Andrew Block served as the Director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) from April, 2014 to when he stepped down on April, 2019. Prior to his appointment as DJJ Director in 2014 by then Gov. Terry McAuliffe, he was an associate professor and director of the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law from 2010-2014. From 1998 until the spring of 2010 he was the founder and legal director of the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center. Block received various awards for his innovative and successful work as an advocate, including the American Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division Child Advocacy Award, the Virginia State Bar’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year, and the Virginia Bar Association’s Robert F. Shepherd Jr. Award. Director Block graduated from Yale University in 1987 and from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1994. During his tenure as Director, DJJ transformed Virginia’s juvenile justice system, including using evidence-based probation practices across the state, safely reducing the number of youth in Juvenile Correctional Centers (JCCs), reforming reentry procedures and rehabilitative practices in the JCCs, engaging families, and reinvesting the savings from closing two JCCS into a statewide continuum of evidence-based programs and community-based supports and services.
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We watch the video footage. These are the moments leading up to the discovery of the boy’s suicide. The grainy, black-and-white images show a staff member looking in the boy’s cell, calling for help, opening the cell door, and, with the assistance of some other residents, pulling the boy's limp body out onto the floor of the dayroom. After watching the video, members of the Attorney General’s office and my staff jump into a conversation about the ongoing internal investigation into his death. I stop them mid-sentence and ask those present to tell me about...