Pending efforts to extend a historic federal juvenile anticrime law could be undermined by a House subcommittee’s proposal to cut U.S. Justice Department funding to states, reports the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The House panel that funds DOJ is calling to eliminate money to states known as Title II, Part B formula grants that now total $55.5 million annually. The Obama administration has requested $70 million for the year starting October 1. The new chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. John Culbertson (R-TX), offered no comment. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), who is leading the drive to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, criticized the proposed cut.
Before introduction of the bill, some juvenile justice advocates had said that after earlier steep decreases of Title II grant funding some states might simply forgo the money. That would allow them to no longer even try to comply with the standards of the federal law. The “core requirements” of the law aim to prevent detention of “status offenders” who commit nonviolent offenses like skipping school or possessing alcohol; reduce disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system; remove youths from adult jails and lockups; and keep youths who are incarcerated in adult facilities separated from adult inmates. “If this proposal gets through the House, which it could, since it is more conservative than the Senate, it would mean that a stronger JJDPA would be moot, since there would be no money to fund it,” said Marie Williams of the nonprofit Coalition for Juvenile Justice.