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Congressional Budget for the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2007--Continued

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I have offered an amendment to the budget resolution with Senator Biden to significantly restore funding for juvenile justice programs. Our amendment will increase funding for these programs funded by the Department of Justice by adding $380 million to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention--OJJDP--budget. The amendment accomplishes this by raising the functional total for the justice allocation by $380 million offset in function 920--which gives the Appropriations Committee the flexibility to design the exact offsets.

Let me briefly illustrate why we must put money back into these programs. Following the administration's lead, the Senate Budget Committee allocated $176 million to the OJJDP budget, which is about $167 million less than what we appropriated last year and $380 million less than the fiscal year 2002 appropriation. I am particularly disturbed that the Senate budget resolution assumes complete elimination of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program--JABG--which received a little less than $50 million last year. 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.

That said, the Budget Committee seems to feel that the JABG program is ineffective. An example from my homestate of Wisconsin proves otherwise. Using Federal dollars from the JABG program, the Southern Oaks Girls School, a juvenile detention center outside of Racine, WI, 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. This is just one example of JABG's many successes--a record that supports keeping JABG alive and well-funded.

The same is true of title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program, the only Federal program solely dedicated to juvenile crime prevention. Title V programs include preschool and parent training programs, youth mentoring, afterschool activities, tutoring, truancy reduction, substance abuse prevention and gang prevention outreach. Nonetheless, the Senate budget assumes a 50-percent cut to title--V penny pinching now that will cost us dearly in the future. According to many experts in the field, every dollar spent on prevention saves $3 or $4 in costs attributable to juvenile crime. And who can put a dollar value on the hundreds, even thousands of young lives turned from crime and into productive work and community life by the juvenile crime prevention programs supported by title V?

The downward spiral of juvenile justice funding is a disturbing budget trend with ugly real world implications. 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. Just a few short years ago in fiscal year 2002, juvenile justice programs received $556 million. Of that amount, more than $94 million went to the title V program and nearly $250 million was dedicated to JABG. We need to restore these initiatives to those robust levels and our amendment will do just that by adding $380 million to the OJJDP budget for juvenile justice programs.

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. I urge my colleagues to make the right choice this year and support our amendment which will increase funding for juvenile justice programs. We can and must do better.

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