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House Committee Approves Juvenile Justice Bill

On August 1, the House Education and the Workforce Committee easily approved, 41-2, legislation (H.R. 1900) designed to prevent and reduce crimes committed by juvenile offenders. The bill was introduced by Reps. James Greenwood (R-PA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) and would consolidate five juvenile justice programs into one prevention block grant. Programs under the two-year block grant would include: boot camps, mentoring projects, child abuse services, drug treatment programs, and state challenge activities.

Most of the provisions in the bill expired in 1996; however, efforts to reauthorize the measure during the past five years have been hampered by controversies over gun control amendments. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) did not attempt to include a provision that would require trigger locks on guns, as she did during the subcommittee mark-up of the bill (see The Source, 6/22/01, p. 3), because a similar measure was included in the FY2002 Commerce, Justice, State, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 2500).

The committee approved, by voice vote, a manager’s amendment that would allow funds under the bill to be used for character education and mentoring programs.

The committee also approved, by voice vote, an amendment by Rep. David Wu (D-OR) that would allow funds under the bill to be used to detain students who bring guns to school in an appropriate juvenile justice setting for 72 hours for psychological evaluation. If the student was determined to be a danger to himself or others, the student would then receive psychological counseling. “This is a good idea,” said Rep. Greenwood. “It is not a mandate, but rather an allowable use of funds,” he added.

The committee rejected, 13-28, an amendment by Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) that would have terminated the bills’ provisions after five years.

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