State juvenile justice leaders are bemoaning the dwindling resources flowing to states from the Justice Department, Youth Today reports. The views were expresssed in a survey issued by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice about the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). “The sky is not falling, but the ground beneath is not as firm as it used to be,” said the coalition’s Tara Andrews.
Labor Day marked the 35th anniversary of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The act is overdue for reauthorization, and a bill that would do so has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate. The law requires states to comply with standards on deinstitutionalization of youth who are status offenders; keeping all youth who are not tried as adults from placement in adult lockups; separating juveniles tried as adults from adult jail populations; and addressing racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. The survey respondents’ criticism was mostly directed at Congress for approving increasingly lower levels of funding for state juvenile justice grants, and then eating up those lower appropriations with pet projects. The formula grants going to states have decreased from $88.8 million in 2002 to $75 million in 2009.