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Law professor tapped for lead role in Department of Justice

The White House announced Tuesday that President Donald J. Trump plans to appoint Liberty University School of Law Associate Professor Caren Harp to be the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the Department of Justice. Harp said she will be sworn in pending an FBI background check.

Harp brings nearly three decades of experience to the office. She currently serves on the ABA Juvenile Justice Standards Task Force and the National Steering Committee for the Vision 21 Project at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Harp is a former director of the National Juvenile Justice Prosecution Center at the American Prosecutors Research Institute and has been chief deputy prosecuting attorney in El Dorado, Ark., chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department, managing public defender for the 13th Judicial District in Arkansas, and a trial attorney in the Capital Conflicts Unit of the Arkansas Public Defender Commission.

At Liberty, Harp teaches courses in children and the law, evidence, professional responsibility, and skills. She holds her J.D. from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville.

“I am still a little overwhelmed by it,” Harp said about the announcement. “It seems like it is a culmination of all the ways my life path has prepared me for this. It seems like everything has come together for this. And I am still a little stunned and amazed.”

Harp has dedicated many years of her professional life to advancing and improving outcomes for youth in the legal system and to training attorneys to advance courtroom practice. She hopes that her experience will be an asset to the office.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell (right) and School of Law Dean B. Keith Faulkner congratulated Associate Professor Caren Harp on her Department of Justice appointment.

“What I bring is the energy that my passion gives,” Harp said. Having worked as a prosecutor and a defender, she believes she can bring “a broad perspective coming from both sides of the courtroom. I think that gives me a balanced look at things.”

She also hopes to bring “innovation and creativity in how we solve problems.”

“Because I come from a rural district, we have had to innovate quite a bit because we don’t have all the resources of larger, urban operations.”

Over 29 years, Harp has maintained working relationships with many professionals across the country.

“I hope to be able to bring all of their wisdom and good advice and good innovations to bear on any work that we do,” she said.

Harp has taught at Liberty over the past six years and said that it will be difficult to leave, but she is willing to return after her tenure in the Capitol has run its course.

“It is going to be hard to leave here,” Harp said. “These students are so precious, and I am so inspired by their passion. They have a passion to serve and to advocate for people who cannot help themselves. They just energize me every day, so I will be missing that wonderful energy that I get from the students. It is such a privilege to try to shepherd them into the profession; they give me hope … I will miss working with them every day.”

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