Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today introduced new legislation, H.R. 3114, which would provide disadvantaged youth with the opportunity to serve their communities and acquire valuable job skills. The bill, the "Civic Corps Jobs Act of 2011," would reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders by empowering them to serve their communities and acquire training for use in a future career.
"By renewing young people's attachment to the community and providing them marketable job skills, we can reduce the rate of juvenile crime, while enhancing economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities," Velázquez said.
Velázquez originally announced the "Civic Corps Jobs Act" Monday during the opening of Planters Grove, a new green space in the Lower East Side, which was made by possibly through the work of Green City Force (GCF). GCF is a community based organization that involves urban youth in green projects to equip them with valuable workplace skills.
"We've seen firsthand how initiatives like GCF enable young people to support their communities, while preparing them for productive careers," said Velázquez. "By targeting these same tools toward juvenile offenders who want to turn their lives around, we can help them get on a path to a brighter future."
Statistics show that New York City spends close to $200,000 annually for every juvenile offender that the criminal justice system detains. At the same time, these youth are 50% more likely to commit future crimes, compared to juveniles who stay in their community. The "Civic Justice Corps Jobs Act" would provide grants enabling local community groups to cooperate with social service agencies, local employers and the juvenile justice system, developing local, community-based initiatives like GCF for young offenders.
"By furthering cooperation between Community Based Organizations and the Courts, we can find better, more effective alternatives for young offenders," said Velázquez. "Not only will this reduce crime and provide these young people hope, but, over the long haul, it can save taxpayer money."
Velázquez noted that community based programs which prepare younger workers for the job market are even more important given current economic challenges. This past July, the typical summertime peak of youth employment, the share of young people with a job was just 48.8 percent - the lowest rate since 1948.
"We cannot expect young Americans to lead productive, healthy lives if there are no opportunities available to them," Velázquez added. "The Civic Corps Jobs Act sends a clear message that we will not give up on the young people in our communities."