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Support for Juvenile Justice Funding in Congress

By Erik Peterson

This week the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations subcommittees are moving forward with their work on spending bills for fiscal year 2013. Federal funding for state and local juvenile justice programs seems likely to take another big hit as Congress continues the trend from the past several years of reducing federal discretionary spending.

Deep cuts in critical federal juvenile justice funding jeopardize state efforts to prevent juvenile delinquency. On school days, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime, and quality afterschool programs for young people offered during those hours can help prevent youth violence. In order to ensure that state, local and private dollars continue to be leveraged effectively to promote public safety, prevent delinquency and protect some of our most vulnerable children and youth, the Afterschool Alliance has joined with other youth-serving and juvenile justice groups in support of funding levels for four key juvenile justice programs as follows:

  • $80 million for the JJDPA Title II State Formula Grants Program;
  • $65 million for the JJDPA Title V Delinquency Prevention Program with no earmarks;
  • $100 million for Youth Mentoring Grants program managed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP); and
  • $30 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) Program

In contrast, the House subcommittee’s proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 would cut juvenile justice funding to $209 million—down from $424 million in fiscal year 2010. With regard to the funding for the four programs above, the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee draft bill proposes to fund the JJDPA Title II Program at only $33 million (down from $40 million in FY2012) and to largely eliminate funding for the JJDPA Title V and JABG programs. The bill proposes $90 million for the youth mentoring program.

On the Senate side, the details of the Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee spending bill are not yet available, however a press release from Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) this week said the panel would support a total of $278 million for juvenile justice.

The final number is likely to be somewhere in between the House and Senate figures, but that would represent a cut from the $263 million that juvenile justice programs received for fiscal year 2012. Afterschool advocates can contact the House and Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittees here in support of juvenile justice funding.

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