Senate Committee Approves Funding to OJJDP, With Cuts

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill this afternoon that would fund the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs at $251 million, approximately $24 million below the diminished budget that the agency faced this fiscal year after a last-minute spending deal.

The committee broke up the $251 million in spending this way:

-$60 million for the missing and exploited children programs.

-$55 million for mentoring grants.

-$45 million for 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.

-$30 million for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG), which go to state juvenile justice planning agencies based on the size of a state’s youth population.

-$20 million for the Victims of Child Abuse Programs.

-$15 million for tribal youth

-$10 million for alcohol-abuse prevention

-$8 million for gang and youth violence prevention

-$8 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, a project conceived by the Obama administration in 2009.

Those specific lines may be important if and when there is a conference involving the  Senate and House funding legislation, because the House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill in August that would spend just over $200 million on Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention programs, but eliminates most federal funding for actual juvenile justice activities.The bill is expected to receive a vote from the full House soon.

The House committee cut juvenile justice demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) and Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants out of its 2012 bill. House appropriators also reduced state formula grants from $75 million in 2010 to $40 million for 2012. But its bill included $10 million more than the Senate for missing and exploited children programs ($70 million) and $28 million more for mentoring ($83 million).

The appropriations vote came after national juvenile justice advocates teamed up on a lobbying campaign where organizations and leaders from the home states of appropriations committee members wrote letters to the senators, asking for: $80 million in state formula grants, $65 million for delinquency prevention programs, and $55 million for JABG.

Although the Senate committee included smaller amounts than that for each program, it kept each of them alive.

The committee report lays out $33 million for “Title V – Delinquency Prevention Incentive Grants,” which are supposed to be distributed by state advisory groups. But the committee instead designated all of the funding for tribal youth, alcohol prevention and youth violence prevention.

Overall Department of Justice funding is set at $26.9 billion in the Senate bill, a decrease of $482 million from 2011. It includes $232 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which is eliminated in the House version, and a $307 million increase in funding for Bureau of Prisons salaries and expenses.

The Senate recommended $489 million for juvenile justice programs in fiscal 2011, a $66 million increase from fiscal 2010. But a last-minute deal to avert a federal government shutdown slashed the OJJDP budget, cutting the total appropriation for juvenile justice activities to $275 million, a $148 million drop from fiscal 2010.

Among the other youth-related spending recommendations approved by Senate Appropriations today:

Elimination of Second Chance Act funding: “In order to pay for a nearly half a billion increase” for federal prison costs, the committee wrote in its report, it “regrettably provides no funds for the Second Chance Act.”

The act, a bipartisan bill signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 and funded at $100 million the past two years, funds efforts to help adult and juvenile offenders returning to the community after a period of incarceration.

The House included $70 milllion for Second Chance Act programs.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, reiterated his  concern over the cut, which he expressed at yesterday’s subcommittee markup of Justice spending.

“As anybody in law enforcement knows, the vast majority of people you lock up, someday are going to come out,” said Leahy, a former state’s attorney in Vermont. “And it costs a lot more money when they go back in.”

Leahy declined to offer an amendment restoring some of the funding, but may seek to include it when the bill comes up for consideration by the full Senate.

Reduction in Research, Evaluation and Statistics: The recommendation includes $121 million for such work at Justice, most of which is carried out by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice. Last year’s appropriations included $234 million for research and evaluation.

Protection  of  Walsh Act implementation: The committee recommends $395 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), the pot of money from which a state out of compliance with the Adam Walsh Act would lose 10 percent. Among other things, the Walsh Act requires states to establish a sex offender registry that adheres to certain national standards, including the addition of certain juvenile offenders.

Only 14 states have complied with the act so far, with many other states voicing financial and philosophical concerns about implementing a compliant registry.

With a $395 million mark in the Senate and $347 million from the House, it is a virtual certainty that JAG funds will be approved this year while other discretionary funds to the states face cuts or elimination. This could raise the relative value of the 10 percent JAG penalty.

The committee also included a separate $23 million pot to help states with Walsh Act implementation.

Continuation of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention: The committee included $3 million for this initiative, started by the Obama administration, to help cities engaged in plans to reduce gang or youth violence to share best practices and challenges with each other.

Consolidation of youth programs at OVW: The committee recommendation creates a $10 million “Consolidated Youth-Oriented Program” at the Office on Violence Against Women. This would combine four of OVW’s current youth projects, all centered around services for youth who have experienced or witnessed violence, and shave $2 million off of the fiscal 2011 appropriations total for them.

This article originally appeared in Youth Today.

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