First 2014 Approps Bill for Justice Dept. Would Gut Juvenile Justice, Cut CASA Spending

The first Congressional move on Justice Department spending for fiscal 2014 includes yet another steep round of cuts to juvenile justice appropriations, and recommends a low appropriation for the federal contribution to the nonprofit National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

The bill passed Wednesday by the Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee would provide $20 million for the juvenile justice-related programs authorized by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA). That includes funding for Title II formula grants, but none for Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG). Both of those funding streams go to states to help monitor and support juvenile justice systems.
Congress approved $44 million for Title II and $25 million for JABG in 2013, after the House subcommittee had approved a bill with only $33 million for Title II and nothing for JABG.

Last year’s juvenile justice appropriations slowed what had become an federal funding free-fall on the issue from 2010 to 2012.

“Federal investment in juvenile justice has been on the decline for nearly a decade,” said Liz Ryan, president of the Campaign for Youth Justice, in a statement released by the ACT4JJ Campaign. “It is incredibly disappointing that the House continues to short-change investments that help our kids.”

A reduction to $20 million would almost surely jeopardize the participation of many states in the JJPDA. With the exception of Wyoming, all states receive the Title II money in exchange for compliance with the core requirements of the JJPDA.

The subcommittee bill amount would provide for less than $400,000 per state next year. In 2010 – when funding had already declined but was far more robust than current appropriations – federal juvenile justice liaisons in three states confirmed to this reporter that there were discussions about opting out of JJDPA participation.

The bill would level-fund the mentoring account, the primary delinquency prevention program at Justice, at $90 million. It would also maintain the 2013 appropriation for missing and exploited children at $67 million.

The national office of CASA would receive $3.5 million for 2014, $2.5 million less than it received for 2013. The Seattle-based organization, which represents local programs around the country that provide volunteer assistance in child welfare proceedings, is authorized for up to $12 million a year in federal funding.

The full Appropriations committee markup of the bill is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17.

Among the other youth-related recommendations in the spending bill:

$465 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, a block grant to assist local law enforcement. This is $100 million more than House Appropriations approved last year.
$10 million to serve youth exposed to violence
$16 million to support families involved in the justice system
$20 million Walsh Act implementation
$55 million for re-entry programs under the Second Chance Act, $15 million less than was approved last year.
$19 million to serve victims of child abuse

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of the Chronicle of Social Change

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.