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Major Layoffs Expected for New Orleans’ Juvenile Court in 2013

Massive cuts are expected for New Orleans’ Juvenile Court, with more than 30 employees expected to be removed from the city’s payroll in early 2013.

More than a third of the court’s funding was recently slashed, Chief Judge Ernestine Gray told WWLTV, with more than $800,000 recently removed from the court’s former budget of $2.7 million.

Reserve funds will be used to keep recently laid off employees available as contracted workers, although Judge Gray said that such funding will likely be expended before next year.

“If we have the same situation from the city and the mayor next year for our budget,” she said, “I don’t know how we operate in 2014.”

The funding cuts were authorized by the New Orleans City Council, at the behest of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, who told the council that New Orleans had a larger judicial bench than necessary for the city’s workload.

New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer and Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said that since the workload for the city’s juvenile court has decreased, while the city’s municipal court workload has increased, he considers the funding cuts to be appropriate.

In addition to the cuts, which take effect on January 1, speculations abound that Landrieu’s administration may ask the Louisiana state Legislature to decrease the city’s juvenile court judges from five to four later this year.

“People talk about how juvenile crime is rampant,” Judge Gray stated. “Well, if that’s true, why would you be reducing the number of judges?”

Major Juvenile Service Cuts Coming to Utah as Part of State’s Legislative Budget

After the loss of key federal funding and the end of a stopgap measure, state lawmakers in Utah are cutting the budgets of agencies providing crucial services to juvenile services.

After a federal decision to suspend funding of non-medical expenditures associated with residential care was made two years ago, Utah legislators provided its state agencies - such as Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) and Division of Child and Family Services (DFCS) - with emergency stopgap funds. This legislative session, however, stopgap funding for juvenile services programs ceased, with state legislators issuing an additional $3.2 million in budget cuts.

The impact of the federal decision on Utah was severe, costing the state an estimated $27 million in Medicaid funding. In the process, Utah’s JJS ended up losing an estimated $9 million per year, with the state DFCS agency losing an estimated $18 million annually.

The budget cuts are expected to eliminate 46 jobs in the state, with an additional 23 eliminated when the Weber Valley Detention Center closes next year. Six counties will see a reduction in youth center beds, with a majority of the state’s youth centers initializing a reduction in operating hours.

The cutbacks are most severe in Salt Lake County and Utah County, which will see a $222,900 reduction and a $121,500 reduction in funding, respectively.

While last-minute funding was amassed in order to keep most of the state’s facilities running through 2013, many analysts believe the cutbacks to rural communities may prove too much to surmount.

Ally Isom, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gary Herbet, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the cuts were “disheartening and tragic in so very many ways.”

"We’d like to see it addressed in future budgets,” she said. “Because if we don’t assist many of these youth in their present situation, they often end up in the adult system and incur further social costs and greater family tragedy.”

Photo from Randy Calderone.

Proposed Budget Cuts Loom for Juvenile Justice Programs

Youth advocates are ringing the alarm bells at Congress’s proposed levels of funding for state programs that would prevent young people from being locked up for skipping school, keep young offenders from being held in adult prisons and reduce the disproportionate numbers of minority youth in jail.

Since 2002, the funds available for states to implement Title II of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act have been slashed by more than half from $88.8 million, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice, which brings together citizens and public officials who work on juvenile justice issues in every state.

Current funding levels for Title II -- whose four core requirements aim to protect young people from being unfairly confined in prison -- are at $40 million, according to figures released by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in April. The White House requested $70 million for the 2013 budgetary year, an amount unlikely to pass Congress.

If federal funds shrink further, states will have little incentive to meet federal guidelines for keeping juveniles out of the adult prison system, said Liz Ryan, president of the D.C.-based advocacy organization Campaign for Youth Justice.

“The less resources there are, the harder it is to implement the federal law,” Ryan said. “Eventually they may decide not to participate. And that’s what we’re afraid of, that states may walk away from this.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed $33 million for Title II funding under the JJDPA, and the Senate $55 million – “a wholly insufficient appropriation,” according to Nancy Gannon Hornberger, executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. Both figures are far below the $80 million that the Campaign for Youth Justice and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice want Congress to appropriate for 56 states and territories for the 2013 fiscal year, which technically begins Oct. 1, 2012.

