Home News Center Federal Juvenile Justice Update - May 2019

Federal Juvenile Justice Update - May 2019

May 30, 2019
Melissa Goemann

Federal Youth Justice Funding 

For the first time in many years, the House Appropriations Committee approved an appropriations bill that includes funding for the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA)! The House Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) funding bill includes a slight increase in funding over current levels, though it is still less than the amount Congress authorized in the JJDPA Reauthorization bill ($176 million). The House proposal also includes money for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant for the first time since FY14, and leaves a portion of the Title V money unearmarked for the first time since FY17 ($17.5 million), so that there is funding available for states and localities to use for new Youth PROMISE programs pursuant to the legislation.

The House bill contains the following: 

$65 million for Title II (as compared to $60 million for FY '19)

$49.5 million for Title V (as compared to $24.5 million in FY '19), including:

  • $5 million for grants to prevent trafficking of girls
  • $7.5 million for Tribal Youth Programs
  • $500,000 for an Internet site providing information and resources on children of incarcerated parents
  • $2 million for competitive grants on girls in the juvenile justice system
  • $9 million for an opioid-affected youth initiative 
  • $8 million for an initiative related to children exposed to violence

$10 million for JABG

$100 million for mentoring (as compared to ($95 million in FY'19)

For more information on the different funding streams, see this Act4JJ link and see this link for state specific funding information. Act4JJ, of which NJJN is a part, is in the process of updating the state fact sheets so check back frequently for new information.

Finally, please thank House appropriators for approving JJDPA funding and continue to follow the Act4JJ Twitter Tuesday actions, as well as sharing it with your networks, so we can ensure a solid funding stream for youth programs as the Senate begins to work on CJS appropriations.

Concerns with Dream Act Legislation

On May 17th, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) introduced the Dream Act of 2019, H.R. 2820, and the House Judiciary Committee marked up the bill on May 22nd and approved it on a  vote of 19-10. It now goes on to the full House. While we applaud efforts to provide permanent status for individuals who came to the United States as children, we are concerned with the bill’s discretionary bars on the basis of juvenile adjudications and alleged gang affiliation. As anti-immigrant rhetoric in the country has escalated and the Administration has often equated immigrant youth with gang members, many youthful immigrants have been racially profiled and have landed in the juvenile justice system or have found themselves unfairly tagged with a gang label. Gang databases, a common source of information and tracking of alleged gang affiliation by law enforcement, are notoriously unreliable and have been discontinued in Portland, Oregon and subjected to lawsuits in several jurisdictions. For further information, please see our policy platform, “Supporting Immigrant Youth Caught in the Crosshairs of the Justice System.”

On May 21st, we signed onto a letter asking congressional Members to fight back against the false narratives that have been perpetuated against immigrant youth and move forward a clean bill that would help all immigrant youth, without exclusions for juvenile justice system involvement or gang allegations (see below for a link to the national sign-on letter). Unfortunately, the legislation moved forward with these exclusions intact. Please be on the alert for further information about the Dream Act and actions you can take to ensure all youth have access to its protections.

White House Withdraws Plans to Expand Criminal Background Checks for Federal Jobs

In February, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) posted for comment a plan to require job applicants for federal jobs and federal contract employment to disclose their past completion of a diversion program. The Washington Post recently reported that under pressure from advocates, and a report in the Post, the White House told OPM to withdraw this new requirement. Thank you to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Generation Progress for spearheading a campaign to submit comments opposing the proposed plan and thank you to the many advocates who submitted comments! See below for a link to the comment that NJJN sent opposing this plan.

National Sign-on Letters and Comments

Youth involved with the justice system often intersect with many other systems serving marginalized populations – such as child welfare, immigration, public health, and housing. To best serve our youth, NJJN signs onto a number of national letters on these issues throughout the year. NJJN also occasionally issues comments on regulations impacting individuals in the youth justice and other systems. Please see below for a list of the national letters and that NJJN has signed since our last newsletter and see the federal policy page of our website for a complete list:

  • May 21, 2019 – National sign-on letter to Chairman Nadler and Majority Members of the House Judiciary Committee expressing concerns with H.R. 2820, the Dream Act of 2019. The letter asks the members to oppose the bill unless the discretionary bars based on juvenile adjudications or alleged or actual gang affiliation are removed.
  • May 3, 2019 - National sign-on letter co-written by NJJN and CFYJ in support of Masonique Saunders, a 17-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio who was charged with felony murder and aggravated robbery after an undercover police officer shot and killed her boyfriend, Julius Tate Jr.
  • May 2, 2019 – endorsed juvenile sentencing reform bill package introduced by Rep. Westerman (R-AR): HR 1949 - addresses the use of mandatory minimum sentences on all children in the justice system; HR 1950 – (“Sara’s Law”) provides that judges do not have to give youth mandatory minimum sentence when it involves an offense against someone who trafficked or sexually abused them; and HR 1951 – eliminates life without parole sentences for youth in the federal system.
  • April 23, 2019 – NJJN sent a comment to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) regarding the proposed changes to Optional Form 306. We objected to the change under consideration which would require job applicants for federal jobs and federal contract employment to disclose their past completion of a diversion program.

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