House Panel Plans to Revamp Juvenile Justice Act
Quist, Janet, Nation's Cities Weekly
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime held a hearing on legislation that would result in a major restructuring the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which expires September 30, 1996. The hearing was held shortly before the House left for its Independence Day recess.
The JJDPA provides grants to states and localities specifically targeting the prevention of juvenile violent crime.
Last Thursday, McCollum held a hearing on HR 3565. Subcommittee markup was expected to occur Friday, June 28 with full Judiciary Committee markup scheduled for immediately following the July 4th recess.
Rep. William Goodling (R-Pa.), chairman of the Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, which has jurisdiction over the grant proposals in current law, is drafting his own juvenile justice reform grant program.
The "Violent Youth Predator Act of 1996," HR 3565, introduced by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee, would eliminate the existing programs and functions of the OJJDP and replace them with a new Office of Juvenile Youth Crime Control. The bill calls for a significant increase in funding for state and local prevention incentive grant and would require the federal prosecution of serious violent juveniles and mandate minimum sentences for youth who commit a violent or drug trafficking crime.
HR 3565 would authorize $500 million for grants to states to be divided among two programs. Two hundred and fifty million dollars would fund block grants to states for further distribution at each state's discretion. To be eligible states would be required to provide "assurances" that they have in effect or will have in effect within one year, policies and programs that ensure that juveniles over the age of fourteen, who commit an act that would be a serious violent crime if committed by an adult, are prosecuted as adults. By definition, "serious violent crimes" are murder or nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault committed with the use of a firearm.
The other $250 million would be used for incentive grants to states. In order to qualify, states would have to demonstrate that they have implemented several accountability-based, juvenile crime control practices. First, a state must have m effect a system of graduated sanctions for juveniles adjudicated delinquent and have established alternative schools or classrooms for youth who are expelled or suspended for disciplinary reasons.
Second, a state must have in place a system of records similar to that of their adult criminal record system for juveniles age fifteen or older who are adjudicated delinquent for conduct that, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony. These records would have to be submitted to the FBI, and be made available to law enforcement agencies, courts, and school officials.
Finally, states must have in effect three of the following practices: parental responsibility for serious delinquent acts of children released by a juvenile court to the custody of their parents; mandatory restitution for juveniles adjudicated delinquent; public availability of records of juvenile delinquency proceedings; public access to juvenile delinquency proceedings; mandatory penalties for a juvenile's use of a firearm in committing a violent crime or serious drug offense; a curfew law for juveniles; or a program to deal with serious habitual offenders. …