The new juvenile justice funding plan proposed in President Barack Obama's 2012 budget suggests that states with a track record on reform would be in pole position for federal funding while other states might not even get to the starting line, reports Youth Today. the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention said Obama's “Race to the Top-style” plan for 2012 juvenile justice funding is designed to reward “states that demonstrate the highest achievement in key juvenile justice reforms.” The minimal details of the plan released in the budget has brought immediate criticism from some juvenile justice advocates.
The $120 million Juvenile Justice System Incentive Grants would replace the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants and the Formula Grants, which are awarded to each state contingent upon its compliance with four requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: deinstitutionalization of status offenders, jail removal, sight and sound separation, and reducing disproportionate minority contact. OJJDP says the incentive grants would reward states that “go beyond minimal compliance with basic mandates.” Former OJJDP director Shay Bilchick, now at Georgetown University, called the plan “a misguided structure. It takes a formula program connected to all states” and creates a 'based-on' requirement for discretionary funds where many states might not get anything.” One state juvenile justice specialist believes a switch from money-for-compliance to money-based on-compliance would cause many states to opt out of the process entirely.