 “I do think we haven’t done as good a job at demonstrating the results and marketing the results of these problems, particularly how the (law’s) core requirements have been met,” Ryan said. “But I don’t think that’s why the funding has gone down.”

The funds represent “a relatively small federal investment,” so they don’t get the kind of Congressional attention they should, Ryan said.

Budgetary woes underlay much of the discussions at the annual conference held by Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, D.C., last month. Melodee Hanes, the acting administrator of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, told a roomful of juvenile justice workers during her keynote address that her office’s budget had been halved in just the three years she had worked there.

“As unpleasant as some of these things are to talk about, I don’t have to tell you that these are very challenging times,” Hanes told her audience. “By all indications, funding is not going to come roaring out.”

But, Hanes said, state workers should not abandon hope. “We are going to stand with you as partners regardless of what the final funding bill is,” Hanes said. “If we need to learn new ways of doing business, we’ll do it and we’ll do it together.”

It’s unclear when Congress will finally pass a budget for this fiscal year. Hanes tried to turn that uncertainty into a cause for hope.

“A lot is going to happen between now and then,” Hanes said. “Anything can happen, trust me.”

Photo from the University of Minnesota.

Trimming the Juvenile Justice Fat

California Gov. Jerry Brown was recently quoted telling the state Legislature to “man up” on his proposed budget cuts and yet, when it comes to juvenile justice, it seems the governor consistently bends under pressure.

Unfortunately, the effects of his juvenile justice compromise will soon be felt by all California residents, according to a new CJCJ publication. With scarce and finite resources, the governor’s decision to grant a reprieve for state youth correctional facilities, in his May revised budget, creates an additional strain on already scantily-funded state services.

This is the second year the governor has removed a proposal for full juvenile justice realignment from his budget. In FY 2011-12, the budget allocated counties $200,000 per state-confined youth, to increase their capacity for serving high-need juvenile offenders. After lobbying opposition from law enforcement interest groups, this proposal was pulled from the budget, while severe cuts were made to the state university systems, department of developmental services, in-house support services and other state-run programs.

Then in January 2012, the governor pulled his mid-year budget trigger cuts due to an increasing revenue shortfall. These triggers cut expansive areas of social and public service sectors, including care-giving to the blind, disabled, elderly and autistic populations, amounting to $611,131,000 reduction in funding to serve California’s most vulnerable populations. An additional $302 million was deducted from the state’s investment in higher education. Yet, the governor granted a reprieve for the state youth correctional facilities trigger, which would have required counties to pay 60 percent of the cost of housing youths there (currently they pay only a nominal fee); losing a projected saving of $67.7 million.

Now the governor is proposing some small scale changes to the state youth correctional budget which are projected to save the state $24.8 million, while simultaneously announcing $4.1 billion worth of additional cuts to the same service sectors that suffered through the triggers early this year.

Ironically, these same services fundamentally reinforce public safety: education, adequate medical care, mental health treatment and supportive living programs are recognized components for reducing crime and recidivism in the community. In comparison, the isolated institutional design of the state youth correctional system is a recognized failure nationwide.

One has to wonder what drives the governor’s priorities. California recognizes that it is in an extreme fiscal bind, and that everyone needs to cut the fat. Everyone that is, except juvenile justice. The state continues to operate an unnecessary dual system to serve very few youth from about half of California’s counties. Even if you believe that the state system works well (refuted by the most recently available data); in an environment of finite resources that is simply not enough. The question is: is it necessary? Or more accurately, is it more necessary than, for example, literacy classes for adults, K-12 education for children, higher education for the economically deprived, and legal protection for the elderly and disabled? Choosing to maintain the state youth correctional system means choosing to cut elsewhere.

Law enforcement interest groups continue to encourage the governor to “cut from other places.” However, if California wants to protect our communities it needs to teach those youth offenders how to live among us safely. Even with the best intentions, teaching a youth to survive in an institutional and artificial environment does not provide them with the necessary skills to live in their communities. The most essential component of rehabilitation is in re-entry: what happens when a youth goes home. That happens locally, through the programs that are suffering extreme hardship now under the governor’s new budget regime.

