Letter to Congress: Prioritize Resources to Prevent Juvenile Delinquency
Over 1,200 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors & violence survivors underscore the importance of prioritizing funding for afterschool and recidivism programs
The following letter was sent to all members of the United States Congress. It was signed by more than 1,200 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors across all 50 states. The signers urge Congress to prioritize funding for programs that help fight juvenile delinquency, such as afterschool programs and JJDPA-related programs.
May 8, 2019
Dear Members of Congress:
On behalf of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national organization of over 5,000 law enforcement leaders, we respectfully request that you prioritize resources to prevent juvenile delinquency.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids represents police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors around the country working to further advance evidence-based, front-end solutions to keep our communities safe. Specifically, we are asking Congress to strengthen funding and to continue supporting these vital programs for our youth:
- Support robust funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers
- Fully fund the 2018 reauthorized Title II-Charles Grassley Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program (State Formula Grants),
- Fund the authorized level for Title V Youth PROMISE Grants, and
- Maintain Congress’ priority of funding Youth Mentoring Grants,
Juveniles are most likely to commit and be the victims of violent crimes during the hours immediately after the school day ends. Afterschool programs play a mitigating role in that they reduce crime while having demonstrated long term academic and behavioral benefits. 21st Century Community Learning Centers provide a safe and supervised environment to over 1.7 million students once the school day ends.
We were proud to see the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) reauthorized in 2018. Now we must commit resources to implement these essential programs. We are urging full funding for State Formula Grants (Title II) and Youth PROMISE (Title V) grants. The implementation of community-based alternatives to detention is made available to every state through Title II funding. These funds support states’ innovative efforts to reduce harm to justice system-involved youth while improving the way each state addresses delinquent behavior. Title V funding is available to local communities to help them address their unique needs in preventing delinquency, funding intervention for at-risk youth, and providing services to justice system-involved youth. This funding has afforded law enforcement the opportunity to divert juveniles into outcomes-based state and community-based programs to foster behavioral changes, rather than placing them in detention centers. These programs, like Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multisystemic Therapy (MST), have each demonstrated that youth recidivism can be cut by over 50 percent.
While JJDPA Title V included mentoring as an allowable activity, the authorization level will not sustain the positive impacts of youth mentoring that Congress has invested in over the last decade. Simply put, having strong role models helps our nation’s young people stay on productive and healthy life paths. Part G Youth Mentoring Grants are an effective prevention and intervention mechanism, and a fundamental support in ensuring kids get on, and stay on, the right path in life.
We understand the constraints and competing interests regarding federal funding decisions and the importance of committing funding to programs that will be successful. We encourage you to continue to support evidence-based programs for our youth and urge you to strengthen our investment in the next generation.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. We look forward to serving as a resource to you as you make decisions on how to responsibly spend taxpayer dollars to support important public safety programs.