Thursday, May 27, 2010

TX juvie probation chief may be tapped by Obama to run OJJDP

The publication Youth Today reports that Texas Juvenile Probation Commission chief Vicki Spriggs is the frontrunner among finalists to lead the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the US Department of Justice. Here's how Youth Today described Spriggs:
Vicki Spriggs, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

Spriggs appears to be the frontrunner at this point, from what JJ Today hears. Her background includes one of the qualities many in the field view as critical for the next administrator: experience in running a big juvenile justice system.

Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC), with a staff of about 66, oversees the county departments that each year handle more than 40,000 juveniles on probation. Another agency, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), is responsible for juveniles who are incarcerated in secure facilities.

“OJJDP needs strong leadership after the long dark years of the Bush administration,” said Mark Soler, executive director of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. “Vicky Spriggs has demonstrated dynamic and effective leadership in Texas and would bring those skills to OJJDP.”

Another national JJ figure, who believes Justice should have tapped Vinny Schiraldi for this job months ago, disagreed.

“She was not part of the reform movement in Texas,” he said. “She’s no Vinny Schiraldi.”

A Texas JJ reform advocate – Marc Levin, director of the Austin-based Center for Effective Justice – told us that while Spriggs might not be out advocating reform, her implementation of changes has been excellent.

Last year the state year approved a “committed reduction” plan to provide funds to any county that agreed to lower the number of juveniles it committed to TYC facilities. Commitments to TYCin 2010 are down 40 percent compared with the same time frame in 2009, according to Levin.

“TJPC put together the whole framework” for that concept, Levin said. “A lot of impetus for change will come from outside the system. But I certainly give[Spriggs] and the commission credit for implementing them. I would be disappointed to lose her.”

Spriggs has strong ties to some national juvenile justice organizations. She is the current chair of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Oakland-based research and training/technical assistance organization that handles projects with a number of states and counties, as well was with OJJDP. She is the Texas team leader for the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network, part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative.

Spriggs is also director of the 13-state southern region for the National Association of Probation Executives. A number of those states have some work to do when it comes to complying with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

The other leading candidates are from New Orleans and New York. I suppose "Good luck" is the right thing to say, but frankly I'd hate to see Vicki go and after the series of questionable appointments at TYC after Dwight Harris left (before the Governor IMO finally got it right with Cherie Townsend), I'm more than a little afraid of who might be selected to replace her.


Anonymous said...

Retired Texas Tech football coach Spike Dykes used to say that a college head coach loses about 10% of his supporters yearly. How long has she served as ED?

Anonymous said...

Yes, get her out of Texas!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Be careful what you ask for. Do you honestly think she'd be replaced by someone who pleased you?

John Kelly said...

Would love to hear what you and your readers know/think about Vicki Spriggs. Anyone is welcome to hit me up at Not interested in baseless thoughts on her character though...want to know what you think, AND WHY.

John Kelly
Youth Today

Anonymous said...

Ms. Spriggs would be an excellent and wise choice for OJJDP. The state of Texas' county operated juvenile probation departments have flourished under her guidance and she would be missed by the majority of the field. Selfishly I hope she stays in Texas but professionally I support her for the position. As for her replacement there are a small handful within the state that would be perfect for the position.
Best of luck Vicki Spriggs. You are extremely qualified for this position. We know you will make Texas proud.

Anonymous said...

Heard from a very reliable source that she withdrew her name from consideration.