I recognize that making state budget cuts is challenging; all sectors of government, communities and individual households are financially strained. In a climate of resource scarcity where social and educational services are already cut to the bone, and keeping one program means cutting elsewhere; how does one decide what to keep and what to eliminate? Now more than ever Californians are looking to the governor to make sensible decisions about what is necessary to protect the lives of Californians.

My money is on the community-based provision of treatment and education. Or at least, it should be.

Congress Makes Further Cuts to Juvenile Justice Funding

House and Senate appropriations leaders finalized a “minibus” spending package that further reduces the relevance of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and possibly jeopardizes the office’s connection with state governments.

The bill - which funds the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development – trims the allocation from an already-reduced $275 million in fiscal 2011 to $262.5 million for fiscal 2012.

The minibus package contains another continuing resolution allowing the government to operate through December 16.

The structure of the juvenile justice funding comes from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill, which drastically reduced funding but kept some for each program of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.

Under the agreement reached by appropriations confereees, the funding levels for OJJDP’s biggest programs, which include state formula grants, mentoring and missing and exploited children, more closely mirror what was proposed by the House appropriators.

These are the funding levels, by fiscal year, for the office's major programs:

Title II Formula Grants to States
2012: $40 million
2011: $62 million
2010: $75 million

Title V Grants (Delinquency Prevention)
2012: $20 million
2011: $54 million
2010: $65 million

Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG)
2012: $30 million
2011: $45.65 million
2010: $55 million

Mentoring
2012: $78 million
2011: $83 million
2010: $100 million

Missing and Exploited Children
2012: $65 million
2011: $58.1 million
2010: $70 million

Victims of Child Abuse
2012: $18 million
2011: $18.68 million
2010: $22.5 million

Community-Based Violence Prevention
2012: $8 million
2011: $8.3 million
2010: $10 million

Prospects on what will happen with the formula funds are complicated. The funds are allocated to the states in exchange for their compliance with four core standards of juvenile justice operations: not detaining or incarcerating status offenders; keeping all juveniles out of adult jails, and separating them by sight and sound from adult detainees in the rare exceptions when jail is allowable; and addressing disproportionate minority contact in the system.

Title II funds are dispersed based on the under-18 population in each state, but nearly half the states receive the “minimum allocation” of $600,000. OJJDP can lower that minimum if the total amount for Title II drops below $75 million.

Last fiscal year, the department chose to keep the $600,000 allocation, and make the states with larger youth populations absorb 36 percent cuts.

If the department maintains the minimum allocation again in 2012, the more populous states would receive an even larger cut and some states have said they might consider opting out of participation in the JJDPA.

On the other hand, if they lower the minimum allocation, some juvenile justice advocates believe some of the smaller states will almost certainly opt out.

The entire Title V appropriation in the bill is consumed by tribal youth programs, Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL), and gang prevention, which means that no money will go to state advisory groups (SAG) to use for delinquency prevention projects.

President Barack Obama initially proposed a massive overhaul of juvenile justice spending for 2012, which would have combined the 2010 totals for formula grants and JABG, reduced it by $10 million, and created a $120 million Juvenile Justice System Incentive Grants program.

After the plan drew sharp criticism from some juvenile justice advocates and state juvenile justice leaders, the administration backed off the plan and pushed for $80 million in formula grants and $30 million for JABG, along with a new $10 million incentive grant competition.

Appropriators also provided $10 million for Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood Initiative, which seeks to assist children who have witnessed or experienced violence. Among the other Justice appropriations that could end up going toward serving juvenile offenders:

-$63 million for the Second Chance Act, which assists adult and juvenile offenders reentering the community after incarceration, and had been zeroed out completely from the Senate’s appropriations bill.

-$20 million for sex offender management assistance under the Adam Walsh Act

-$15 million for “competitive grants to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, to prevent or combat juvenile delinquency, and to assist victims of crime.”

The Department of Agriculture appropriations in the minibus agrement include $18.2 billion for Child Nutrition, more than a billion over the appropriation for 2010, and $6.6 billion for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a $700 million decrease from the 2010 figure.

