Why Juvenile Justice Could be Big Loser In Obama Budget

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The Obama administration is proposing deep cuts in juvenile justice programs while boosting funding for policing and prisons, according to the D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute.

These priorities, says the Institute (JPI), go counter to Obama administration public statements urging a reduction in the historically high prison population of some 2.4 million. Additionally, says the JPI, the FY 2012 Budget proposes to spend money on failed polices and has missed an opportunity to fund “smarter investments in proven programs.”

[Click here to look through the proposed FY 2012 Budget]

An Institute factsheet reports the budget would slash some $50 million from juvenile programs, including prevention. These programs are designed to help many of the nearly 100,000 kids currently in detention and correctional facilities across the nation.

At the same time, the budget proposes an increase of $116 million from FY 2010 for facilities. This suggests the administration is making way for more prison construction.

Tracy Velazquez, the executive director of JPI, said expenditures such as this are counter-productive, not reflective of proven public safety and crime prevention strategies and have long been rejected by researchers in the field.

"This budget reflects a disappointing continuation of policies rejected by researchers and advocates and will serve to widen the net of justice involvement, doing little to improve public safety," said Velázquez. "While states are seeking innovative ways to cut costs, reduce prison populations and improve the safety and health of communities, the Federal Government is showing a disappointing lack in leadership in the areas of prevention, treatment and diversion.”

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