At a time in which economic insecurity threatens the wellbeing and optimism of local communities, it is critical for the federal government to support state efforts to meet the needs of its citizens. In particular, we are concerned about additional federal spending cuts that will harm critical juvenile justice programs and ask that in your work to reduce the deficit and come to agreement on...
At a time in which economic insecurity threatens the wellbeing and optimism of local communities, it is critical for the federal government to support state efforts to meet the needs of its citizens. In particular, we are concerned about additional federal spending cuts that will harm critical juvenile justice programs and ask that in your work to reduce the deficit and come to agreement on appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013, that you ensure adequate funding for effective and proven delinquency prevention and community safety programs.
In its budget plan last February, the Administration proposed $175 million for three critical juvenile justice programs: $80 million for Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA); $65 million with no earmarks for Title V of the JJDPA, and $30 million for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG). These recommendations would help ensure that states are able to continue to protect public safety and address the needs of youth involved with or at risk of coming in contact with the justice system.
Unfortunately, the House of Representatives rejected the President’s proposal and instead passed a Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, H.R. 5326, which would drastically cut Title II funds and totally eliminate Title V and JABG funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a stronger bill, S. 2323, which would provide $55 million for Title II, $30 million for Title V and $30 for JABG. With the funding included in S. 2323, these programs would be able to continue to improve the lives of youth affected by the juvenile justice system and the wellbeing of communities as a whole.
Now, we understand that instead of finalizing a CJS Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, Congress is expected to approve a Continuing Resolution which would sustain current funding levels until early next year. While this would stave off the type of cuts proposed by the House, it is still nowhere near the funding needed to adequately support juvenile justice funding. Additionally, if Congress can’t approve a deficit reduction plan by the end of the year, these juvenile justice programs will face more than $7 million in additional cuts in January 2013 under the sequestration terms of the debt ceiling agreement passed last summer. Despite the fact that this is a modest, yet effective, federal investment, these programs continue to be cut and are now at their lowest levels in more than a decade. If sequestration is allowed to take effect, the cuts will be even deeper, meaning fewer resources for states and the young people and families they serve.
We know that youth in adult prisons are at high risk for physical and sexual abuse as well as suicide, and often lack access to mental health services. Upon release, they face difficulty readjusting to life outside prison and suffer high rates of recidivism. On the other hand, youth served by delinquency prevention programs and community-based alternatives to incarceration – programs supported by JJDPA and JABG – have lower rates of recidivism and are better able to become productive citizens.
We also know that public safety increases with reduced rates of youth crime, extending the benefits of the JJDPA and JABG programs to the entire community. Funding for these programs will also help reduce long-term prison costs. For every $1 spent on prevention and community-based alternatives – placing youth on the right track to success – taxpayers save up to $8 in lifetime criminal justice costs.
The future of our youth and the safety of our families depend upon adequate funding for the .JJDPA and JABG programs, which cut costs and lower crime rates. For these reasons, we call on you to work with your colleagues to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction, reject additional cuts to these programs which have already taken huge hits, and work to adopt funding levels for Title II, Title V, and JABG as close as possible to those included in the President’s budget, and no less than the levels recommended by the Senate in S. 2323.
Reduced federal investment in efforts to enact effective reforms and keep young people on the right track will only further disadvantage youth in the criminal justice system, increase recidivism rates, decrease public safety, and ultimately cost the public more money in the form of lifetime criminal justice costs.