Click here to view documents related to the minibus agreement.

Photo credit: Will Palmer/Flickr

Alabama’s DCANP Budget Cuts by District

Alabama Districts
Alabama Congressional Districts

Alabama's Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) has been hosting a series of Sustainability Meetings with community-based program leaders around the state. When the FY 2012 budget takes effect Oct. 1, the DCANP will be forced to cut 74 of the 175 community-based programs the department funds. Read the full story.

The slides below were compiled by the DCANP and outline affected programs by district:

District 1

District 2

District 3

District 4

District 5

District 6

District 7

One Agency’s Budget Struggles Typical of Nation

Opening slide to DCANP Sustainability MeetingsAlabama’s only agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect, among the many juvenile justice departments around the nation grappling with a smaller budget, will serve nearly half the number of kids in 2012 as they did in 2011.

The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) is preparing to cut 74 community-based programs around the state when the new budget takes effect October 1. The cuts bring the total number of programs to just 101 for FY 2012, compared to 227 funded in FY 2005.

The reduction in services represents roughly 14,000 kids that will no longer have access to community-based prevention programs.

“I’m really concerned with the burden of the system as a whole,” says Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the DCANP. “When you take the community-level programs out you don’t have the capacity in the state to do it.”

The DCANP doesn’t deliver services directly. Rather, the department funds a variety of community-based prevention and education programs. According to Barnes, community members have the capacity and cultural relationship to identify at-risk children long before state-level agencies are able to.

The financial challenges facing the department and the state as a whole are not much different than those facing local governments throughout the United States. Texas, Idaho, Louisiana and many others have witnessed a reduction in juvenile related services.

“There’s not a state, county or city not making the same evaluation with the current budget situation we’re in,” says state Rep. Jack Williams, the Republican chair of Alabama’s Children and Senior Advocacy Committee, adding the committee plans to look at the effectiveness of existing programs and set benchmarks for the future.

“If an agency is serving children in need and doing an effective job I want to do everything I can to support them in the greatest capacity the state has, but we’re going to have to set some benchmarks,” Williams says. “At some point there is going to have to be a line and if you fall below it, the state is not going to be helping [with funding] anymore.”

The DCANP has already seen some steep state-level cuts in writing. When the budget takes effect at the beginning of October the agency will lose nearly 75 percent of its funding from the state’s General Fund and almost a third from Alabama’s Education Trust Fund.

click to download
A letter 'for prevention' to Sue Bell Cobb. Click to download.

Also gone completely is $1.5 million in federal money to fund the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, and roughly $200,000 from other federal funding.

“The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention should be the last thing cut in the state budget because of the far-reaching consequences for the safety of children,” says Sue Bell Cobb, former Alabama Chief Justice and long-time child advocate.

In a letter to Cobb, DCANP director Parris-Barnes outlined the effectiveness of community-based prevention programs, citing the fact that every dollar spent on child preventative services represents a minimum of $5.68 in state savings.

In the interim, the department and other child advocacy groups in the state are looking to keep programs afloat through a variety of measures. The DCANP has been holding sustainability meetings with program leaders from around the state to outline the impact of specific cuts to each district. Among the topics were tactics for pursuing outside funding and getting children into alternative programs.

click for budget cut's impact by district
Click for budget cut's impact by district

Alabama’s Children First Foundation is drawing plans to advocate for an increased tobacco tax in an effort to drum up additional funding for child services in the state.

“All child advocates in Alabama are extremely concerned about the reduction in funding to the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and other child services,” Cobb said. “There’s still so much to be done because we’ve really never had the adequate funding or appropriate priority put on these [prevention] programs.”

In 2009, the last year data was available, Alabama ranked 46th among the states of children living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.

Alabama's governor's office was unavailable for comment prior to deadline.

States Respond to Budget Shortfalls with Hodgepodge of Juvenile Justice Cuts

Around the nation, states continue to grapple with the reality of budget shortfalls with a hodgepodge of cuts to various programs, including juvenile justice.

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North Carolina’s Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is being forced to cut spending by 10 percent while eliminating roughly 275 positions, a 15 percent decrease in work force, under the new FY 2012 budget.

