May 04, 2018

Feinstein, Murphy Lead Call to Fund Juvenile Justice Programs & Improve Outcomes For Kids

Washington – Citing a steady decline in federal funding for juvenile justice programs in the last few years, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined a group of their colleagues in calling for robust funding for seven juvenile justice programs that help divert kids away from prison and into community services. In a letter addressed to Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ranking Member Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the senators requested that the seven programs be funded, in total, at a minimum of $141.5 million to help states foster better outcomes for youth and improve public safety.

“Given the significant decline in appropriations that federal juvenile justice programs have received over the past several years, we believe that it is imperative to provide as much funding as possible for the following programs,” wrote the senators. “These relatively modest, targeted federal investments in state and local juvenile justice programs pay significant dividends in the form of reduced juvenile crime and recidivism, better outcomes for youth, and increased public safety in communities across the country.”

Specifically, the senators requested:

  • $75 million for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Title II State Formula Grants Program
  • $42 million for the JJDPA Title V Delinquency Prevention Program
  • Restored funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) Program
  • $18 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative
  • $4 million for the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention
  • $2 million for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System
  • $0.5 million for the Children of Incarcerated Parents Web Portal

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined Feinstein and Murphy in signing the letter.

The full text of the letter is available online and below:

The Honorable Jerry Moran
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen,

As your subcommittee prepares to consider the FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, we write to urge you to support the juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs detailed below. Given the significant decline in appropriations that federal juvenile justice programs have received over the past several years, we believe that it is imperative to provide as much funding as possible for the following programs, but at a minimum:

  • $75 million for the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) Title II State Formula Grants Program;
  • $42 million for the JJDPA Title V Delinquency Prevention Program;
  • Restore funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) Program;
  • $18 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative;
  • $4 million for the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention;
  • $2 million for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System;
  • $0.5 million for the Children of Incarcerated Parents Web Portal.

Since 1974, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has provided critical federal funding to ensure states comply with a set of core protections that shield youth from the dangers of adult jails and lockups, keep status offenders out of locked custody, and address the disproportionate representation of minorities in the justice system. State Formula Grants support state compliance with these core protections and help ensure that states have the resources to build effective systems that reduce recidivism and promote public safety.  Despite fulfilling a critical need in every state, appropriations for this core-funding stream have declined over the last decade.  The requested amount is the minimum level of federal investment necessary to support states in building effective juvenile justice systems that promote better outcomes for youth and the public.  

Title V is the only federal program that provides delinquency prevention funding at the local level. Through focusing on reducing risk, enhancing the protective factors that prevent at-risk youth from becoming delinquent, and targeting first-time and non-serious offenders, Title V funds help prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. The program has been used successfully in communities across the country to bring together key community, law enforcement, and child welfare stakeholders, to develop and sustain effective prevention efforts.  Studies repeatedly show the significant cost savings that come from investing modest amounts in proven prevention programs. 

The JABG program is used in the states to reduce juvenile offending by providing judges and other juvenile justice officials a range of age- and developmentally appropriate options that hold youth accountable while giving them the assistance they need to avoid reoffending.  This is the only dedicated source of funding for accountability-based programs serving youth in the justice system.

The Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative program reduces and prevents youth violence through street-level outreach, conflict mediation, the changing of community norms and other local activities. This program supports states and localities in implementing coordinated and multidisciplinary approaches to gang and violence prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry in targeted communities.

Finally, we ask that you provide dedicated funding streams to the National Forum on Youth Violence, the Girls in the Juvenile Justice System Program, and the Children of Incarcerated Parents Web Portal. The National Forum on Youth Violence is building a national conversation around youth and gang violence and better coordinating violence prevention efforts across law enforcement, schools, social services, juvenile justice and criminal courts, mental health, and neighborhood and community-based organizations. The Girls in the Juvenile Justice System program provides programming specific to the needs of girls, including trauma informed screening, assessment, and care. Grants support community-based prevention and diversion programs for status-offending girls; school-based programs for high-risk elementary and middle school girls; mentoring programs specifically for girls; girls’ group homes; and dedicated probation officers. Nearly 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent in prison. The Children of Incarcerated Parents Web Portal consolidates information on federal resources, grant opportunities, best practices, and other resources to support the 2.7 million children of incarcerated parents in the United States and their parents.

These relatively modest, targeted federal investments in state and local juvenile justice programs pay significant dividends in the form of reduced juvenile crime and recidivism, better outcomes for youth, and increased public safety in communities across the country.  Thank you for your attention to our request.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
Christopher S. Murphy
Cory A. Booker
Edward J. Markey
Chris Van Hollen
Sherrod Brown
Bernard Sanders
Mazie K. Hirono 
Tammy Duckworth
Christopher A. Coons
Richard Blumenthal
Maria Cantwell
Robert Menendez
Richard J. Durbin
Benjamin L. Cardin
Tom Udall
Ron Wyden