Youth Promise Act draws star power

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A campaign to get federal funding for youth violence prevention programs in urban centers is gathering steam in the entertainment industry.  Media mogul Russell Simmons has joined the movement to support the Youth Promise Act, H.R. 1064, pending in Congress. Simmons writes about it in his blog for the Huffington Post:

“Every year in America, 600,000 youth are confined in a jail or prison... With the White House ready to address this growing issue, we need a proven cost-effective way of reducing youth violence.”

The Youth Promise Act would amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  Some provisions include:

  • Local oversight and control of funds.
  • Custom tailored plans created for each community.
  • Creation of a National Research Center for Proven Juvenile Justice Practices

Celebrities, sports figures, gang experts and politicians are joining the cause on Facebook,  Twitter, and YouTube.  They released a video last week.  Supporters include NFL star and civil rights activist Jim Brown, actress Robin Wright, Baron Davis of the NBA, and Congressional sponsor Bobby Scott (D- Virginia).  On his website Scott says, "The Youth PROMISE Act represents a paradigm shift in the way we address juvenile crime policy in America.  Instead of doing what is politically expedient, we have the opportunity to both reduce crime and save money."

The Youth Promise Act faces some tough opposition in a bad economy.  At a Congressional hearing last July, David Muhlhausen, Ph.D. from The Heritage Foundation testified that it would cost too much, fund mediocre programs that duplicate other programs, and may not solve deliquency and gang problems.

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