The Obama administration’s FY 2012 budget proposes to significantly cut funding for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and make the remaining funds available to individual states through a competitive process.
This proposal would eliminate OJJCP’s existing grants program, the only dedicated federal source to the states for juvenile justice system improvements.
The National Coalition for Juvenile Justice and its partners has responded to this proposal with a letter to the president.
Since the beginning of the Georgia legislative session our reporter Chandra Thomas and our supporting JJIE.org staff of editors, interns and freelancers have been closely watching all legislation aimed at juvenile justice issues.
I opened my Atlanta Journal-Constitution today to see how its coverage of these juvenile justice bills compared with ours here at the JJIE.org. From what I could see there was nothing to compare. I saw nothing about Senate Bill 127, which is a rewrite of the juvenile code. An issue we covered intensely even before it was introduced into the house. Much to the chagrin of its supporters it will not move forward. We will, in the days to come, analyze why it did not progress.
HB 185, the Runaway Youth Safety Act, which, as Thomas wrote, would have allowed homeless shelters to provide emergency housing and services to runaway children.
The two are among more than a dozen bills, which only the JJIE.org has covered on a persistent basis. This is not a dig at the other media. Dropping circulation and falling advertising revenues mean that cuts have to be made. Since areas like juvenile justice do not translate into big audience returns, their coverage is often the first to go. Which means the public will learn less and less about a system that touches more that 50,000 kids a year and thousands of state employees whose jobs are related to the various aspects of juvenile justice from safety to victimization to incarceration to deprivation.
It’s the mission of the Center for Sustainable Journalism to find ways to sustain niche journalism areas like juvenile justice. Why? Because it is obvious if we don’t cover them no one else will.
However, in the long run we can’t do it alone. We will need support. We know several thousand people, just like you, care about these issues and visit the JJIE.org to keep informed. The first step is for you to please sign up for our newsletter. Or supply us with story tips. Or write for our opinion pages. Or provide your advice on what might sustain us in the long run.
Eventually, we, just like public broadcasting, will have to have a funding drive. For now, please just sign up at the newsletter or, if you are in a hurry like us, at Facebook. Please take one of these small steps to demonstrate that you care because we know you do.
The U.S. House funding bill passed Friday would cut juvenile justice programs by $191 million. Some $91 million of that is in earmarked programs, but it doesn’t tell the Office of Justice Programs where to trim the remaining $100 million.
"It’s weird that they left that out,” said Joe Vignati, the National Juvenile Justice Specialist on the Executive Board of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. “If—and this is a big if — this becomes law, everybody will be clamoring and saying, ‘Cut this! Cut this!’”
HR 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, now moves to the Senate where the bill is expected to change significantly. If an agreement is not reached on the budget by March 4, the nation could face a government shutdown.