The potential reauthorization of a federal grant program could encourage more federal funding for juvenile justice programs, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The House Judiciary Committee yesterday approved a measure to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, which lapsed in 2009 and has received no funding since 2013. The program provides grants for state and local initiatives that hold youth accountable for their behavior in ways that are appropriate for their age and development, such as graduated sanctions like curfews and drug testing instead of incarceration, alternatives to detention for status offenses, and diversion assessment tools. The bill also would expand the criteria for grants to programs that address bullying and cyberbullying prevention and gang prevention and intervention.
The bill authorizes $25 million annually for five years. Funding for the block grant program decreased through the 2000s, from $250 million in 2002 to $25 million in 2013, a drop-off that reflects an overall decline in federal juvenile justice funding. A reauthorization should encourage appropriators to look more closely at spending on juvenile justice programs, said Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) Neither the House nor the Senate included funding for the block grant program in this year’s proposed spending bills.