77th Annual Meeting

REAUTHORIZE THE JUVENILE JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION ACT

WHEREAS, The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974 [42 U.S.C. 5601] provides the major source of federal funding to improve states' juvenile justice systems;

WHEREAS, the JJDPA has provided critical protection to our nation's youth through the Act's core protections, which include keeping youth out of adult jails except in very limited cases; keeping youth out of sight and sound contact with adults in those limited cases; the deinstitutionalization of status offenders such as runaways, truants and others whose behavior would not be criminal if committed by an adult; and the requirement that states address disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system;

WHEREAS, the current authorization of the JJDPA is scheduled to be reauthorized in 2009; and

WHEREAS, the JJDPA has for over 30 years played a critical role in preventing youth involvement with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and in diverting youth from further involvement in the juvenile justice system, contributing to youth delinquency being at near historic lows with a 30 percent drop in juvenile arrests from 1996 to 2007 according to the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and

WHEREAS, according to the Department of Justice, violent crimes committed by youth account for only 17 percent of the total violent crime in America; and

WHEREAS, a 2007 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a 2008 study by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) found that transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system significantly increases future crime; and

WHEREAS, incarcerating a young person costs between $32,000-$65,000 per year and operating just one bed over a twenty-year period can cost between $1.25 million and $1.5 million; and

WHEREAS, there are evidence-based alternatives to incarcerating youth that reduce crime and save money, yielding up to $13 in cost savings for every dollar spent. Early interventions that prevent high-risk youth from engaging in repeat criminal offenses can save the public nearly $5.7 million in costs over a lifetime; and

WHEREAS, in 1998, the Conference of Mayors passed a resolution requesting that Congress implement better funding methods through the States for addressing youth violence and juvenile justice issues; and

WHEREAS, in 2005, the Conference of Mayors encouraged its members to create programs to prevent and reduce violence by implementing parent education initiatives, family support programs, business programs, and faith-based organization enterprises; and

WHEREAS, also in 2007, the Conference of Mayors reiterated its call for better regulation of the sealing, expunging and releasing of juvenile records, particularly those associated with nonviolent crimes, so that young people affected have the maximum opportunity to become self-sufficient and successful adults; and

WHEREAS, the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act is an essential tool toward not only helping our nation's youth but also preventing crime,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference of Mayors calls upon the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act this year with specific increased authorization levels and spending flexibility for the Title II Grants, and Title V Grants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference of Mayors calls on other mayors and Congress to support evidence-based youth programs targeting system-involved as well as at-risk youth ages 14 to 25 through community-based outreach and services that link the community as a whole through a media campaign and community mobilization efforts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a reauthorization shall include adequate support and funding for programs supporting job training, education, employment, housing, substance abuse treatment, mental health services and recreation to help our youth realize their true potential.