Also gone are 75 beds from the state’s seven youth development centers, raising concerns that serious offenders may end up back on the streets to make room for new juveniles entering the facilities.

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Alabama’s Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention has a FY 2012 budget a little more than half that of FY 2011. The department saw a 74 percent drop in general state funding and significant cuts from the federal-level.

“I don’t see the system being able to recover in my working lifetime,” said DCANP Director Kelly Parris-Barnes. “When you take the community level programs out you don’t have the capacity at the state level to do it.”

Not a direct service provider themselves, the DCANP allocates funds for community-based programs around the state. Of the 174 programs the department funded in FY 2011, just 101 are slated for FY 2012, according to Deputy Director Greg Smith.

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On the surface, Idaho’s Department of Juvenile Corrections has seen an increase in funding heading into FY 2011-2012. The budget has increased, said Chief Fiscal Officer Scott Johnson, but the department also absorbed the now defunct Office of Drug Policy.

“The impact is huge,” Johnson said. “All we got was the money. We didn’t get any additional personnel for managing a $4 million program. We’re basically having to design a substance abuse program from the ground up.”

Overall the department saw a $1.1 million decrease in its operating budget, but has largely been able to offset the shortfall due to cost-cutting measures and a decrease in state population.

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Maryland added $3.2 million to its Department of Juvenile Services for FY 2012, but the increase is expected to restore employee furlough days, according to a budget analysis outlined by Youth Today. The department still expects to see a reduction in evidence-based services.

Down 12 percent since FY 2011, Louisiana’s Department of Youth Services has seen more than a 20 percent decline in funding since FY 2008.

Texas has begun the closure of the Al Price State Juvenile Correctional Facility in an effort to bridge a $117 million shortfall over the next two years.

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States around the country have dealt with the decline in available funds for juvenile justice and other related programs in their own ways. This article is merely a snapshot of some of the realities on the ground.

Youth Today has started an open-ended compilation of state-by-state spending on juvenile justice, child welfare and youth to help make sense of all the numbers.

 

 

Mississippi Joins 38 Other States, Raises Juvenile Age to Eighteen

The Mississippi state sealAn amended law that took effect July 1 made Mississippi the latest state to rethink how youth under the age of 18 are handled in criminal court. The new measure prevents most 17-year-old misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenders from being tried as adults. Certain felonies including rape, murder and armed robbery may still warrant charges in the adult court system.

Two other states, Connecticut and Illinois, passed similar reforms earlier this year bringing the national total to 39 states that view juveniles as any individual below the age of 18, according to a report issued last week by the Campaign for Youth Justice.

“This is a good news report.” Liz Ryan, director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, -- a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on the issue -- told USA Today. “This really shows that there is a turning tide in the way states are treating kids in the juvenile justice system.”

Some juvenile advocates consider the amendment a positive change in the treatment of youthful offenders, but Mississippi law enforcement and juvenile officials worry it could adversely impact an already over-burdened Youth Court system.

“It’s going to create a tremendous pressure on our juvenile justice system with no increase in resource,” Harrison County Youth Court Judge Margaret Alfonso told the (Biloxi-Gulfport) Sun Herald. “So, it’s creating pressure on a system that’s already pressed.”

Legislators in Mississippi amended the law following state budget cuts that reduced bed space and maximum detention times, among other things, in juvenile facilities. But officials failed to allocate additional funds to the Youth Court system to deal with added expenses and growing number of offenders.

It costs states more to incarcerate offenders in juvenile than adult facilities due to health, counseling and other obligations, but juvenile inmates tend to have a lower recidivism rate than their counterparts in the adult system, according to the same Campaign for Youth Justice report.

Nationally, the United States has witnessed a five-year trend of states rethinking how juveniles are handled in the criminal justice system in large part due to research in adolescent brain development.

Crimes committed by minors aren’t always done with malice because they can’t fully distinguish right from wrong, Gina Vincent, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told JJIE at a brain development conference in early May.

Only 11 states, including Georgia, still try offenders younger than 18 in adult courts for nonviolent offenses. Roughly 250,000 offenders under the age of 18 are prosecuted in adult courts annually, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice report.

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.