Tell Congress: Protect Children in the Justice System!
In the next few weeks, Congress is poised to make the deepest cuts to federal juvenile justice funding in more than a decade.
These drastic cuts will result in the increased use of incarceration for youth, including placement of children in adult jails, and run counter to research that shows the public supports rehabilitation and treatment for youth.
The good news, if there is any, is that it's not too late. With your help, we can reverse this!
What's at Stake?
For more than 35 years, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has provided critical federal funding to states to comply with a set of core requirements designed to protect children from the dangers of adult jails and lockups; keep children charged with status offenses out of locked custody; and address the disparate treatment of youth of color in the justice system.
- JJDPA's Title II funding helps states comply with the core requirements and helps ensure that states have resources to build effective state systems.
- Title V is the only federal program that provides delinquency prevention funding at the local level to reach youth at risk and help keep them out of the juvenile justice system.
In addition to these JJDPA programs, funding through the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program assists state efforts to effectively strengthen services and supports for court-involved youth, including alternatives to detention.
Facing Historic Cuts
The House and Senate have both proposed juvenile justice cuts that are the largest in more than a decade. (What does that mean? Jump to the historical federal funding chart).
If enacted, these proposed cuts will:
- Undermine the implementation of the JJDPA core requirements, such as the Jail Removal provision that prohibits the placement of youth in adult jails and lockups. (Click here for a fact sheet on the dangers of placing youth in adult jails.)
- Result in more youth incarcerated in adult jails -- costly and dangerous facilities where youth are placed at severe risk of suicide, physical and sexual abuse, recidivism, and a lifetime of disconnection from education and work;
- Erode and jeopardize nationwide progress on juvenile justice improvements that have led to historic low rates in youth-offending across all U.S. states and territories; and
- Eliminate support for cost-effective delinquency prevention programs and alternatives to incarceration, which increase public safety and decrease recidivism and public costs. For every $1 spent in prevention and community-based alternatives, taxpayers save up to $8 in criminal justice costs.
These cuts run counter to recent public opinion research (PDF) released on October 12, 2011, that shows that the public rejects placement of youth in adult jails and prisons and instead strongly favors:
- Rehabilitation and treatment approaches, such as counseling, education, treatment, restitution and community service;
- Requiring the juvenile justice system to reduce racialand ethnic disparities; and
- Independent oversight to ensure youth are protected from abuse while in state or local custody.
How You Can Help
Working together, we can turn this around! By taking action, you will be joining thousands of individuals and organizations nationwide as part of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice Campaign to protect children in the justice system.
Take Action Now! Click the button to:
(1) Contact your Members of Congress.
(2) Call your local media outlets and urge them to editorialize in opposition to these proposed cuts.
Please share this information with your networks. To stay updated on the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign, sign up for updates at www.act4jj.org.
Liz Ryan is president and CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and co-chair of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaignco-chair of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign. Prior to starting The Campaign for Youth Justice, Ms. Ryan served for five years as the Advocacy Director for the Youth Law Center’s Building Blocks for Youth Initiative, a project to reduce the over-incarceration and disparate treatment of children of color in the juvenile justice system.
Nancy Gannon Hornberger, also co-chair of Act 4 Juvenile Justice, is the executive director of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice. She has 25 years of experience in delinquency and violence prevention, public policy, and constituent education and communications. In the 1970s, Ms. Gannon Hornberger began her career in special education and clinical counseling of high-risk/court-involved youth.
Act 4 Juvenile Justice is a campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations exploring opportunities related to the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.