Juvenile Delinquency Programs Could Face Cuts

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Advocates for juvenile justice funding say successful programs that have helped reduce juvenile crime nationwide face drastic cuts in Congress.

One Wisconsin expert, Jim Moeser of the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families, says reducing support for these programs now is the wrong policy.

Funding for juvenile justice programs stood at $425 million three years ago, but if a current proposal in the House of Representatives makes it through the Senate, that amount would be cut in half. Opponents of the cuts say many of the programs on the chopping block have helped reduce juvenile arrests from 2.7 million in 1994 to 1.6 million in 2010.

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Moeser says that drop in crime is not what’s driving the proposed cuts.

“Delinquent kids are not the easiest kids to sort of advocate for, and so I think it’s viewed as a discretionary cut that can be reduced,” says Moeser.

Moeser says federal funding has helped create programs that target juvenile crime early at the county level and give judges alternatives to locking kids up.

“There have been a number of quite a range of programs that have been funded, from truancy interventions that avoid the kids entering deeper into the system and actually solve problems instead of just giving them a penalty,” says Moeser.

The funding cuts are being debated in both House and Senate committees this week.

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