Why Does the Poorest State Hate Free Money?

Heard this from a JJ advocate, and we had to check for ourselves: Mississippi is out of compliance on three of the four core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Act. And for every requirement for which a state doesn’t pass muster, it is supposed to lose money.

We asked OJJDP for information on Mississippi compliance, which prompted their favorite response: “You have to FOIA that.”

But these 2006 results come courtesy of someone who requested compliance information on all states, and that request was made this year. So presumably, this reflects Mississippi’s current standing:

Deinstitutionalization of Status and Nonoffenders: Not in compliance.

Separation of Juveniles and Adult Offenders: In compliance

Jail and Lockup Removal: Not in compliance

Reduction of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC): Not in compliance

There isn’t another state with more than one noncompliance based on the 2006 records. And while Mississippi often lands near the bottom of social indicators because of its obvious challenge (poverty), not one of the other high-poverty states is out of compliance on any count.

Calls to the Mississippi Division of Public Safety and Planning did not yield any explanation for the noncompliance problems or illumination of a plan to get back into compliance.

It’s no secret that staying in compliance has been notoriously easy in the past, at least on disproportionate minority contact. One advocate suggested to JJ Today that this administration’s most notable achievement in juvenile justice may been negging state DMC plans that amounted to a weekend forum on minority treatment, which previous administrations had been too accepting of.

OJJDP is also going to make us submit Freedom of Information Act requests on how much money Mississippi is losing as a result of noncompliance. According to Fedspending.org, which is run by the nonprofit OMB Watch, the state received state formula funds between $780,000 and $880,000 from 2002 to 2004. Since then: $170,986 for 2005, and $240,000 in 2006.

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