CHN: Juvenile Justice Programs Take a Big Hit; VAWA and Mentoring Programs Protected, For Now

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that includes $3 billion in cuts to the Justice Department. The plan created by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations subcommittee is dramatic, slashing funding for state and local law enforcement assistance by over $1 billion and cutting juvenile justice programs severely.  The full House is expected to vote on the bill before the August recess.
The bill eliminated funding for Juvenile Justice Demonstration Projects, the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) and Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Grants.  According to Fight Crime, Invest in Kids, these three programs were funded at $211 million in FY 2010.  In the current year, Congress has already dropped funding for the Demonstrations Projects ($91 million in FY 2010); the other programs totaled $100 million in this fiscal year.

In addition, spending for Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention formula grants to states was cut to $40 million, $22 million lower than the FY11 spending level and $35 million below FY10.

Wolf stated that he and his subcommittee do not think that funding the JJDP Act is an effective use of Justice Department money.

The cuts will reduce support for local juvenile justice programs. JABG funds are provided as block grants to states for programs that provide comprehensive services for youth, renovate facilities, increase court or justice personnel, improve information-sharing, and other system improvements. Similarly important, Title V grants focus on preventing youth at risk and non-serious offenders from entering the juvenile justice system. Byrne Justice Assistance Grants were the only winners, receiving $15 million to prevent delinquency, assist victims of crime and improve criminal justice.

One area that fared better was Mentoring, maintaining the current year’s $83 million funding level (although this too is reduced from the FY 2010 funding of $100 million).

In another funding area of concern to low-income people, the Legal Services Corporation was also cut by over $100 million from the FY11 level, $150 million below the President’s request.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs received funding close to FY11 levels, including $3 million for the Children and Youth Exposed to Violence program, which provides grants to projects that seek to mitigate the effects of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking of children and youth.

According to Rep. Wolf, despite the reduction in funding, the bill puts priority on “proven, highest priority programs” including violence against women programs, Byrne Grants, and missing and exploited children programs. However, the deep cuts to juvenile justice will be keenly felt throughout the nation.

At this time it is unclear whether the Senate CJS appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Senator Mikulski (D-MD), will work on a subcommittee bill or whether it will be taken up in a conference or omnibus.

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