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Senate Subcommittee Approves Funding for OJJDP, Full Vote Expected Today

Flickr | Will Palmer

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science approved 2012 funding for a number of agencies at a meeting yesterday. Among programs receiving funds are the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), approved for $251 million.

YouthToday has a breakdown of where the OJJDP funds are to be spent:

-$60 million for the Missing and Exploited Children Programs.

-$55 million for mentoring grants.

-$45 million for state formula grants, given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system.

-$33 million for delinquency prevention grants to be dispersed by state advisory groups, although Congress often designates the majority of it for grants to Native American tribes and enforcement of underage drinking laws.

-$30 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG), which go to state juvenile justice planning agencies based on the size of a state’s youth population.

-$20 million for the Victims of Child Abuse Programs.

-$8 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, a project conceived by the Obama administration in 2009.

The full committee will meet later today to mark up the bill. A vote on the appropriations is also expected.

Much of the funding for OJJDP falls under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which has not been reauthorized since 2002 despite repeated attempts in both the Senate and House. Advocates and lawmakers are seeking reforms to the bill’s core protections they say will keep children in the system safer.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the reauthorization bill in the Senate in 2008 where it was voted out of committee. Leahy reintroduced the bill in 2009 but the House failed to take it up.

“There hasn’t been much action on it lately,” said Eric Solomon, Director of Media and Communications for the Campaign for Youth Justice. “The House never did anything with it [in 2010]. Hard to say what’s on their agenda.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Leahy said he is “working to streamline the legislation given budget concerns.”

In July, the House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill that included significant cuts to juvenile justice funding, authorizing $50 million less than the Senate for OJJDP programs. The $200 million appropriation reduces funding for state formula grants under the JJDPA and eliminates entirely funding for juvenile justice demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants and Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants.

House Approps May Gut Spending on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

U.S. House of RepresentativesThe House subcommittee that oversees Justice Department funding produced an appropriations bill this week that would slash activities authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 2012.

The draft bill, marked up by the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State (CJS), would not fund demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) or Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants. In 2010, the last year Congress actually passed an appropriations package, those three streams totaled $231 million.

The bill would also drop state formula grants - given to states on the condition that they adhere to basic standards in regard to the detainment of juveniles, and address racial disparities in the system - from $75 million in 2010 to $40 million.

The full appropriations committee will vote on the proposed funding levels for Justice on Wednesday, July 13, according to a memo published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice on its website.

Many in the juvenile justice field have been unhappy with the way that the funding streams now on the chopping block were spent. Title V grants were intended to be given to state advisory groups to develop efforts to prevent juvenile crime; in recent years they were almost entirely allocated by Congress to enforcement of underage drinking laws, tribal areas and gang intervention.

Demonstration grants, which once funded coordinated efforts at research and pilot testing of juvenile justice strategies, became an earmark trough for congressmen.

President Barack Obama originally proposed in his 2012 budget to eliminate formula and JABG funding in favor of a Race to the Top-style incentive grant program, where conforming to basic standards was only a state’s ticket into the competition for big system improvement grants.

After a steady stream of criticism from advocates, the administration revised its budget proposal with most of the grants intact with only a small carve-out for its incentive grant concept.

The CJS subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), does not propose to use savings from the formula grants or JABG for a new incentive program.

The subcommittee proposes $83 million for mentoring activities, which is $17 million less than 2010 appropriations.