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house Bill H.R. 494

Should the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program be Reauthorized?

Argument in favor

The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program once provided critical funding for juvenile justice initiatives to help keep youth safe, reduce juvenile crime, and intervene in young people’s lives to prevent them entering the criminal justice program. This program should be reauthorized to make these funds available again.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
02/07/2019
This has had bipartisan support for many years. It’s a excellent program for helping kids. Please vote to re-authorize.
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Argument opposed

Although the JABG program has been eliminated, Congress still spends a significant amount of money on juvenile justice programs. Thus, while this specific program doesn’t exist anymore, there are still plenty of other sources of federal money for juvenile justice initiatives. There’s no need to specifically reauthorize JABG.

Doug's Opinion
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02/08/2019
30 million dollars of taxpayer money to accomplish what parents should be doing anyway? No thank you, please do not pass this measure.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 11th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 494?

This bill would revise and reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program for fiscal years 2019 through 2023. It’d appropriate $30 million a year in each fiscal year. This bill would also subject JABG grants to accountability measures, to be enforced by the Dept. of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (IG). The DOJ IG would be required to conduct annual audits of selected grant recipients, to submit an annual certification to Congress, and identify and report on duplicative grant awards.

This bill would also express the sense of Congress that the use of best practices is encouraged for activities carried out with JABG funds.

Finally, this bill would allow the Attorney General to use up to $30 million of the DOJ’s General Administration budget to carry out the JABG program.

Impact

Juvenile justice; Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program; DOJ; the Attorney General; and the DOJ IG.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 494

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth:

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress (and the 114th Congress before that) in order to reauthorize funding for the currently lapsed JABG program. After this bill passed the House in the previous session of Congress, Rep. Jackson Lee said:

“This is an important piece of legislation and the need for it is compelling.  Each day an estimated 160,000 students in this country refuse to go to school because they fear being bullied by their peers, and many more attend school in a chronic state of anxiety and depression.  In addition, six out of ten American youth witness bullying at least once a day, and nearly 30 percent — or 5.7 million children — are involved in bullying as victims, perpetrators, or both. One out of seven students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying… Specifically, this bill makes positive steps toward reform in juvenile justice.  It targets bullying and bullying prevention. This bill reauthorizes the award of grants to consider this problem in the amount of $30 million for one year. Moreover, this bill subjects grants to accountability measures: the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Justice (DOJ) must conduct annual audits of selected grant recipients and the Department of Justice must submit an annual certification to Congress and identify and report on duplicative grant awards. This bill is a fitting memorial to a talented, committed and idealistic young lawyer who cared passionately about fixing a broken criminal justice system so that it is fair for all. Tiffany Joslyn was a warrior for criminal justice reform, and cared much about the vulnerabilities and issues facing communities of color, and where they intersect with the criminal justice system.”

Now-retired Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who supported this bill in the 114th Congress, said reauthorization of this program would send a clear message of support for juvenile justice initiatives:

“A reauthorization of this program will send a clear message to our colleagues on the appropriations committee that we support reinstating funding for this program…. It is in our country’s interest to see juvenile offenders leave behind a life of criminality and become productive citizens.”

Marcy Mistrett, CEO of the Campaign for Youth Justice and co-chair of the Act 4JJ Coalition (consisting of over 150 children’s advocacy, legal, medical, and educational organizations), expressed her support for this bill in 2016:

“Reauthorization of JABG contributes to states’ abilities to build effective, age-appropriate accountability and prevention measures to ensure children get needed services and that communities remain safe.”

This bill has one cosponsor in the current Congress, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). Rep. Jackson Lee has introduced it in three successive Congresses, starting with the 114th. The first time this bill was introduced, in the 114th Congress, it passed the House Judiciary Committee without any cosponsors. In the 115th Congress, it passed the House without objection without any cosponsors.


Of NoteThe JABG program — which once provided grants for state and local initiatives holding youth accountable for their behavior in age- and developmentally-appropriate ways, such as graduated sanctions like curfews and drug testing instead of incarceration, alternatives to detention for status offenses and diversion assessment tools — was allowed to lapse in 2009, and has received no funding since 2013. Funding for the program decreased through the 2000s, from $250 million in 2002 to $25 million in 2013.

While it existed, the JABG program gave the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) funds to help states and communities implement accountability-based programs. The JABG program awarded federal block grants to the 50 states, D.C., and the five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands), as well as OJJDP training and technical assistance to help states and communities develop, operate, and measure the effectiveness of accountability programs.

This bill is named for a decreased former staffer in Rep. Jackson Lee’s office, Tiffany May Joslyn, who died in an automobile accident in 2016. Joslyn worked for Rep. Jackson Lee as the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Homeland Security, Terrorism, and Investigations. After her passing, Rep. Jackson Lee praised Joslyn, saying, “Tiffany May Joslyn cannot be replaced due to the level of passion and compassion she showed to get our criminal justice system moving in the right direction.”

In fiscal year 2018, Congress increased funding for juvenile justice programs to nearly $283 million, representing the largest appropriation since fiscal year 2010.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / William_Potter)

AKA

Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to reauthorize the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, and for other purposes.

    This has had bipartisan support for many years. It’s a excellent program for helping kids. Please vote to re-authorize.
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    Bullies are a HUGE problem, that we need to address. Our children are killing themselves and there is little, if anything, done to the person who bullied them! MAYBE they get expelled. Big deal! They just turn around and do it at another school. Swift and serious consequences need to be initiated, when there is a bullying complaint. If this bill will accomplish that, I’m all for it!
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    Yes, and the parents of the bullies need to be educated and fined for their children's behaviour if it continues to be a problem. If it starts to cost Mommy & Daddy money and time off work I'm pretty sure the little bullies will find out pretty quickly there are consequences for their actions!
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    Yes, but with increase awareness on the underlying coercive control measures influencing these children actions. Adults must be held “accountable” if kids are to be held accountable. This includes holding “representatives” in charge of these congressional districts account for the climate of neglect our children are forced to endure.
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    This kind of program is desperately needed as an intervention tool in order to ensure that young people who are at risk don’t fall into a lifetime of crime as adults. Reauthorize it now!
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    If there is a way to continue helping and benefit the youngest of our communities then it should be done.
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    Why stop a program like JABG when there is evidence that it is working and is shown to be effective in preventing the cycle of violence by and against young folks. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/226357.pdf
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    As an educator, I see how much more difficult it is to provide instruction in an environment where there is no alternative for those students who don't comply with school rules on a consistent basis. It's unfair to the other students and to those instructors who have to tolerate it. These students come back empowered to continue walking in nonconformity to school rules. A clear and effective message of accountability needs to be established and enforced.
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    30 million dollars of taxpayer money to accomplish what parents should be doing anyway? No thank you, please do not pass this measure.
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    The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program once provided critical funding for juvenile justice initiatives to help keep youth safe, reduce juvenile crime, and intervene in young people’s lives to prevent them entering the criminal justice program. This program should be reauthorized to make these funds available again.
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    Anything that keeps kids out of the jail system is a good things. Of course that is because I am not interested in locking up people who might not vote for me.
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