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Home > Advocacy > Archives > CWLA 2004 Children's Legislative Agenda


CWLA 2004 Children's Legislative Agenda

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

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  • Increase resources for effective juvenile justice and delinquency prevention initiatives.


Funding for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention has been cut drastically in recent years. Three programs in particular have suffered the brunt of these cuts:
  • The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) was reduced from $249.5 million in FY 2002 to $60 million in FY 2004.

  • The Delinquency Prevention Block (DPBG) received no funds for FY 2004.

  • The Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program was cut by more than half, to $46.5 million in FY 2003, and was only partly restored to $80 million in FY 2004. In addition, $61 million of the FY 2004 funds for Title V are earmarked for special purposes and therefore are not available for their intended purposes.
These programs provide vital resources for community initiatives to prevent delinquency and work with young people to keep them on the right track. These deep reductions in funding make it increasingly difficult for state and local initiatives to maintain adequate levels of effectiveness, especially when state and local budgets are being reduced as well.

Juvenile Accountability Block Grant
JABG was created in 1998 and for four subsequent years was funded at or near $250 million. JABG resources help ensure the smooth administration of the juvenile justice system by developing and administering accountability-based sanctions for juvenile offenders; hiring juvenile judges, prosecutors, probation officers, and court-appointed defenders; and funding pretrial services for juveniles. The program areas of JABG have expanded recently to include implementing graduated sanction programs that consist of counseling, restitution, community service, and supervised probation; establishing or expanding substance abuse programs; and promoting mental health screening and treatment.

Funding for JABG was cut to $190 million in FY 2003, then to only $60 million in FY 2004. Between 1998 and 2002, JABG was the largest federal funding source for juvenile justice. Communities nationwide received funds and built successful programs. These initiatives are threatened today. States and communities simply cannot sustain cuts of this magnitude. Numerous programs will be closed, scaled back, or downsized and therefore will be less effective.

Delinquency Prevention Block Grant
DPBG was created as part of the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (P.L. 107-253), signed into law November 2, 2002. The block grant is intended to fund activities to prevent and reduce juvenile crime in communities that have a comprehensive juvenile crime prevention plan. In creating this new initiative, the President and Congress made a commitment to expanding treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention. In neglecting to fund DPBG for FY 2004, these commitments have been rejected.

Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program
Funded at or near $95 million from 1998 to 2002, the Title V program is the only federal funding source dedicated solely to delinquency prevention. It funds collaborative, community-based delinquency preven-tion efforts to reach youth in high-risk situations before they make bad choices. Title V brings together local participants in a comprehensive effort to reduce risk factors in children's environments while promoting factors that lead to healthy behavior. Prevention efforts that reduce risk factors or enhance protec-tive factors maximize the chances of reducing juvenile delinquency and related problems and enable young people to transition successfully to adulthood.

In 2003, funding for Title V was slashed by more than half, to $46 million, with numerous earmarks for special purposes, which left little more than $2 million to distribute to the states. In practical effect, Title V was eliminated in FY 2003, and dozens of effective community initiatives received no funding. Funding for Title V was partly restored for 2004, but this still leaves a sizable gap in available resources.

Key Facts

  • These budget cuts will result in increased delinquency rates due to the elimination of proven effective rehabilitation and prevention services. They will cause irreparable damage to the juvenile justice system. Much-needed improvements to juvenile detention facilities will have to be delayed or eliminated.

  • More young people will be left with no supervision during the afterschool hours of 3:00 PM - 7:00 pm, when most juvenile violence occurs. 1

  • Recent progress in lowering youth crime rates is threatened. The juvenile murder arrest rate fell 74% from its peak in 1993 to 2000, when it reached its lowest level since at least the 1960s. 2 Between 1994 and 2000, the youth arrest rate for Violent Crime Index offenses fell 41%. 3

  • Successful prevention programs are at risk of losing their funding. Students with a high level of participation in afterschool activities are less likely than nonparticipants to engage in problem behaviors, such as being arrested, taking drugs, smoking, and drinking. 4 For example, participation in the Quantum Opportunities Program, which is targeted toward low-income teenagers in several large American cities, led to fewer arrests among participants. 5


  1. Catalano, R.F.; Loeber, R.; & McKinney, K.C. (1999, October.) School and community interventions to prevent serious and violent offending (OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin). Retrieved online, December 29, 2003, from Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
  2. Snyder, H.N. (2000). Juvenile arrests 1999 (NCJ 185236). Retrieved online, December 29, 2003, from html/ojjdp/jjbul2000_12_3/contents.html. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
  3. Butts, J. & Travis, J, (2002). The rise and fall of American youth violence: 1980 to 2000. Retrieved online, December 29, 2003, from ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=7601. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
  4. Eccles, J., & Gootman, J. (Eds.). (2002). Community programs to promote youth development (A report of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.) Retrieved online, January 12, 2004, from Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  5. Lattimore, C.B., Mihalic, S.F., Grotpeter, J.K., & Taggert, R. (1998). Blueprints for violence prevention, book four: The Quantum Opportunities Program. Boulder: University of Colorado at Boulder, Center for the Study of Prevention of Violence.

CWLA Contact

Tim Briceland-Betts

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