Pile of handguns

Gun Control Movement Experiencing Growing Pains

With the advent of March For Our Lives and the success of pro-gun control candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, today’s gun violence prevention movement is larger and more energized than ever. Meanwhile, the NRA is going broke, losing popularity and under investigation by multiple parties for campaign finance irregularities and ties to the Kremlin.

House Lawmakers Introduce JJDPA Reauthorization

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced long-awaited legislation today that would strengthen the key federal law protecting youth in the juvenile justice system.
The Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act (HR 5963) aims to help local and state officials better address the needs of youth by preventing their involvement with the juvenile system, protecting them in custody and helping them transition back into the community.

Gun Rights, Gun Control and a Local Push to Tax Guns and Their Ammo

Ambitious and certain to draw criticism, President Barack Obama’s plan to rid the nation of the most powerful weapons on the market and attempt to arrest mass and everyday shootings was expected by Congress Wednesday, marking a sharp turn in a decades-long fight to curb America’s gun violence. As the debate was playing out in Washington, several local and national leaders gathered at the University of Chicago Tuesday evening to discuss guns and policy, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose city holds the dubious “murder capital” title, among the group and pushing sweeping gun control legislation that cracks down on assault weapons. Also on the panel was Democratic political consultant David Axelrod, who this week said that the National Rifle Association’s recent assertion that Congress would not enact the sort of change that Obama and others were pressing, was off base. In fact, he said, real legislation will squeeze through the legislative process and signal real change in the nation’s laws and gun dialogue. Also in attendance was the head of the University of Chicago CrimeLab, who noted that while the United States has managed to improve its count of more common crime – property theft, etc.

School Discipline Reform Groups Question Proposals for Armed Security

Initiatives emerging from shootings may conflict with efforts to reduce police involvement in school discipline

As the White House considers proposals to allocate federal money for armed guards in schools, prominent school-discipline reform groups have issued a report denouncing the idea as a misguided reaction to the Newtown school shooting. “Placing more police in schools has significant and harmful unintended consequences for young people that must be considered before agreeing to any proposal that would increase the presence of law enforcement in schools,”says an issue brief released Friday by the Advancement Project, Dignity in Schools and other organizations. The Advancement Project, founded in 1999, has offices in Washington D.C. and California, and has worked with school districts and states to adopt alternatives to school suspensions and expulsions. Dignity in Schools is also devoted to working with school districts, advocating fewer school suspensions and less involvement of law enforcement in school discipline. The groups called on the White House and Congress, before they act, to consider how the school-discipline climate changed after more police were introduced to schools in response to the Columbine school shootings nearly 15 years ago in Colorado.

Senate Bill to Extend Current Student Loan Interest Rates Defeated

Tuesday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a bill backed by Democrats that would have kept interest rates for certain federal student loans from doubling this July. By a 52-45 majority, GOP senators effectively killed the proposal – entitled the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012, it marking this Congress’ 21st successful filibuster of a Democratic-sponsored bill, according to The New York Times. If an extension of current federally-subsidized student loan rates does not occur, loan rates for undergraduate students are expected to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 later this summer. According to recent reports, American students took out almost twice the value of student loans in 2011 – estimated at about $112 billion – than they did a decade ago. In 2010, student loan debt totaled approximately $1 trillion, eclipsing credit card debt as the nation’s second largest form of debt behind mortgages, USA Today reported.

Supreme Court Prepares to Hear Health Care Reform Case, Young People Take to the Web

For three days next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will determine the fate of the health care reform law signed by President Obama two years ago. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act introduced a number of changes to how the health insurance industry operates and would cover more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Immediate changes include allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ insurance until they turn 27 as well as the elimination of yearly and lifetime coverage caps. More changes will be rolled out slowly until 2014, when the full law takes effect. But opponents argue one provision in particular is unconstitutional — the so-called individual mandate that takes effect in 2014 and requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or else face heavy fines.

A Look at Youth-Related Spending in Obama’s 2013 Budget

This story originally appeared on YouthToday. President Barack Obama unveiled his 2013 budget proposal today, which calls for $3.8 trillion in spending and projects a $901 billion deficit for the year. It was quickly met with resistance from Republican leadership. “The President’s budget falls exceptionally short in many critical areas – including a lack of any substantive proposal for mandatory and entitlement spending reform,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), in a statement issued this morning. Rogers promised to “go line by line through the President’s budget, prioritize programs, and make decisions on the appropriate investment of discretionary funds.”

Juvenile Justice

The president would fund the Office of Justice Programs at $1.7 billion in 2013, down from $2.7 billion in 2011 and $2 billion in 2012.

U.S. House of Representatives

House Approps May Gut Spending on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The House subcommittee that oversees Justice Department funding produced an appropriations bill this week that would slash activities authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in 2012. The draft bill, marked up by the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State (CJS), would not fund demonstration grants, Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) or Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants. In 2010, the last year Congress actually passed an appropriations package, those three streams totaled $231 million. The bill would also drop 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 – from $75 million in 2010 to $40 million. The full appropriations committee will vote on the proposed funding levels for Justice on Wednesday, July 13, according to a memo published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice on its website.

Senate Passes Bill Stripping Confirmation Requirement for Juvenile Justice Positions

This article originally appeared on YouthToday.org. The Senate passed by a 79-20 margin today the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, which would remove the Senate confirmation requirement for hundreds of executive branch positions, including two of the top federal jobs related to child welfare and juvenile justice. S. 679 was never referred out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The bill was introduced in late March by a bipartisan group of senators and blessed with the support of both Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Chief among the youth-related positions affected by the bill are Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), an agency within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice, and Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), which is part of the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Teens Face More Consequences from Sexting than Congressmen Do

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner may not have broken any laws by texting lewd photos of himself to younger women he didn’t know. In many states, however, teens who send pictures of themselves to their own girlfriends or boyfriends can be prosecuted for child pornography. Allyson Pereira calls that hypocrisy. She should know. She’s spent six years dealing with the consequences of “sexting” one topless image of herself to an ex-boyfriend.