|II. INCREASE SUPPORT FOR PREVENTION, EDUCATION, GANG INTERVENTION, MENTORING, JOB TRAINING, HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, AND COMMUNITY AND SCHOOL-BASED PROGRAMMING FOR YOUTH|
Summary of the Problem: Misguided policies that purport to be "tough on crime" increase incarceration rates, disproportionately impact poor youth and youth of color, exacerbate the problem of gang-related crime, funnel a disproportionate number of youth who have a cognizable mental health and/or substance abuse disorder into the justice system, and can in fact make our communities less safe.
Research from top scholars in a variety of fields including economics, educational psychology, and public health reveals that public dollars spent on effective prevention and education programs are far more effective in stemming violence, curtailing crime and delinquency, and discouraging gang affiliation than broadening prosecutorial powers or stiffening criminal penalties for young people accused of crimes.[i] Public opinion polling studies reveal that taxpayers overwhelmingly favor paying for prevention, education, and rehabilitation programs than prosecution and incarceration of youthful offenders.[ii]
The President should:
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should:
The Department of Education should:
Approach mental health and substance abuse through the lens of a public health model, including the availability of broad-based mental health screening, and pass legislation to provide greater availability of mental health and addiction services to students and youth at-risk for contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.[viii]
Executive Branch: Department of Justice (OJJDP) and Department of Education
Legislative Branch: House Education and Labor Committee, House and Senate Judiciary Committees, House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Background: The Youth PROMISE Act, H.R. 3846, has 87 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, and is likely to be introduced in the Senate in early 2009.
The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act, S. 456, passed the Senate by unanimous consent, but faces increasing opposition from national organizations and within the House of Representatives. The House companion legislation to S. 456 is H.R. 3547, which has 25 cosponsors. After expressing concern about the negative impact this legislation will have on youth and communities of color, eight members of the House of Representatives formally withdrew support for H.R. 3547.[ix]
Potential Allies, Potential Opposition, and Public Opinion:
Potential Allies: The Youth PROMISE Act has strong bipartisan support in Congress, and from national education, health, mental health, juvenile justice, civil rights, human rights, law enforcement, government and non-governmental organizations and coalitions. The Los Angeles City Council is considering a resolution in support of the Youth PROMISE Act, and several Mayors are considering resolutions in support of the legislation. National organizations and individuals throughout the criminal justice field have expressed support for community and school-based prevention and intervention programs,[x] and have expressed opposition to duplicative and costly penalties and approaches in S. 456, including the Heritage Foundation http://www.heritage.org/Research/Crime/wm1619.cfm the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, the National Alliance of Faith and Justice, Human Rights Watch, http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/04/07/usdom18461.htm, Center for Community Alternatives, Citizen Schools, Justice Policy Institute, National Association of School Psychologists, National Juvenile Justice Network, Office of Restorative Justice, International CURE, Virginia CURE, and the Council for Juvenile Correctional Administrators. ATF has also raised concerns about the concept of a duplicative gang database proposed in S. 456. The Government Accountability Office has requested a study regarding the use of existing federal statutes (primarily RICO) in prosecuting gang-related offenses, lending support to the argument that federal gang penalties are duplicative and unnecessary.
The Chairman of the Crime Subcommittee, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), held a crime summit on June 2007, which addressed the benefits of prevention and early intervention methods as effective crime prevention and reduction strategy. http://www.house.gov/scott/pdf/crimesummit.pdf
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on September 10, 2008, on "New Strategies for Combating Violent Crime: Drawing Lessons from Recent Experience" which also emphasized the importance of prevention and intervention. http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=3541
Federal Gang Legislation
Comparative Policy Approaches and Juvenile Justice Reform
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Economic Analysis of Prevention as Cost-Effective Crime Policy
For Further Information:
[i] In recent years, a wide range of reputable organizations have commissioned or conducted related research and reached similar conclusions. These include the American Psychological Association, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, the Social Development Research Group of Seattle, Washington, and the U.S. Government's own Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. For more information, see http://chhi.podconsulting.com/assets/documents/publications/NO MORE CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND.pdf
[ii] Models for Change, Systems Reform In Juvenile Justice, Rehabilitation Versus Incarceration of Juvenile Offenders: Public Preferences in Four Models for Change States
[iii] See e.g., the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change, http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.943477/k.9538/Domestic_Grantmaking Juvenile_Justice.htm and the Youth Transition Funders Group - a network of grantmakers whose mission is to help all youth make a successful transition to adulthood by age 25. http://www.ytfg.org/
[iv] For information and an example of interagency collaboration in the provision of mental health services in one state (California), see http://www.calendow.org/chc/centerscene/pdfs/CHC_CenterSceneFA07_final.pdf and NCCD, A Survey of Mental Health Care Delivery to Youth in the California Juvenile Justice System: Summary of Findings http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/calif_jj_survey_2003.pdf
For further analysis, see Thomas Grisso's Adolescent Offenders with Mental Disorders, The Future of Children, Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 2008. http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/Justice_08_02.pdf
[v] For more information about the Youth PROMISE Act, see http://www.house.gov/scott/hotissues_youthpromiseact.shtml
[vi] For more information contrasting these federal approaches to gang crime and violence, please see: http://www.house.gov/scott/pdf/HRW_supportypa_opphr3547.pdf
[vii] For more information about school referrals and zero tolerance policies, see the Children's Defense Fund Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign http://www.childrensdefense.org/site/PageServer?pagename=c2pp. For more information about the use of corporal punishment in schools, see Human Rights Watch, A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in US Public Schools http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/us0808/us0808web.pdf
[viii] One study cited in the Congressional findings of the All Healthy Children Act, HR 1688, revealed that when juvenile offenders arrested for minor offenses had access to intensive and coordinated mental health services, more than a third fewer were re-arrested the following year, compared to those who only had access to basic mental health services. Congressional findings for H.R. 1688, the All Healthy Children Act of 2007, finding # 15. <http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-1688> GovTrack.us. H.R. 1688--110th Congress (2007): All Healthy Children Act of 2007, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) (accessed Oct 30, 2008).
[ix] For a copy of the bill, please see: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3547. GovTrack.us. H.R. 3547--110th Congress (2007): Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Act, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) <http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3547> (accessed Oct 30, 2008)
[x] For letters of support, please see: http://www.house.gov/scott/hotissues_youthpromiseact.shtml http://www.house.gov/scott/pdf/Promise_Act_support.pdf and http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Child_and_Adolescent_Action_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=23448
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 17:17|