Weekly Notes: Forget About 2009 Demo Grants at OJJDP; Obama’s 2010 JJ Budget; North Carolina May Join the Rest of Country; and more

***The biggest JJ news of the week was certainly the U.S. Supreme Court deciding to  consider the constitutionality of life without parole sentences for juveniles. The second biggest was OJJDP money; this year’s funds and Obama’s plan for 2010.

If you jumped into action to compete for the small amount of 2009 demonstration grants announced by OJJDP: stop typing. Less than four weeks after putting out a solicitation for proposals, the agency has canceled the competition due to “unavailability of funds.”

It’s hard to view that move as surprising. Nearly all of the funds had been promised to earmark recipients before it ever landed in OJJDP’s account, so it was odd to us that the agency ever put a solicitation out. We have it on good authority that a number of well-known organizations were already preparing proposals for the million and change left over after earmarks, though.

If President Barack Obama has his way, this won’t come up in 2010. Because there will be no money to earmark.

Obama’s proposed budget for OJJDP in 2010 includes few changes to the majority of the agency’s funding lines. He level funds the state formulas ($75 million), incentive grants, block grants ($62 million) and mentoring ($80 million)

But the Part E-Demonstration Projects, which is almost entirely porked up by Congress every year, goes from about $80 million to zilch in the president’s proposal. Also zeroed out is the drug court account, which was appropriated $40 million by Congress last year.

Presidential cuts to JJ are nothing new at this point. Bush’s proposals to roll it all up into a block grant would have resulted in less money than Obama is proposing. And even most earmark recipients don’t like what’s happened with that funding stream, they just chase pork out of necessity.

Considering the flak Obama took for allowing thousands of earmarks into the 2009 appropriations, this is a brilliant move. He calls for gutting a 100 percent pork appropriation at OJJDP, and zeroes out Byrne Discretionary Grants (another pot rife with JJ earmarks) at the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Over at Health and Human Services, he proposes outright termination of an earmark program at the Health Resources and Services Administration.

If those make their way into appropriations, it’s hard to blame him right? He didn’t want to fund them at all!

Another interesting note: Obama’s budget does create a tiny little carve-out called the community-based prevention initiative (he asks for $25 million). But the idea sounds very much like what Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) seeks in the Youth PROMISE Act. Is it possible that the administration is planting a seed here with the $25 million and, should PROMISE get passed this year, leaving some budget space open to increase the money appropriated for the act?

The PROMISE Act is gaining support, according to the website of its principal architect.

***Some 2009 OJJDP funds that just became available this week:

Family Drug Courts, which provides seed money to local units of government to get drug courts going. The solicitation says awards will be in the area of $500,000 over three years subject to funding availability. That is noteworthy here because as mentioned above, Obama has zeroed out drug court funds in his 2010 budget. Deadline is June 15.

Improving Community Response to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, available to universities, faith-based groups and nonprofits for training on how to identify and assist children who are being prostituted. You would have to prove that there is the potential to reach at least 25 youths per year in your area to be considered eligible. OJJDP anticipates four awards of $500,000 over three years. Deadline is June 15.

***Sen. Arlen Specter 2.0, the Democratic model, will take over as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and drugs, which oversees OJJDP programs. The current chair is Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). Specter is a co-sponsor of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2009.

***North Carolina might be close to joining the rest of nation when it comes to age of jurisdiction. The Youth Accountability Act, approved this week by the North Carolina House Committee on Juvenile Justice, extends the juvenile justice system’s age of jurisdiction to include 16- and 17-year-olds. That would leave New York as the only state that considered all 16-year-olds to be adults for the purposes of justice.

***There is an early leader in the clubhouse for Fear Monger of the Year. Read this op-ed piece from Tom Kiurski, a training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department in Michigan.

There were probably zero citizens in Livonia on Wednesday who walked around with a mental connection between young people and fire setting in their heads. Appropriately so since, as Kiurski points out, “Livonia is not a hotbed of arson activity.”

Now? Who knows how many Livonians are clearing brush, mounting motion detectors and loading their shotguns to protect their homes from the coming zombie teen arsonist apocalypse. 


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