Friday, July 15, 2016

House Judiciary Committee Approves Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Crime Among Youth

The bill is part of the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative

Washington, D.C. – As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative, the Committee today approved by voice vote a bill to reauthorize a federal grant program targeted at reducing crime among youth.  

The Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act(H.R. 68), authored by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), reauthorizes the Justice Department’s Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program at $25 million from Fiscal Year 2017 through Fiscal Year 2021 and offsets this authorization so that there is no additional cost to taxpayers. The bill strengthens the JABG program to further reduce youth crime and contains a robust accountability and oversight mechanism to ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and appropriately. The bill is named after Tiffany Joslyn, who served as the Deputy Chief Counsel of the Crime Subcommittee and was tragically killed in a car crash earlier this year.

Created in 2002, the JABG program authorizes the Attorney General to provide competitive grants to states, tribes, and units of local government to strengthen their juvenile justice systems and foster accountability within their juvenile populations by holding juveniles responsible for their actions and reducing criminal behavior. Under the JABG program funds can be used for over a dozen purposes, including implementing graduated sanctions for juveniles; building or operating juvenile correction or detention facilities; supporting prosecutorial initiatives aimed at curbing drug use, violence, and gangs; accountability-based school safety initiatives; establishing juvenile drug courts; and addressing school safety, such as bullying and cyberbullying prevention.

Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) praised today’s approval of the bill in the statements below.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member Conyers: “The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program is an important part of the comprehensive effort to help states improve and operate their juvenile justice systems. It has long had a history of bipartisan support and deserves to be reauthorized this Congress. I am also pleased that the Committee renamed the bill in honor of our former counsel, Tiffany Joslyn, who tragically passed away four months ago.  She was dedicated to reforming our juvenile justice system and it is fitting that she be so honored.  As we remain dedicated to the causes she championed, I will continue to work with my colleagues on additional measures to reform the ways we respond to offenses committed by young people.”

Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee: “I am pleased that the Judiciary Committee has marked up H.R. 68, the Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act, and passed it out of Committee for its adoption hopefully by the full House of Representatives. Bullying is a massive issue in our nation’s schools. The National Center for Educational Studies reports show that 14 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds surveyed report being victims of direct or indirect bullying. 1 out of 4 kids is bullied.  Bullying is not just in a schoolyard anymore; it is a crisis that’s taking over our nation. Gone are the days that children can come home and seek solace and escape from their bullies; technological advances have made it easy for young people to be tormented on social networks at any time from any place. They are never out of harm’s reach. This needs to end. Americans children should be protected, and no child should be persecuted for exercising their American right to be themselves. It is time for us to come to a conclusive solution to America’s bullying crisis. My bill, H.R. 68, the Tiffany Joslyn Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act, provides the solution that we need. H.R. 68 calls for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants, adds a purpose area to provide for grant funding to States for programs that address bullying, cyberbullying prevention, and gang prevention and intervention in addition to expressing a Sense of Congress on the importance of best practices.”

Chairman Goodlatte: “Our children are our nation’s future and we must take steps to reduce crime among youth. It is in our country’s interest to see juvenile offenders leave behind a life of criminality and become productive citizens. I thank Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee for her passion and work on this important issue. We also remember Tiffany Joslyn and her dedication to seeing our nation’s youth succeed in life. I look forward to continuing the Committee’s work on criminal justice reform so that we can move these bills to the House floor for consideration.”

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