Some States Find JJDPA Not Worth the Money

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Some state governments recently have discussed whether participating in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is valuable, even before a revision of the law could impose more work on them with the same or even less money.

Joe Vignati of the Georgia Governor’s Office for Children and Families told an independent committee reviewing the act that because of declining funding attached to participation in the act, “some of these states are at a point, given all the new expectations from the office, that it may not be worth their effort to continue to participate in the act. That is very troubling to me, and it should be a concern for the entire panel.”

Vignati’s claim has been confirmed by Youth Today: At least three states have discussed whether to continue to participate in JJDPA.

The act was passed in 1974, and its central mission has always been to provide formula funds to states in exchange for their adherence to certain systemic requirements. States that are deemed compliant receive the full amount of formula funds available to them; states found out of compliance can lose up to 80 percent of that money.

States with higher populations receive their funds based on changes in their populations. About half the states draw a minimum allocation of $600,000 each year.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, funding for the formula grants totaled about $90 million each year. Since 2005, the figure has been closer to $75 million. If the appropriation drops below $75 million, the minimum allocation to states will drop to $400,000.

Acting OJJDP Administrator Jeff Slowikowski acknowledged, “In this economic climate, many states are faced with difficult decisions. It is challenging for most states to balance the reduced formula funding over the past decade with the expectations that remain for compliance with the JJDP Act core requirements.”

Depending on congressional action this year, the situation could get better or worse in the near future. JJPDA is due for reauthorization, and the Senate bill would establish high authorization levels for spending on the formula program and other juvenile justice budget lines. It would also place new requirements on states.

If the reauthorized act looks anything like the Senate bill, state juvenile justice monitors definitely will have more work.. But authorization levels are merely suggestions to appropriators; Congress will decide if more money goes to the states.  

For more on the subject, read “Would JJDPA Reforms Put Too Much Work on States?” in the Juvenile Justice section at www.youthtoday.org.