KOHL RESTORES $380 MILLION TO JUVENILE JUSTICE PROGRAMS AS PART OF SENATE BUDGET
Senate approves amendment to boost funding for youth crime prevention programs that were cut as part of Administration's FY07 budget
The U.S. Senate last evening approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl to restore $380 million in funding for effective juvenile justice programs as part of the FY07 federal budget. Funding for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program (JABG) and the Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program, both of which are used in Wisconsin, was cut in half in the Administration's budget proposal which was submitted to Congress last month. According to juvenile crime prevention experts, every dollar spent on prevention saves three or four dollars in costs attributable to juvenile crime.
"The downward spiral of juvenile justice funding is a disturbing budget trend with ugly real world implications," Kohl said. "Juvenile crime is an ongoing challenge and it is not a problem that is going to solve itself. Boosting funding for successful juvenile justice programs is the first step in addressing this challenge."
JABG provides funding for intervention programs that address the urgent needs of juveniles who have had run-ins with the law. Positive intervention and treatment at this early stage of delinquency can prevent further violent behavior and steer a young person in the right direction before it's too late. Using federal dollars from the JABG program, the Southern Oaks Girls School, a juvenile detention center outside of Racine, built a new mental health wing to provide much-needed counseling services for the girl inmates. The Administrator of this school cites a 56 percent drop in violent behavior since the new mental services have been offered.
Title V is the only federal program solely dedicated to juvenile crime prevention. Title V programs include preschool and parent training programs, youth mentoring, after-school activities, tutoring, truancy reduction, substance abuse prevention and gang prevention outreach.
"We have a choice in this Congress of where we want to invest our money. We can choose to address the roots of crime and invest in our children by preventing a life of criminal behavior. We can choose to intervene in a positive manner to work with those teens that have fallen through the cracks and have had a few scrapes with the law -- we can turn many of those kids around," Kohl said.