Congress is threatening to cut federal grants to states and localities for effective programs in preventing juvenile delinquency or in dealing with youths who run into trouble with the law, says the Washington Post in an editorial. The fed have been spending $54 million on delinquency-prevention programs on the state and local level and $62 million to offset the costs of keeping incarcerated youths away from adults or to house them in youth-only facilities. These separation policies have helped to reduce the number of physical and sexual attacks on minors and shield youths from older and more hardened criminals.
U.S. House appropriators would eliminate funding altogether for the delinquency-prevention component and cut the latter program by roughly one-third. The Post calls the Senate approach only slightly more palatable, with cuts of 27 percent and 38 percent, respectively, on top of significant reductions over the past decade. The Obama administration is asking for an $18 million increase for the first program and an $8 million boost for the latter. Delinquency prevention or diversion programs are significantly cheaper than incarceration. States spent between $66,000 and $88,000 in 2008 to incarcerate each juvenile offender, says the American Correctional Association. The incidence of such counterproductive punishment for nonviolent offenses “will almost certainly rise if these federal funds are cut further,” the Post says.