Robert L. Listenbee has been appointed Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Prior to his appointment, Listenbee spent 16 years as Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia and 27 years as a trial lawyer with the association. While serving on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, he advised the governor on youth justice issues. Listenbee has also served as president of the Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania and was a member of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, which works to improve quality access to counsel for Pennsylvania youth.
In a video message to attendees at the 2013 annual JDAI intersite conference, Listenbee recognized the important role JDAI has played in improving youth outcomes and congratulated the JDAI community on helping to decrease youth detention across the county. Speaking from a public defender’s perspective, he emphasized that much work still needs to be done to ensure that all youth in the system get the counsel they deserve and often desperately need. He also warned against unnecessarily widening the net of supervision for juvenile justice cases and stressed that practitioners and advocates need to concentrate on protecting children from being treated and tried as adults. Listenbee concluded by thanking those involved in JDAI for making juvenile justice programs and processes more humane and fair for children.