Seven documents juvenile justice agencies used to track disproportionate arrests of minority youth and compliance with other rules were among the two dozen federal guidance documents the Justice Department recently disavowed, sparking questions and concern across the field. Those documents were part of the batch of two dozen that Attorney General Jeff Sessions pulled back last week.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two out of three children in the United States experience or witness violence, crime or abuse while growing up, a public health crisis that harms their emotional, physical and intellectual development and makes them more likely to perpetrate the same trauma upon their own children, a national task force appointed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said this week. The long-term well-being of the country is at stake unless federal and local governments and their communities act to reduce the incidence and impact of such trauma upon young Americans, the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence concluded in its final report. The report detailed 56 policy recommendations for reducing such exposure to trauma and treating its fallout. Such exposure could occur anywhere, the report said: at home, at school, in the community and on the Internet. “There is a moral component to this question,” Holder said at a public meeting of the federal interagency Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which approved the report’s release.
Federal funding for state and local juvenile justice programs seems likely to take another big hit as Congress continues to slash federal “discretionary” spending. The Republican-controlled House committee that appropriates money for the Justice Department today issued its proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. It would cut juvenile justice funding to $209 million–a figure that stood at $424 million in fiscal year 2010. Federal aid for juvenile justice already had fallen more than 50 percent to its lowest level in more than a decade, says the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, which represents state advisory committees in Washington, D.C. The coalition is asking Congress for $80 million for “formula grants” that helps states comply with mandates in a key 1974 juvenile crime law, such as separating juvenile and adult defendants in jail and keeping minor offenders out of custody.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that the Justice Department will expand to 10 – from six – the number of cities participating in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The planned expansion comes as the original participants continue to struggle through breaking down walls among government agencies and with community-based groups. The National Forum, established 18 months ago, is designed to allow the cities involved to fashion their individual crime prevention programs that emphasize more comprehensive approaches across government agencies. An initial evaluation by Temple University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York found that all six cities showed some “positive indicators” of the initiative but there were no “profound perceptions” among local residents of a reduction in juvenile violence. Representatives of the six cities – Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Memphis and Salinas and San Jose, Calif.
[UPDATE, March 23, 2012:] President Obama today waded into the growing national controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, commenting, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the The New York Times reported. Obama dodged questions about whether George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, should be arrested for the killing, saying he didn’t want to impede any possible investigation by the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. At a rally Thursday in Sanford, Fl., the orlando suburb where Martin lived, Rev. Al Sharpton, with Martin’s parents at his side, called the case a civil rights issue, according to an Associated Press report. “We cannot allow a precedent when a man can just kill one of us … and then walk out with the murder weapon,” Sharpton said.
The latest census by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention offers insight into the number of kids nationwide and in the south who are on probation for various crimes. The number of kids in the southern states make up more than a fourth of the crimes. The southern states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.
With Congress in deficit reduction mode, large crime fighting grants that Georgia depends on could be on the chopping block. The National Criminal Justice Association is following the proposals, and one plan with dramatic implications comes from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. This prominent group recommends eliminating “all Justice Department grants except those from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice, thereby empowering states to finance their own justice programs” for an annual savings of $7.3 billion.”
If the Bureau of Justice Assistance is eliminated, for example, Georgia could lose close to $14 million in federal grants annually, including $4.7 million that goes directly to police and sheriff departments across the state. And that’s just one program in jeopardy
Here’s a list of some of the other nationside safety, youth development and education programs the Heritage Foundation wants to cut. The list and the language is from Heritage.org:
$298million Eliminate state grants for Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities. $7.3 billion Eliminate all Justice Department grants except those from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice, thereby empowering states to finance their own justice programs.
$30 million Eliminate the duplicative Office of National Drug Control Policy. $26 million Reduce funding for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by 20 percent because of its policy against race-neutral enforcement of the law.
States have until July to pass legislation that requires juveniles to be included on the sex offender registry database. The Sex Offender Registry Notification Act (SORNA), part of the Adam Walsh Act, requires states to register kids and teens, but gives states control on how many and which juveniles are included, according to Youth Today. So far, Florida, Ohio, South Dakota and Delaware are the only states currently in compliance with SORNA. If the other 46 do not comply, they will lose a portion of the Justice Department’s Byrne Grant, which supplies criminal justice systems with millions of dollars. Attorney General Eric Holder has pushed the deadline back twice now, causing frustration among supporters of SORNA.