What You Need to Know about Juvenile Justice Appropriations in the House

Updated on June 6, 2016

Bottom line: the U.S. House of Representative appropriators eliminated funding for several critical juvenile justice programs, adding to a decade of funding cuts. Here's what happened. 

On May 24, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed by voice vote the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations which contained a proposal to eliminate funding for critical juvenile justice programs authorized by Title II and Title V of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).  The vote to eliminate funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 17 comes on the heels of a decade of loss in funding for this measure.

Last month, Senate appropriators recommended an increase in juvenile justice funding and it was hoped that House appropriators would, at a minimum, maintain FY16 levels. Today’s vote moves the needle further away from the targeted federal involvement that has historically provided national leadership to states in preventing youth from entering the justice system.

Continued Cuts Have an Impact on Young Lives

Titles II and V of the JJDPA are the ONLY federal funding programs that protect children and youth in the juvenile justice system and provide support to states for:

  • Prevention programs for at-risk youth
  • Law enforcement and judicial training
  • Evidence-based interventions for young people
  • Keeping kids out of adult jails and lockups
  • Making sure our children are not incarcerated for non-criminal behaviors such as skipping school.

Support for Improving Juvenile Justice in Congress

Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) has championed funding what works in juvenile justice. Earlier this year, he led 69 of his colleagues in sending a letter to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science in support of funding for the JJDPA and other juvenile justice programs. The letter addresses the importance funding can have on improving the juvenile justice system and the lives of young people.

During the mark-up in May, Representatives Nina Lowey (D-NY) expressed her disappointment that the critical funding was being zeroed out in the bill. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced and then withdrew an amendment that would have restored juvenile Justice funding. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) and others were prepared to speak in favor of funding, but time was cut short. After the final vote, Representative Cárdenas expressed his disappointment in the final Committee action and pledged to continue to advocate to have the funding restored

Read the ACT4JJ Campaign press release on the House action here: http://www.act4jj.org/news-resources/press-releases