change frequently, often fail to fully commit their loyalty to a new leader because they believe he or she will soon be gone and they will again need to shift directions.

Strong leadership takes time to develop, programs need time to be implemented methodically and staff need time to be trained properly. When insufficient time is allowed, true progress cannot occur, and programs and operations are destined to fail. While the public is led to believe that new ideas are being acted on, the truth is that nothing much is changing. Program descriptions become public relations tools, and line staff continue to "do it the old way."

State governments must resist the political expediency of changing the top administrator. Time, consistency and experience are needed to manage our juvenile offender population. Hopefully, we can reverse this growing trend to find quick and easy solutions for handling juvenile offenders and place our emphasis on solid, stable and adequately funded programs for juvenile offenders.

Lloyd Mixdorf is director of Juvenile Projects for ACA's Training and Contracts Division.
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Title Annotation:Juvenile Justice News
Author:Mixdorf, Lloyd
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Previous Article:The Effective Correctional Officer.
Next Article:ACA audit unites facility staff.

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