Today the House of Representatives approved by an almost party line vote the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations legislation for FY 2013, H.R. 5326. The spending plan sponsored by Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) eliminates two critical funding streams for juvenile justice programs, the Title V delinquency prevention grant program and the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG). The bill also cuts funding for a third essential element of federal juvenile justice efforts. The Title II state formula grants are cut to $33 million from $40 million currently. The Senate companion bill, S. 2323, introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) takes an entirely different approach, increasing funds for Title II and Title V and level funding JABG.
The cuts in the House bill will have a devastating impact on juvenile justice. They will erode nationwide progress on juvenile justice improvements that have led to historic low rates in youth-offending across all U.S. states and territories; jeopardize innovative and effective work across the nation to reduce racial and ethnic disparities at various decision-making points within the juvenile justice system; and eliminate support for cost-effective delinquency prevention programs and alternatives to incarceration shown to increase public safety and decrease recidivism, while producing cost savings to the public.
It is not clear yet when the Senate will take up its spending plan for juvenile justice or when final decisions will be made but it is likely these issues will be part of end-of-year negotiations which may take place after the November election.