Obama Administration Drops Controversial Juvenile Justice Funding Overhaul

Recently, we posted about the Obama administration's plan to overhaul juvenile justice funding given to states. While the funding plan would have eliminated juvenile justice earmarks (if I remember correctly), it also would have made almost all of the remaining monies available only on a competitive basis.
Further, states would only be eligible to apply for the funds if they were in compliance with the core provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) -- things like keeping status offenders out of the justice system, keeping teens in lock up out of sight and sound of adult offenders, and making serious efforts to address disproportionate minority contact.  (This was a big change, as states have historically received federal funding to help them comply with the JJDPA. Critics have worried that the amount of funding has gotten small enough that states might soon opt out of the JJDPA in large numbers.) 
The funding proposal came under heavy fire from the Justice Policy Institute, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and the Campaign for Youth Justice - all of whom feared the proposal weakened juvenlie justice reform efforts. Another concern was that the administration's adoption of a "Race to the Top" funding competition model was being applied to the bulk of juvenile justice funds, whereas it was used for approxiomately 1% of federal education dollars. 
This morning, I woke up to news from @heatherkellyphd and from the National Council on Crime & Deliquency that the Obama administration had heard the criticisms, and reversed course.  Here's the official word, via JUVJUST:  

Administration Revises Proposal on Race to the Top Funding for Juvenile Justice
Since the release of the fiscal year 2012 budget, the Administration has heard a great deal from the states, from the juvenile justice community, and from congressional offices about the proposal for juvenile justice spending in the President’s budget. Concerns have been expressed, for example, about the potential impact on states’ compliance with mandates under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act and on other protections for system-involved young people.
Drawing on the feedback, the Administration has developed an alternative to its original Race to the Top-style incentive grants program and is now proposing that the $120 million in the budget could be allocated in the following fashion:

  • $110 million as formula funding
    • $80 million under Title II, Part B of the JJDP Act–Formula Grants program
    • $30 million under the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) program
  • $10 million in a demonstration program to encourage innovation and juvenile justice system improvements.

This revamped approach would preserve, and add funding to, the important Part B Formula Grants program; continue the JABG program; and create a new discretionary funding program to encourage innovation and evidence-based reforms in the juvenile justice system, which would showcase approaches other states may then consider embracing.

 What do you think?  Let us know in a comment below, or in our LinkedIn discussion group.
Photo: stargonautone.

Updated: February 08 2018