The Coalition for Juvenile Justice, concluding a 5-day meeting in Washington, D.C., today, is seeking increases in federal appropriations to aid state and local juvenile justice programs. The coalition, which includes representatives from state juvenile justice agencies, complains that “federal investments in programs that prevent and reduce delinquency have decreased by 50 percent” in the last decade while federal spending on police, prosecution, and incarceration has risen by 60 percent. “These opposing trends are not only bad budgeting; they place the future of America’s youth, families and communities at risk,” the group says.
The coalition seeks at least $80 million for “formula grants” to states, up from the current $62.3 million, at least $65 million for local delinquency prevention, up from $54 million, and at least $55 million for a “juvenile accountability block grant” program, up from $45.7 million. The coalition’s request comes at a precarious time for federal aid, with some House Republicans seeking billions of dollars in cuts from the appropriations bill that funds the Justice Department. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, who oversees the federal juvenile justice program, did not address detailed budget issues in speaking to the coalition yesterday. She discussed efforts to promote evidence-based practices in juvenile justice and other initiatives, concluding that despite “challenges – and the challenges arising from a tough economy – I'm optimistic that we're moving in the right direction.”