Two National Groups Oppose Obama Juvenile Justice Plan

Print More

Two national juvenile justice organizations expressed strong opposition over the weekend to President Obama’s proposal to overhaul federal funding for juvenile justice.

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), which represents the state advisory groups in each state, said in a statement that the plan “will jeopardize ongoing state efforts to achieve and sustain compliance” with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

Obama’s plan would create a $120 million incentive grant system that would replace $130 million of formula funds and block grants to states, and in Obama’s plan only states that were compliant with the four JJDPA requirements could compete for the funds. Even then, a fully compliant state might not get funding through the competitive process.

Currently, CJJ said, eight states “would be ineligible to access any of the funds under the President’s proposed competitive programs because they are out of compliance with one or more of the JJDPA core protections.”

“If states are denied equal access to federal resources,” said the statement, “this number would likely increase.”

A statement from the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), whose mission is to end the practice of prosecuting juvenile offenders as adults and incarcerating them in adult facilities, said the proposal contradicts the administration’s earlier position on JJDPA.

The campaign cited a letter from Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich to the Senate Judiciary committee that said “supporting and improving the juvenile justice system and preventing youth violence and delinquency are among the Attorney General’s top priorities.”

The president’s proposal, the campaign said, would lead to “major revisions to the JJDPA that are inconsistent with the Administration’s position on the law.”

It is also misleading, CFYJ suggested, to compare it with the administration’s Race to the Top initiative within the Department of Education, which is a parallel that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention drew in a statement to Youth Today last week.

The Department of Education “allocates approximately 1 percent of the federal education funding” for Race to the Top, CFYJ said. “The President’s …budget proposal on juvenile justice allocates 100% of the federal funding for states and territories to a competitive grant program.”

Both organizations suggested an alternative in which most of the funding would be distributed to each state in a formula, with a smaller percentage going toward the president's incentive concept. CJJ recommends that $75 million be allocated in a formula; CFYJ recommends between $108 and $114 million.

To read the CFYJ statement, click here.

For CJJ’s letter to Obama, click here.

For CJJ’s impact analysis, click here.