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January 19, 2015; National Public Radio
Serving as a federal agent in the Inspector General’s office in the Department of Justice (DOJ) allowed Jill Semmerling to serve as a “watchdog to ensure there was no waste, fraud or abuse.” As part of her work, Ms. Semmerling started looking at allegations that the state of Wisconsin was misusing federal grant money. In the process, Semmerling discovered that administration of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA) was being misrun.
The JJDPA allocates grant money to states, but in return, the states are supposed to protect young offenders and make sure they’re not housed with adult criminals. According to the Government Accountability Project’s (GAP) analysis of the case, Wisconsin allegedly “violated requirements to separate foster children from adult inmates in prison or other secure detention. DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) also allegedly failed to investigate evidence that the state’s records were falsified so that, on the books, Wisconsin’s youth detention system would appear to be in compliance with the law.”
As Wisconsin was being investigated, Semmerling began to see that this activity extended into other states, and “DOJ officials had been winking at similar abuses nationwide.” After that, she started to